Formula 1 driver
|Born||17 October 1979|
|F1 debut||Australian Grand Prix, 2001|
|Current team||Scuderia Ferrari|
|2017||Russian Grand Prix|
|Australian Grand Prix|
|2016||Hungarian Grand Prix|
Kimi Räikkönen’s attitude comes across as detached and uncaring, but when the Finn is in the car, he’s determined and unstoppable. He’s a difficult driver to comprehend, as those teams who have employed him will no doubt attest to, but he returned to Ferrari for 2014, partnering Fernando Alonso. His season was somewhat anonymous, without the results expected of him, but he remained at the Scuderia for 2015 and beyond.
Kimi Räikkönen started his motorsport career karting in Finalnd, before moving on to European events. He graduated to single seater categories, including Formula Ford and Formula Renault, winning the latter UK championship in 2000. He only completed a handful of races, however, before F1 turned their attention towards him. Räikkönen was granted a test in a Sauber F1 car in the winter of that year, and was signed up for a full race drive in 2011 – despite some concerns over the inexperienced rookie being given a superlicence.
Räikkönen picked up a championship point on his first race in Australia in 2001, and continued to finish in the points and impress the bosses. Despite attention from Sauber’s engine supplier Ferrari, he made the move to McLaren for the 2002 season, where he remained until 2006. There were a few close calls in his first year with the British team, but it wasn’t until Malaysia 2003 that Kimi won his first F1 race. He was also called the winner in the chaotic Brazilian race that year, although the shortened race was eventually counted back to see Giancarlo Fisichella the winner instead.
His performances at McLaren continued to bring in results but he couldn’t get his hands on the championship title. In 2007, Räikkönen moved to Ferrari on a three-year contract and the Finn won his first race for the Italian team. The strong results remained throughout the season and he managed to see off stiff competition from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to take the championship in Brazil. There was an investigation after the race regarding discrepancies on other cars, and if it had been upheld the reclassified results would hand the title to Hamilton, however the FIA rejected the claims. Räikkönen was confirmed as the 2007 World Champion and reluctantly attended the FIA gala in November that year.
His dissatisfaction with any off-track activities was infamous – Kimi was monosyllabic with the media, rarely took part in team activities, and focused solely on driving fast and winning often. As the results in 2008 and 2009 tailed off, the Finn’s relationship with Ferrari also soured. Team and driver agreed to void the contract between them and Räikkönen left Formula One at the end of 2009, to be replaced by Fernando Alonso.
Räikkönen spent the intervening period trying several other categories – he drove in the World Rally Championship with mixed results as well as a brief stint in the NASCAR World Truck series. Kimi had been open about his dislike of the lifestyle surrounding Formula One, but in 2012 he made his comeback with the Lotus F1 Team. There was huge scrutiny surrounding the Finn, particularly after Michael Schumacher’s less successful comeback with Mercedes. However, Kimi was soon on the pace, winning races and picking up trophies. The Lotus team seemed to welcome and adapt to his personality.
However, by the end of 2013, Kimi’s relationship with another team had taken a knock. Räikkönen was unhappy at not being paid according to the contract, and there had been harsh words said over the radio by both team and driver. It wasn’t a huge surprise when it was confirmed that Kimi would be returning to Ferrari for 2014, and it was even less of a surprise when he failed to participate in the final two races of the year for Lotus. Moving some necessary back surgery up the schedule, Kimi took the extra time to recover, leaving Lotus early.
For 2014, he rejoined the team he took his championship title with, but found himself paired with Fernando Alonso. It was one of the most highly anticipated pairings of the year, but ended up being lacklustre. Räikkönen couldn't get comfortable in the car and struggled throughout the year to make any impact. His best result was a fourth place finish, and he finished 12th overall. Kimi stayed at Ferrari for 2015, joined by Sebastian Vettel, with both hoping the Scuderia could turn things around. Vettel managed to win three races, leaving Räikkönen somewhat in the shade, but the Finn remained with Ferrari for another season in 2016 and 2017.
Learn more about Kimi Räikkönen with the Pocket F1 Handbook.