Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

2020 F1 driver rankings #12: Kimi Raikkonen

2020 F1 season review

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In his 18th season of Formula 1, Kimi Raikkonen was a dependable performer for Alfa Romeo, who could usually rely on him to deliver the best from the uncompetitive C39 on race day.

Unfortunately for him the car, hamstrung by its Ferrari power unit, was seldom capable of delivering points finishes. Raikkonen took the chequered flag outside the top 10 more often than any other driver: 14 times in the 17-race championship.

Qualifying was, again, not the strongest area of his game. Consistently improving team mate Antonio Giovinazzi narrowly won the Saturday contest between the pair and was clearly the quicker by the end of the season. Raikkonen did have some good Saturdays though, notably at Circuit de Catalunya, where he took advantage of the opportunity to out-qualify one of the Renaults.

However it’s doubtful that consistently starting a place or two higher up the grid would have made a massive difference to Raikkonen’s season. Time and again it was clear the C39 simply wasn’t capable of holding the higher positions even when Raikkonen contrived to take it there.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Monza, 2020
Raikkonen ran second at Monza, then the inevitable happened
This was clear at Monza, where he lined up for the restart in second place (having chivvied his team on the radio to ensure his preferred tyre set was kept warm), but sunk to 13th at the finish as car after car cruised past the Alfa Romeo as if he was towing a caravan. Raikkonen made arguably the start of the season on a damp track in Portugal to run sixth, then again saw a string of rivals breeze past in the DRS zone.

There were opportunities when the 2007 world champion was able to show his class. He climbed nine places to finish 11th at the Styrian Grand Prix, and passed both the Ferraris at Spa.

At the same race he applied such pressure to Giovinazzi that his team mate crashed. That outcome might have been avoided had the team swapped the running order of their drivers, as they had previously done in Raikkonen’s favour on more than one occasion.

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Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying8/17
Beat team mate in race9/13
Races finished16/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate453/874
Qualifying margin+0.05s

Raikkonen’s errors were infrequent and, when they happened, were usually procedural in nature. He was penalised for lining up incorrectly in his grid box at the Hungaroring, and a quick-thinking decision to pit when the Safety Car was deployed at Mugello earning him a penalty for crossing the pit entry line.

His only ‘rookie error’ of the season occured at the race where he became the most experienced driver of all time. George Russell was the victim of Raikkonen’s ironically-timed blunder.

He signed off with yet another non-points-scoring finish in Abu Dhabi, comfortably ahead of Giovinazzi, which was a result he needed after a poor Sakhir Grand Prix. With a more competitive car in 2021, there’s every reason to expect Raikkonen can return to regular points finishes in an environment where he is clearly comfortable.

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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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59 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #12: Kimi Raikkonen”

  1. 2009, I thought his career was too short.
    2021, I think his career is too long.

    1. As I see improvements since his final Ferrari years and last year, I don’t mind another year of Kimi. @jeff1s

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        21st January 2021, 12:46

        I agree. Kimi still has moments of greatness in him. And is solid all round.

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      21st January 2021, 13:53

      I don’t feel he is dragging himself. He might not be at the level of a Top Driver, but he surely is F1 level driver. For that is a pleasure to watch him; if one deserves to be there and show results, why not continue?

      Moreover, his best days were 2002-2006. He never coped perfectly with the tyre monopoly, as someone explained in 2017.

  2. No more Iron Crosses for you, Kimi.

  3. RaceFans has often been very critical towards RAI so it’s nice to see a fair season review for once. Kudos. I would have placed both him and Giovinazzi a little bit higher but that’s only nuances.

    What I can’t understand, though, is Magnussen’s ranking. No way should he be this high; no way should he be this much above Grosjean.

    1. anon, I’ve actually already written my view of magnussen’s and Grosjean’s season, mainly because I already strongly disagree just how high magnussen has been / is going to be placed. I do mention you and some of the comments you yourself have made. You will see it when I post it – it is rather long!

      1. Ha ha! I’ve written one as well, and mine is also very long. Hopefully they won’t be too similar.

        1. at least we know we won’t have copies each other. Mine will look excessive as it is nearly 2000 words, but i wanted to make it clear that I watch their seasons pretty closely and that this rating in my view isn’t really fair. And this is before we know he’s even going to be 11th!

          1. Looking forward to both your detailed reviews. @thegianthogweed.

            I recall @f1frog’s comparison of Stroll and Perez (first part of the season) and that was pretty comprehensive.

  4. someone or something
    21st January 2021, 12:26

    I have a theory:
    We all keep thinking this is a ranking of all drivers who did all or most of the season. That this driver here was ranked 11th out of 20.
    And that’s where we’re wrong. The reserve drivers were counted as well, so it’s a ranking out of 23. What we’re seeing is just the top 20, not the complete list.
    It follows that one of the next 11 drivers will be Jack Aitken.
    (My imagination almost so went wild as to suggest Hülkenberg, but that would’ve been just silly. I mean, the very first race he starts, he immediately misses the podium again. A crime far worse than actually being slow, as we all know. He was ranked 24th, of course.)

    Long story short, Magnussen was ranked 21st. Arguably a bit unfair to him, as he almost reached Grosjean’s pace in qualifying, so 20th or 19th would’ve been a better representation for how close it was.

    So, that’s it. We can stop looking for Magnussen, he was hiding in plain sight the entire time. It all makes sense, Q.E.D.

    1. Underrated comment. :)

    2. Well done. ;)

  5. If Giovanazzi get the better of Kimi towards the season’s end, I would have expected he and Kimi to be closer in the rankings

  6. Way too low as is the usual tradtion here.
    I rank Kimi 4th behind Verstappen, Hamilton and Ricciardo. A bit of a mediocre season from a driver of Kimi’s calibre.

    1. While 4th is maybe a bit too high (my top 5 are Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez and Ricciardo) I agree that 12th is way too low. Funnily enough, most of the post is about how poor the performance of the Alfa Romeo was. But supposedly it is the driver, not a car/team ranking.
      Myself I would rank Kimi comfortably in the 6th-8th place, no worse than Hamilton and way, way better than Bottas who has not shown up yet. Unless this is a car/team ranking (which mostly seems to be)

      1. If it was a car/team ranking, they would be in championship order. So far, I think the rankings have been very good (obviously when you describe someone’s rankings as ‘very good,’ that means similar to your rankings), with the notable exception of the difference between Grosjean and Magnussen.

      2. What makes you think Hamilton and Kimi are on the same level? I’m not going to disagree yet, but I’m just interested.

        1. For starters, I don’t think Hamilton has done a lap comparable to Kimi’s first lap in Portimao in his whole career

          1. How often does Hamilton start that far back?

          2. It was a amazing lap for sure. If we’re making these rankings based on best first laps, Kimi should top the list.

    2. @huhhii

      Hard to say whether you’re serious or joking.

      1. @todfod You just can’t leave me be can’t you? Yeah, I’m always serious. Lookibg forward to see Ocon completely trashing Alonso, an all-time 2nd most overrated driver (Schumi is number one just to let you know)

        1. Yeah, I’m always serious


          Just asking because your comments are ridiculous. Would love to see the look on your face when Alonso laps kimi next season.. Just like he did when they were teammates.. Lol

          1. @todfod Such a shame for that it won’t happen :) Kimi would probably lap Alonso even with a Fiat Punto because Alonso would deliberately crash into someone just like he did with Doornbos in Hungary 2006. He is also very good at crashing on his own as Belgian GP 2010 proves.

          2. @huhhii

            Kimi would probably lap Alonso even with a Fiat Punto

            He couldn’t even come close to Alonso when he was driving a Ferrari. I don’t think the Fiat Punto is faster than a rocket ship… even if it was .. Kimi would qualify behind Giovinazzi… lol.

          3. @todfod Do you get enjoyment from all of this? Because I have to admit I kinda do.

          4. @huhhii

            I do to. It’s silly but fun.

  7. This ‘Where’s Magnussen?’ thing is getting silly. Even Kevin will be looking for a mirror soon to confirm where he is.

  8. How to forget the first lap in Portugal, probably one of the best lap of the year including qualif. Then there is no chance to hang in there with the car he had but definitely need a mention in the summary.
    People tends to write off his race because he only went backward from there but there was not other way for that Alfa unfortunately. I think it undermines a driver to know he has no chance to really improve or maintain position.

    Anyway fair place considering his year.

    Don’t understand either where is Magnussen, did he win a race that I missed?

  9. Raikkonen took the chequered flag outside the top 10 more often than any other driver

    I don’t understand this sentence. Latifi finished more races inside the top ten than Raikkonen? Or is this sentence explained by the fact that other drivers had several retirements and therefore didn’t technically “take the chequered flag” in any position?

    1. I would think the latter- first you have to finish, and all that

    2. other drivers had several retirements and therefore didn’t technically “take the chequered flag” in any position?

      Must be that, @alfa145. But it is not ‘more often’ as also Latifi had 14 instances.
      Raikkonen/Latifi 14x
      Russell 12x
      Giovinazzi/Grosjean 11x
      Magnussen 9x
      Kvyat/Vettel 8x

  10. 🕵️ Kev?

    1. On top of Valt surely

  11. Jose Lopes da Silva
    21st January 2021, 13:47

    There were 8 “magnussen” keywords when I got here.

    1. #StopTheSteal

      1. Maybe there are also millions of voting deads in the editorial department that push KMag up the order and steal our beautiful ranking?

        1. And suitcases full of votes hidden under the tables.

    2. you just made it 9

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        21st January 2021, 19:32

        They’re 13 by now. And two “Kev”. I made it three.

  12. “With a more competitive car in 2021”

    It is far from being a certainty.

  13. To paraphrase Christian Horner from Malaysia, 2013: this is silly Keith, come on.

    I’m really gonna flip if Magnussen is ranked ahead of Bottas, but even being no.11 on this list is way, way too high for a man who could have been outqualified by his teammate had the Bahrain lap 1 incident not happened. And even after that, he should have been miles ahead (and I mean MILES) of Grosjean’s stand-in Fittipaldi, who had zero knowledge of the car, hadn’t raced competitively since Feb, hadn’t raced in a proper single seater championship for years, and had a middling career leading upto that point.

    I thought Grosjean’s Nurburgring performance was better than Magnussen’s sole points finish in Hungary, which was aided by a ballsy and illegal call (which he got away with, while poor Kvyat stayed within the rules and got nothing back) and Ferrari crapping the bed with Leclerc’s strategy.

  14. János Henkelmann
    21st January 2021, 15:25

    “Qualifying margin +0.05s”

    Given the guy’s age and Giovinazzi’s increasing form, this is quite impressive!

  15. @keithcollantine prepare for RAGE when Magnussen shows up

    1. Hopefully it will just be a constructive argument, rather than rage.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        21st January 2021, 19:32

        You turned off your internet between 2005 and 2010.

      2. @f1frog it was a joke. No one understands Magnussen’s position, and I’m sure most of us will be giving our opinions which surely won’t agree at all with Keith’s.

  16. I rated Kimi’s season as completely unremarkable and I expect the same from him this season.

    That being said, I’d only rate him perhaps 1 or two places lower – he can still keep up with the lower ranked drivers but that’s about all. Gone are the days where he showed that he was still capable of driving at the pointy end, primarily because he doesn’t have the car, so I doubt he’s doing much more than going through the motions.

    Disappointing in a way that he’s holding down a seat that should arguably go to a younger, hungrier driver, but that’s F1.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      22nd January 2021, 10:24

      I mentioned it above, but let respectfuly disagree.
      F1 is a free market. If a younger, hungrier driver could do better, why don’t teams hire him (apart from money, at least, going to one of the 17 seats of today’s F1)? Giovinazzi is surely a younger and hungrier driver, but he does no better.
      Raikkonen represents the mix of speed and experience that a team wants and needs. Apart from the number of races, Raikkonen’s career will span 20 years after the next race, something only Schumacher and Alonso (along with him) were able to do.
      Dozens, hundreds of drivers, including several World Champions, were not quite F1 level anymore at 40 or even before that. Some of them retired (like Button), some of them were booted from their teams (like Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher), and some of them retired even before they acknowledged it consciently, like it happened to Damon Hill.

      Sport is also this: extending your personal limits and prove that you can be at F1 driver level for the longest period of time possible.

      The drivers who are holding down seats are those who own them, or those who aren’t booted because the team’s finances depend on them. Not those who are at F1 level even not being a Top-Driver-at-very-edge-sharp anymore (which I think Raikkonen hasn’t been since the tyre monopoly began in 2007).

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        22nd January 2021, 10:27

        Mind an error: Button was still F1 level when he decided to retire. Like Prost.

      2. I fully agree and have been always wondering about the same argument ( if you have been in F1 for years, you should automatically give your seat to some younger). This is the pinnacle of motor racing, nobody is supposed to get or give anything for free. IMO Kimi’s racecraft, car development skills and marketing value is higher than any of the ”young”, that’s why he is in the business.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          22nd January 2021, 13:11

          In Japan 2001, Raikkonen and Alesi crashed due to a mechanical failure of one of them.
          I don’t think the final 4 seasons of Alesi, post-Benetton, were as good as Kimi’s 2019 and 2020. He decided to retire at the right moment, and maybe could have done it a little before. And he was “only” 37yo.

      3. I don’t get it, why 17 seats out of 20? I presume you mean stroll isn’t worthy cause his father pays, how about the other 2?

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          22nd January 2021, 18:27

          Latifi and Mazepin.

  17. There is some bias in this ranking.
    Raikkonen and Giovinazzi have been so close that it is hard to say who did better, see the figures in the article.
    How can it be Rai 12th and Gio 16th?
    It does not seem an accurate assessment:-(

  18. I want to know who Kevin Magnussen has bribed

  19. Psst…don’t mention STS, it’s a political thing

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