GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #19 - Kimi Raikkonen

25-02-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
General
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #19 - Kimi Raikkonen

Hello and welcome back once again to GPBlog’s countdown of our top 50 F1 drivers of all time. We’re counting down one day at a time to the opening race of the 2020 season in Australia, and with just 19 days to go, we’re getting closer! Yesterday we looked at the legendary Jack Brabham, but today we’re shifting forwards to the present day and talking about Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen began his career with Sauber in 2001, managing to get a super licence despite doubts from many over his experience in car racing.

However, anybody suggesting he should not have been given a drive had changed their mind after the first race of the season, where he finished the race in sixth position.

Further points followed and he ended the season tenth in the standings, securing a move to McLaren, replacing two-time world champion and fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen.

He finished on the podium in his first race, but suffered from reliability issues throughout the season. Nevertheless, he scored three more podiums in a successful first season.

In 2003, Raikkonen moved to a different level. He finished on the podium in six of the first seven races, leading the championship after the Monaco Grand Prix.

In a season long battle with Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, only two points separated the trio with three rounds to go. Two consecutive wins for Schumacher put him within touching distance at the final event.

Raikkonen had to win and hope Schumacher finished out of the points, but the McLaren man could only grab P2, ending the season second in the standings.

2004 was tough as Raikkonen only managed one win but he and McLaren bounced back in 2005. After early season struggles Raikkonen took wins in Spain, Monaco and Canada as he attempted to reel in Fernando Alonso.

More podiums and four further victories got him close, but Alonso was too far ahead and too consistent, so Raikkonen had to settle for second.

2006 was another off season for McLaren, so Raikkonen opted to join Ferrari for 2007. He won the first race of the season but soon fell behind the McLarens of Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

This was before an incredible patch of form in the second half of the season, where he put together a run of seven consecutive podiums, including victories in three of the last four.

His win in Brazil gave him the title by just a single point ahead of Alonso and Hamilton, making Raikkonen world champion.

He started 2008 in good form, winning in Malaysia and Spain, but a mid season dip saw him fall behind Hamilton and Felipe Massa. He won in Belgium in 2009 but decided to leave F1 at the end of the year.

After a stint rallying Raikkonen made his comeback with Lotus in 2012, finishing on the podium seven times, including a win in Abu Dhabi, the scene of his famous ‘Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’ radio message.

He won again in 2013 in Australia and was signed up once again by Ferrari. Playing number two to Alonso, Raikkonen had a pretty torrid year, finishing 12th in the standings.

He was then joined by Sebastian Vettel at the Italian team and continued to pick up regular podium finishes. In 2018 he took an extremely popular win at the US Grand Prix, breaking the record for most Grands Prix between victories.

For 2019 he switched sets with Charles Leclerc and joined Alfa Romeo, who were called Sauber when he made his debut.

He’s still at the team and will race once again in 2020, a year that could quite possibly be his last. Raikkonen will make another piece of F1 history in 2020 as he is set to overtake Rubens Barrichello’s record for the most Grand Prix starts.

Raikkonen is one of the most popular drivers in the paddock due to his personality and superb driving talent. Enjoy him whilst he’s in F1, because there may not be many more like him to come.

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