Iceman Kimi Räikkönen

Career

Early years:

Kimi Raikkonen started karting in 1987 and after several successes in the Finnish series moved up to compete at international level. His first steps into car racing were tentative – he made a few starts in Formula Renault UK in 1999 but found his Mygale chassis uncompetitive and returned to karting. He returned to Britain to compete in the Formula Ford Festival and then won the Formula Renault Winter Series.That set him up for a return to Formula Renault with top team Manor. Team boss John Booth said: “Kimi had stayed in karts a long time, mainly because he couldn’t raise the money to get out of it until the Robertsons got involved.” Dave and Steve Robertson, father and son, managed Raikkonen’s career. Raikkonen started the season with third place and then a victory in the first two races. He added six more championships to clinch the title, and left the championship two races before the end of the season with the title already won.

1987: First time in kart
1988: Karting, some wins in Classes A, B and C
1989: Karting, some wins in Classes A, B and C
1990: Karting, some wins in Classes A, B and C
1991: National karting, Class Mini
1992: National karting, Class Raket Junior
1993: National karting, Class Raket, Finnish Cup, 9th overall.
1994: National karting, Class Raket, Finnisch Cup, 2nd overall.
1995: Formula A Karting: first race, and first win, 23rd April.

1996: Karting Grand Prix (European Series)World Championship races and Nordic Championship races no wins in Finnish Championship, Class Formula A, finished 4th overall

1997: Finnish Championship, Class Intercontinental A, Champion Nordic Championship, Class Intercontinental A, 4th overall Karting Grand Prix and World Championship races – invited to drive with Peter de Bruin Team

1998: Lived in the Netherlands Finnish Championship, class Formula A, Champion Nordic Championship, Champion Class Formula Intercontinental A, European Karting Grand Prix, winner; Super A, 2nd overall Monaco Cup, class Super A, 3rd overall World Championship, Formula Super A, retired from 7th position

1999: Finnish Championship, Class Formula A, 2nd overall World Championship, class Formula Super A, 10thFirst Formula Renault race, with Haywood Racing, 3rdFormula Renault Winter Series, with Manor Motorsport – winner, four wins from four races

2000: British Renault 2000, Champion with Manor Motorsport (despite competing in only 10 rounds of the series), seven wins, six pole positions, seven fastest laps. Finished on the podium in all 10 races contested; European Formula Renault Championship: competed in only three rounds, two wins, two pole positions, two fastest laps. Retired while leading in third race due to mechanical failure. Tested for Red Bull Sauber Petronas Formula One team at Mugello.

Formula 1 in 2001

Team: Red Bull Sauber Petronas
Car: Sauber C20
Team-Mate: Nick Heidfeld
Number of Grand Prix: 17
Number of starts: 17
Number of finishes: 10
Number of finishes in points: 4
Number of retirements: 7
Final Placing: 10th overall

Despite Raikkonen’s youth Peter Sauber decided to give the Finnish driver an F1 test. He did so well that it leaded to a contract for 2001. Sauber said: “I knew Kimi was fast from his first test at Mugello and after three races I knew he was very talented, extremely focused and also egotistical. He thinks he is quicker than anybody. All these things add up to him being a good racing driver, although not necessarily a nice one. He was concentrated only on his own success.” There was one snag: at 21 years old, and with only 23 race starts to his name, Raikkonen had insufficient experience to qualify for the superlicence necessary to race in Formula 1. The FIA granted him a special dispensation conditional on his performances in the first races of the year. Raikkonen and team mate Nick Heidfeld (himself with only one season of F1 racing behind him) proved an impressive partnership. At the first round of the year Raikkonen finished sixth and Heidfeld fourth. Raikkonen failed to finish the next three races but his maturity and speed impressed the other drivers and governing body and he was granted his superlicence.

Formula 1 in 2002

Team: West McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-17
Team-Mate: David Coulthard
Number of Grand Prix: 17
Number of starts: 17
Number of finishes: 6
Number of finishes on podium: 4
Number of finishes in points: 6
Number of retirements: 11
Number of fastest laps: 1
Final Placing: 6th overall

Räikkönen scored a third-place podium finish in his first race with McLaren, the 2002 Australian Grand Prix. Although McLaren suffered many Mercedes engine failures in 2002, Räikkönen scored 24 points and four podiums, and held his own against teammate David Coulthard. Räikkönen came close to winning his first Grand Prix in France, but went off track with a handful of laps to go, because of oil from the blown engine of Allan McNish’s Toyota on the circuit. He finished the race second. He finished the season in sixth place, one place behind his team mate; together they achieved a solid third place for McLaren in the constructors’ championship.

Formula 1 in 2003

Team: West McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-17D
Team-Mate: David Coulthard
Number of Grand Prix: 16
Number of starts: 16
Number of finishes: 13
Number of finishes on podium: 10
Number of finishes in points: 13
Number of retirements: 3
Number of wins: 1
Number of pole positions: 2
Number of fastest laps: 3
Final Placing: 2nd overall (Vice-Champion)

At the opening Australian Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified 15th in the spare car. In the race he took the lead before being caught speeding in the pit-lane, after a software glitch in the car’s electronic system. Räikkönen held off Michael Schumacher to finish 3rd. In Malaysia, Räikkönen won his first race after starting from 7th on the grid. During the next round in Brazil, Räikkönen was declared the winner after the race was stopped on lap 55. According to the rules the winner is decided by the race order as of two laps before the race stopped, i.e. lap 53. However a week later, evidence emerged that Giancarlo Fisichella was on lap 56 when the race stopped, therefore the winner was decided by the order at lap 54. This granted the win to Fisichella, with Räikkönen 2nd. As other teams improved their cars, McLaren, who were still using the 2002 chassis, began to falter in terms of race speed. However, Räikkönen finished 2nd at Imola. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen made a mistake in qualifying and had to start from the back of the grid, and at the start, he collided with Antonio Pizzonia, who was stuck on his grid position owing to a launch control problem, causing Räikkönen to retire from the race.

The next few races came down more to strategy rather than speed. Whilst having engine problems, Räikkönen successfully defended his 2nd position from Rubens Barrichello in Austria. He came extremely close to winning in Monaco, but lost by less than a second to Juan Pablo Montoya. Starting from the pit-lane in Canada after he went off track during qualifying with understeering, Räikkönen finished 6th, more than a minute adrift of race winner Michael Schumacher. At the European Grand Prix, Räikkönen took Pole, and controlled the race from the start until his engine failed on lap 25. Title rival Michael Schumacher finished 5th taking 4 points advantage from Räikkönen. Räikkönen finished 4th in France behind Schumacher but finished one point ahead of him with a 3rd place finish at the British Grand Prix. Räikkönen failed to finish the German Grand Prix after being involved in an accident at the first corner with Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Räikkönen finished 2nd at the next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix. Before the Italian Grand Prix, the FIA were tipped-off by rivals Ferrari about a tyre-illegality in the Michelin tread width Michelin were forced to bring in narrower tyres and it seemed as if they had lost the advantage they had been enjoying over Bridgestone all season. McLaren also announced that they would see out the season with old the MP4-17D chassis and would not bring out the MP4-18 as had been planned. Räikkönen eventually finished 4th in the race, losing five championship points to race winner Michael Schumacher.

Räikkönen took pole at the United States Grand Prix, but Michael Schumacher won the race with Räikkönen finishing 2nd. With one race to go, Schumacher only needed one point to win the championship. Räikkönen would need to win the next race with Schumacher not scoring any points. After qualifying 8th in Japan, Räikkönen finished 2nd while Michael Schumacher just slipped into the points to win his 6th World Championship. Montoya’s retirement during the race also meant that Räikkönen finished 2nd in the championship, just two points behind Schumacher. The team also narrowly lost second place in the constructors’ championship, finishing third, two points behind runners-up Williams, and 12 points behind Ferrari. Mathematically, Williams or McLaren could have won the championship at the very last race. The 2003 season was one of the closest in recent years.

Formula 1 in 2004

Team: West McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-19 / 19B
Team-Mate: David Coulthard
Number of Grand Prix: 18
Number of starts: 18
Number of finishes: 10
Number of finishes on podium: 4
Number of finishes in points: 9
Number of retirements: 8
Number of wins: 1
Number of pole positions: 1
Number of fastest laps: 2
Final Placing: 7th overall

The 2004 season began with Räikkönen only claiming a single point in the first seven races. His McLaren, especially the Mercedes engine, suffered repeated breakdowns, allowing him to complete just two of the first seven events. After seven rounds Räikkönen had only one point to Michael Schumacher’s 60. In Canada, Räikkönen made 5 pit-stops but was classified 5th since the Williams-BMWs and the two Toyotas were disqualified. At the United States Grand Prix, Räikkönen finished 6th. At the French Grand Prix, McLaren rolled out the new MP4-19B. Räikkönen finished 7th behind his team-mate, David Coulthard. At Silverstone, Räikkönen took Pole and went on to finish second behind Michael Schumacher. Following on from this encouraging display, the McLarens qualified on the 2nd row of the grid in Germany. Both cars got off to a good start, however Räikkönen lost his rear wing on lap 13 of the race while following race leader Michael Schumacher. He retired again from the Hungarian Grand Prix after starting from 10th place on the grid, again on lap 13. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified 10th, but took the lead on lap 11 and held on to it to take McLaren’s only win of the season. He also took the fastest lap. The next weekend at Monza, Räikkönen again retired on lap 13, this time owing to electrical problems. At the next race in China, he finished 3rd, only 1.4 seconds behind race winner Rubens Barrichello.

At the Japanese Grand Prix, Räikkönen was shunted by Felipe Massa on the first lap of the race, which caused him handling problems. He later managed to make up some ground: he finished 6th, 2.5 seconds behind Alonso. At the last race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, he overtook pole sitter Barrichello, even before they had reached Curva De Sol. Räikkönen later battled Montoya for the lead and finished 1 second behind him in 2nd. Räikkönen ended the year seventh, with 45 points, only one behind sixth placed Jarno Trulli, and four podiums. Despite the disappointment of the 2004 season, Räikkönen was still seen as one of the rising stars of the sport, along with BAR’s Button, Renault’s Alonso and 2005 McLaren teammate Montoya. Many pundits predicted 2005 to be filled with great on-track battles from a resurgent team. He was also referred to by Ross Brawn and Jean Todt as a driver whom Ferrari might consider in the future. In early November 2004, Räikkönen announced his intention to create a racing team with his manager Steve Robertson, to be entitled Räikkönen Robertson Racing (otherwise known as “Double R”), which would compete in Formula Three in 2005.

Formula 1 in 2005

Team: West McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-20
Team-Mate: Juan Pablo Montoya
Number of Grand Prix: 19
Number of starts: 19
Number of finishes: 17
Number of finishes on podium: 12
Number of finishes in points: 14
Number of retirements: 2
Number of wins: 7
Number of pole positions: 6
Number of fastest laps: 10
Final Placing: 2nd overall (Vice-Champion)

Räikkönen’s start to the 2005 season was less than perfect. The car was reported to be too soft on its Michelin tyres, with the result that it was not generating enough heat to post competitive qualifying times. The best qualifying position that a McLaren driver could manage in the first 3 races was 6th. Räikkönen compounded this by stalling on the grid of the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, and ending the race with just a point. He looked set for a podium in Malaysia until a faulty tyre valve failed and dropped him out of the points. Bahrain saw him achieve his first podium of the season with a third place behind Renault’s Alonso and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli. Räikkönen then achieved three consecutive poles in San Marino, Spain, and a win after a safety car strategy call by Neil Martin at Monaco. An almost certain win was denied at Imola after a driveshaft failure, but he won the other two races, putting him within 22 points of leader Alonso. He registered strong, comfortable wins at Barcelona, beating local boy Alonso and at Monte Carlo, never dropping his lead in both races. At the European Grand Prix, Räikkönen flat-spotted his right front tyre while lapping Jacques Villeneuve (some commentators put a share of the blame on Villeneuve, as he did not give Räikkönen the racing line). The resultant vibrations caused his suspension to fail while he led on the final lap, sending him into the tyre wall and handing a further ten points to his rival Alonso. Changing a tyre would have given him a relatively safe third place. However, tyre changes were only allowed in 2005 in cases where a “punctured or damaged tyre” could be changed for “clear and genuine safety reasons” and there was no precedent for whether the stewards would consider a flat-spotted tyre dangerous enough. This incident, in part, resulted in a rules clarification allowing teams to change a flat-spotted tyre without punishment.

Alonso’s first major mistake of the 2005 season handed the Canadian Grand Prix to Räikkönen. The following weekend saw all the Michelin teams, including McLaren, withdraw from the United States Grand Prix for safety reasons. At the French Grand Prix, Räikkönen suffered a ten-place grid-penalty following the replacement of his new specification Mercedes Benz engine which failed in Friday practice. Räikkönen, putting in what Ron Dennis called his best ever qualifying lap, qualified 3rd (demoted to 13th) with a significant fuel load. He finished 2nd behind Fernando Alonso. A week later at the British Grand Prix, Räikkönen suffered another Mercedes engine failure due to an oil leak; his 2nd place qualifying place became 12th. He claimed 3rd place in the race. In Germany, Räikkönen was comfortably in the lead having dominated all weekend, but suffered a hydraulics failure, handing victory and a further 10 points to Alonso. It was his third retirement while leading a race during the season. On all three occasions, it was championship rival Alonso who took advantage to win. Significantly, at the opening of the Hungarian Grand Prix, though saying he was very comfortable at McLaren, Räikkönen raised the possibility that he might leave McLaren when his contract expired in 2006 if reliability issues were not solved. He told a news conference, “We need to work in a better way just to make sure that the car is very reliable.” However he went on to take the chequered flag with a convincing victory over Michael Schumacher, albeit after McLaren teammate Montoya retired with driveshaft failure while leading. Räikkönen won the Hungarian Grand Prix from the most handicapped qualifying position, having had to do his qualifying run first on the notoriously dusty and dirty track because of his early retirement a week earlier at Hockenheim. No other driver had previously managed this feat. Räikkönen then became the first ever winner of the Turkish Grand Prix. Two weeks later at the Italian Grand Prix, Räikkönen’s pole position was taken from him as he received another 10-position grid penalty for an engine change. It would emerge that he had 5 laps of fuel more than teammate Montoya and 6 more than Alonso during qualifying – and still managed to outpace them. During the race, Räikkönen was forced to take an extra stop when his left-rear tyre delaminated, which dropped him down to 12th. He recovered, but spun his car after pushing too hard while chasing Giancarlo Fisichella. He eventually finished fourth.

He went on to win, for the second year in a row, in Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps. The following race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, saw Alonso clinch the Drivers’ Championship, after finishing third behind Montoya and Räikkönen. In the penultimate race of the year, at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan, Räikkönen took his 7th victory of the season after starting 17th on the grid (as rain, and an engine failure for Räikkönen, had mixed up the qualifying grid). The win was secured when he overtook Renault driver Fisichella (who had started third on the grid, and had led most of the race) on the final lap – which Formula One journalist Peter Windsor thought the most impressive move of the race. Räikkönen received the F1 Racing “Driver of the Year” accolade, and the Autosport “International Racing Driver of the Year” award.

Formula 1 in 2006

Team: Team McLaren Mercedes
Car: McLaren MP4-21
Team-Mate: Juan Pablo Montoya; Pedro de la Rosa
Number of Grand Prix: 18
Number of starts: 18
Number of finishes: 12
Number of finishes on podium: 6
Number of finishes in points: 12
Number of retirements: 6
Number of pole positions: 3
Number of fastest laps: 3
Final Placing: 5th overall

In Bahrain, Räikkönen suffered electronic problems during Friday practice and a spectacular rear suspension breakage during the first qualifying session, which forced him back to 22nd place on the grid. Nevertheless he drove through the field, ending third behind Alonso and Michael Schumacher. In Malaysia, Räikkönen was hit from behind by Red Bull Racing’s Christian Klien on the first lap. The impact caused a left rear suspension failure resulting in Räikkönen retiring from the race. Having started the year clearly behind Renault, McLaren improved in Australia, where Räikkönen finished second after flat spotting a tyre and losing a wing end-plate, which caused him to fall off the pace somewhat around the midpoint of the race. Chasing down Alonso during the final stages of the race, he set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, finishing only 1.8 seconds behind the Spaniard. At the San Marino Grand Prix, a bad choice of strategy and a mistake from Räikkönen in qualifying (8th) saw the McLarens get caught in traffic in the early part of the race allowing Michael Schumacher and Alonso to get away at the front. Räikkönen eventually finished 5th, with team mate Montoya ahead in 3rd place. McLaren team boss Ron Dennis blamed what he deemed to be Räikkönen’s poor performance for the team’s failure to finish in the top two in the race. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified 9th. However, he managed to get up to 5th place on the first lap of the race. He retained this position for most of the race, finishing in 5th place. A few days after the Spanish Grand Prix, he admitted that he had no chance of winning the 2006 Championship. In Monaco, Räikkönen qualified third. During the race he got up to 2nd and kept pace with Alonso, however he retired during a safety car period after a failed heat shield led to a wiring loom inside the car catching fire. After the retirement he was seen on live TV walking along the Monaco sidewalks with his helmet still on to the harbor and climbing aboard a yacht.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw Räikkönen qualify second behind Alonso and in front of Michael Schumacher. The running order was Alonso, Räikkönen, Schumacher until the second set of pit-stops where Räikkönen was demoted to third by Schumacher, a position he held until the end of the race. In Canada, Räikkönen achieved another podium. In the United States Grand Prix, his teammate punted him out in an expensive seven car accident. The French Grand Prix saw Räikkönen qualify his car in sixth. His teammate was now former test driver Pedro de la Rosa in place of Montoya. Räikkönen ended the race in fifth. In Germany, Räikkönen qualified on pole. After a battle with Jenson Button, he finished the race for the first time in his career, ending in third place. Another pole came in Hungary, but he collided with Vitantonio Liuzzi after 25 laps, causing his fourth retirement of the season. A first turn incident with Scott Speed at the Turkish Grand Prix led to an exploded tyre and suspension damage. After a tyre change, Räikkönen’s race ended half way into the next lap when he crashed into the barrier at turn 4 because of a loss of rear grip. Räikkönen qualified on pole for the Italian Grand Prix by 2 thousandths of a second from Michael Schumacher. He led the early part of the race until the first pit-stops where he was passed by Schumacher. He stayed in second place for the rest of the race. After the race, Schumacher announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Later, Ferrari announced that he would be replaced in the 2007 season by Räikkönen.

The Chinese Grand Prix saw another retirement for Räikkönen due to throttle problems. His last two Grand Prix, in Japan and Brazil, did lead to 2 finishes, but he missed the podium on both occasions. Räikkönen ended his time at McLaren-Mercedes with a fifth place in the World Drivers’ Championship, with McLaren placing third in the World Constructors’ Championship at the end of a winless year. Räikkönen’s British Formula Three Championship team Räikkönen Robertson Racing claimed their first major success, with British driver Mike Conway winning the 2006 British F3 International Series title and the prestigious Macau Grand Prix. After the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari announced that Räikkönen had signed a three-year contract with Scuderia Ferrari for the 2007–2009 seasons. Räikkönen said after the move that he was very happy with this change of events but wished McLaren the best of luck in the future. He became the team mate to Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had been driving for Ferrari since 2006. Following the retirement of Michael Schumacher and his new deal with Ferrari, Räikkönen was estimated to be the highest paid driver in F1, with a base salary reportedly worth US $51M annually.

Formula 1 in 2007

Team: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Car: Ferrari F2007
Team-Mate: Felipe Massa
Number of Grand Prix: 17
Number of Starts: 17
Number of Finishes: 15
Number of Finishes on Podium: 12
Number of Finishes in Points: 15
Number of Retirements: 2
Number of Wins: 6
Number of Pole Positions: 3
Number of Fastest Laps: 6
Final Placing: 1st overall (F1-World-Champion)

Räikkönen started the season in Australia by taking pole position, setting the fastest lap and becoming the first driver since Nigel Mansell in 1989 to win his first Grand Prix with Ferrari. This was the first time in his career that he had managed the hat-trick of pole position, fastest lap and race victory. Räikkönen won his third race of 2007 at Silverstone. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, Räikkönen was passed by Lewis Hamilton at the start and remained behind him for the rest of the race, finishing third. In Bahrain, Räikkönen started from third but was passed by McLaren driver Fernando Alonso. He eventually regained 3rd position from Alonso and finished the race 3rd. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen retired after only 10 laps with an electrical problem. This took him down to fourth position in the Championship, behind team-mate Felipe Massa. At the Monaco Grand Prix, Räikkönen struck a barrier in qualifying and broke his right front suspension. He started 16th and finished 8th. In Canada, Räikkönen qualified fourth and finished fifth, Räikkönen’s team-mate Massa was disqualified. At the United States Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified fourth, finished fourth and recorded fastest lap of the race. With ten races in the season left, Räikkönen was 26 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

In France, Räikkönen qualified third, but overtook Hamilton at the first corner of the race. He subsequently ran second, behind team-mate Massa, for much of the Grand Prix, but overtook the Brazilian during the pit-stops and took his second victory of the season. This was the 11th victory of his Formula One career, as well as Ferrari’s first 1–2 win of the 2007 season. At the British Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified in second place, just missing the pole by running wide in the last corner. In the race, again took the lead through pit stops, first overtaking Lewis Hamilton midway through the race and then putting in fast laps as Fernando Alonso pitted for the second time in the closing stages to pass him. Räikkönen led to the end of the race. At the European Grand Prix, Räikkönen captured his second pole position of the season, but retired from the race, run in heavy rain, with a problem with the hydraulics of the car. In Hungary, Räikkönen qualified his car in fourth place, but started from third after Fernando Alonso was penalised. In the race he overtook Nick Heidfeld at the start and pressured Hamilton until the end, but had to settle for second, being 0.7s behind Hamilton. He set the fastest lap time on the last lap of the race, commenting after the race: “I was so bored behind Hamilton, I wanted to see how quick I could have been.” In Turkey, Räikkönen missed pole position after making a mistake in the final sector of his fast lap, which left him third on the grid. On race day, he overtook Hamilton in the first corner and took second place, which he kept to the end of the race.

At Monza’s third practice session, Räikkönen crashed into the tyre wall before entering the Ascari chicane. He qualified in fifth place, and raced in the Ferrari reserve car while suffering from a neck problem. The Ferrari team employed an unusual one-stop strategy, which left him third after Hamilton passed him late in the race on fresh tyres. At Spa-Francorchamps, Räikkönen’s favourite circuit, he secured pole position again and took his fourth victory of the season. Massa finished second, Alonso third and Hamilton fourth. This was also Räikkönen’s third consecutive Spa win, which placed him among six other drivers with three or more Spa wins. At the Fuji Speedway in Japan, the only new track on the 2007 calendar, Räikkönen qualified in third position, while Hamilton took pole and Alonso second. In an extremely wet race, which saw the first 19 laps run behind the safety car, both Räikkönen and team-mate Massa were badly affected by having to change to extreme wet tyres during the early stages, because the FIA’s tyre-rule notification arrived late at Ferrari. Towards the end of the race, Räikkönen moved through the field to third place, but could not pass his fellow countryman Heikki Kovalainen for second. At the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Räikkönen dominated the whole weekend with fastest laps in the free-practice sessions. In qualifying, Hamilton took pole position with a lighter fuel load, while Räikkönen qualified second and Massa third. There was light rainfall at the beginning of the race which prompted the cars to start on intermediate tyres. After the first round of pit stops Hamilton lost grip as his tyres suffered graining, and Räikkönen overtook him. Hamilton retired after sliding into a gravel trap in the pit lane. Räikkönen took his fifth win of the season that revived his title hopes before the last race of the season. This was also the 200th race win and 600th podium in Ferrari’s Formula One history. Räikkönen moved to seven and three points behind Hamilton and Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship, respectively, going into the last race in Brazil, the first three-way title battle in the final race of the season since 1986.

Räikkönen took the 2007 Formula One Drivers’ title with victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, in an incident-packed race. Massa had taken Pole, followed by Hamilton, Räikkönen, and Alonso. At the start of the race Räikkönen passed Hamilton on the outside and lined up behind Massa. Alonso shortly afterwards passed Hamilton, who fell progressively down the order. Räikkönen eventually overtook Massa, who was already eliminated from contention for the Driver’s Championship in the Japanese Grand Prix. Massa’s strategy for the second round of pit stops ensured Räikkönen kept the lead. Räikkönen went on to take the chequered flag, which handed him the crown by a single point from Hamilton and Alonso. Championship leader Hamilton eventually finished the race in seventh place, while defending champion Alonso managed third. While Räikkönen had only one point more than Alonso and Hamilton at the end of the season, he had the most victories (six compared to four by each McLaren driver). Räikkönen’s Drivers’ championship was briefly put into doubt when race stewards began an investigation after identifying possible fuel irregularities in the cars of Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld following post-race inspection. Their disqualification and a race reclassification would have seen Hamilton lifted from seventh to fourth in the race result. However the race stewards decided that no sanctions would be given, meaning the results would stand. McLaren appealed against the decision, however the FIA Court of Appeal rejected their appeal on 16 November 2007 thus confirming Räikkönen as the champion.

Formula 1 in 2008

Team: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Car: Ferrari F2008
Team-Mate: Felipe Massa
Number of Grand Prix: 18
Number of Starts: 18
Number of Finishes: 16
Number of Finishes on Podium: 9
Number of Finishes in Points: 12
Number of Retirements: 2
Number of Wins: 2
Number of Pole Positions: 2
Number of Fastest Laps: 10
Final Placing: 3rd overall

After a disappointing first race for Ferrari in Australia where Räikkönen eventually finished eighth after starting 15th on the grid owing to a mechanical problem in qualifying, he won his first race of the 2008 season at the Malaysian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen. His victory in Kuala Lumpur came on the fifth anniversary of his maiden victory at the same track. In Bahrain, Räikkönen qualified in fourth on the grid. He moved up to second place by the third lap and finished in that position, behind his team-mate Felipe Massa. He also secured the lead in the championship. In Spain, Räikkönen took the 15th Pole of his career and his first of the 2008 season. He managed to take his second race win of the season and the fastest lap of the race. Räikkönen overtook Mika Häkkinen in the list of total number of fastest laps and also in terms of podium finishes, making him the highest ranked Finnish driver in these statistics.

At the Turkish Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified in fourth place. Despite damaging his front wing in the early stages after a collision with fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen, Räikkönen was still able to set the fastest lap and finish in third place. In Monaco, Räikkönen qualified in second behind teammate Felipe Massa. Räikkönen stayed second behind Massa until he was given a drive-through penalty for an infringement by the team on his car and dropped down to sixth. He was set for fifth until an incident with Adrian Sutil, when Räikkönen lost control on the damp track after exiting the tunnel, and hit Sutil’s car in the rear. Räikkönen’s car was not badly damaged and he was able to finish in ninth after replacing his front wing, also setting the fastest lap in the process. After the race, Mike Gascoyne, the Chief Technology Officer of Force India announced they were filing official protests with the stewards over the incident, demanding a ban for Räikkönen. However, the stewards decided not to penalise him. In Canada, Räikkönen qualified third. In the race, he set the fastest lap during the first stint while catching up with Robert Kubica who was in second place. The safety car was deployed when Adrian Sutil’s car broke down in a dangerous position. Both he and Kubica jumped ahead of race leader Lewis Hamilton when they pitted during the safety car period. As there was a red light at the end of the pitlane, Räikkönen and Kubica stopped alongside each other and waited for the signal to allow them back on to the circuit. Hamilton failed to notice the red light and hit the rear of Räikkönen’s Ferrari, eliminating both cars.

Räikkönen went on to take his 16th pole position in France, which was the 200th pole for Scuderia Ferrari. Räikkönen dominated the race as he set the fastest lap and had a six second lead until a bank exhaust failure some half way through the race reduced his engine’s power. He gave up the lead to his teammate Massa, but was far enough ahead of Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, to secure second place and eight points. Räikkönen qualified third at the British Grand Prix. Before the race, Räikkönen pushed noted photographer Paul-Henri Cahier to the ground as he lined up a close-up shot. Raikkönen’s manager Steve Robertson claimed the driver was provoked by Cahier touching him with his lens and standing on his belongings, but Cahier disputed this version of events. The race was in wet conditions and Räikkönen stayed third at the first corner behind Hamilton and Kovalainen. He kept pace and got up to second when Kovalainen spun. He then chased after Hamilton, and set the fastest lap as he drew up directly behind the McLaren. During the first pit-stop, Ferrari did not change the intermediates on his car in the hope that the track would become dry. However, the track was hit by another shower, and Räikkönen rapidly lost pace, and dropped down to sixth before finally pitting for new tyres. He finished fourth, a lap down.

At the German Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified sixth and dropped down a place at the first corner. He was running fifth when the safety car came out after a crash involving Timo Glock. His teammate Felipe Massa was ahead of him on the track, and as a result, Räikkönen was forced to wait behind Massa when the pit-lane opened. This dropped him down to 12th, but he eventually finished in sixth. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Räikkönen again qualified sixth. He lost a position to Alonso at the beginning of the race but managed to finish third owing to Hamilton’s tyre puncture, passing Alonso during the pit-stops and Massa’s retirement after an engine failure. During the European Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified fourth and lost a place at the start to Kovalainen. He stayed fifth until the second round of pitstops when he exited before the fuel hose was properly disengaged from his car and left one of the mechanics with a fractured toe. Two laps later, he suffered a similar engine failure to Massa in the previous race; a connecting rod in his engine broke and he was forced to retire. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Räikkönen again qualified fourth. He passed Kovalainen and Massa at the start to be second, and took the lead from Hamilton on the second lap. He pulled away, setting the fastest lap of the race and built a five second gap. He looked set to win but owing to a late-race rain shower, Hamilton closed right up to him and tried to pass him at the final chicane with two laps to go. Hamilton cut the chicane and rejoined ahead of Räikkönen. He claimed to have let Räikkönen take the place back. Hamilton then repassed him for the lead. The two battled on for the rest of the lap, with Räikkönen retaking the lead when the two stumbled upon spinning backmarker Nico Rosberg, forcing Hamilton onto the grass. Räikkönen spun at the next corner and fell behind Hamilton again. While trying to catch up, he lost control of the car, smashed into a wall and retired.

At the Italian Grand Prix which was held in extremely wet conditions, Räikkönen qualified 14th. He stayed on the 14th position for the first two stints. He climbed to ninth position in the third and last stint in which he also set the fastest lap of the race.

In Singapore, the first night-time event in Formula One history, Räikkönen qualified third behind Massa and Hamilton. He remained in this position for most of the early laps. On lap 14, Nelson Piquet, Jr.’s Renault hit the wall at turn 17 and the safety car was deployed. Both Ferrari drivers pitted during the safety car period, with Räikkönen queued behind Massa in a busy pit-lane. Ferrari released Massa before the fuel hose was disconnected from the car, which compromised Räikkönen who rejoined in 16th. Räikkönen managed to climb to fifth place, but on lap 57, while attacking Timo Glock, he hit the wall after pushing too hard at turn 10 and retired. He set the fastest lap of the race as his tenth of the season. This equalled Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record of ten fastest laps in a Formula One season. At the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway circuit, Räikkönen qualified second on the grid, behind Hamilton, and took the lead at the start. Closing up to turn 1, Hamilton attempted to pass on the inside, braked late and went wide, forcing Räikkönen to also go wide. Räikkönen lost out heavily and went down to seventh position. He gained places after a collision between Hamilton and Massa, Kovalainen’s hydraulic failure and an overtaking manoeuvre on Jarno Trulli. He eventually finished third, behind Renault’s Fernando Alonso and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica. This result meant that it was impossible for Räikkönen to retain his Drivers’ Championship title for the second year.

In China, Räikkönen qualified second behind Hamilton. At the start he stayed second with his teammate and now Ferrari’s world championship contender, Massa, behind him in third place. However, with Räikkönen out of the running for the world championship he let Massa through into second place on lap 49, to help the latter gain two additional points in his pursuit of Hamilton in the world championship race. At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified third and finished third, behind Massa and Alonso. As Kubica failed to score, he finished third in the championship. Räikkönen also won the DHL Fastest Lap Award for the second year in a row. He set 10 fastest laps throughout the season.

Formula 1 in 2009

Team: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Car: Ferrari F60
Team-Mate: Felipe Massa; Luca Badoer; Giancarlo Fisichella
Number of Grand Prix: 17
Number of Starts: 17
Number of Finishes: 15
Number of Finishes on Podium: 4
Number of Finishes in Points: 9
Number of Retirements: 2
Number of Wins: 1
Number of Pole Positions: 0
Number of Fastest Laps: 0
Final Placing: 6th overall

At the start of the 2009 season in the Australian Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified in ninth place. The pace of the Ferraris and McLarens in particular was significantly slower than the likes of the Brawn, Red Bull and other outfits who were struggling to keep up with them in 2008. In the race, both Ferraris were running well before Räikkönen hit a barrier. He was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 43 and subsequently retired with differential failure. In Malaysia, Räikkönen topped the time sheet in the second practice session. Räikkönen was ninth in qualifying. Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello’s ten and five-place penalties respectively meant that he was promoted to 7th. During the race, rain was predicted and the team took a gamble to change Räikkönen to full wet tyres whilst the track was still dry. The gamble did not pay off, and Räikkönen fell down the field. By the time the race was stopped on the 33rd lap due to torrential rain, Räikkönen was classified 14th. Räikkönen’s season did not get any better in Round 3 in China where he qualified in 8th place. In the wet race, he and Lewis Hamilton had duels early on, with Hamilton having to overtake Räikkönen three times to get the job done. Räikkönen complained about power loss from the engine from near the start and of a lack of grip after his one and only pit-stop. This meant that he could only finish 10th. In Bahrain, Räikkönen secured 6th place and Ferrari’s first points of the year, but was disappointed by the team’s performance. He retired from the Spanish Grand Prix due to a hydraulics failure after qualifying from the back of the grid.

At the Monaco Grand Prix, Räikkönen secured 2nd place in qualifying, Ferrari and Räikkönen’s best qualifying of the year so far. He admitted that he was still disappointed because he missed out on pole narrowly to the Brawn of Jenson Button. Räikkönen lost out to Rubens Barrichello at the start of the race, dropping back to 3rd. He maintained this position until the chequered flag. At the Turkish Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified sixth, but damaged his front wing on the first lap. He could only finish ninth, out of the points. At the British Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified ninth but a good start saw him move up to fifth. However, he dropped to eighth during the pit stops because of traffic and remained until the finish. At the German Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified ninth after a damp session. In the race however he collided with the Force India of Adrian Sutil like in the previous year in Monte Carlo, as the German was emerging from a pitstop. While Sutil managed to recover back to the pits to replace a nosecone, Raikkonen was forced to retire a few laps later with radiator damage as a result of the incident. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Räikkönen took his and Ferrari’s best finish of the season in 2nd, after making a great start from 7th. After the first corner Räikkönen was in 4th place, but when Fernando Alonso retired after his early first stop, Räikkönen moved up to 3rd. Räikkönen overtook Webber for 2nd place at the first round of pit stops when Räikkönen and Webber pitted on the same lap. Räikkönen had a clean pit-stop, whereas Webber had a problem and was released into the path of the Ferrari. Räikkönen and Webber avoided collision, and Webber had to slot in behind Räikkönen. On his second pit stop, Räikkönen had a problem with an exhaust pipe. However, having built quite a gap between him and Webber, he held on to take 2nd place.

At the European Grand Prix, he qualified 6th. He jumped to 4th at the start of the race. He then moved up to 3rd after the second pit stops jumping Heikki Kovalainen for the last podium place, and stayed in that position until the end of the race, claiming his second straight podium. At the Belgian Grand Prix, he qualified 6th, jumping to 2nd at the start of the race. After the safety car was removed, he passed Giancarlo Fisichella to take the race lead and led all the way to the chequered flag for his first race win in 25 races, and the first and only one for Ferrari in 2009. It was Räikkönen’s fourth victory in the last five Belgian Grand Prix, bolstering his reputation as “The King of Spa”. Räikkönen continued his good form at the Italian Grand Prix, qualifying and finishing 3rd, after Lewis Hamilton’s last-lap crash. It was his 4th consecutive podium finish. Singapore saw the end of a great run for Räikkönen where he only finished 10th after qualifying 12th. In Japan, Räikkönen came very close to another podium, finishing fourth. He had qualified fifth and was not able to gain a place at the start of the race, as he was on hard tyres. He put on softs for his second stint and was able to close in on Nick Heidfeld at about three quarters of a second every lap. He overtook the German after the BMW Sauber came out of the pits. However, an accident involving Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari brought out the safety car on lap 44, which kept the field stationary for a further five laps. Despite Lewis Hamilton suffering a KERS failure, Räikkönen’s car did not have the grip necessary and was not able to overtake the third-placed McLaren at the restart. He went wide in an attempt to overtake Hamilton but recovered without losing a further place to Nico Rosberg.

In Brazil, Räikkönen qualified 5th and finished 6th. His race was already ruined when Mark Webber swerved into his path, damaging the Ferrari’s front wing. At the pit stop while having the wing changed, fuel dripping from the fuel rig stuck on Kovalainen’s car caused the Ferrari to briefly burst in flames as the two cars were exiting their pit stops. For the rest of the race even with his eyes burning from fuel, Räikkönen used his strategy to move up the order and eventually finished in sixth place. In Abu Dhabi, the last race of the season, Räikkönen qualified 11th with an uncompetitive car. He lost a place at the start of the race to Kamui Kobayashi. For the rest of the race, Räikkönen struggled and finished 12th, out of the points.

Leaving Formula One

Near the end of the 2009 season, Ferrari announced that Räikkönen would be leaving the team, despite having a contract to race for them in 2010 he would be replaced by Fernando Alonso. He was expected to return to McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton but negotiations with the team failed. Räikkönen was linked to Mercedes GP but the team eventually signed Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Toyota F1, before it pulled out of Formula One, offered Räikkönen a driving contract to replace Timo Glock in 2010. The BBC reported that he refused the contract owing to wanting to drive a race-winning car, not to mention Toyota not offering a large enough salary. On 17 November 2009, his manager Steve Robertson confirmed that Räikkönen would not drive in Formula One in the 2010 season. But during 2010 itself, rumors emerged once again about another possible Räikkönen comeback this time with the Renault team in 2011. This followed a resurgence in Renault’s form, and the fact that the Russian Vitaly Petrov had yet to be re-signed like team-mate Robert Kubica. Team principal Éric Boullier claimed he had been contacted by Räikkönen in connection with a possible return, but said that although he was flattered by Räikkönen’s alleged display of interest: “I would have to speak personally with him first, look him in the eyes to see if I see enough motivation there for him to return to F1. It doesn´t make sence to hire somebody, even a former world champion, if you cannot be sure that his motivation is still 100%. Why should you invest in somebody who leaves you guessing?” However Räikkönen angrily shot down the suggestion that he would race, claiming that Renault had simply used his name for “their own marketing purposes”.

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