Kimi Raikkonen’s 2019 move to Sauber is one that not many from the F1 fraternity expected.
When rumours about Ferrari not renewing his contract started to do the rounds, many expected Kimi to bow out of the sport, as none of the midfield teams would have been able to afford his services and the only one that could have, got Sainz and Norris on board.
But the love for his boyhood team and motorsport made Kimi make the switch from Ferrari to the less fancied Sauber.
— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) September 20, 2018
And it is a massive occasion for those involved with Sauber, to have someone of Kimi’s stature drive for the team.
Sauber team boss, Vassuer has admitted about the positivity around the Sauber camp ever since the Kimi announcement was made and how it has lifted the spirits of everyone involved with the team.
“The reaction in the factory was huge,” Vasseur said, as quoted by Motorsport.com
“It’s a huge push to consider that someone like Kimi could join the project, that he trusts the team, he trusts everybody in the team.
“It’s giving you self-confidence – ‘The guy in front of me, who is a world champion, is considering that I can do a good job, so full push.’
“I was in the design office when we issued internally the email saying that Kimi will join and the reaction was: ‘wow!'” he added.
Vassuer feels that just like Alfa Romeo coming on board helped the team attract more eyeballs, Kimi’s 2019 move would also help the team grow in terms of personnel and stature.
“We already had the same push when Alfa joined,” Vasseur said.
“Before this we were chasing CVs like hell, and then we received tons of CVs.
“I think it will be the same also with Kimi. This is important, recruiting. It’s not a matter of numbers, you need to find the right one.
“And if the paddock is convinced that we have a strong project we will receive many more CVs, and I think Kimi is part of the motivation.
“He will convince the guys in the paddock. If Kimi is able to join Sauber, he trusts the project, then everybody will do the same.” he added.
The impact as far as Sauber are concerned is already there for them to see, with the team receiving a lot of traction on social media and elsewhere. More sponsorship requests have come in and everything has just gone into overdrive.
Sauber gained 10% more followers just from the Kimi announcement.
“That’s only the beginning.”
Vasseur: “Imagine the first win.” 😆😂
— Verena (@miezicat1) September 18, 2018
There’s a massive opportunity for a global brand to get huge exposure if they sponsor Sauber’s team hat or halo next year…The reach Kimi Raikkonen brings will be very powerful and massively underestimated in their current pricing.
— Jacob Harris (@jacobharris999) September 20, 2018
“The announcement of Kimi was a huge push also in terms of marketing,” Vasseur said
“We will discover the impact of Kimi’s situation week after week.
“On the grid he’ll be with one of the three world champions next year, with Seb [Vettel] and Lewis [Hamilton], and he has a huge impact.
“We are receiving offers from every single area, from sponsors, it’s a very strange feeling.
“I probably even underestimated the impact. I’m not a big fan of social media, but it’s a huge thing.” he added.
Vasseur feels that Kimi’s feedback as a driver and acumen as a technician would benefit the team a great deal, something that he is looking forward to.
WATCH: Kimi Raikkonen was peak Kimi Raikkonen in the #SingaporeGP press conference
— Sky Sports F1 🏎 (@SkySportsF1) September 13, 2018
“He has the reputation to be a very good technician, with very strong feedback,” he said.
“Probably when you are 450 people it’s more important to have this kind of guy than when you are two or three times bigger.
“We need to have a strong leader on the driver side.
“He has very strong feedback, and he’s probably one of the best, or the best.
“Kimi was a bit unexpected 12 months ago, but 12 months ago we were absolutely nowhere.
“I couldn’t imagine that I will convince Kimi to join the team!
“But thanks to everybody in the company, because we made a good improvement, I think Kimi will enjoy racing with us.” he concluded.