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Raikkonen close to Sauber deal

FINNISH rookie Kimi Raikkonen is close to finalizing a deal to enter Formula One with Sauber - and make a dramatic leap from British Formula Renault.

Raikkonen, who won the Renault championship this year, has twice tested with the Swiss-based team and impressed boss Peter Sauber with his pace. Sauber is ready to offer the 21-year-old a deal to partner Nick Heidfeld.

"There are several aspects why we very strongly believe that Raikkonen is the right man for us," Sauber said. "First of all his very professional approach towards his work and his astonishing maturity considering his age.

"Even more impressive is his natural speed. He seems to crank our fast lap times effortlessly. In comparison with other drivers, we never got the impression that he reached his limits. We still have to find how fast he can go."

Raikkonen added: "This is a great opportunity me. I actually found driving the Formula One car was a quite easy."

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