After four years as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, will leave Ferrari to move to Sauber after the 2018 season.
It was announced on Tuesday that the young Charles Leclerc from Monaco will head in the replace Raikkonen at Ferrari.
In light of the Finn's departure, Sebastian Vettel has provided some insight into the dynamics between the two as teammates.
Raikkonen and Vettel had been friends prior to becoming teammates at Ferrari in 2015 and have enjoyed such a solid working relationship together the German has claimed his current partner is the best teammate he has had in F1.
"Yeah, absolutely [on Raikkonen being his favourite teammate]," as per Motorsport.
"Obviously one thing you can express in numbers and results and so on, but I think that's not the most important thing.
"I think the most important thing if you are teammates is the respect that you have for each other, or the degree of bulls**t going on between each other, and with Kimi it has been zero from the start, and I don't think it will change until the end.
"Obviously it's a great chance for Charles, but also it's sad to know that Kimi is not there anymore because I think we get along even though we are different. As I said, we have this mutual respect for each other."
Raikkonen’s departure has, of course, raised questions of a change in Ferrari’s team dynamic, but Vettel insists he hasn't started thinking too much about having Leclerc race alongside him in 2019.
"Obviously it's always a change, but to be honest right now nothing changes. So I'm more focused on the next races rather than next year. Obviously it's a great opportunity for him. He's been in the junior programme of the team for a long time, so it's good to see there's progression.
"I'm not thinking about that at all, so I have no thoughts. It's always going to be different. Everybody is different, so for sure there will be a different dynamic and so on, but I think he's a good kid and I hope that he integrates well. I'm sure everybody is willing to help."
Importantly for the arriving Leclerc, Vettel has downplayed the subject of age.
"If you are fast and talented then the age doesn't matter. You can be fast and talented also when you are old on paper. I think Kimi is probably the best example, so you have two good examples.
"So age I think is not relevant. I think he deserves to be in F1, and as I said before it's great that he gets the opportunity to race in a big team, and then we'll see. We'll do our best to work on him, we want to work together as a team. But for now it's not that important, it's more important for next year.”
While Raikkonen’s departure has saddened Vettel Ferrari have perhaps picked their next potential star in Leclerc, after impressing in his debut F1 season.
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