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Sauber appoint Raikkonen after super licence green light

YOUNG Finn Kimi Raikkonen was given his Formula One super licence by the Federation Internationale l'Automobile on Thursday and was immediately confirmed as a Sauber driver for the 2001 Formula One season.

The 21-year-old, who competed in the British Formula Renault Championship in 2000, was given permission to join the Formula One grid when the FIA decided he was ready for the demands of the sport.

Sauber team principal Peter Sauber said: "Kimi was able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FIA the qualities that attracted us in the first place.

"We are delighted to establish a relationship with a young driver who shows such clear promise for the future.

"Kimi's performances in Formula Renault this season attracted our attention, and when he tested one of our C19's at Mugello in September his driving skills were very impressive for a young man with such limited experience."

Sauber added: "It was clear form the outset that the step into Formula One was not too big for him, and he completed the test with very encouraging results.

"In the last three days Kimi tested again at Jerez in an impeccable manner, confirming his talent and readiness for Formula One.

"By signing Nick Heidfeld and now Kimi, I believe that we are sending a clear message of our attention to combine an investment in youth with our established engineering abilities to promote Sauber into contention in next years World Championship."

Raikkonen has competed in just 23 single-seater races but said he will justify his place in Formula One in 2001 despite his inexperience.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me," said Raikkonen. "I thoroughly enjoyed the Formula One testing although there was pressure on me to prove myself to the FIA.

"Now I will be doing everything I can in 2001 to justify the faith that Peter Sauber, his team and the governing body have placed in me."

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