Raikkonen announces he will retire after 2021 season

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Kimi Raikkonen will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season, a decision he says he took last year.

Raikkonen made the announcement via social media, writing “This is it. This will be my last season in Formula 1.”

“This is a decision I did during last winter,” his post continues. “It was not an easy decision but after this season it is time for new things.

“Even though the season is still on, I want to thank my family, all my teams, everyone involved in my racing career and especially all of you great fans that have been rooting for me all this time. Formula 1 might come to an end for me but there is a lot more in life that I want to experience and enjoy. See you around after all of this!”

Raikkonen has raced in Formula One since his debut for Sauber in 2001. He won the world drivers’ championship in 2007 but left the sport for two years following the 2009 season, before returning for Lotus in 2012.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said, in response to Raikkonen’s announcement, “Kimi is an incredible part of our sport, a personal friend and a true champion.

“I had the privilege of working with him at Ferrari and know the fantastic person he is. We will all miss him & his unique style and wish him and his family the best for the future.”

Speaking before the Belgian Grand Prix, Raikkonen said that without the two years he had spent in other motorsport, his F1 career would have been much shorter.

“At the end of 2009, I still enjoyed the racing, but the rest of it not,” Raikkonen said. “If you asked me that day, I wasn’t planning to come back, but things changed in two years and I raced in some other categories and ended up racing against the other people and I noticed how much I enjoyed it.

“So then obviously there was the option to come back and I ended up coming back, but for sure without the two years, I wouldn’t be here today. It depends on many things, obviously, from different years and teams and the people that you work with if you have fun or not.”

Valtteri Bottas is expected to replace Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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92 comments on “Raikkonen announces he will retire after 2021 season”

  1. And the first domino falls for an epic silly season

    1. Farewell, Kimi.

      You knew what you were doing.

    2. Don’t know about epic.

      It is going to be a quick and short silly season.

      The most epic silly seasons I think have been the 2018 and 2016 ones where literally anything could have happened

    3. No change at Ferrari. No change at Red Bull. No change at McLaren. Hamilton stays at Mercedes. No change at Alpine. Probably no change at Aston Martin.

      What epic are you talking about?

    4. No change at Ferrari. No change at Red Bull. No change at McLaren. Hamilton stays at Mercedes. No change at Alpine. Probably no change at Aston Martin.

      What epic are you talking about?

      1. @f1mre. Well if the rumors are true, Russell to Mercedes. Bottas to Alfa. Giovinnazi out. de Vries in at Alfa. Albon in at Williams. That’s quite a lot of change all up and down the field. Not everything has to be at the top teams for a silly season to have far reaching ramifications. Although the Russel move to Merc will certainly spice up next season and would be epic enough on its own with all the inter team issues that may arise as well as the battles with Red Bull getting more fierce.

        1. I would look up what “epic” means. Seriously.

          “Interesting”? Yes
          “Very Interesting”? Possibly
          “Epic”? Never in a million years(which, ironically, would be “epic”)

  2. Kimi was definitely past his expire date driving wise , but he’ll be missed as a figure in the sport. For us who grew up with the early 00’s Formula 1, this is another guy from these days exiting, after a stunning career. Thank you Kimi and hopefully he can score some points in the upcoming races

    1. He will indeed be missed, much so, given his character. I started following F1 in ’99….of all the guys i’ve come across he’s the one i’ve always praised. That and Zanardi the half season i saw him in F1 (and ever since). Kimi, despite being past his expire date, was still loved so much. To me being great in the sport is (unrealistically, i know) more than just being fast. He feels like the last one from a generation, maybe together with Alonso. If i’m not mistaking everyone except Alonso en Raikkonen are from 2007 or later, right?

      1. Yeah Alonso and Raikkonen are the only ones from the class of ’01. Before 2007.

        Reply moderated
      2. I started following in the same year. Kimi has always been good to watch. Raikkonen and Montoya at Mclaren will probably always be my favorite ever driver line-up.

        1. I loved that lineup as well. But for Montoya’s “tennis injury”, 2005 could have turned out a lot different.

  3. Raikkonen was one of the first drivers I really grew to support and helped me get into F1, so seeing him leave will be sad – as for him I think this will be it, no popping back. Though I do think it’s the right time for him to go. Excellent champion that was arguably better than just the one championship he holds, and a character that F1 will miss.

    1. Definitely he could be triple WDC to Alonso’s one. Maybe he is in a parallel universe.

  4. His comeback years (2012-2021) lasted more than his original career (2001-2009).

    Farewell to a LEGEND who knows what he’s doing…

  5. Yep that makes sense and about time too.

  6. Unsurprising, although I expect this announcement on Monza weekend. I wonder if this might subsequently speed up the Bottas/Russell announcements.

    1. I thought I typed expected, silly me.

  7. Sad, but it’s time. And i say this as a Kimi fan since the early 2000’s…. probably 2 or 3 years late. Not that i’m sad we got those extra few years of Kimi, but what did he really achieve trundling around in an Alfa Romeo for a few years?, We got some glimpses of the old racing machine he was, but more often than not, it was a painful reminder that the once ferocious turn of speed he had was long gone, and a bang average guy like Giovinazzi, at least over one lap, now had the measure of him.

    He’s effectively had 2 full F1 careers, been a race winner in them both for multiple teams, won 1 world title, should have had 1 or 2 more, driven and won for top teams, is still Ferrari’s last world champion, competed against 2 of the greatest drivers of all time in Schumacher and Hamilton, Driven over multiple eras of car, engine and tyre regs and won races in them all. Now competing v the sons of the guys he raced in his first career late in his 2nd. It’s an incredible career.

    Thanks Kimi, It’s been a blast.

    1. He achieved tens of millions of dollars in those last years at Alfa Romeo…

      1. LOL! Well put. His kids’ racing careers are well funded now! They are fun to watch karting and doing other silly Finn ice nonsense :) I wouldn’t drop his Instagram quite yet, I don’t think you’ve seen the last Raikkonen in F1.

    2. @mrcento He had fun, and that was all it was about for him in the later years. So I think our perspective of was-it-worth-it? is very different to his.

  8. The biggest raw talent of his generation.

    1. @afonic Alonso is probably up there with him tbh. Those 2 battling it for the title in 2005 was really quite amazing to (come back and) watch (I wasn’t an F1 fan at that time, so it’s mainly watching replays for me). Shame Kimi’s car was so unreliable, otherwise we could have had an even better battle going down to the last race…

      1. @randommallard he certainly is, he had the whole package! But Kimi’s raw speed was something else. I still think he could have easily been a multiple champion if he had a bit more luck and if he took F1 a bit more seriously!

      2. after reading this comment I went back and watched a couple of the 2005 races. Kimi was good, but what really was noticeable was how much more agile the cars were back then. They were impressively quicker, maybe not in lap times, but visibly more reactive. Something that helped was that cameras weren’t always focusing full frame on the car, but covered the corner. Anyway, it was much more exciting racing, especially considering they had to do a full race distance on one set of tires and no DRS. F1, with the increased size and weight of the cars, is getting slower and slower even though lap records are being broken, if you get my drift. It has been dumbed down with DRS and tire requirements. Sorry to see Kimi go, but it was time. Thanks Kimi, it was fun.

        Reply moderated
  9. I must admit I was never much of a fan when he was at his peak in his ‘first’ career, but he’s grown on me recently. It’s been great to have him on the grid for nostalgia purposes. However, given his lack of pace and occasional strange error this year, it’s probably the right decision. And we’ve still got Alonso to satisfy my nostalgia!

    1. I agree @tflb. I have never really like him that much but like you he has grown on me. Perhaps because he has mellowed with age and is less caustic than he used to be. I think one WDC is about what he deserves unlike some others here who think he deserves more. I think although he was quick to begin with, he was always a little over-rated and he certainly faded quite quickly from the heights of being WDC. He seems quite a decent person though and I think he’s definitely made the right decision.

      1. I dunno @phil-f1-21, in his prime he was an amazing driver and should have won the title in 2005 I believe were it not for that reliability. Two times champ, like Mika, seems about right for me. Maybe 1.5!

  10. I always rated his McLaren days higher than all that followed. He was spectacular in that 2005 MP4-20, but somehow faded (in my eyes) while contemporaries like Alonso adapted better to the changes in F1 (the Michelins, refuelling, all that).

    Still, one of those drivers that move people. Impressing given that, back then, we didn’t have social media to hype every “bwoah” up. He was just a cult hero in the obscure new forums that popped everywhere in the early 2000s, the avatars and signatures of many people… If so many people love you, you’ve left your mark regardless of on-track achievements (which he had many too).

    1. Yeah, he was so good at McLaren

  11. And with his retirement of course, only Alonso remains as the last survivor of the V10s, 1 hour of qualy, tyre wars, tobacco sponsorships.

    Incredible to think how much it’s changed… Alonso is going to live yet another “era” next year too!

    1. Totally agree with you. Alonso is the Manny Paquiao of F1, one of the old times great.

  12. The timing is KR doing his own thing in his own time as he always has and as he does at the beginning of the end, knowing what is coming in Monza. He must have told Vasseur a long time ago.

  13. Now thats over with, what a lineup for the 2024 Ferrari LmH in the LeMans24 with Räikkönen, 2 time winner Toni Vilander and young gun Luka Nurmi

    1. Kimi doing LeMans. Dat would be nice!

  14. Farewell to an absolute legend of the sport and the last of the old school drivers. For whatever reason, the Kimi highs just stand out more than for other drivers – his awesome drives like Abu Dhabi 2012, COTA 2018, his fantastic radio exchanges with his engineers and of course his propensity for magnums during red flags and post retirement vodkas on his yacht. It’ll be a long time (if ever) before F1 sees his ilk again.

  15. Happy retirement to him. I always liked him as a driver and person as there was no dirty stuff or self-glorification, just rugged get-on-with-it attitude, but wasn’t always impressed with his skills if I’m to be honest. In a way he lucked into the 2007 title when McLaren didn’t sort their drivers, but was ‘best of the rest’ as they say. Retirement came a few years too late for his legacy perhaps, but I still liked that he didn’t give a toss and just wanted to do what he liked, no matter what people said.

    1. Not sure if you wee watching F1 prior to 2007. Lucked in hmm. Go and recap the 2003 and 2005 season and then come back and read this comment my friend.

      1. I did watch it. He was good on his day, but never in the top league IMO.

        1. @balue I’m sorry, but we’re talking about a driver that was two points shy of winning the 2003 WDC against the then all mighty combo of Schumacher and Ferrari, with a 2002 car that was barely developed because McLaren focused on the 2003 car… that never raced. And that’s considering his engine popped in Nurburgring while he was leading the race.

          If he wasn’t in the top league in 2003, then there was simply no top league that year.

          1. @warheart So did Massa against McLaren-Hamilton, but that doesn’t mean he’s a top driver.
            Yes Raikkonen was good that year, but I’m obviously summing up the career at retirement now.

    2. @balue Raikkonen lost a 3rd place in Spain, and another in Germany, due to technical failures, while Alonso lost 0 points to reliability, and Hamilton maybe a maximum of 4 in Brazil. But sure, Raikkonen got lucky.

      1. but lets get real, if McLaren had a no. 1 driver (which they should have , in retrospect) he would have never won the championship. so yes in that sense, he “lucked in”, but of course he truly deserved it at the same time too

        1. @nickthegreek @wsrgo Correct. McLaren was good enough to practically cakewalk the season, but the drivers took points off eachother and feuded unecessarily as all they needed was one point more. (Dennis should have steered this, but didn’t and lost a championship which is about as poor as a team principaling as you get).

        2. @nickthegreek @balue if McLaren had a no.1 and no.2 policy then it’s very unlikely they would’ve had some of the marginal 1-2 finishes they ended up with, especially in Malaysia and Italy. That would have given Raikkonen an additional 4 points, with both his 3rd places likely getting upgraded to 2nd. Also you could make the same assumption about Ferrari…until Massa’s car failure in Monza, both Ferrari drivers were taking points off each other too.

        3. but lets get real, if McLaren had a no. 1 driver (which they should have , in retrospect) he would have never won the championship.

          This is a tricky call. If they had a number 2 like Kovalainen in 2008 they would hardly stand a chance of clinching the WCC title (Spygate aside). If they had a stronger driver like Button or Rosberg as an assigned number 2 they don’t get satisfied with that situation. It looks like the “perfect number 2” is a myth created by team bosses to protect status quo. It works well to defend both championships only if there’s a big performance delta over the next strongest car. Any team, even a self-imploding one like McLaren 2007, is very likely better off in terms of results with two cut-throat drivers than one of them as official #1 and a mediocre second string driver to help him.

          Reply moderated
  16. For me the lingering memory of Kimi was the last lap at Nurburgring with a failed suspension that cost him the 2005 title. He would have been at least a 2 time champion.

    A champion who was hard done by Ferrari in his first stint. What a comeback he had with Lotus.

    A true legend who will be sorely missed. F1 Sridharis poorer without the likes of KR7.

    1. Or the car failure in Imola that year. Or Germany (Hockenheim). Or if Indy hadn’t been a farce. But 2005 Kimi (from what I can tell watching replays) was a beast. Suzuka 2005 is all the proof you need.

      1. @randommallard or his engine related 10 place grid drops in France, Britain and Italy.

        1. @wrsgo Wow. I knew that car was pretty unreliable but I didn’t realise quite how poor it was…

      2. @randommallard Imola was his own fault, too many practice starts leading to the eventual driveshaft failure. Ditto Nurburgring – flat-spotted his tyre with the subsequent vibrations causing his suspension to give way.

        Without those two errors he’d have gained another 24 points on Alonso, which would have given him the title even with all the other unreliability he had.

        1. too many practice starts leading to the eventual driveshaft failure

          source?

    2. hard done by Ferrari? i wish i was hard done by Ferrari too. i’d love to get paid millions just to sit at home or race trucks!

  17. Luis Miguel Martínez
    1st September 2021, 18:48

    I miss him already

    Reply moderated
  18. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    1st September 2021, 18:59

    Thank you Kimi.

    While I was very young to follow F1 during the Schumacher era, I do remember playing as Kimi/Montoya on F1 ’05 on my PS2 as the McLaren was a beast in that game. Later on as F1 garnered my attention around 2012, it was Kimi and his exploits in the Lotus which got me hooked on to this sport.

    Although in recent seasons I felt he had overstayed his welcome, he certainly did perform better than some of the youngsters on the grid. USA 2018 was the cherry on the cake! It will be sad to see him leave, but it was due. Hopefully he can stick around in the paddock in a minor role in some team.

    Farewell Iceman. May you have your drincc, gloves, and steering wheel. You know what you are doing.

    Bwoah.

  19. someone or something
    1st September 2021, 19:09

    2001-2009, 2012-2021.
    Congratulations for, like, 9 seasons at the top level of motorsports.

  20. My first memory of Kimi was in 2005, leading a new world order with Alonso in a post-Schumacher world. I remember celebrating with my brother after Kimi won the 2007 championship, and being nearly in tears when he failed to make it 4 Spa wins in a row in the dying laps of the 2008 race. His first run in rhe sport holds a special place in my heart, and I even got into rallying in 2010 because of him! It’s sad how I went from that to thinking of him as an old, past-it driver in the past couple of years. He just wasn’t the same driver post-back surgery in 2013.

  21. Just in case there are those who have never seen the ultimate evidence of what a unique and irreplaceable character Kimi is, we present the documentary: “Kimi Räikkönen was kidnapped to sign a Contract”

    https://youtu.be/MkXK_KksWqc

    To say he will be missed is a huge understatement.

      1. I *accidently* flagged this Balue’s comment. I have no problem with it at all. Please remove the flagged notation.

  22. Here’s to one of the best I have ever seen.
    Worthy of at least 3 WDC.
    The crowned champion of one of the most legendary seasons of all time.
    One of the best ever in raw talent.
    One of the few who would’ve been champion in any era.
    The One who wasn’t a PR pushover.
    Funny as hell without even trying.
    A living legend.
    Farewell, Kimi-Matias Räikkönen!

    1. Hell, yeah! Namely, the 2003 and 2005 seasons could very well have added to Kimi’s trophies. He arguably deserved it more than Schumacher in his effort during that short break of Ferrari full dominance and certainly deserved the WDC as much as Alonso two years later. He had the superior pace on the car and his talent sharply, just lacked reliability on his machine.

      Reply moderated
    2. 100 x this!!!!!!!!!!

      Just like Kimi famous responses/statements, we dont need paragraphs about what a driver he was. Just a few bullet points that carry so much weight.

  23. That would make Fernando Alonso the oldest and most experienced driver on the grid in 2022. Interestingly, both Raikkonen and Alonso made their debuts 20 years ago in the same season, when they were the youngest on the grid. Little did we know in 2001 that they would hang on for so long. Two decades in the sport with the fire still burning, both have tried other categories and it’s probably that experience of the other motorsports that made them come back to F1 and hold on for long.

    Drivers racing for so long was unthinkable before the 1990s. I think it has to do with the fact that drivers join F1 at a much younger age than it used to be in the 80s and before. I guess Max Verstappen has at least around 10 years’ worth racing left in him.

  24. I thought I’d never see the day! Kimi’s 2005 Japanese GP drive was probably the moment I was elevated from merely an F1 fan to an F1 fanatic. The grid won’t be quite the same without him.

  25. As a Ferrari fan I enjoyed both Raikkonen’s stint in the team and especially the 2007 world championship. I think what stands him apart from the rest of drivers is the natural charisma he has and the fact that he was not taking F1 too seriously while he was achieving incredible results.

    He’s done stuff with McLaren and Ferrari under the reign of both Ron Dennis and Luca Di Montezemolo that no else would do : returning to his yacht in the Monaco GP, telling Gino Rosato to **** off while Di Montezemolo was arriving in a helicopter, eating icecream in a red flag period…
    What a brilliant career, happy retirement !

    Reply moderated
  26. From the kid in 2001 when he hardly spoke any english to a one time champion who always knew what he was doing. His first retirement back in 2009 came out of the blue. When he came back in 2012 he still was one of the best drivers on the grid and one of the best of his generation. My strongest memories of him are from the Mclaren years and those engines blowing up. Now when you think of it, it was kind of written on the wall that he was to became a champion. In a Ferrari against Mclaren of Alonso and Hamilton.
    “I didn’t come to Ferrari to learn italian, that was not the plan.”
    ” I don’t care what people think of me. I’m not Michael Schumcher.”

  27. I remember standing at copse corner in 2001, Mika took the win in his final year and Kimi took fifth in his first. It was like the changing of the guard. Thanks for the years Kimi, grab yourself an ice cream. It’s on me.

  28. Will miss him, his memorable team-radio broadcasts and being one of the few drivers to shoot from the hip

    Happy retirement, Iceman

  29. He was a beast during his 2003-2005 phase. Could have easily been a champion during that period if not for those reliability issues..

    1. True, and definitely in 2003 he’d have won without reliability, but let’s not forget the 1 vs 6 wins vs schumacher in similar cars, the point system was made to stop schumacher’s dominance, and as for 2005, definitely feels like raikkonen should’ve won with all those retirements in the lead due to technical problems but let’s not forget the mclaren of that year was built that way, quickest car but also fragile, whereas renault was a bit slower but much more reliable, if you gave both drivers the same cars mathematical models predict alonso to win.

  30. I know Kimi likes to do things his own way but wonder how much he’s been pressured to announce this so the “other” driver moves could be announced. I really hope he wasn’t and has been allowed to decide himself to make the announcement.

  31. Absolutely a very unique figure of the sport, not the best driver but certainly very good at his time (2003-2007) and despite an underwhelming ferrari period, he went very close to winning a last race in 2018 a few times and finally did it in austin, was a great day. Hopefully this actually brings russell to mercedes, the only potential exciting move of the season.

  32. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    2nd September 2021, 1:59

    19 seasons in F1 where it’s hard to get a single season! I think that says it all:-)

  33. When I kid just starting getting into F1 Kimi was always my favorite driver. He was always the underdog, even in his championship year which I think is why I loved supporting him. Some newer fans may see him has a grumpy old guy, but if you saw him in the early 2000s you know how special Kimi is.

  34. I wasn’t able to see Kimi in his hey days live but what I have seen I can say that he deservedly is one of the most loved F1 drivers and he would be missed. Farewell Kimi and hope he enjoys the next phase of his life like he did in F1.

    Reply moderated
  35. Kimi driving for McLaren rekindled my interest in F1, such a talent…!
    Happy retirement.

  36. R.I.P. Formula One 2001-2021. Was fun while it lasted.

  37. It is always good when a sportsman can retire on his own terms

  38. Max Mosley wanted to stop Kimi from joining Formula 1 in 2001 as he apparently didn’t have enough experience. Yet the previous year Max didn’t say a word against Jenson Button who was similarly inexperienced in his debut season. Kimi outlasted Max and should have also won the 2003 Championship. A man who spoke his mind which made him popular amongst fans of F1. He will be missed.

  39. Great driver, will be missed.

  40. We should oppose !
    We just should oppose !
    Not accepting, you know ?
    One more Year !
    One more Year !
    Because F1 can afford !

  41. Kimi had many highs and lows. Nevertheless he’s a legend of the sport’s last two decades with an unique witty character despite famously being as cold as ice. “I don’t care” is his typical attitude towards anything, regardless of it being seen as ballsy or rude, as sagacious or impulsive. That’s why he’s a memorable personality in Formula 1, whether you like him or not.

    Reply moderated
  42. My closest encounter with Kimi was during the Indian GP of 2013. I am not sure of the strategy difference between the two Lotus cars in the race as I was on circuit and wasn’t able to follow all the details as I would have at home, but when Grosjean came up to overtake him, he provided a strong resistance. So the Corner I was sitting at, they battled it out like 6 times there, and the crowd around me was always cheering for Kimi ( including me) . Grosjean eventually took the podium and Kimi was 7th I think, but what a strong defense he had put up to his team mate would forever be etched in my memory. Those cars were good and the lotus was very beautiful, shiny in the golden lines and that was a vivid racing spectacle.

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