#23 Hall of Fame: Kimi Raikkonen

2021-03-25 23:00

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#23 Hall of Fame: Kimi Raikkonen

On October 17, 1979, Kimi Matias Räikkönen was born in Espoo, Finland. His father Matti is a road builder, while his brother Rami is a rally driver wh


On October 17, 1979, Kimi Matias Räikkönen was born in Espoo, Finland. His father Matti is a road builder, while his brother Rami is a rally driver who competed also in the Finnish Formula 3 championship. A multifaceted driver, Kimi competes in various motorsport disciplines, and in 2011 he founded a team that takes part in the Motocross World Championship, calling it Ice One Racing, now operating as the official Husqvarna team. The Finnish snowboarder and ice hockey fan, when he returns to his hometown, always enjoys to see his favorite team, the Espoo Blues. He doesn't have a great feeling with the media, given his proverbial confidentiality: not surprisingly, in 2006, during the Brazilian Grand Prix, ex-driver Martin Brundle freezes and asks him why he hadn't seen an award ceremony Michael Schumacher, informing him, very colourfully, that he was in the bathroom.


Kimi was born in a not very wealthy family, but at the age of eight he took his first steps in karting. In 1999 he landed in the British Formula Renault championship, with the Manor team, and the following year he won the title thanks to seven wins out of ten races, seven poles and six fastest laps. In the same year, he also competed in international Formula Renault, where he obtained two wins, two poles and two fastest laps. Out of the twenty-three races in which he has participated in single-seaters so far, Kimi has been successful in over fifty percent, achieving thirteen wins, a fact that attracts the attention of Peter Sauber of the homonymous Formula 1 team. The latter invites him to a test session on the Mugello track, this time also attracting the attention of the multi-titled Michael Schumacher, present for tests with Ferrari.


The test driver of the Sauber team, Enrique Bernoldi, also took part in the test, strongly pushed by the sponsor Red Bull towards a starting place for the following season. The lap times of the young Finn are excellent and better than Bernoldi's, so much so that Peter Sauber decides to sign him for the 2001 championship despite the opinion of Helmut Marko, who continues to push hard for the Brazilian: for the first time in history A driver who had played only twenty-three races up to now, none of which in the traditional preparatory formulas for the top motoring category, such as Formula 3 or Formula 3000, makes his debut in Formula 1.


The debut in Formula 1 takes place in the Australian Grand Prix, with a provisional FIA super license valid for the first six races, at the wheel of a Sauber-Petronas. His debut is impressive, finishing sixth at the finish and earning the first world point. An episode is singular: it seems that Kimi fell asleep in the car a few minutes before the start, showing that he did not suffer at all from the tension of his Formula 1 debut.  After the race, the sports federation will definitively grant the super license. At the end of his first season Räikkönen will rack up nine points overall, placing himself in tenth place in the final standings of the world championship, often finishing ahead of his teammate Nick Heidfeld, seventh at the end of the season. The Finn will be the victim of a bad accident in Japan, at Suzuka, together with Alesi's Jordan, but will come out without damage. Given his rookie season, Ron Dennis chooses him to replace in McLaren the spot left empty by his fellow countryman Mika Häkkinen.


In 2002 Kimi moved to McLaren-Mercedes, which paid a sum equal to fifty million euros for having him in the team with David Coulthard. At his debut with the new team, the Finn takes the first podium of his career, finishing third in the Australian Grand Prix and obtaining the fastest lap. In the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours he will touch his first victory but, a few laps from the end, he slips on an unmarked oil stain left by McNish's Toyota at the Adelaide curve and will be overtaken by Michael Schumacher, finishing the race in second. position.


The Finn will give good tests even in the deluge at Silverstone, where he will be the only driver with Michelin tires capable of keeping up with the pace of Ferrari drivers with the best performing Bridgestones while in Belgium, on the Spa-Francorchamps track, he will be able to qualify in the front row, behind only Schumacher. The Finn, despite the good performances, especially in the summer period, at the end of the season will accumulate only twenty-four points that will be worth the sixth-place finish. During the season he will often prove to be faster than team mate David Coulthard, but will often be hit by mechanical failures, enough to count ten retirements.


The 2003 season will be extremely positive for Räikkönen: despite having the car of the previous year, albeit modified (the MP4-18 will never compete), he will find himself a leader within his team and will compete for the victory of the world championship until the last race. After an initial third place obtained in the Australian Grand Prix, his first career victory arrives in Malaysia, and in the Brazilian Grand Prix he will be given as the winner but in the following days the victory will be awarded to Giancarlo Fisichella due to a mistake by the stewards.


The season will continue with good results and thanks to numerous podiums, Räikkönen will remain in the fight for the world title until the last Grand Prix, against Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya. At the end of the season, he will be classified with ninety-one points overall, only two less than the German champion and ahead of the Colombian. The 2004 season will be less fortunate, being punctuated by numerous retirements due to mechanical failures due to the car's poor competitiveness. After a few races the Finn also learned that for the following year he would have a new teammate: Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, coming from Williams.


Mid-season the team will provide a deeply modified car and the results will start to improve: at Silverstone the Finn gets pole and threatens Michael Schumacher until the last lap, having to settle for second place. Two weeks later in Germany, however, he will be forced to retire while duelling with the German when he is in command, while in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps he manages to win after a race in which he becomes the protagonist of numerous overtaking even against damage by Michael Schumacher who, however, arriving second at the finish line, manages to win the world title.


After a difficult start, in 2005 Räikkönen proved he could fight for the world championship with rival Fernando Alonso. The Finn, despite a strong delay from the top of the world championship after the first four races, manages to reduce the gap with two consecutive victories in Spain and Monaco, and another four in Canada, Hungary, Turkey and Belgium, while in the European Grand Prix he will be the victim of a suspension failure when he leads the race.


The Finn will often be hit by engine failures or forced to reassemble several times, still managing to reach the top step of the podium seven times. The season then ends with a victory in Japan, obtained following one of the best races of his career. Starting seventeenth on the grid, he immediately becomes the protagonist of overtaking against Michael Schumacher and the already world champion Fernando Alonso. Thanks also to an excellent strategy in the pits, the Finn manages to get behind Giancarlo Fisichella with five laps to go and completes his comeback by making a beautiful overtaking to the detriment of the Roman just a few corners from the checkered flag.


McLaren's reliability problems, as well as a difficult start to the season in which he loses ground in the standings against his rivals, frustrates his efforts by handing the title to Alonso and Renault. In this season out of nineteen races, the Finn achieved ten fastest laps in the race, an absolute record held on a par with Michael Schumacher. In 2006, the lack of reliability and competitiveness of his McLaren-Mercedes immediately excludes him from the fight for the world title and he will not be able to win any Grand Prix, still winning 65 points, three pole positions and finishing in fifth place behind the Ferrari drivers and Renault. He comes close to victory only in Hungary where, however, he is forced to retire due to an accident with the dubbed Vitantonio Liuzzi and in Monaco where he retires again due to technical problems, despite being the only driver on the track to keep pace with Alonso.


At Monza, when the German made his retirement official, Ferrari confirmed the hiring of Räikkönen as his successor, and the Finn finished second just behind Michael Schumacher. The debut at the wheel of the F2007, the new Ferrari car that he used during the 2007 Formula 1 world championship, takes place on January 30, 2007 in Valencia. Kimi starts the season by winning the Australian Grand Prix where he gets pole position and fastest lap. The next two races earned him two third places, the first in Malaysia, where the engine was limited in laps due to a small water leak at the end of the Australian Grand Prix, and one in Bahrain.


The following races are more troubled with a retirement in Spain due to an electronic problem, an eighth place in Monaco, where he starts fifteenth due to a mistake in qualifying, a fifth in Canada and a fourth in the United States. The Finn hits two consecutive victories in the French Grand Prix, overtaking the English Lewis Hamilton of McLaren at the start and on lap forty-six his teammate Felipe Massa thanks to the pit-stop tactics, and in Great Britain; these results are followed by a retirement on the Nurburgring circuit and two second places in Hungary and Turkey. Furthermore, at Monza Räikkönen will also have a fairly serious accident in free practice and will finish only third in the race, behind the McLarens. In Belgium, after obtaining pole position, the Finn returns to the top step of the podium, bringing together with Massa the fifteenth constructors' title for Ferrari. In the Japanese Grand Prix, in a race in the rain, Räikkönen found himself in the last positions due to a wrong choice of tires but recovered up to third place.


With seventeen points to recover from Hamilton out of twenty available, the world championship now seems closed, but thanks to victories in China - where Ferrari takes its 200th triumph in Formula 1 - and in Brazil, benefiting from the contemporary results of the English rival, a retirement in Asia, and a seventh place in South America, the Finn manages to win the world title. In the hours following the end of the Brazilian race, an investigation is opened by the FIA ​​on the Williams of Rosberg, fourth in the race, and on the BMW Sauber of Heidfeld and Kubica, respectively sixth and fifth, for the abnormal temperatures of the petrol; the investigation will not lead to the disqualification of the pilots involved, so that Räikkönen's title is confirmed even after the final hearing on November 15, 2007. At the same time, Ferrari also won the constructors' championship.


The 2008 season did not start under the best auspices for the Finn: at the first race in Australia, in Melbourne, he retired four laps from the finish and was readmitted to the standings only later due to a disqualification imposed on Rubens Barrichello. He will find performances in Malaysia, in Sepang, winning the race authoritatively, overtaking his teammate Felipe Massa with a delayed pit stop. At the Circuit of Manama, in Bahrain, he crossed the line second behind his teammate and ahead of Robert Kubica, but at the Spanish Grand Prix he held the best race of the season, with pole position, victory and fastest lap.


In the following races Räikkönen does not get brilliant performances, largely due to poor qualifying, with a retirement at the Canadian Grand Prix, hit by Hamilton in the pit lane during a stop with the safety car, a second place in France, where he also wins the 200th pole position for Ferrari and led more than half the race, when he was the victim of an exhaust problem that compromised his performance, a fourth place at Silverstone and a sixth at Hockenheim. Räikkönen returns to the podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix, taking third place, only to then compete in other races without obtaining good results, with a retirement in Valencia, another at Spa-Francorchamps, where he leads until the exit from the track with two laps to go in the rain, a ninth place in Monza in the Ferrari home race and yet another retirement, due to an accident against the barriers, in the Singapore night race.


In the remaining three races Räikkönen returns competitive, agreeing to act as a wingman to his teammate Massa and help him win the title, so the Brazilian is still in the race together with Lewis Hamilton. At the Japanese Grand Prix, in China and Brazil, he therefore finished with three third places, useful for Ferrari only for the conquest of the constructors' championship, as Felipe Massa, despite the victory in his home Grand Prix in Brazil, was unable to take the title, which will go to Lewis Hamilton instead.


The 2009 season does not open well for the Finn at all. Ferrari is not as fast and performing as in previous years and in the first three races of the season, in Australia, Malaysia and China, Räikkönen never manages to score points, respectively scoring a retirement due to differential problems in Melbourne, a fourteenth placed in Sepang as the full wet tires are mounted during a dry race phase and in the end he will also have problems at KERS, and a tenth place in Shanghai caused by a loss of engine power at the beginning of the race and grip problems. The first three points come with sixth place in Bahrain, while in Spain he retires due to hydraulic problems. The first podium of the season arrives at the Monaco Grand Prix, where the Finn closes in third position after losing the pole position to Button by just forty thousandths of a second.


In the following three races, in Turkey, Great Britain and Germany, the Finnish driver gets just one point, the result of an eighth place at Silverstone, respectively scoring a ninth place and a retirement due to engine failure in the other two Grand Prix. Since the Hungarian Grand Prix, in which the team loses Massa due to injury, the performances of Ferrari and, at the same time, of the Finn have improved considerably: already at the Hungaroring Räikkönen wins the second place behind Lewis Hamilton after an excellent start. Then he climbs back to the podium on the citizen of Valencia, where he comes third at the finish.


The only victory of the season will come in the Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, on which he had already won three times in his career. The Finnish driver, who started from sixth position, made the most of the presence of KERS in his car, taking the lead at the start and defending himself from Giancarlo Fisichella's attacks. In the subsequent Italian Grand Prix Räikkönen hits the fourth consecutive podium, finishing third thanks to Hamilton's retirement due to an accident on the last lap. In the Singapore night, the Finn interrupted the streak and had to settle for tenth place after a difficult weekend for the Ferraris. In the following week, his farewell to the team from Maranello was announced, to make room for the Spanish driver Fernando Alonso starting from the 2010 season. The rumor soon spread of his return to McLaren to join Hamilton, considered by the Finnish driver the only valid an alternative to the team from Maranello, a negotiation that then did not materialize.


Despite this aspect linked to the market and the lack of competitiveness of the car, whose development has been stopped for some time, in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Räikkönen manages to conquer a fourth place, keeping the fight open with McLaren for third place in the world championship builders. At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Kimi finished sixth despite a collision with Mark Webber in the early stages of the race and an incident during the pit stop, when his car was hit by the fuel lost by the McLaren of his compatriot Heikki Kovalainen, who restarted from the pits with the fuel line still attached. In the last race of the season, held in Abu Dhabi, the Finnish driver is unable to do better than twelfth place. At the end of the season, finishing in sixth position with 48 points, he decides to retire from Formula 1 and move on to Rally. Kimi spends a few years managing his team, the Ice 1, and experiences NASCAR racing in the USA.


After negotiations also with Williams, on November 29, 2011 his return to Formula 1 at the wheel of Lotus was made official. Räikkönen returns to driving a Formula 1 on January 24, 2012, in a test organized especially for him by the team at the Valencia circuit. The Finnish driver did not start the championship in the best way, being excluded from Q1 in the inaugural Australian Grand Prix and therefore starting in seventeenth position. In the race Räikkönen recovered up to seventh place.


In the following Malaysian Grand Prix the Finnish driver closed again in the points, crossing the line in fifth place despite five penalty positions on the starting grid for changing the gearbox. In the Chinese Grand Prix, Räikkönen fights for the top positions until the last laps, when he moves from second to fourteenth position due to a sudden drop in tire performance. In the following Bahrain Grand Prix, the Finnish driver will go to the podium for the first time since his return to Formula 1, finishing the race behind Sebastian Vettel after starting from eleventh position. After another podium finish in the Spanish Grand Prix, in Monaco and Canada, Räikkönen scored rather dull performances, although he finished in the points on both occasions. In the following five races Räikkönen achieved excellent results, entering the fight for the world title. After finishing the European Grand Prix in second position and the British Grand Prix in fifth, the Finnish driver in fact conquers three consecutive podium finishes, with two third places in Germany (taking advantage of a penalty inflicted on Sebastian Vettel) and in Belgium and a second in Hungary, which allow him to reach thirty-three points behind the world leader Fernando Alonso.


In the Italian Grand Prix the Finnish driver closes the race in fifth position, behind the Ferraris of Alonso and Felipe Massa. In the following Grand Prix Räikkönen continues to score points, however, failing to confirm himself in the top positions and finishing in sixth position in Singapore and Japan and fifth in the Korean Grand Prix. Despite these not particularly brilliant results, the Finnish driver climbs back to third position in the general classification, remaining mathematically fighting for the world title. At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Räikkönen took his first victory since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, dominating the race after the retirement of Lewis Hamilton due to mechanical problems, hitherto in first position. The victory, however, will not be enough to keep the hopes of conquering the world title open, as his main rivals, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, will arrive immediately behind him.


In the last two races of the season Räikkönen does not obtain particularly brilliant results, finishing in sixth place in Austin and even tenth and lapped in the final Brazilian Grand Prix. However, Lewis Hamilton's retirement on this last occasion guarantees him third place in the world championship, with 207 points. Remaining at Lotus, Räikkönen started the 2013 season positively, taking the victory and the fastest lap in the opening race in Australia, after starting from seventh on the grid. After finishing seventh in Malaysia, the Finn conquers three consecutive second places, respectively in the Grand Prix of China, Bahrain and Spain.


In the Monaco Grand Prix, while he was close to the podium, Pérez bumped him on lap 70, forcing the Finn into the pits to replace a punctured tire; he returns to the track in sixteenth position, but in a few laps he manages to recover and finish tenth: with this result, he brings the consecutive races closed in points to twenty-three, and those completed to forty. At the Canadian Grand Prix, the Finn, who started eleventh on the grid, was also dubbed in the race, but nevertheless managed to finish the race in ninth place, a position that still allowed him to equal the primacy of Michael Schumacher. In the British Grand Prix Räikkönen starts in the third row but during the race, also taking advantage of the safety car entrance, he manages to climb up to second position; the gradual deterioration of his tires, and the failure to enter the pits, however, mean that in about ten laps he is overtaken in sequence by Webber, Alonso and Hamilton, reaching the finish line fifth.


After a few races not up to expectations, the Finn redeems himself at the German Grand Prix, where he comes second after starting fourth from the grid, and having undermined the leader Vettel in the final. In Hungary Räikkönen reaches the place of honor behind Hamilton, after starting sixth, having made one less stop than the others, and having battled for a long time with Vettel for the conquest of the second step of the podium; Due to a fault in the front brakes, the Finn's consecutive streak of points finishes at the Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, a new record, surpassed by Hamilton in 2018.


Finally, two other podiums arrive for the Finn, in Singapore where he starts thirteenth and finishes third, and in Korea where he finishes second behind Vettel. Kimi ends his last season at Lotus early, missing the last two races of the championship for a back operation, but also for a dispute with the English team about the non-payment of his salary, and on September 11, 2013 the Räikkönen's return to Scuderia Ferrari for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. With Mark Webber's retirement from racing, in 2014 Kimi became the oldest driver on the starting grid. The start of the championship is not exciting for the Finnish driver: also due to several unfortunate events (such as in Monaco, where he was hit by Max Chilton's Marussia while fighting for the podium), Räikkönen won just nineteen points in the first nine races.


In Hungary, Kimi seems to find the feeling with the car again after starting from the seventeenth position on the grid due to a strategic mistake by Ferrari, the Finn recovered up to the sixth position. In the following round of Spa-Francorchamps, starting from eighth in qualifying, he closes the race in fourth place after fighting for a long time for the podium, being overtaken by the Williams of compatriot Bottas only in the final laps; for the first time this season Räikkönen also manages to finish ahead of team mate Alonso. In the final part of the season Räikkönen continues to struggle, unable to adapt the car's set-up to his driving style. The Finnish driver managed to score some points, closing the season in twelfth place in the overall standings with 55 points.


The 2015 season sees the Finn find a new Ferrari box mate, the German Sebastian Vettel. In the opening Grand Prix in Australia, in Melbourne, Räikkönen was forced to retire due to a problem in changing tires at the pit stop. Two weeks later, the Finn finished eleventh, due to a number of negative factors; the day after the bad luck continues with a puncture caused by a contact with Nasr, but he manages to recover from eighteenth place to fourth. In China he repeats fourth place, after the safety car prevents him from reaching Vettel. In Bahrain he finishes second behind Hamilton, returning to the podium after twenty-five races of absence.


In the next two races he wins a fifth and a sixth place, respectively in Spain and in Monte Carlo. In Canada he starts in the second row with the third fastest time, just behind the two Mercedes. The first phase of the race sees him third, then he spun at the hairpin and eventually finished fourth, behind compatriot Valtteri Bottas. In Austria he qualified eighteenth, also due to a misunderstanding with the team. On the grid he starts fourteenth, regarding the penalties of Red Bull Racing and McLarens. A few hundred meters from the start of the race he has a contact with Fernando Alonso, which causes the retirement of both drivers.


At Silverstone he beats team mate Vettel in qualifying for the second time this season, but ends the race behind him thanks to a different strategy in the wet that relegates him to the eighth position. In the Hungarian Grand Prix Räikkönen was forced to retire due to an electric motor problem, after having occupied the second position for most of the race. On 20 August 2015, on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari announced that it had reached an agreement with the Finn on the extension of the contract for the following season, but came only seventh due to a problem in qualifying. At the Italian Grand Prix he starts second but due to a gearbox problem he is unable to start immediately and finds himself last, managing to recover up to fifth place.


At the following Singapore Grand Prix he returned to the podium, obtaining a third place, after having obtained the same position in qualifying. On that occasion he completed the Ferrari party with Sebastian Vettel, who finished first. In Japan he comes fourth, consolidating the same position in the world championship. In Russia, after a long battle for the podium, he ends the race in fifth position, but is penalized for an accident with Bottas, who only places him eighth. In the two subsequent events in the United States and Mexico Räikkönen collects as many retirements, but returns to points in the Brazilian Grand Prix, where he finishes fourth. Kimi ends the season with a podium in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where he finishes in third place, beating his teammate Sebastian Vettel, and ends the season in fourth place in the world championship, with 150 points.


In the inaugural Grand Prix of the season, in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, Räikkönen, virtually on the podium in the first part of the race, was forced to retire due to a mechanical problem. He returns to the podium in the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, second. In China, he started from the second row and was rammed at the start by his teammate Sebastian Vettel. Forced to come back from the bottom he ends the race in fifth position. In Russia, the fourth round of the season, Räikkönen manages to conquer the second podium of the season, finishing the race in third place (after starting from the same position) behind the two Mercedes of Rosberg and Hamilton: this is the 700th podium in the history of Ferrari.


In Spain, he finished second behind the newly promoted in Red Bull Max Verstappen, after starting from fifth place and after following the Dutchman for several laps before the checkered flag. In the next two races, in Monaco and Canada, only disappointing results for the Finn arrive: a retirement in the Principality and a sixth place in Canada, collapsing into fifth position in the world championship. In the European Grand Prix, penalized by a too aggressive strategy and a penalty he finished fourth, after starting from the same position, recovering the same position in the championship. He finds the podium in the Austrian Grand Prix, closed in third position, behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. With this result he hooks his teammate Sebastian Vettel in third place in the drivers' standings, with 96 points. On July 8, 2016 it was made official that his relationship with Ferrari will also be renewed for the 2017 season.


In the British Grand Prix Kimi finished fifth trying to limit the damage, very far from the podium area, after a very difficult weekend for both him and his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who finished ninth. In the Hungarian Grand Prix he finished sixth, after starting from fourteenth place due to a strategic error. In Budapest the Finn conquers the forty-third fastest race lap of his career. In Germany he obtained the fifth position in qualifying: at the start, however, his teammate Sebastian Vettel overtook him and thanks to the lack of competitiveness of Ferrari, Räikkönen finished sixth, never fighting for the podium. In Belgium, at Spa-Francorchamps, he obtained the third time in qualifying, behind Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen. After the collision with team mate Sebastian Vettel and with Max Verstappen, the Finn is forced to a race in the back, however, finishing ninth, falling to fourth in the championship.


In the Italian Grand Prix, after having been in third position for a long time behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel, both are overtaken by Lewis Hamilton, who has a more conservative strategy: the Finn therefore ends fourth. In the Singapore Grand Prix, the Finn, who started from fifth place, lost the podium due to the early pit stop of Lewis Hamilton, thus finishing fourth. The same result is repeated in Malaysia, where Ferrari does not perform at the levels of the previous edition. In Japan he gets the third time in qualifying, but is penalized by five positions on the grid for replacing the gearbox, thus starting eighth; he plays a good race, finishing fifth. In the United States, who started fifth, in the second pit stop, the left rear tire is not well fixed, forcing him to retire. In Mexico he finishes sixth. In Brazil, after starting from third place, he is forced to retire after an accident on the main straight. In Abu Dhabi, who started fourth, overtook Daniel Ricciardo at the start; after fighting for the podium in the first half of the race, he is penalized by strategy, closing the season with a sixth place, bringing the points scored during the year to 186, finishing sixth in the drivers' standings.


In the first race of the 2017 season, in Australia, Räikkönen finished fourth, or the same position on the starting grid, signing the fastest lap. In the Chinese Grand Prix, the second world round, the Ferrari driver starts again from fourth position on the grid. During the race, however, he complained of engine problems and crossed the line in fifth position after being overtaken by his teammate and closing the race also behind the two Red Bull Racing. In Bahrain he qualified fifth and managed to finish fourth in the race despite a bad start (which caused him to drop down to seventh position) and an electrical problem with the engine. He returns to the podium in Russia, after a fast that lasted fifteen races, finishing in third position after having started from the second box of the grid and setting the fastest lap of the race.


In Spain due to a contact at the first corner with Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, he broke the steering wheel of his car, forcing him to retire after a few seconds from the start. In Monaco, after having performed well in free practice, he earned his first pole position of the season (the last was in 2008) in front of his teammate Sebastian Vettel, also setting the new track record. In the race Räikkönen, first for thirty-three laps, came second at the finish line behind Vettel who brought the Maranello team back to victory in Monte Carlo, which was missing from the 2001 Monaco Grand Prix. In Canada, after leading the second free practice session, he finished the race seventh after starting from fourth position and having covered the last laps with serious brake problems. In the following race, in Azerbaijan, he qualified in third position and at the start, thanks to a great start, he overtook Valtteri Bottas on the outside, who after jumping on the curb impacted him sending him to the wall.


He ends the race in fourteenth position after being in the rear due to the pit stops needed for repairs and returning last and lapped after the red flag. In Austria he starts third and loses a position after a duel at the start with Daniel Ricciardo; he closes the race fifth. In Great Britain he qualifies in second position behind an impregnable Lewis Hamilton. He easily maintains the place of honor, also thanks to the spectacular duel between Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel for third place. He remains firmly second for the entire race behind the British, but with two laps to go, while Valtteri Bottas was over three seconds behind his compatriot, he sensationally punctures a tire and is forced to stop. He is also overtaken by Vettel, who in turn pierces it the next lap.


However, the daring final for the Ferraris saw him place himself on the lowest step of the podium, losing the second position held during the race to Bottas' advantage. In Hungary, the last race before the summer break, after having played a good free practice session with an excellent race pace, he qualified behind his teammate with a delay of 168 thousandths. In the race Kimi starts well alongside Vettel and maintains the second position throughout the race, approaching the German several times, who from mid-race on will suffer from problems with the steering that tended to the left (probably due to the power steering). Räikkönen then finished second behind his teammate; behind them the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton. On August 22, 2017 Kimi renews his contract with Ferrari also for the 2018 season.


In Belgium Kimi did a good free practice session and, in the race, Kimi sprints from fourth position, but under yellow flags Kimi does not slow down when the retired car of Max Verstappen is present on the Kemmel straight, incurring a penalty of ten seconds of Stop & Go. Kimi is therefore forced to make up the lost positions and after the contact between the two Force Indias resulting in the safety car, Kimi overtakes Bottas at the restart but fails to reach Ricciardo, closing the race fourth. In the Italian Grand Prix Kimi only finished seventh in qualifying, but started fifth thanks to the penalties of the two Red Bull standard bearers. In the race Kimi closes in the same position, never fighting for the top positions.


In Singapore he qualifies fourth but retires seconds from the start. Thanks to a good start Kimi joins and overtakes Verstappen, who touches him and sends him against Vettel, who in the meantime was closing the trajectory to the Dutchman. In Malaysia he was unable to sign the pole position by forty-five thousandths in favor of Hamilton, and in the race, placed on the starting grid, a problem was detected on his car; Kimi will not even be able to start from the pit lane. During the weekend in Japan, Kimi starts tenth after replacing the gearbox and is the author of a good comeback up to fifth place by making twelve overtakes. In the United States of America, Kimi qualifies fifth; at the start Kimi is overtaken by Ocon, but the Finn resumes his position after a few laps. On the forty-second lap Kimi overtakes Verstappen and taking advantage of Vettel's pit stop, Kimi climbs to second position, which Kimi will keep until gives it to his teammate in the final laps. Kimi finishes third after being irregularly overtaken by Verstappen at the end of the last lap.


The post-race situation is singular with the Finn who shows up in the pre-podium room while Verstappen is invited to leave. In Mexico he qualifies fifth but is the author of a start that makes him sink in the middle of the group, but with a series of overtaking, a good pace and the virtual safety car, he grabs the third position, which Kimi will keep until the finish line. For the Finn this is the ninetieth career podium. In the Brazilian Grand Prix he qualified third, behind team mate Sebastian Vettel and his compatriot Valtteri Bottas. At the first corner Vettel slips Bottas; Räikkönen also tries to undermine Bottas, but without success. In the final laps he has to defend himself from the return of Lewis Hamilton, who started from the pitlane, finds himself a few tenths from the Finn and a few seconds from race leader Sebastian Vettel; Räikkönen manages to resist and conquers the third consecutive podium. In the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix he qualified fifth, behind Ricciardo. In the race, the Australian retired due to a hydraulic problem, allowing him to climb to fourth place in the drivers' standings, after keeping Max Verstappen at bay in the final laps. The Finn thus ends the championship in fourth place with 205 points in the world championship standings.


The 2018 season opens well and after a good test session, Ferrari is seriously threatened by Red Bull as the second force in the championship as Mercedes is reconfirmed as a reference point. On the opening weekend of the season in Australia, Räikkönen finished second on the grid more than half a second behind reigning poleman and world champion Lewis Hamilton. In the race he starts well and in the early stages Kimi is the only one to keep up with the British up to the virtual safety car regime in which both are surprisingly overtaken by Vettel who will win the race. In Bahrain Kimi starts second completing an all-Ferrari front row, but does not start well in the race due to a skid and is overtaken by Bottas. During the second stop on lap 36 Kimi retires due to an incident involving a mechanic.


The week after, in China, Kimi starts again from second position and always behind Vettel who snatches pole from him at the last attempt by only eighty-seven thousandths of a second. In the race Kimi is closed at the start and loses the position on Bottas, after the pit stop Kimi finds himself having a not very profitable strategy. The situation is reversed after the entry of the safety car which brings him back to third position following the contact between Vettel and Verstappen. In the final laps Kimi tries to overtake Bottas without success. At the end of the race, Kimi sees his absolute record of consecutive Grand Prix finishing in points - twenty-seven - broken in favor of Lewis Hamilton, which Kimi had obtained in the 2013 season. In Baku, two mistakes at the same corner in Q3 cost him pole and Kimi places sixth on the grid.


The race starts badly and is forced to stop after contact with Ocon, Kimi returns to the middle of the group until the second safety car following the contact between the two Red Bulls. At the restart, on lap forty-seventh, there is a sprint race and Vettel tries a risky overtaking at turn 1, but misses the braking and is also overtaken by Hamilton and by Räikkönen himself. Bottas, who had stably maintained the leadership, sensationally punctured a tire the next lap and was forced to retire. The daring race ends with Hamilton's victory and with Räikkönen and Sergio Pérez completing the podium. The European season does not start in a lucky way. In Spain, during free practice, Kimi was forced to replace the power unit due to a problem. Kimi qualifies fourth but another failure on lap twenty-five forces him to retire. In Monaco Kimi starts from fourth position and keeps it up to the end in a race without any particular twists. In Canada Kimi does not go beyond fifth position on the grid and ends sixth after being passed by Ricciardo at the start.


At the French Grand Prix, on the Paul Ricard Circuit, Kimi starts sixth. At the first corner, given the contacts between some cars in front of him, Kimi loses a few positions. During the race Kimi manages to recover several positions, until, on lap 48, thanks also to a strategy that Kimi would have paid off in the last part of the race, Kimi overtakes Ricciardo and gets the podium finishing in third place. At the Austrian Grand Prix, on the Red Bull Ring, Kimi qualified fourth behind the Mercedes and his teammate, but thanks to the penalty of Vettel Kimi was third on the grid. At the start Kimi starts well and undermines the two Mercedes but due to a slight contact with Verstappen he is overtaken by the latter and Ricciardo. After the virtual safety car, Kimi manages to overtake Ricciardo and after Bottas' retirement Kimi is permanently in second position behind Verstappen. Kimi closes behind the Dutchman, signing the fastest lap, as well as a new record in the Red Bull Ring race. In Great Britain, starting third, he touches with Hamilton, receiving a penalty of ten seconds served at the pit stop. After the safety cars, he is engaged in a heated duel with Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, which will take him to third place.


In Germany he finished third in a race with difficult weather conditions that also caused the retirement of his teammate. Over the weekend in Hungary, the last one before the summer break, Räikkönen qualified third and lost one position in the early stages. Throughout the race Kimi finds himself in the condition of not being able to drink (perhaps due to a breakdown); despite this, at the end of the race, his strategy turns out to be spot on and Kimi manages to gain third place with a few laps to go. For him it is the fifth consecutive podium this season. At Spa, after the summer break, Kimi qualified in sixth position in a daring session characterized by rain in Q3. The unfortunate weekend ended with a retirement on lap nine, caused by the damage sustained after a contact at the first corner.


His streak of consecutive podiums stops. At the Italian Grand Prix, Kimi managed to conquer his first pole position of the season, the eighteenth in his career, followed by team mate Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The pole time, 1'19"119, at an average of 263.588 km/h, is the fastest lap in the history of Formula 1 as regards the hourly average and is also the new record of the Monza track: the previous 1'19"525 obtained by Juan Pablo Montoya on Williams FW26 resisted from the 2004 season. In the race Kimi starts well and holds the first position over Hamilton; the early stop to avoid the undercut, however, proves counterproductive and at the end of the race Kimi finds himself accusing the rear left blistering problems. Mercedes' tactic of sacrificing Bottas to slow him down makes him feel more of the problem and with a few laps to go Kimi is overtaken by the reigning world champion.


Kimi ends the race in second position by winning the hundredth career podium. In September 11, 2018 he announced his move to Alfa Romeo Sauber starting from the 2019 season: Kimi thus leaves the Scuderia Ferrari with which Kimi raced for eight seasons. In Singapore Kimi qualifies fifth and finishes in the same position in the race. In Russia Kimi finishes fourth and in Japan Kimi finishes fifth. In the United States Grand Prix, after starting second, Kimi wins ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. This is his return to victory, after more than five years and one hundred and fourteen Grands Prix since his last success. In Brazil Kimi conquers the third position after a good race, and in the last race of the championship, in Yas Marina, Kimi retires due to a technical failure but still manages to finish the championship in third position with 251 points, his best result since the return Ferrari.


The 2019 season opens with a good eighth place in Australia followed by two more points finishes. In Baku, after starting from the pit lane to be ousted from qualifying due to a technical irregularity, Kimi recovered up to tenth place. In Monte Carlo Kimi celebrates his 300th participation in a Formula 1 Grand Prix.After an anonymous race in Montréal, closed off the points also due to the car's poor competitiveness, the Finn obtained three consecutive points finishes in France, Austria and Great Britain. In the chaotic German Grand Prix he obtained a good seventh place: however, he will be penalized by the stewards at the end of the race together with his teammate Giovinazzi, who finished eighth.


However, the team presents an appeal and a decision is scheduled for September 24, 2019 which will then be rejected. In the meantime, Kimi is back on points in Hungary, but from the Belgian Grand Prix begins a negative series made up of anonymous placings and withdrawals, also due to the car's performance collapse. In Austin, in the United States, Kimi regains competitiveness and finishes close to the points. In Brazil, thanks to a chaotic race in the last laps, Kimi manages to get an excellent fourth place, best result of the season. Kimi ends the season in twelfth place in the world drivers' standings, with 43 points scored.


The start of the season, postponed to July due to the Covid-19 pandemic, opens with the Finn forced to retire while his teammate brings the first points of the season. During the season, however, the car proved not very competitive, and the two drivers were able to show off only in some races conditioned by retirements and safety cars, such as at Mugello and Imola. In the Eifel Grand Prix, Kimi disputes his three hundred and twenty-third Grand Prix, beating the attendance record that had previously belonged to Barrichello. In the end of the season Kimi is confirmed by the team also for 2021 with Giovinazzi alongside him, and ends 2020 in sixteenth place in the drivers' standings with four points won.


Alessandro Cappelli


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