Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen is in the final three months of his contract with Ferrari. In this picture, Raikkonen celebrates after the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod near Budapest, Hungary, on July 29, 2018. ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

Ferrari look to be closing in on confirming their driver lineup for the 2019 season after the season-long debate of whether Kimi Raikkonen will be retained or whether the veteran racer will be replaced by the young rising star Charles Leclerc.

The Finnish racer — the last driver to win Ferrari a title in 2007 — is out of contract at the end of the campaign and was yet to be offered a new deal. It was initially suggested that he will be replaced by the Monegasque driver, with whom they are said to have reached an agreement.

Leclerc denied that he had held talks with Ferrari insisting he was focused on his debut campaign with Sauber. The saga finally seems to be reaching its conclusion with reports suggesting Raikkonen will sign a new deal with the Maranello-based team and remain Sebastian Vettel’s teammate in 2019.

The Finn rejoined Ferrari in 2014, but is yet to win a race in the last five seasons — with second place being the best he has achieved. Vettel, meanwhile, has recorded 12 wins since joining in 2015 and is seen as the de facto number one in the team.

Raikkonen has been handed one-year deals for the last three seasons, and it was expected that it will not be the case this season with the team hierarchy pushing for Leclerc, who is a Ferrari academy driver, to be promoted to the works team. The push was chiefly headed by Ferrari’s former CEO Sergio Marchionne, who passed away in July.

Since talk of Raikkonen being replaced began gathering pace, the Finn has become the most consistent driver on the grid. He has finished on the podium in five consecutive races — Hamilton is the next best with four, while Vettel has managed just three podium finishes.

The new management of Ferrari are said to be rethinking the decision and are now said to be leaning towards retaining Raikkonen as Vettel’s teammate. The German also made it clear recently that he would prefer the Finn to remain while suggesting that 12-race old Leclerc is still too inexperienced to move to the works team.

According to, a source close to the Maranello team confirmed Ferrari are in the process of handing Raikkonen a new two-year deal that will see him partner Vettel until the end of the 2020 season.

It is a change from recent years when he was handed just a one-year deal. However, the report claims Ferrari will insert a clause in the contract which will allow them to change terms after the end of the first year.

Ferrari’s decision to retain Raikkonen is unlikely to harm Leclerc, who is rated very highly by the Italian outfit. The Monegasque driver, who has impressed at Sauber is likely to be promoted to Haas Racing in 2019, who have proven that they can be the best of the rest behind the top three teams — Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.