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Kimi Räikkönen

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Kimi Räikkönen

Räikkönen at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, where he won on his debut for Ferrari
Nationality Flag of Finland Finnish
Car # 6
Current team Scuderia Ferrari
Formula One World Championship career
Races 110 (109 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 10
Podium finishes 38
Pole positions 13
Career points 369
Fastest laps 20
First race 2001 Australian Grand Prix
First win 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix
Latest win 2007 Australian Grand Prix
Latest race 2007 Monaco Grand Prix
2007 position 4th (23 points)

Kimi Matias Räikkönen born October 17, 1979 in Espoo, is a Finnish Formula One racing car driver for Scuderia Ferrari. He finished runner-up in the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in 2003 and 2005. He has driven for Sauber-Petronas (2001) and Team McLaren-Mercedes (2002-2006) and has signed a 3-year deal with Ferrari for the 2007 to 2009 seasons.

Contents

 Career

 Early career (until 2000)

He had a long line of success in karting from the age of ten, including placing second in the 1999 European Formula Super A championship. He also competed that year in the Formula Ford Euro Cup, and by the age of twenty, he had won the British Formula Renault Winter series, winning the first four races of the year. In 2000, he won seven of ten events in the Formula Renault UK Championship. After racing in the Formula Renault series later in 2000, Räikkönen had won 13 of 23 events — a 56% win rate.

 Sauber – entry into Formula One (2001)

On the basis of these results, Peter Sauber gave the Finn a test with the Sauber Formula One team in September of 2000. After further tests in Jerez and Barcelona, Sauber signed Räikkönen for the 2001 season. However, some critics (including FIA president Max Mosley) voiced concerns over granting an F1 superlicence to such an inexperienced driver, having only 23 car races to his credit. He was nevertheless granted one and scored a championship point in the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, his maiden Grand Prix. Räikkönen was asleep 20 minutes before his first F1 GP (It is said that he loves to sleep - so much so that he needs to be woken up before qualifying and races.)[citation needed]

Räikkönen is very calm, cool, and calculating in his race strategy - prompting the nickname "the Iceman", which is subtly written on the side of his current helmet design. His other nicknames include Kimppa, Räikkä and Kimster (used by his mechanics). Some Finns jokingly call him "Räkä", meaning snot in Finnish. This nickname was derived from "Häkä" (carbon monoxide in Finnish), the nickname of Mika Häkkinen. He had a solid debut year, achieving four points-scoring finishes and eight finishes in the top eight. Completing the year with 9 points, Räikkönen, along with teammate Nick Heidfeld (12 points), helped Team Sauber to its highest ever result: fourth place in the constructors championship.

 McLaren (2002–2006)

Räikkönen, long linked to Sauber's engine supplier Ferrari, instead sufficiently impressed McLaren, earning a race seat in Ron Dennis's team for 2002, taking the seat left vacant by double-world champion (and fellow Finn) Häkkinen's retirement. Criticism was levelled at McLaren for choosing him instead of his 2001 teammate Nick Heidfeld, who was thought at the time to be the better of the two Sauber drivers.[citation needed]

 2002

Kimi Räikkönen, United States GP, 2002.
Kimi Räikkönen, United States GP, 2002.

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, he scored 24 points and four podiums, and held his own against teammate David Coulthard. Räikkönen came close to winning his first Grand Prix in Magny-Cours, France, but went off track due to oil from the blown engine of Allan McNish's Toyota on the circuit with a handful of laps to go. 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.

 2003

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 pitlane, after a software glitch in the car's electronic system. Räikkönen held off Michael Schumacher to finish 3rd. It was in Malaysia, where 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 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 Circuit De Catalunya in Spain, Räikkönen made a mistake in qualifying and had to start from the back of the grid, and at the start, he collided with Antônio Pizzonia, who was stuck on his grid position due 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 understeering problems Räikkönen defended his 2nd position from Rubens Barrichello in Austria. He came extremely close to winning at the Monaco, but lost by less than a second to Juan Pablo Montoya. Starting from the pitlane in Canada after he went off track during qualifying with understeer, 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.

Prior to the Italian GP the FIA were tipped-off by rivals Ferrari about a tyre-illegality in the Michelin compounds.[citation needed] Michelin were forced to bring in other tyre compounds 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 MP4-17D chassis and would not bring out the MP4-18 as had been announced earlier. Räikkönen eventually finished 4th in the race, losing five championship points to race winner Michael Schumacher.

Räikkönen took pole at the US GP, 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. Season 2003 was one of the closest in recent years.

2004

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 US GP Räikkönen finished 6th.

At the French GP, 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 to Michael Schumacher. Following on from this encouraging display, the McLarens locked the 2nd row of the grid at Hockenheim, 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 would retire again from the Hungarian GP after starting from 10th place on the grid, again on lap 13. At the Belgian Grand Prix Räikkönen qualifed 10th, but took the lead on lap 11 and held on to it to take McLaren's first and only win of the season. The next weekend at Monza Räikkönen again retired on lap 13, this time due to electrical problems. At the next race in China he finished 3rd, only 1.4 seconds behind race winner Rubens Barrichello.

At Japan, 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: finishing 6th, 2.5 seconds behind Alonso. At Brazil, 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 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 3 in 2005.

2005

Kimi Räikkönen, French GP, 2005.
Kimi Räikkönen, French GP, 2005.

Räikkönen's start to the 2005 season season was less than perfect. The car was reported to be too soft on its Michelin tyres, with the result that it wasn't generating enough heat to post competitive qualifying times.[1] 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 get his first podium of the season.

Räikkönen then achieved three consecutive poles at San Marino, Barcelona and Monte Carlo. 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. 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, and 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"[2] 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.[3]

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 due to safety concerns. 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 would call his best ever qualifying lap,[4] 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.

Kimi Räikkönen, German GP, 2005.
Kimi Räikkönen, German GP, 2005.

In the German Grand Prix 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 3 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 may leave McLaren when his contract expired in 2006 if reliability issues were not solved.[5] 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.

Räikkönen also achieved an impressive statistic at the Hungarian Grand Prix by managing to win the race from the most handicapped qualifying position, having had to do his qualifying run first on the notoriously dusty and dirty track due to his early retirement a week earlier at Hockenheim. No other driver had previously managed this feat under the controversial grid qualification system which significantly penalised those who retire from a race. 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. Just when it looked like McLaren had pulled off a strategic coup with Räikkönen on a one-stop strategy, his left-rear tyre delaminated, and was forced to take an extra stop to change the tyre. He dropped down to 12th. He recovered, but spun his car after pushing too hard chasing the 3rd placed driver. He eventually finished fourth.

He went on to win, for the second year in a row, at the Belgian Grand Prix 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 produced arguably the best drive of his career, taking his 7th victory of the season after starting 20th 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.[6]

Räikkönen received several post-season accolades like "Driver of the Year" from reputed magazines like F1 Racing[7] and Autosport[8].

2006

Räikkönen testing for McLaren at Valencia in early 2006.
Räikkönen testing for McLaren at Valencia in early 2006.

In Bahrain, Räikkönen suffered electronic problems during Friday practice and a rear suspension break 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 very 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, causing him to fall off the pace somewhat around the midpoint of the race. Chasing down Alonso during the final stages of the race, he did however achieve 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 Kimi Räikkönen's poor performance for the team's failure to finish in the top two in the race.[9]

Räikkönen testing for McLaren at Silverstone in April 2006.
Räikkönen testing for McLaren at Silverstone in April 2006.

At the Spanish Grand Prix Räikkönen qualified 9th. However at the start Räikkönen managed to get up to 5th place on the first lap. He retained this position for most of the race, finishing 5th place. A few days after the Spanish Grand Prix, he admitted that he had no chance of winning the 2006 Championship.[10]In Monte Carlo, Räikkönen qualified third. During the race he would get up to 2nd and keep pace with Alonso, however he retired during a safety car period after a failed heat shield led to heat from the exhaust causing a wiring loom inside the car to catch fire.

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 pitstops where Räikkönen was demoted to third by Schumacher, a position he held until the end of the race. At Canada, Räikkönen achieved another podium. In the United States Grand Prix, his teammate punted him out in an expensive seven car accident. The 2006 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 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 ran into the barricade at turn 4. Räikkönen qualified on pole for the Italian Grand Prix, snatching pole from Michael Schumacher by 2 thousandths of a second right at the end of qualifying. He led the early part of the race until the first pitstops where he was passed by Michael Schumacher. He stayed in second place for the rest of the race. After the race Schumacher announced that he was retiring. Later Ferrari announced that he would be replaced in the 2007 season by Räikkönen.[11]

The Chinese Grand Prix saw another retirement for Räikkönen due to engine problems. His last two Grands Prix, those of Japan and Brazil, did lead to 2 finishes, but twice missed the podium. He ended his McLaren-Mercedes era 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Ferrari (2007—present)

Räikkönen won his first race with Ferrari.
Räikkönen won his first race with Ferrari.

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. As such, Räikkönen got the number 6 car while Massa inherited Schumacher's #5. Following the retirement of Michael Schumacher and his new deal with Ferrari, Räikkönen is estimated to be the highest paid driver in F1, with a base salary reportedly worth US $51M annually.[12]

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. At the 2007 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 the Bahrain Grand Prix, 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. In qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix Räikkönen struck a barrier and broke his right front suspension. He started 16th and finished 8th.

Results and records

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 WDC Points
2001 Sauber Petronas Sauber C20 Petronas 01A 3.0 V10 AUS
6
MAL
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
8
AUT
4
MON
10
CAN
4
EUR
10
FRA
7
GBR
5
GER
Ret
HUN
7
BEL
Ret
ITA
7
USA
Ret
JPN
Ret
10th 9
2002 West McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-17 Mercedes FO 110M 3.0 V10 AUS
3
MAL
Ret
BRA
12
SMR
Ret
ESP
Ret
AUT
Ret
MON
Ret
CAN
4
EUR
3
GBR
Ret
FRA
2
GER
Ret
HUN
4
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
Ret
JPN
3
6th 24
2003 West McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-17D Mercedes FO 110M 3.0 V10
Mercedes FO 110P 3.0 V10
AUS
3
MAL
1
BRA
2
SMR
2
ESP
Ret
AUT
2
MON
2
CAN
6
EUR
Ret
FRA
4
GBR
3
GER
Ret
HUN
2
ITA
4
USA
2
JPN
2
2nd 91
2004 West McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-19
McLaren MP4-19B
Mercedes FO 110Q 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
MAL
Ret
BHR
Ret
SMR
8
ESP
11
MON
Ret
EUR
Ret
CAN
5
USA
6
FRA
7
GBR
2
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
1
ITA
Ret
CHN
3
JPN
6
BRA
2
7th 45
2005 Team McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-20 Mercedes FO 110R 3.0 V10 AUS
8
MAL
9
BHR
3
SMR
Ret
ESP
1
MON
1
EUR
11
CAN
1
USA
DNS
FRA
2
GBR
3
GER
Ret
HUN
1
TUR
1
ITA
4
BEL
1
BRA
2
JPN
1
CHN
2
2nd 112
2006 Team McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-21 Mercedes FO 108S 2.4 V8 BHR
3
MAL
Ret
AUS
2
SMR
5
EUR
4
ESP
5
MON
Ret
GBR
3
CAN
3
USA
Ret
FRA
5
GER
3
HUN
Ret
TUR
Ret
ITA
2
CHN
Ret
JPN
5
BRA
5
5th 65
2007 Scuderia Ferrari
Marlboro
Ferrari F2007 Ferrari 056 2.4 V8 AUS
1
MAL
3
BHR
3
ESP
Ret
MON
8
CAN
USA
FRA
GBR
EUR
HUN
TUR
ITA
BEL
JPN
CHN
BRA
4th* 23*

*Season in progress.

Formula One records

Räikkönen's helmet as used during the 2007 Australian Grand Prix.
Räikkönen's helmet as used during the 2007 Australian Grand Prix.
  • For the 2005 season, Räikkönen holds the joint record of 7 wins in a single season without winning the World Title, shared with four time World Champion Alain Prost, who initially set the record in 1984 and matched it in 1988, and now also Michael Schumacher, in 2006.
  • In the 2005 season, he also equalled Michael Schumacher's record of 10 fastest race laps in a season, set in 2004.
  • He currently hold the tenth highest record for total fastest laps at 20, thus making him the highest ranked driver still active.
  • He is the first driver to win on Ferrari debut since Nigel Mansell.
  • He is currently the highest paid driver in Formula 1.
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