Peter Sauber, the principal of the Sauber team, has indicated that his choice for a second driver for the 2001 Formula One season is Kimi Raikkonen, the 21-year-old Finn who tested for the team earlier this year.
Raikkonen, however, presents a dilemma: he has not yet qualified for the superlicence required to drive in Formula One. The licence is normally given automatically to CART, F3000 and major F3 championship winners, but Raikkonen has yet to drive a race in any of those three categories.
This young man has had an impressive season and won the British Formula Renault championship in dominant fashion, but, to date, he only has a grand total of 23 races under his belt -- an unprecedented number for someone looking to race at the Grand Prix level.
However, Raikkonen showed a great deal of speed and talent when he tested for the Swiss team in two separate sessions in September. After only a few days at the wheel of a Formula One car, he was setting lap times faster than Sauber's usual test driver, Enrique Bernoldi ... and staying on the track.
Sauber and Raikkonen now have to convince the FIA that the Finn is capable and qualified, and should be granted a superlicence. Max Mosley has indicated his reluctance to granting a licence to such an inexperience driver, but Mosley is not on the actual committee.
Raikkonen is expected to drive a 300 km test under the supervision of FIA officials, and will be required to show error-free driving with consistent lap times. FIA will then make a decision on the licence in December.