Is Kimi’s move to Sauber a ‘shame for the sport’?

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It’s a “Shame for the sport”, says BBC 5 Live’s Jolyon Palmer, “There are 20 seats available in F1, to have one taken up by an underperforming 38-year-old seems a bit of a shame. Raikkonen had his chances”.

Palmer argues that Ocon, Giovinazzi, Vandoorne, Russell are all potential drivers and Raikkonen is just taking up a seat and denying these young, full-of-energy, drivers a chance. Is this a fair statement or an ageist comment or something else entirely?

For me, Ferrari and their good friends at Alfa Romeo Sauber are not obliged to develop and place the grid’s young drivers in their teams in order to give young folks a chance. They are there to win races or do the best they can. I won’t deny that I feel Vandoorne would be a good option for Toro Rosso over Daniil Kvyat but there are several factors regarding Raikkonen that I’m offering as consideration contrary to Palmer’s comments.

Kimi Raikkonen may have not won a single race to Sebastian Vettel’s 13 in the same car but he is, by any measure, a star of the sport and this much-loved Finnish driver brings a lot of attention to any team he drives for in the form of merchandizing, ticket sales and media attention.

Charles Leclerc was a rookie phenom but he won’t sell as many Sauber hats or get the kind of media attention that Kimi will in a Sauber. He may get it now that Ferrari’s brand is much larger than he is but, in many ways, Kimi’s brand is larger than Sauber’s.

Kimi is just a stone’s throw away for Ferrari should Leclerc falter and if the young driver flourishes, having Kimi help Sauber improve their ties with Ferrari, develop their car and bring attention and brand impact to the team, that’s a good thing for Ferrari. Ferrari and Sauber do not owe young talent—tied to competitors’ teams—a chance in their cars because we believe 38-year-old drivers are old, slow and incapable of driving like an 18-year-old.

Kimi didn’t want to leave F1 and I’m not sure where he would have gone. Accepting the role at Sauber is a good move for his career and while one could argue that Ocon would be a better choice, I doubt there would be a world where Ocon or George Russell would find a spare ride at a Ferrari-powered team. Not going to happen. Vandoorne is a possibility but given his McLaren outings, Sauber may feel Kimi is faster.

Do you agree with Jolyon? Is a Kimi a washed-up driver denying a young, vibrant driver a chance? Should Sauber be more concerned about getting youth in F1 instead of hiring an old driver?

Hat Tip: BBC 5 Live

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I don’t necessarily disagree with Joylon’s words. I thought the same thing years ago about Felipe Massa and, to some point, Fernando Alonso. I think it is a shame a talented driver like Ocon is without a seat in 2019. When I heard Leclerc was promoted to the Scuderia, I hope Kimi will go out with some sensational hard-edge driving. I do think Kimi is long past his “sell by” date and can’t understand what could be the appeal of a demotion to Sauber(where he first started in F1). I now wonder how much money is Ferrari and/or Fiat-Chrysler is… Read more »

Bill Van Cleve

Ocon deserves and will ge ride. The rest of the young guns are shooting blanks. Except Stroll, of course, who can’t drive but has daddy. Blame Stroll for Ocon, not Kimi.


He’s been on the chopping block for the past several seasons. I’m actually astonished he didn’t retire. Ferrari have also had several faltering s in regards to car development that have kept both Kiki and Seb from winning more. No one has helped further Kimi’s career in the past several seasons, they’ve just held it at bay. Give the young kids a chance to prove themselves and bring some new energy to the sport. And while we’re at it, let some of the old folks running the sport retire in the hopes it can stop feeling stale.


Guys!!! you are talking about a guy who has been most consistent driver on the grid. Third in the championship. And talking about the wins we all know how ferrari has favoured vettel above him everytime. So its not a shame that Kimi is blocking a seat. Jolyon please focus on Stroll, Grosjean and Kavyat who have blocked your chances in F1.


at last somebody with common sense. All the rest of them are ageist comments that have no relevance to the actual facts of Formula One.

Bill Van Cleve

I though it was about winning, or if not one of big six, it was about finishing as high as possible. Kimi can do that.


Palmer’s spot on the grid was a shame for the sport. Kimi has paid his dues. Daddy Palmer paid Jolyon’s. Didn’t work out so well.

jiji the cat

When i was listening to Palmer, the whole time i thought it was more a reflection of the lack of teams in F1, hence not enough seats for the next generation of drivers.

Andrew M Pappas

The problem isn’t the people in the seats… It’s the number of seats. The teams almost want to keep it so exclusive that others can’t come in and compete.

Sask F1

If a young driver wants to replace Kimi…drive faster