London, September 11: Kimi Raikkonen will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2018 season and return to Sauber -- the team where he started his Formula One career.
Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc, a 20-year-old Ferrari protege who races for Sauber and won last year's Formula Two title, is expected to take the 2007 world champion's place.
Raikkoken, who will turn 39 next month, put to rest all retirement rumours with an Instagram post in which he confirmed that he would be joining Sauber, in what looks like a swap-deal with Leclerc.
Raikkonen said: "Guess who's back?! Next two years with @sauberf1team ahead! Feels extremely good to go back where it all began!"
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Kimi Räikkönen (@kimimatiasraikkonen) on Sep 11, 2018 at 1:13am PDT
The Finn, who won the F1 title in 2007 during his first stint in Ferrari colours, is currently third in the standings after finishing on the podium in five of the last six races.
Raikkonen is the oldest driver in the sport and remains the last Ferrari driver to have won a title and one of the most popular on the starting grid.
Nicknamed 'The Iceman' for his often glacial demeanour, his dour nature and dislike of media and sponsor engagements has also endeared him to many fans who see him as a throwback to a bygone era.
(With inputs from OPTA and other Agencies).