Kimi-Matias Räikkönen

Kimi-Matias Räikkönen

PROFILE

Nicknamed ‘the Iceman’, for his cool, unflappable character, Raikkonen showed talent from an early age and made his karting debut at ten. He progressed through the lower formula – Formula Ford, Formula Super A and Formula Renault – and in 2000 won seven out of ten races to win the Formula Renault UK Championship.

His form was enough to merit a test drive with Sauber in September 2000, and he was given a race seat for the 2001 season, with just 23 car races under his belt. Nonetheless, he joined an elite group of drivers to have scored points on their F1 debut, finishing sixth in Melbourne. Raikkonen picked up nine points in his rookie season, and secured a move to McLaren, taking the place of former world champion and fellow Finn, Mika Hakkinen. Despite technical issues blighting his season, he ended the year sixth, enjoying his first ever podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix.

Raikkonen’s first race win came in Malaysia in 2003, beating second-placed Rubens Barrichello by an impressive 39 seconds after qualifying seventh. He took ten podium’s that season, sealing second place in the drivers’ standings, just two points behind Michael Schumacher, who won the title for the sixth time.

After a disappointing 2004 season, scoring just 45 points compared to his previous year’s 91, 2005 saw Raikkonen win seven races and score 112 points, equalling Alan Prost’s 1984 record of the most wins in a season without winning the title.

After five years with McLaren, Raikkonen joined Ferrari in 2007 to replace Michael Schumacher. Far from being nervous about replacing the seven-time world champion, he went on to win the title in his first year at Ferrari, beating Lewis Hamilton by a single point at the final race of the season. However, an investigation into fuel irregularities meant he had to wait nearly a month to be confirmed as champion.

He failed to retain his drivers’ crown the following year, finishing third behind Hamilton and team-mate Felipe Massa. In 2009 he was listed by Forbes as the second-highest paid athlete in the world behind Tiger Woods, but a disappointing season followed with Ferrari struggling for pace in the opening part of the season. He managed just one race victory, in Spa, and finished sixth in the championship.

In September 2009 Ferrari confirmed a deal with Alonso, meaning Raikkonen would leave Ferrari with a year remaining on his contract – allowing him to pursue a second career as a rally driver while enjoying a $25 million Ferrari pay off. His love affair with rallying didn’t translate into results, however, and after a brief dalliance with NASCAR it was clear he desired a Formula One return.

He entered talks with Lotus and Williams, ultimately agreeing terms with the former to lead the Enstone-based team into battle in 2012. Expectations were mixed but Raikkonen simply got on with his job and scored points at 19 of the season’s 20 races. After some near misses around the middle of the season, the first victory of his return came at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a well-deserved victory from fourth on the grid. Any remaining doubts about Raikkonen’s desire to go racing were cast aside and he entered 2015 as one of the most highly-rated drivers on the F1 grid.

Having won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Raikkonen continued to deliver consistently and Mark Webber’s decision to retire saw him named as the favourite to join Vettel in 2015. Eventually any move to Red Bull fell through, but it was announced in September that he would make a surprise return to Ferrari as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate. He failed to complete the season with Lotus too as a back problem required surgery and saw him miss the final two races of the year.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Undoubtedly gifted, Raikkonen’s laid back approach to racing is well known, saying, “I never really think about what I’m doing, I just do it”. Before his debut race in Australia in 2001, Raikkonen was asleep until half an hour before the race. With his reputation as a playboy, Raikkonen’s salary and lifestyle may now be too much for a sport struggling out of a recession, highlighted as he went unpaid during 2015 with Lotus.

Career High 
Winning the 2007 world championship in his first year at Ferrari. Going into the final race of the season in Brazil, Raikkonen was third in the drivers’ standings, but in a dramatic ending, Raikkonen won the race ahead of team-mate Massa. Rivals Alonso and Hamilton could only manage third and seventh respectively, and the Finn won his first title by a single point.

Career Low
After finishing third in Hungary in August 2008, Raikkonen was second in the drivers’ standings, just five points behind leader Hamilton. At the following race at Spa he was forced to retire with an engine problem, and he failed to finish in the points in the subsequent three races, effectively ending his chances of defending his title.

Quotes
“”What I do in my private life doesn’t make me drive any slower.”

“Kimi lives in another world; on another planet. He isolates himself. If he feels pressure, then it’s only because he has put it on himself. Nothing that is coming from the outside affects him at all – and that is unbelievable.” Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali

Trivia
Despite the fact that Raikkonen’s ex-wife, Jenni Dahlman-Raikkonen owns four horses and competes in international events, Raikkonen is allergic to horses.

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