Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

17/10/1979

He finished runner-up in the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in 2003 and 2005. Currently, he drives for Team McLaren-Mercedes, but has signed a 3-year deal with Ferrari from the 2007 season onwards.

Kimi Matias Räikkönen was born in Espoo, Finland and is a Formula One race car driver. He is nicknamed " The Iceman". He finished runner-up in the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in 2003 and 2005. Currently, he drives for Team McLaren-Mercedes, but has signed a 3-year deal with Ferrari from the 2007 season onwards. He is married to Finnish model Jenni Dahlman-Räikkönen.

Räikkönen 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 dominated the Formula Renault UK Championship, where he won seven of ten events. After racing in the Formula Renault series later in 2000, Räikkönen had won an astounding 13 of 23 events — a 56% win rate.

Peter Sauber was so impressed that he 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 racing events to his credit; he was nevertheless granted one, and silenced his critics by scoring 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.)

Far from being the hazard that some people expected him to be, Räikkönen was very calm, cool, and calculating in his race strategy - prompting former critics to nickname him "the Iceman". 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, proving he was indeed ready for the big time of Formula One. He finished the season with four points-scoring finishes and eight finishes in the top eight. Completing the year with 9 points, Räikkönen, along with teammate and fellow prospect Nick Heidfeld (12 points), helped Team Sauber to its highest ever result: fourth place in the constructors championship.

Räikkönen, long rumoured to be linked to a future Ferrari deal, instead sufficiently impressed McLaren, earning a race seat on 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 Heidfeld, who was thought at the time to be the better of the two Sauber drivers.

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 still managed to score 24 points and four podiums, and held his own against teammate David Coulthard. Räikkönen came close to winning his first Grand Prix in France, but went off track due to oil from the blown engine of Allan McNish's Toyota, on the Magny-Cours circuit with a handful of laps to go and was forced to settle for second place. He finished the season in sixth place, right behind his teammate in fifth; together, they achieved a solid third place for McLaren in the constructors chase.

Räikkönen began the 2003 campaign in spectacular fashion. After qualifying 15th with spare car, Räikkönen managed to get up to first place during the race, and looked set to win until he was caught speeding in the pitlane caused by team error. Nevertheless, Räikkönen managed to hold off Michael Schumacher to finish 3rd. At Malaysia, Fernando Alonso took pole but Räikkönen (after starting 7th on the grid) won the race. During the next round in Brazil, Räikkönen was declared the winner after the race stopped at lap 55, according to rules the winner decided by the race order at 2 lap before the race stopped that is lap 53. But a week later, there was evidence that Fisichella was on the lap 56 when the race stopped, therefore the winner decided by the order at lap 54, that had Fisichella won the eventful Brazilian GP, 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 had collission 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 very well from Rubens Barrichello in Austria . He came extremely close to winning at the famed street circuit, but lost by less than a second to Juan Pablo Montoya. Starting from back of the pitlane in Canada after went off track at qualifying (again understeering problem), Räikkönen managed to finish 6th, more than a minute adrift of race winner Michael Schumacher.

At the European Grand Prix, Räikkönen took pole, and was controlling race from the start until his engine gave up on lap 25. Ralf Schumacher took the win while Michael Schumacher finished 5th taking 2 points advantage from retired Räikkönen.

Räikkönen finished 4th in France behind title-rival Michael Schumacher, though he did gain back that point after finishing 3rd - one place ahead of Schumacher - in the British GP at Silverstone.

The misfortune for Räikkönen at Hockenheim in Germany. Really a big disappointment for Räikkönen as he became a victim of cars (Ralf schumacher and Rubens Barrichello)touching each other on the run to the first corner. That was one questionable incidents as it was involving two Michael Schumacher title contenders.

Räikkönen finished 2nd at the next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix. With Alonso winning the race and Montoya finishing 3rd, this podium remains the youngest podium in Formula 1 history.

A controversy was sparked just prior to the Italian GP, as the FIA were tipped-off by rivals Ferrari about a tyre-illegality in the Michelin compounds. 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 important championship points to race winner Michael Schumacher, and left

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 qualified 8th in Japan mostly affected by rain, Räikkönen only settled 2nd place in the race 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 campaigns in recent years.

.The 2004 season season began in dismal fashion for both Räikkönen and McLaren, as he only claimed a single point through the first four 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, who had been a title contender in the previous year had only one point to Michael Schumacher's 60. In Canada, Räikkönen took 5 pit-stops but was classified 5th since the Williams-BMWs and the two Toyotas were disqualified. The US GP would be prove to be another dismal weekend as Räikkönen finished 6th, a lap down on race winner, Michael Schumacher.

At the French GP, McLaren rolled out the new and revised MP4-19B; Räikkönen finished 7th behind his team-mate David Coulthard. A surprise awaited everyone 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, but bad luck would hit Räikkönen as he lost his rear wing on lap 13 of the race while leading. The frustration would continue into the next race weekend as he would retire again from the Hungarian GP after starting from 10th place on the grid (again on lap 13).

A spectacular race at Belgium would see Räikkönen qualify 10th, but take the lead on lap 11 and hold on to it to take the chequered flag for McLaren's first win of the season. It also meant Daily Express correspondent Bob McKenzie lost a bet made earlier in the season; as his forfeit he ran one lap around the Silverstone circuit at the 2005 Grand Prix naked and painted in the black and silver colours of McLaren.

The next weekend at Monza proved dismal as Räikkönen again retired on lap 13, this time due to electrical problems. The next race at China was a good one as he finished 3rd, just 0.4 seconds behind Jenson Button and 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, just 2.5 seconds behind Alonso. At Brazil, he was again in top form as he overtook pole sitter Barrichello, even before they had reached Curva De Sol. Räikkönen would later on end up battling for the lead (even in the pit-lane) with Montoya for the rest of the race and finished just 1 second behind him in 2nd. Räikkönen ended the year seventh, with 45 points 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.

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. The best qualifying position that a McLaren pilot 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 gave way and dropped him out of the points. Bahrain saw him get his first podium of the season.

Räikkönen then hit back with 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, and forced him on to the dirty part of the track). The resultant vibrations caused his suspension to fail while he led on the final lap, (nearly hitting Jenson Button) and sending him into the tyre wall and handing a further ten points to his rival Alonso. Opinion is divided as to whether he should have persevered on the track or pitted for a tyre change. 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" [1] 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 [2].

Alonso's first major mistake of the 2005 season handed the Canadian Grand Prix to Räikkönen. The following weekend saw 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, qualified 3rd (demoted to 13th) with a significant fuel load. He eventually 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.

 
In the German Grand Prix Räikkönen was comfortably in the lead having dominated all weekend, but suffered a hydraulics failure (it has also been reported that the failure could have been due to a "fluid leak triggered by human error, a pressure relief valve had apparently not been re-fastened properly after a check"), 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. 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 penalises 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 time was taken from him as he received a 10-position grid penalty for another engine change. Just how impressive this lap was only revealed during the race, when it turned out 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, 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 17th on the grid (as rain had mixed up the qualifying grid). The win was secured when he overtook Renault driver Fisichella on the final lap, which many considered to be the most spectacular pass of the season.

Proponents of Räikkönen argue that he was the best driver of the 2005 season. Without the reliability issues, he may very well have won the Drivers' Championship. (This was reflected in Räikkönen getting several post-season accolades like "Driver of the season" - especially from reputed magazines like F1 Racing and Autosport.) However most commentators agree that Alonso fully deserved the title, dominating the early part of the season, while McLaren struggled, and driving consistently since then to capitalise on Räikkönen's problems. The Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix also saw Alonso abandon the conservative style evident in some races when he was still chasing the championship title.


After a difficult and busy winter testing period, during which the new McLaren proved neither reliable nor quick, there was much speculation about Räikkönen's future in Formula One and he was unofficially linked with Ferrari and Toyota. The first real test for the 2005 championship runner-up and his car was neither a disappointment nor a relief. 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 a superb race through the field, ending third behind Alonso and Micheal Schumacher.

In Malaysia, Räikkönen was hit from behind by Red Bull Racing's Christian Klien entering turn 3 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.

McLaren hoped the San Marino Grand Prix would signal a return to winning ways, with the long haul races out the way and the return to Europe for the European leg of the season. The start of the European leg of the season is always marked by technical modifications to the cars, with no exceptions this year, like new front wings. However 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. Dennis said: "Kimi should have been three or four tenths quicker in qualifying and was capable of it. It would have put him on the second row of the grid and I think it would have been a very different race."

 
McLaren's trend of bad qualifying performance continued in the Spanish Grand Prix. Räikkönen qualified 9th, 3 places in front of his team-mate. However, thanks to a great start, Räikkönen managed to get up from 9th to 5th place on the first lap. He retained his position for most of the race, finishing in 5th place, behind the two Renaults and Ferraris. A few days after the Spanish Grand Prix, he admitted that he had no chance of winning the 2006 Championship "The title battle will be fought between Ferrari and Renault. I'll look for winning some races. At least I'll try."

In Monte Carlo, McLaren and Räikkönen proved to be back in business. Räikkönen qualified third after Michael Schumacher was demoted to the back of the grid from first place for unsporting behaviour. During the race he would get up to 2nd and keep pace with Alonso, but in the end finished his race weekend when a failed heat shield led to heat from the exhaust causing the 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. After the race he said third was the best position he could have hoped for.

At Canada, Räikkönen brought home another podium but still was without a win in 2006. In the United States Grand Prix, his teammate punted him out in an expensive seven car accident. This may have been one reason why Montoya left the sport of F1.

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's departure into NASCAR. Räikkönen ended the day in fifth.

Next on the list was Germany; a race Räikkönen had retired from in all his previous appearances. This year he 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.

An unfortunate first turn incident with Scott Speed at the Turkish Grand Prix led to an exploded tyre and suspension damage. Carbon fibre shards were spread over the track as the injured McLaren limped back to the pits. 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.

Meanwhile, Räikkönen's Formula 3 claimed their first major success, with British driver Mike Conway winning the title.

After the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, while Räikkönen and Schumacher were still on the podium, Ferrari announced that Schumacher would be retiring from the sport. Only a few minutes later came the announcement that Räikkönen had signed a three-year contract with Scuderia Ferrari for the 2007-2009 seasons, after years of rumours.

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