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Raikkonen: It’s a new challenge and that’s what I wanted

Wearing a white unbranded race suit Kimi Raikkonen hopped into a Sauber for the first time in nearly two decades as he put the car through its paces for his ‘new’ team during the first day of Pirelli tyre testing at Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday.

On Sunday Kimi Raikkonen bid farewell to Ferrari ending his second stint with the Reds to embark on a two-season swansong by the Swiss outfit who have forged close ties to Maranello. The veteran Finn will partner the team’s protege Antonio Giovinardi in his first full season of F1 next year.

The team reported that Raikkonen was kept busy, “[He] completed a total of 102 laps throughout the day, becoming familiar with the car and the team’s operating systems.”

And added, “The programme was focused on tyre testing – running the 2019 tyre casing, as well as different compounds from the current selection. With Räikkönen’s feedback and the collected data, the team has obtained a good reference in preparation for the upcoming season.”

Raikkonen completed 566.5 km and ended the session with a time of 1:39.878, slowest bar one at the end of the day. He was three seconds down on the top time set by his recent teammate Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

Raikkonen explained to Sky F1 why he was keen to try the Sauber so soon after his final race with Ferrari, “I wanted to do the test to see how the car is, if there are any big things we need to look at, we’d have more time, and obviously there are next year’s tyres.”

Asked if he was excited about the challenges ahead, the 39-year-old replied, “I am actually. I would never have signed the contract if I didn’t think it will be something I want.”

“It will be interesting to start working with them. It’s a new challenge and that’s what I wanted,” added the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion.