F1 Fanatic guest writer Journeyer concludes his look at Kimi Raikkonen’s F1 career so far…
Kimi Raikkonen is known by many to be fast and good-looking. But he’s also an enigma – he’s not exactly outgoing, and he shuns PR events.
As Raikkonen’s lustre in F1 began to wane, many questioned his commitment to the sport. He’s also been involved in some of the worst-kept secrets in F1 history. But his achievements on track were still amazing.
2005 – If in 2003 he had a reliable but slow car, Raikkonen now had a fast but unreliable car for his second proper title charge. His lowest low that year took place on the last lap in the European Grand Prix. Having flat-spotted his tyre severely, he and the team gambled on staying out to fight for the win. But the Renault of Fernando Alonso was closing in. Here’s what happened:
Japan saw Raikkonen’s highest high that year – and it also happened on the last lap. He had to fight all race to get to the front after an unlucky wet-dry qualifying. Now, he was closing on the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella. Raikkonen tried to hold him off, but something had to give…
2006 – Raikkonen’s car wasn’t quite on the pace of Ferrari and Renault that year, but it didn’t stop him being in the news. By the time we got to Brazil, the worst-kept secret of the year had long been confirmed – Raikkonen was replacing Schumacher at Ferrari. That said, he wasn’t going to be any more deferential to Schumacher than he already was. Remember this grid walk from Interlagos?
But on the track, Schumacher gave Raikkonen something to remember him by. It was a great fight, but in the end, the Ferrari driver squeezed past the McLaren.
2007 – Entering 2007, Raikkonen was the hot favourite to win the title – and he initially confirmed it by winning in Australia. But McLaren’s ascendancy since then made it seem unlikely. But he stayed in range by winning semi-regularly. He also won in Belgium for the third time in succession. Here’s his pole position lap onboard.
With two races to go Raikkonen was 17 points behind and, surely, out of contention. But with a little help from Lewis Hamilton’s misfortune, Raikkonen found himself crossing the line in Brazil as the world champion. Almost no-one saw it coming – and many were pleasantly surprised by the result:
2008 – His title defence year began relatively well – he won in Malaysia, then won again in Spain. His Barcelona pole lap is shown here. Little did we know that he wouldn’t win another race that season. In fact, he hasn’t won a race since.
The closest Raikkonen has come to winning a race since was at Spa last year. And he did lead much of the race after passing Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton early on. But as the conditions deteriorated, Hamilton fought back, and we witnessed the most exciting and controversial moment of the season.
2009 – This hasn’t been a vintage season for Raikkonen – or Ferrari, for that matter. He’s scored a few podiums, but the car just isn’t fast enough for him to compete for wins. That said, Raikkonen still has the occasional moment of brilliance. He has also used KERS to full advantage to rocket off the grid during race starts. Here’s one such example in Hungary just a few weeks ago.
So what does the future hold for Kimi Raikkonen? This could be the answer – rallying. He took part in his first WRC event this year in Rally Finland, competing in a Fiat Abarth. World Rally Radio reported that many in the WRC paddock have been praising Kimi’s speed right off the bat. He’s rumoured to have received offers from Ford and Citroen, but there’s also a suggestion he could be leading a full-time Fiat effort from next season.
All this would conveniently open the door for Fernando Alonso to move to Ferrari next season. With many people believing this to be true, this is looking like another one of those badly-kept secrets.
Whatever Raikkonen wants to do, he’ll always have a love for racing. And even if we know precious little about Raikkonen, his speed and his love of racing (even if it isn’t F1) should make us support him all the more.