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Top 5 Drives of Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen is the last world champion of the legendary Ferrari F1 team( March 2022, when I am writing this article). The Finn has just retired at the end of the 2021 season after a career that began in 2001. During his two stints in F1 Raikkonen was one of the most popular drivers in the field. Fans were enchanted by his no-nonsense attitude and straight-talking, but the personality of Raikkonen was not the only thing that created his fanbase. At the peak of his career, the Iceman was one of the fastest drivers on the grid also.

2013 Australian GP

Raikkonen made his comeback to F1 in 2012, after he took a two-year break from the sport. The Finn had a surprisingly good 2012 season where he fought for wins on numerous occasions, took many podiums and even a win in the Abu Dhabi GP at the end of the year.

Many expected that Raikkonen and Lotus will continue their strong form in 2013.

Qualifying was not perfect for Raikkonen, as in the drying track he only managed a seventh position, in the end, more than a second behind pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel and Red Bull were on fire in the qualy and no doubt many expected the triple world champion to romp away from the field during the race.

Yet, the race turned out very differently. Red Bulls were much harder on their tyres and were unable to replicate their qualifying pace. Alonso passed Vettel during the pit spot phases and started to pull away from his German rival, but a surprise candidate emerged in the fight for the victory. Raikkonen was going much longer than his rivals and gained track position on them thanks to making one less stop. Still, a charging Alonso on fresher tyres was everyone’s favourite for the win, but then Raikkonen showed everyone just how much speed he had in reserve and put in the fasters lap of the race on his much older tyres.

Despite his best efforts, Alonso could not get anywhere near the Finn in the remaining laps of the race and Raikkonen scored a brilliant victory.

2006 Bahrain GP

Raikkonen was the fastest driver of the 2005 season, but unfortunately for him, he was haunted by the unreliable Mercedes engine throughout the season.

Still, McLaren and Raikkonen's fans were confident ahead of the 2006 season, and Raikkonen was one of the favourites to win the title.

Unfortunately for him, his luck did not change much. His car suffered a technical failure in the opening part of the qualifying session, and he was out.

Raikkonen had to start the race from last place, but those who underestimated the Finn were proven very wrong. After a fiery opening phase of the race, Raikkonen was already in the top 8, and in a point-scoring position.

Better still, unlike his rivals, he made his only stop, while his rivals still had to make one more stop.

After all the drivers made their last stop Raikkonen was up to 3rd position. Although Jenson Button was all over him during the last few laps of the race, Raikkonen made no mistake and started the year in style, with a sensational recovery drive.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Raikkonen first joined Ferrari in 2007?
    • Yes
    • No

Answer Key

  1. Yes

2009 Hungarian GP

During the 2009 season, Ferrari slipped back from title contenders to a midpack team. The team started to show glimpses of an improved form in the previous races, but things were still far from rosy.

Worse still, one of the drivers of Ferrari, Felipe Massa suffered a season-ending head injury during the qualifying of the Hungarian GP.

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Raikkonen looked fast all weekend, but a mistake in the final phase of the qualifying session left him only 7th on the grid.

The race saw a much-improved performance from Raikkonen. He had a decent start and made up a couple of positions already, and after the first pit stops, he found himself in the second position. Despite having a slightly inferior car to Mark Webber’s Red Bull or Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, Raikkonen easily maintained his second position and kept up the pace with Hamilton, while he simultaneously drove away from Webber to finish second to give morale-boosting podium for Ferrari.

2004 Belgian GP

After a successful 2003 season which saw Raikkonen and McLaren mount a title challenge against Michael Schumacher, the 2004 season was a huge disappointment.

The 2004 McLaren was neither fast nor reliable at the beginning of the season. Raikkonen retired with technical failures from 5 of the first 7 races. The team came up with a B spec, much modified and much faster car at the French GP.

From that point on, the performance of McLaren improved drastically, and Raikkonen was once again a regular contender for the podium positions.

Raikkonen looked fast all weekend in the Belgian GP, but a wet qualifying saw him qualify only 10th. Still, after a very good start he was up to 3rd very quickly, shadowing the leading Renault’s. After the first round of pitstops, Raikkonen emerged as the new leader of the race. He passed Trulli, and the unfortunate Alonso crashed out on his own oil.

Raikkonen set a blistering pace for the rest of the race and he looked in control, but two late SC made his life harder. Thanks to the SCs, Michael Schumacher was able to catch up right to Raikkonen’s back, but the Finn saw off the challenge of the seven-time champion to win the second race of his career.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Raikkonen joined McLaren in 2002?
    • No
    • Yes

Answer Key

  1. Yes

2005 Japanese GP

2005 was by far Raikkonen’s best season of his McLaren stint. The Adrian Newey designed car was incredibly fast and easy on the tires at the same time. Raikkonen was by far the fastest man of the season, and it was only the unreliability of the Mercedes engine that prevented Raikkonen from claiming his first world title in 2005.

The best race of the season from the Finn was the 2005 Japanese GP. The McLarens were heavy favourites before the race, but a wet qualifying session created a mixed grid. Most of the favourites started from the back. Alonso, Montoya and Raikkonen were all outside of the top 10.

Montoya had a better start than his teammate Raikkonen, but after a tangle, he was out of the race after lap 1. This left Raikkonen as the sole remaining McLaren in the race. He made his way up the field slowly in comparison with his rival Alonso, but he was slightly heavier during the first stint, so he was ahead of him after his first stop.

Raikkonen dispatched Schumacher after 10 laps and then closed up behind Button and Webber, who were second and third. Thanks to his much heavier fuel load, he was able to stay out much longer and pass both to claim second with 9 laps to go.

What followed in the next nine laps was not expected by many. Raikkonen set a blistering pace to cruise up to the back of race leader Fisichella, and with a few laps to go, he was attacking the Italian for the race victory. Fisichella got nervous and positioned himself badly on the exit of the final corner on the penultimate lap which gave Raikkonen a superb chance to pass his rival on the last lap, which he did with a superb move on the very last lap of the race.

Raikkonen’s win was probably the best win and drive of his career, as he came from 17th on the grid to take the win on the last lap of the race.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler

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