Kimi Räikkönen, also known as ‘The Iceman’, is currently competing in his tenth season of Formula One, driving for the Lotus F1 Team having previously driven for Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari. In 2007 he won the world championship by the narrowest of margins, after coming close in 2003 and 2005. At the end of the 2009 season he was left without a drive and so turned his hand to rallying, but at the end of 2011 it was announced that he would be making a return with Lotus, partnering Romain Grosjean. He has impressed this season and currently lies fifth in the championship with five podiums – two thirds and three seconds. Here’s a closer look at his career, his season so far and what fans think/say about the Finn.
Räikkönen made his F1 racing debut in 2001 as he was handed a drive at Sauber, after testing with the team in 2000. Having only had 23 single seater races to his name before he started his F1 career, there were doubts cast over whether he was ready, but he proved the critics wrong with ten finishes (all in the top ten) from 17 races and four point scoring races. He finished tenth overall in the drivers’ championship.
McLaren (2002 – 2006)
Räikkönen made the move to McLaren in 2002 to partner David Coulthard when Mika Haikkinen retired. He made an improvement on his rookie season, taking four podium positions and finishing sixth overall in the standings. 2003 was a good year for the Finn as he fought Michael Schumacher for the championship, taking his first win (in Malaysia), but was beaten by two points by the end of the season. He did not enjoy the same success in 2004 due to an under-performing car, although when the ‘B-spec’ car was introduced midway through the season, he saw a marked improvement in his results and finished the season overall in seventh. During this season he took his first win at Spa, which has proved to be “hit or miss” for him ever since – he either wins or retires – and it will be interesting to see how he performs there after the summer break. In 2005 Räikkönen was Fernando Alonso’s closest competitor for the title although he finished 21 points behind the Spaniard, with retirements proving costly, particularly at Germany where he lead the race until the last lap. He did, however, take seven victories. 2006 was a lacklustre season for the Finn, finishing fifth with 65 points.
Ferrari (2007 – 2009)
Räikkönen made the move from McLaren to Ferrari for the 2007 season, where he fought with Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton for the title. A strong end to the season saw him bridge a 17 points gap with two races to go to win the championship, which he did in style with a victory in Brazil. In 2008 Räikkönen came third, with his team-mate Felipe Massa, taking the spotlight by challenging eventual champion Hamilton for the championship. 2009 started slowly, with major rule changes coming into effect and disrupting the order, and Räikkönen finished the season in sixth place and found himself without a drive for 2010, despite having a contract with Ferrari.
F1 Sabbatical (2010 – 2011)
He moved to WRC where he competed for the Citroen Junior team and his own Ice 1 Racing Team, taking one stage victory. He also tried his hand at NASCAR taking part in one truck race and one Nationwide series race. At the end of 2011 his return to F1 was confirmed.
Lotus (2012 – present)
Räikkönen has had a successful return to the sport being only one of three drivers to complete every racing lap as well as taking five podiums (to Alonso’s six) and two fastest laps. He currently lies fifth in the championship, 48 points behind Alonso, and is yet to take the elusive first win, which Lotus have threatened on numerous occasions with Räikkönen and Grosjean.
What the fans like!
- His “I was having a sh!t” quote on the grid in Brazil
- His commercial appeal – from advertising alcohol to expensive watches, Kimi is the man!
- Spa 2004 – started tenth, took his alternative first corner line, and won the race
- His “what is the photocopier?” advert with Juan Pablo Montoya – genius.
- His NASCAR radio lines – if you haven’t read them/heard them, then you mustcheck them out here!
- His laid back attitude towards life – no fuss
- His cap
- He likes James Hunt even entering a race under his name
- The gorilla suit!!
- Suzuka 2005 – his last lap move on Giancarlo Fisichella to win the race
- His natural ability when racing – even with two years out he has lost no speed
- He rented a Fiat Panda in Brazil to look inconspicuous – only Kimi…
- He won his first ever F1 race in Malaysia on 23rd March 2003, going on to win again on the same date in 2008 for Ferrari.
- He put in a strong performance at the Hungarian GP this year (2012), putting in fast laps when it counted, and finishing the race in second after starting fifth