Raikkonen on leaving Ferrari: "It's not my decision"

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland speaks during a press conference at the Marina Bay City Circuit ahead of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland speaks during a press conference at the Marina Bay City Circuit ahead of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)

SINGAPORE — Kimi Raikkonen was hardly in the mood to talk about why he's leaving Ferrari next season.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, he reverted to his typically monosyllabic and nonchalant style when asked about the reasons for his departure. It was announced this week that Ferrari will not be renewing the Finnish driver's contract in 2019.

"This is what happened. It's not up to me and it's not my decision," Raikkonen said on Thursday. "This is the outcome. At least we have an outcome."

His seat is going to Charles Leclerc. The 20-year-old from Monaco is joining from Sauber, while Raikkonen is heading to Sauber on a two-year deal.

Raikkonen was asked if he was happy to join a lesser team like Sauber, where he started his F1 career in 2001. He replied bluntly, while staring ahead with his piercing gaze.

"Why not?" Raikkonen asked the news conference interviewer. "Because I want to go. Why do you make it so complicated?"

Raikkonen won F1 in 2007 driving for Ferrari, and has 20 wins among his 100 career podiums.

Aside from driving skills, he has become a huge hit with fans for his sense of detachment and disinterest when talking about himself. He even seemed to be reveling in his role this time, veering into sarcasm as he fielded a question regarding his age.

Raikkonen will be 39 when he takes the grid for Sauber next year, making him comfortably the oldest driver on the grid.

Asked if he is still passionate about racing, despite his advancing years, he replied stone-faced: "No, I'm not, actually."

Raikkonen was informed of Ferrari's decision a little less than two weeks ago, during the team's home race at the Italian GP in Monza.

After finding out, he quickly turned to some old friends at Sauber and contract discussions proved straightforward.

"I obviously know people from the past and it started after that," he said, adding that this will likely be his last contract. "There's a big chance for sure."

Raikkonen lies third in the ongoing series.

"I will stop (racing) when I feel it is right for me."

Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel has enjoyed a trusting relationship with Raikkonen, and will miss him.

"The most important thing as teammates is the respect you have for each other," said Vettel, a four-time F1 champion. "Obviously, it's a great chance for Charles, but sad to know Kimi's not there anymore, because we get along very well even though we're different."

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

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