Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #9: Kimi Raikkonen

2019 F1 season review

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Kimi Raikkonen’s season was almost the opposite of Pierre Gasly’s, though not to the same extremes. Having been second among the midfielders in the championship at the summer break, he only finished in the points once over the rest of the season.

But what a result that was: Fourth place at Interlagos, the team’s best finish since Kamui Kobayashi finished on the podium at Suzuka seven years ago when it was still called Sauber.

No longer up against a driver with comparable talent and experience as he was last year, Raikkonen easily showed Antonio Giovinazzi the way for much of the season. Over the opening races Raikkonen was consistently among the top 10 – like Daniel Ricciardo, doing exactly the kind of consistent points-grabbing which someone of his calibre is expected to do when they trade a front-running car for a midfield one.

But it was telling how swiftly Giovinazzi got on terms with Raikkonen’s one-lap pace. Combine Giovinazzi’s late-season Saturday performances with Raikkonen’s dependably superb race pace and it’s hard to avoid the impression Alfa Romeo were capable of better than eighth in the championship.

That Brazil result disguised the fact the car’s performance slumped badly in the second half of the season, reaching a low at the very final race. But Raikkonen, too, was off his game when the season restarted.

He incurred a slight leg injury ahead of his return at Spa, enough to prompt the team to summon reserve driver Marcus Ericsson to be on hand for the race weekend, though he wasn’t needed. Raikkonen tangled with Verstappen at the start, which ruined his race.

Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying10/19
Beat team mate in race16/18
Races finished19/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate882/1187
Qualifying margin-0.004s

There were some notably poor performances over the following events. He crashed twice at Monza, tangled needlessly with Daniil Kvyat in Singapore, ruined his race with a jump start at Sochi and was never in the hunt for points at Suzuka.

With the end of the season in sight, Raikkonen raised his game. He deserved points at Circuit of the Americas but the car wasn’t quick enough. Then at Interlagos he capitalised on the chaos ahead of him for that fourth place – though a podium was in the offing had he found a way past Sainz ahead of him on older tyres.

Leaving Ferrari behind for the less corporate environment of a team which, though labelled by a car manufacturer, is closer in spirit to the independent team he arrived in F1 with, seems to have agreed with Raikkonen. But his late-season dip in performance tempts the inevitable question whether he’s got the appetite for 20-plus races a year in a car which at its best is unlikely to put him in the hunt for podiums.

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Over to you

What’s your verdict on Kimi Raikkonen’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “2019 F1 driver rankings #9: Kimi Raikkonen”

  1. slightly overrated this year ?

  2. Just why Kimi did not achieve more in F1 is a big book that only Keith can write. Saward and James Allen have both faded lately.

    Certainly the greatest Finn ever in F1. Rosberg and Hakkinen did not win at Ferrari.
    IIRC, now that Lauda is gone, Kimi is the only Ferrari champion still active and is likely to remain their last champ until Verstappen gets the call from Maranello.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      19th December 2019, 8:39

      Schekter is alive too, and technically, so is Schumacher

      1. He said active.

      2. He said active though.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      19th December 2019, 11:13

      There is a motorsport site explaining that Kimi never adapted to the tyre monopoly from 2007 onwards. It makes sense.
      Before that, we all know he was not champion in 2003 and 2005 because of McLaren’s reliability.

      1. @Jose
        yes that does make sense and a part of the story. Tyres also did for Schumacher: soon as he lost the secret formula Bridgestones he stopped winning.
        For Kimi there was also politics at Ferrari which affected him badly…

    3. Vertsappen is black-listed at Ferrari for publicly disrepecting them.

  3. But what a result that was: Fourth place at Interlagos,

    Yet primarily the result of good fortune rather than solid racing on Kimi’s part.
    The 2nd part of his season was very – what shall I say – ‘meh’.

    1. Perhaps a non-developed car might have had something to do with the 2nd part of his season???

  4. But his late-season dip in performance tempts the inevitable question whether he’s got the appetite for 20-plus races a year in a car which at its best is unlikely to put him in the hunt for podiums.

    He said why he went to Sauber last year, after he won COTA. He’s closer to home, and he gets to drive, which he still enjoys. Seems like a superb deal for someone as laid back as Raikkonen. I bet he doesn’t even care if he scores a podium again, that last win didn’t change anything for him as he said in the Press Conference.

    Besides, performance-wise, he’s always had those dips… like late 2008, late 2013, most of 2014… he seems to be in it just for the fun.

  5. I feel he has been underrated by some. He was probably the most consistent midfield driver in the first half of the season with a points haul that nearly outscored Kyvat and Hulkenbergs entire season tally. He also was in the running for a podium in the early stages of the German Grand Prix but a horrible strategy put him out of contention and I feel like no one noticed (although he would have been penalised anyway later) and again he was very close to a podium in Brazil.

    Yes, he did start losing his qualifying edge over his teammate towards the end of the season but he absolutely dominated him in the races.

    In the end, he wasn’t that far off Ricciardo, Perez and Norris in the points and they all had a far better car except for Perez.

  6. Well after a few years with Ferrari I think how this season went 9th is a solid place for Kimi. In Spa he was 5th in the first corner and without the collision he could have got some good points in that Alfa.

  7. Overrated by ages.
    Giovinazzi didn’t race previous two years. He was slowly getting better to the point when Raikkonen’s “superb” pace disappeared. They had quite reliable car, good race operations and avoided tons of bad luck (which suffered drivers with Renault engine mostly), so he scored a lot of points.
    I suppose guys like Alonso, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg or Perez would be “best of the rest” with C38.

    1. I didn’t see an option to edit a post.
      Off course I mean “best of the rest behind McLaren drivers”.

  8. Interesting choice, but defendable.

    In hindsight, would you pick Vettel or Raikkonen? For Ferrari this year? Seems like a toss-up. Vettel brought a lot of grief to Ferrari this year. Seems like the ability bto have that debate is a win for Kimi.

  9. I would’ve placed Kimi a little bit higher, but the marginals in upper-midfield are tiny so 9th is somewhat acceptable.

    But I get the feeling if it was Alonso drivibg that Sauber and scoring similar amount of points a rank in TOP-4 would’ve been guaranteed for him.

    1. Who is Alonso?

    2. The name Alonso guarantees a top four finish anyway.

      Who knows, maybe Kieth will throw him in this years rankings:)

      1. Alonso is phenomenal but don’t be delusional. As good as Alonso is, he didn’t score a point in Minardi (he’s considered great in that team anyway).

    3. @huhhii Maybe because Alonso beat his teammate 21-0 in qualifying, and not 10-9. Not to mention that he managed more points in that 2018 McLaren than Raikkonen managed this year, and miles ahead of his teammate in every single session, something Raikkonen cannot lay claim to. And Vandoorne is no worse of a driver than Giovinazzi; in fact, I rate him higher.

      1. Yes, there’s no comparison between alonso and raikkonen, at least these last years, if you go back to 2005 you might have a point saying raikkonen was competitive, he didn’t age well!

      2. @mashiat Sure in qualifying things are on Alonso’s side, but it’s the race what matters and there Kimi dominated his skilled team mate (did you follow GP2 when Giovinazzi was driving there?). Not to mention Verstappen crashing to Kimi at Spa, which was supposed to be one of the better tracks for Sauber or disqualification and lost podium at Hockenheim.

        All I’m saying is it’s very hard to pick between those two drivers. Okay, Kimi is a little bit faster and better driver than Alonso, but for some reason Kimi’s results aren’t appreciated around here in a same way Alonso’s are.

        1. Okay, Kimi is a little bit faster and better driver than Alonso, but for some reason Kimi’s results aren’t appreciated around here in a same way Alonso’s are.

          No matter how biased you are … there’s still no way you can genuinely believe that. I’ve never seen a comment as ridiculous as this on RaceFans.. and I’ve seen a bunch of ridiculous ones.

          Did you watch the 2014 season? What were your thoughts on the Alonso-Kimi performance in the same machinery?

        2. @huhhii You make it seem as if Alonso didn’t dominate Vandoorne by an even larger extent in the races. Vandoorne managed 24% of Alonso’s points, Giovinazzi managed 32.5% of Raikkonen’s. And that would have increased if not for the disqualification in Hockenheim which you mentioned. And you talk about Giovinazzi’s performances in GP2? He didn’t even win the title in one of the weakest fields in F2. Vandoorne was dominating GP2 and competing for the Super Formula title before joining McLaren. I don’t see at all how you came to the conclusion that Raikkonen is quicker. His pure pace was quite embarrassing from 2014-2018. I assume you remember the 2014 season? Or did you erase it from your memory given Raikkonen was genuinely made to look pathetic?

          1. @mashiat 32.5% and 24% isn’t a massive difference now is it? And the difference would’ve been larger if Verstappen wouldn’t have crashed into Kimi at Spa. TOP-6 finish was possible there for him.

            @todfod As this video explains Alonso’s and Kimi’s driving styles are hugely different. 2014 car didn’t suit Kimi at all. He is pretty much immortal, but if he has one weakness it’s his poor ability to adapt to a car which isn’t to his liking. Kimi had his say regarding 2015 car and had they stayed team mates I’m confident Kimi would’ve won the team mate battle. But of course this is just a speculation, as we all know what happened in real life after 2014.

            I don’t really care whether you think Alonso is better than Kimi. It’s your opinion and you’re entitled to have one. But so am I.

          2. @huhhii

            2014 car didn’t suit Kimi at all.

            I just don’t buy these kind of excuses. First of all, the really top notch drivers adapt to any car, just like how Alonso does. If Kimi can’t , then he’s not quite top drawer material to begin with. Secondly, you can’t get a stronger apples to apples comparison other than when both the drivers have the same car. Heck, was a few hundred country miles away from Alonso on almost every weekend… an easy 2 tiers below Alonso as a driver.

            But yes, you are entitled to your opinion. I don’t think anything I say would change your opinion anyway.

        3. @huhhii, the fact that Kimi had such an advantage over Giovinazzi is, to me, more of an indictment over how bad Giovinazzi’s season was, rather than a sign that Kimi was really all that great.

          To be blunt, Kimi absolutely should have dominated Giovinazzi – whilst Giovinazzi did do reasonably well in GP2, albeit aided by the fact he drove for Prema, that was in 2016. After those two races for Sauber in early 2017, the only race he took part in was in the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he was driving a GTE category car.

          Quite simply, with the amount of experience Kimi has, against a rookie who hadn’t raced a single seater racing car for two years, he should be coming out on top – indeed, there were those taking a more objective analysis who reckoned the odds were heavily in Kimi’s favour and really didn’t expect much from Giovinazzi.

          Equally, it’s really questionable whether you should be using a video from 2006 to discuss driving styles in 2014 – there is an eight year gap between 2006 and 2014, and it ignores the way that Alonso’s driving style evolved in subsequent years.

          Kimi’s driving style basically hasn’t evolved since 2006, but if you look at the way that Alonso drove his cars then, and then compare it to the way in which he drove his cars in subsequent years, you can see that he used different turn in techniques in different years to fit different cars. The way that cars such as the R25 and R26 were designed meant that they reacted relatively well to that sort of driving style, but in later years Alonso’s style would adapt to different cars.

          In fact, in 2014 there were quite a few trackside observers who commented on the way that Alonso was having to throw the 2014 car around and how his driving style was different. He was relying on being able to induce oversteer to help turn the car into the corner in a style that was more reminiscent of Kimi or Schumacher, as the front end of the F14 T really responded very poorly to the sort of aggressive turn in style that Brundle described back in 2006.

          Similarly, when you look at the technical analysis that Giorgio Piola ran on the front suspension of the 2014 car, he noted the front suspension would induce quite a lot of front tyre scrub. The sort of rapid steering movements that Alonso might have made in 2006 would have been disastrous for the 2014 car – it would have sent the surface temperatures skyrocketing and destroyed the inner shoulder of the front tyres with that technique, which is why Alonso wasn’t using that technique in 2014.

  10. He is a solid driver. Understands which is his race and which isnt, which may not be as exciting as the wheel to wheel from the youngsters, but is necessary too. Having said that Alfa would need at least an exciting driver in the other seat.

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