Opinion: Why Kimi Raikkonen was unique in F1 Car News

This is it, as Kimi Räikkönen says. The Iceman, who turns 42 next month, has announced that he will finally retire from Formula 1 at the end of this season. In truth, he made the decision before it was made for him, but like everything with Räikkönen, the message to the world was made on his own terms, via social media – and even with a hint of sentiment (which is less character).

Twenty one years. It’s not a bad move, although there were a few in the middle when he left F1 to go rallying and try his hand at Nascar. Famous, he made his Grand Prix debut for Sauber in 2001 after just 23 car races on the junior tracks – and yet he immediately felt at home at the top. I was at Monza a year later, almost exactly 20 years ago, when Räikkönen was announced as Mika Häkkinen’s replacement at McLaren for 2002 – a socially awkward Flying Finn to another. What a weekend it was: F1 traveled to Italy the same week as the 9/11 terrorist attacks amid fear and confusion as to what might happen next. McLaren’s announcement was a welcome diversion. Then, on Saturday afternoon, Germany learned that Alex Zanardi had been seriously injured in a terrifying Indycar crash on the Lausitzring. There has been so much water under the bridges for all of us since then.

Through it all, Räikkönen is pretty much as he always has been – but not quite as fast. At McLaren, he generally caused a sensation and immediately proved to be a worthy successor to the two-time champion Häkkinen. There have been good days, most notable being Suzuka 2005 when a wet qualifying session left him P17 on the grid, one place behind rival Fernando Alonso. The way the pair crossed the field became the stuff of F1 legend, with Kimi flying over a helpless Giancarlo Fisichella early on the final lap to secure his biggest win. Just wonderful.

He won his world title in his first year at Ferrari in 2007, of course, sneaking up 17 points over rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton in the final two laps to snatch an unlikely crown as McLaren imploded amid the acrimony of ‘Alonso and “Spygate”. Räikkönen should have started from there, but strangely enough, we had already seen the best of him. He was surpassed the following year by Felipe Massa, and in 2010 Ferrari paid Kimi not to race in F1.

He joined Citroën and had two eventful seasons in the World Rally Championship, for which he deserved eternal credit. It was brave, and even though there were too many crashes, speed and engagement were never going to fail. But at least equally impressive was the return of the phoenix to F1 in 2012 with the Lotus team formerly known as Renault. He had everything to prove at the time, perhaps that is why he put in a superb performance, finishing third in the world championship and embellishing his own growing legend by going after his radio engineer during his career. race to victory in Abu Dhabi. “Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing. That sums up his career, doesn’t it?

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This notice was published: 2021-09-02 09:15:01

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