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Start Russian GP
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To drivers
7

Kimi Räikkönen

Alfa Romeo Racing
Nationality fin Finnish
Birthplace Espoo
Date of birth 17/10/1979 (41 yr.)
F1 debute 2001, Australië

F1 season 2021

WC Position 17
Races 12
WC points 2.0
Victories 0
Podiums 0
Pole positions 0

F1 career

World titles 1
WC points 1818
Races 342
Victories 21
Podium places 103
Pole positions 18

At 41-years-old, Kimi Raikkonen is the elder statesman of Formula 1 having made his debut back in 2001. To put that into context, Yuki Tsunoda - who debuts for AlphaTauri this year - was less than a year old when the Finn made his first F1 appearance.

Personal Information

Name Kimi-Matias Raikkonen
Team Alfa Romeo
Date of Birth October 17, 1979
Place of Birth Espoo, Finland
Age 41
Height 1.75m (5' 8")
Weight 70kg
Nationality Finnnish
Race Number 7

Biography of Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen

Born in Espoo, Finland, Kimi first found success in karting at the age of just 10. After winning numerous racing in his home country, Raikkonen would venture out to Monaco at the age of 15, in order to compete in international karting series.

During his time there, he experienced two racing incidents that would have shaken up most of his peers. In one particular race, the Finn's steering wheel broke, while in another, he was thrown into a safety fence after a first-lap crash. Undeterred, he continued driving, after lifting his car back onto the circuit.

A few years later, he would go onto win the 1998 Nordic Championship at Varna. In 1999, he would also place second in the European Formula Super A championship, adding to his cache within the world of motorsport. Kimi's turning point would come in the UK, after winning the British Formula Renault Winter Series, and the Formula Renault UK Championship in consecutive years. Over the course of the two series, he won 13 out of 23 events - with a remarkable 57 percent win rate. This would soon alert the attention of Peter Sauber, who was quick to spot Raikkonen's remarkable talent.

Joining Sauber

In the summer of 2000, Peter Sauber offered Raikkonen a test in one of his Formula 1 cars. The boss of the Sauber F1 team acted quickly, after the Finn's fantastic showing in the Formula Renault championship events. He instantly made an impression, after lapping almost half a second quickest around the Mugello Circuit than the team's current driver, Pedro Diniz.

The team intentionally kept the news of his test under wraps, so as not to alert any other potential suitors on the F1 grid. After additional tests at Jerez and Barcelona, Kimi was signed for the 2001 season, at the ripe age of 21. Hiring a driver with just 23 car races to his name drew a significant amount of criticism from the various quarters, including FIA President Max Mosely, who questioned Kimi's lack of experience.

Nevertheless, Raikkonen soon proved the doubters from with a sublime debut drive, earning a point at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix after finishing 8th on debut. Overall that season, the Finnish driver scored nine points, helping Sauber to achieve a fourth-placed finish in the Constructors Championship. After just one campaign with the perennial midfielders, Kimi would be on the move again for 2002.

The McLaren years

Despite being linked with Ferrari (Sauber's long-term engine provider) Raikkonen impressed McLaren to such an extent that they opted to sign him after just one year in F1. The British team's decision to do so was believed to be motivated by the instance of former world champion Mika Hakkinen, who waxed lyrical to Ron Dennis about his young compatriot and protege.

Raikkonen would end up taking Haikkinen's seat, after the driver decided to take a step away from the sport. It didn't take long for Kimi to make his mark at McLaren after he finished third in his debut race to earn a place on the podium. In spite of the team's many engine failures, Raikkonen more than held his own against experienced teammate David Coulthard, scoring 24 points with four podium finishes.

For 2003, McLaren would arrive for the new season with a much more competitive car, capable of regular race wins. The team's new Flying Finn would make the very most of this, winning his first F1 race at Malaysia that year, after starting from seventh on the gird. He would go on to achieve a number of second-place finishes from there, including at Monaco, where he was less than a second behind race winner Juan Pablo Montoya at the chequered flag.

Raikkonen's second race win of the season would come at the final race, where he needed to win and hope that Ferrari's Michael Schumacher didn't finish in order to win the 2003 Driver's World Championship. Raikkonen played his part, winning the race in style, but Schumacher coming home in the points meant that the German held on to take his sixth F1 world title.

The following year would prove to be a largely frustrating one for Kimi. In a season dominated by Ferrari, he would take just one victory, at the circuit he heralds as his personal favorite - Spa. 12 months on, and it was a very different story indeed. Much like in 2003, McLaren, by the end of the season, had a car capable of winning both 2005 championships. The MP4-20 was arguably the quickest car on the grid, but it was hamstrung by a serious lack of reliability.

After a sluggish start, Raikkonen would go on to take three consecutive Pole Positions, in San Marino, Spain and Monaco - where he would also take the race win. Renault's Fernando Alonso very much set the pace early on in 2005, but the McLaren man kept himself in the title hunt with a mid-season revival. The weekend that proved to be most costly came on the back of Monaco, during the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

After leading for virtually the entire race, a flat-spotted tyre caused such drastic vibrations that his car's suspension failed on the final lap. This resulted in Kimi crashing into the barriers, and handing Fernando Alonso a 10 point advantage heading into the second half of the season.

The pendulum swung back in Raikkonen's favour the following weekend in Canadian, where Alonso this time crashed, handing the race victory to the Finnish driver. And yet, the team's newly renewed optimism was short-lived, as the British and German Grand Prix, Raikkonen yet again was forced to retire due to engine issues. The team's persistent problems with the Mercedes power unit led to Raikkonen teasing the possibility of leaving McLaren in 2006 - if such failures continued to be a regular occurrence.

Thankfully for Kimi, engine issues did subside towards the end of the season, just in time to allow the driver to mount a serious challenge to Alonso. Wins at Hungary and Belgium's Spa circuit kept him well in the fight, but ultimately, his Spanish rival did just enough to seal the drivers championship with a race to spare. Raikkonen would famously win the last race of the 2005 season in Japan, where his McLaren team was chasing a first constructor's world title since 1998. In the end, the team fell just short, but Kimi was sensational, recovering expertly from early issues, which led to him being as low as 12th at one stage. That season, he received the F1 Racing "Driver of the Year" accolade, as well as Autosport's "Racing Driver of the Year" award.

A first world title at Ferrari

The 2006 season would be his last with McLaren. Renault and a rejuvenated Ferrari team would fight for the world championship, leaving McLaren to scrap it out for the remaining points. He failed to win a race all year, for the first time since 2002 and ended the year with a further six retirements to his name. The lack of speed and reliability coalesced, with Raikkonen coming to the conclusion that he should leave the team at the end of 2006. For 2007, he signed with Ferrari, to replace the outgoing legend - and former title rival - Michael Schumacher.

Kimi made the perfect start to life at the Italian team, winning the Australian Grand Prix on debut, ahead of McLaren duo Fernando Alonso, and rookie Lewis Hamilton. The next few races were underwhelming as far as Raikkonen was concerned, with included a disastrous Monaco weekend where he would strike the barriers during qualifying. Two fourth-place finishes in Canada and the U.S left Raikkonen 26 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton in the drivers standings - and seemingly out of contention at the halfway mark.

The fightback against Hamilton and McLaren began at the French Grand Prix, where Raikkonen leapfrogged teammate Filipe Massa at the pitstops to assume first place, and take a vital race win. This was followed up by another strong win at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, which would turn out to be the Ferrari man's third win of the 2007 season. Unsurprisingly, his next victory would be at Spa, his third in succession at the famous Belgian circuit.

Heading into the final stage of the season, Raikkonen was still trailing Hamilton in the driver's standings. The Brit won the Japanese Grand Prix at a drenched Fiji track, with Kiki coming home in third. The turning point for the two rivals came at the next race at Shanghai - for the Chinese Grand Prix. After leading for much of the race, a McLaren strategy error saw Lewis Hamilton skid off the track at the entry to the pitlane - which beached his car in the process. Kimi captialised on the youngster's misfortunate, taking his fifth win of the season.

Going into the final race of the season at Interlagos, Raikkonen was still very much the underdog in the championship fight. He was seven points behind Hamilton before the race got underway, and just three behind reigning world champion Alonso. After starting from P3 on the grid, Kimi got the better of Hamilton off the line, slotting in behind pole man Massa. The British driver endured a torrid race, suffering from a lack of pace, as well as a gearbox issue, which saw him slide down to seventh place. Simply put, this meant that a race win would hand Raikkonen the championship by a solitary point, if even managed to win the race in Brazil.

The Finn duly got past Massa to take the race win, and his first driver's world championship. it was a remarkable campaign for Raikkonen, who was a massive outsider for much of 2007, With McLaren appearing to have the better overall package. Two challenging years would follow at Ferrari after the driver's biggest ever triumph, with Massa outperforming Raikkonen in 2007 - just missing out on that year's driver's title to Hamilton.

The 2009 season proved to be even more of a disappointment for Raikkonen, with his Ferrari car being well off the pace for much of the campaign. To Kimi's credit, he did take yet another special win at Spa, although that would be his last Ferrari victory for just under a decade.

Leaving Formula 1

The 2009 season took a hefty toll on Raikkonen, who would leave Formula 1 altogether ahead of 2010. Despite having a contract with the team, Ferrari opted to instead bring in two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who would be paired alongside Filipe Massa. The expectation was that Raikkonen would re-sign for former team McLaren, but negotiations soon broke down.

Talks reportedly took place with Mercedes GP and Toytota, but nothing materialised ahead of the 2010 season. This eventually led to Raikkonen taking an enforced break away from F1, which would see the drive indulge some of his other motorsport passions. He tried his hand at Rallying in 2010 and 2011, as well as NASCAR - although the latter pursuit was less than spectacular. He enjoyed more success in Rallying, however, ending the 2011 World Rallying Championship in a respectable 10th position.

F1 comeback

By the end of the 2011 F1 season, it emerged that Raikkonen was eyeing a return to the series. After first being spotted at the headquarters of the Williams team, Raikkonen was announced as the new driver for Lotus F1 ahead of the 2012 season. He signed a two-year contract with the team that was formerly known as Renault, who were well-positioned in 2012 to compete at the sharp end of the grid.

After finishing in the points in the first two races of the 2012 season, Raikkonen registered back-to-back podium finishes for Lotus, in Bahrain and Spain. The first of those, at the Sakhir circuit, very nearly ended in a race win, but it was ultimately Red Bull driver Sebastiaan Vettel who took the chequered flag after overtaking Kimi late on. A win was forthcoming for Raikkonen in 2012, although he had to wait until the end of the season to seal it. The Finn drove masterfully at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to win his first race for Lotus and his first following a two-year F1 sabbatical.

Raikkonen stayed on with Lotus for 2013, and would once again register a win for the team, this time at the opening race of the season. His victory at Melbourne's Albert park circuit saw the driver masterfully manage his tyres to make the two-stop strategy work, while most other drivers stopped for a third time. Lotus had a very competitive car for much of the season, with Kimi going on to finish on the podium a further seven times that year - although none of those appearances were on the top step.

His time with the British team did end in somewhat acrimonious circumstances, with a salary dispute seeing Raikkonen not appear at the final two races of the season. The reason cited was due to the driver not wanting to delay a back surgery, but it was clear that the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the last in which Raikkonen would drive for the Lotus team.

Ferrari return

For the 2014 season, which ushered in a new era of V6 turbo-hybrid engines, Kimi Raikkonen rejoined Ferrari. He signed a lucrative two-year deal to return to the team who helped him win the 2007 F1 drivers world title, where he would initially be partnered alongside Fernando Alonso. Sadly for the former world champion racers, they were given a car for the 2014 season that was nowhere near capable of winning races - let alone championships.

Raikkonen was handsomely beaten by Alonso in the driver's standings, with 2014 being his first season in F1 2001 in which he didn't appear on the podium at all. The Espoo native faired slightly better in 2015, after finishing third at that season's Singapore and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events. It was in 2015 where Kimi would be pair alongside his rival and close friend Sebastian Vettel, who moved to Ferrari from Red Bull in the off-season. The two grew close during their time as teammates, although the German very much got the better of Raikkonen on the track.

Kimi would enjoy three more seasons with Ferrari after 2015, with each car getting progressively more competitive. He earned a pair of second-place finishes in 2017, before finally winning a race with the team at the 2018 U.S Grand Prix - if first for Ferrari since 2009. While his last ever race for the team would end in retirement, Raikkonen did follow up on the Austin win with two more podium finishes to round off the 2018 season in style. In a year where Ferrari were competitive with eventual Constructor champions until the very end, Raikkonen managed to pip Valtteri Bottas to third in the driver's standings.

			© Alfa Romeo
	© Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo swansong

In September 2018, it was announced that Raikkonen would leave Ferrari to rejoin Sauber on a two-year contract. The team known as Sauber would be re-branded as Alfa Romeo for the 2019 season, with their driver, Charles Leclerc, taking Kimi's seat at Ferrari in turn.

Since rejoining his old team, who first gave him an opportunity in F1, the veteran drier has largely impressed. He got off to a fine start in his first season back at Alfa, scoring 31 points from the first 12 races. During the same period, his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi only scored one point. In the second half of the campaign, Alfa struggled for pace, meaning that Raikkonen ended the season in 12th position in the driver standings.

The following season would be defied by the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a truncated F1 calendar of just 17 races. Alfa Romeo had one of the slowest cars on the grid, powered by the Ferrari Power-unit - which was especially low on power in 2020. Kimi only scored points on two occasions - at the Tuscan Grand Prix where he finished ninth, and at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix where he was once again ninth. This placed him 16th in the drivers standings on four points for the season, although this did put him ahead once again of teammate Giovinazzi.

Raikkonen's 323rd Formula 1 race start at the Eifel Grand Prix in 2020 saw him break Rubens Barrichello's record for the most F1 starts in history.

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