#7 KIMI RAIKKONEN
The ‘Ice Man’ is famously a man of few words, but his speed does plenty of talking on track. The 2007 World Champion returned to winning ways last season and in 2019 moves back to the team where he started his F1 journey.
|Full Name||Kimi-Matias Raikkonen|
|Date of Birth||17th October 1979|
|First Race||2001 Australian Grand Prix|
|First Win||2003 Malaysian Grand Prix|
Kimi Raikkonen hails from Espoo, Finland and competed in a number of local and national karting events from the age of ten. At the age of fifteen, the Finn began to race outside of his native Finland, and by 1999 the twenty year old was competing in the European Formula Ford, despite never winning a karting championship. After being crowned the Formula Renault 2000 UK Winter Champion in 1999, he went on to contest in the Formula Renault 2000 championship in the following year. He won the championship, catching the eye of Formula One teams as he romped to seven victories in the ten race series.
After a successful three day test, Raikkonen was signed up as a Sauber driver for 2001. The signing was criticised due to Raikkonen’s lack of experience in single-seaters, but the Ice Man proved the doubters wrong, with some superb drives in his début season. He scored nine points and finished tenth in the overall standings. Raikkonen impressed McLaren team boss Ron Dennis and, with his fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen taking a ‘sabbatical’ for the 2002 season, there was an opening for Kimi. He was signed on a five-year deal and impressed from the outset, with four podium positions in his first season with the team. In 2003, he took his first F1 victory in Malaysia and regularly out-shone his more experienced team-mate David Coulthard on his way to finishing runner-up in the championship to the dominant Michael Schumacher. 2004 saw a drop in McLaren’s relative pace, though Kimi still managed a pole at Silverstone and a win at Spa. For 2005, Raikkonen was joined by Juan Pablo Montoya and it was the Finn who generally had the upper hand, scoring seven wins and finishing second to Fernando Alonso in the championship. In 2006, Raikkonen remained consistent, despite reliability woes, but the car would only allow him to end the year fifth overall.
Kimi’s move to Ferrari in 2007 to replace Michael Schumacher had been much talked about over the previous season. He won on his début for the team, but wouldn’t lead the championship again until it mattered – after the last race of the season. Six wins saw him snatch the World Championship by one point from McLaren’s drivers. In 2008, the Finn was regularly off the pace in qualifying and ended up playing a supporting role to his team-mate Felipe Massa, who remained in title contention until the final round of the season. Questions began to arise about Raikkonen’s commitment to the sport, and just a solitary win followed in 2009 in a difficult year for Ferrari. Raikkonen agreed to leave the team at the end of the season to make way for Fernando Alonso.
Raikkonen moved to the World Rally Championship for the next two years and made a couple of NASCAR appearances, though he failed to record a win in either series. He announced his return to Formula One with the Lotus team for 2012, and impressed immediately, showing that he still had the raw speed. He very nearly won the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, only the third race of his comeback. He won in Abu Dhabi, where he uttered his now infamous catchphrase – ‘leave me alone, I know what to do’ – and finished the season third in the standings. Another win followed at the opening round of the 2013 season, and he took the runner-up spot on three consecutive occasions in the early part of the season. His title hopes soon faded though, as Lotus slipped off the pace as the season went on. Lotus were also beginning to suffer financial problems and Raikkonen, who had not been paid throughout the season, had had enough by the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He left the circuit early after a race-ending crash on the first lap and was not seen for the remainder of the season, as he had back surgery following pain he had suffered since the Singapore Grand Prix.
Raikkonen returned to Ferrari for 2014, partnering Fernando Alonso. For the first time since his début season, the Finn failed to record a podium finish and was over 100 points behind his team-mate by the end of the year. He also suffered a hefty crash in the British Grand Prix. Alonso departed and Sebastian Vettel joined for 2015, but Raikkonen was still very much in the background, taking three podiums compared to his team-mate’s thirteen. In 2016, Ferrari were not on the pace of the dominant Mercedes, though Raikkonen’s form seemed to improve, taking four podiums and performing better than Vettel in Qualifying over the course of the season.
We saw glimpses of the old Kimi in 2017 – his pole lap in Monaco was a fantastic display of raw speed and car control – but ending the season 112 points behind his team-mate tells you all you need to know. He lost out on race day in Monaco to his team-mate and, at times, Ferrari swayed in championship-challenger Vettel’s favour, but that doesn’t entirely mask the points differential. He only just scored more points than Daniel Ricciardo in the inferior Red Bull – a battle which was decided at the last race due to Ricciardo’s retirement.
While Vettel remained quicker than the Finn in qualifying and out-scored him once again in 2018, Raikkonen was a frequent podium visitor and amassed his 100th podium finish at Monza. The Italian Grand Prix was a ‘what could have been’ weekend for the Finn though. After taking pole, he lost out on the win to Lewis Hamilton. Undeterred by that, and the announcement that Charles Leclerc would replace him at Ferrari in 2019, Kimi finally took victory at the U.S. Grand Prix with one of the most popular wins of the season.
Raikkonen seems to have a new lease of life since he announced his move to Sauber for 2019. The move sees Kimi return to the team at which he began his F1 journey eighteen years ago and gives him the opportunity to show his pace in the midfield once again. Could Raikkonen add any more to top three finishes to his tally in 2019?
KIMI RAIKKONEN’S F1 RECORD
|Year||Team||Final Position||Points Scored||Wins||Poles||Podiums|