K imi Raikkonen's way into Formula 1 was a steep one. The Finn started karting at the age of 9, and two years later he was already participating in international youth championships. At the age of 21, the blond from Espoo already had two Formula Renault titles in his pocket when he took the opportunity to join the Sauber team. Since he entered the premier class in 2001 with only a little more than 20 car racing experience, he was initially only given the super license on probation.
On his F1 debut in Melbourne, the Finn achieved the points in 6th place. As a teammate of Nick Heidfeld, who was also very young at the time, Raikkonen earned a lot of respect in his first season. Even though he ended up just behind his German team-mate in the final table in 10th place, the young Finn showed his incredible talent again and again.
First victory with McLaren-Mercedes
That stayed Not undiscovered by the competition and so Räikkönen switched to McLaren-Mercedes in 2002, where he replaced the former world champion Mika Häkkinen. At the Silver Arrows debut in Melbourne, the Finn was able to shine again with his first podium. The wave of success did not last the whole season, however. However, he should clearly surpass sixth place with only 24 points in his second McLaren season. In Malaysia there was the first victory in 2003 and with only 2 points behind Michael Schumacher Räikkönen became vice world champion.
After another disappointing year 2004, the Finn, dubbed “Iceman” by his fans, was able to again for the world championship crown fight. He had his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya easily under control, but the taciturn Finn clearly lost out against world champion Fernando Alonso.
The up and downhill run continued afterwards: Kimi Räikkönen ended 2006 without one only race win in 5th place in the drivers' standings However, the season had a high point: In Monza it was officially announced that he would inherit a world champion again in the coming season: Räikkönen switched to Ferrari as Michael Schumacher's successor.
Change to Ferrari brings the World Cup Title
The Ferrari debut in Australia was almost traditionally good with a win. In the course of the season, however, the Finn had to face a tough three-way battle with McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Two races before the end of the season, Raikkonen was still hopelessly behind Hamilton on 17 points, was able to catch the up-and-coming Silver Arrows star with a two-win final spurt in China and Brazil and get his ownPut on the first World Cup crown.
The season after the title brought more disappointments again. Behind team mate Felipe Massa, Raikkonen only played second fiddle at Ferrari. Speculations about a possible resignation arose, which he eliminated in September with the contract extension until 2010. In the end, the Finn was able to limit the damage with third place in the drivers' standings.
In 2009 things looked really bad. In the end, only 6th place in the drivers' standings came out. Ferrari decided to terminate Raikkonen early and sign Fernando Alonso. When looking for a new cockpit for the 2010 season, Raikkonen ended up not in Formula 1 but in the World Rally Championship.
Comeback with Lotus in Formula 1
After two years With the closed four-wheel drive, in which Kimi lost grip more than once, he returned to Formula 1 in 2012. His new employer was the former Renault works team, which was now called Team Lotus F1. Many doubted whether Räikkönnen still had the necessary speed after a 24 month break. But the critics were taught better.
Already in the third race of the season in Bahrain, Raikkonen almost managed to get the big surprise. In the duel with Sebastian Vettel, the Lotus driver just barely missed victory. Second place in the desert shouldn't be the only place on the podium. Kimi had already collected six trophies for second and third places when it went to the final in Abu Dhabi.
The knot finally burst at the Yas Marina Circuit. Kimi drove home victory number 19 with a faultless performance. Above all, many fans will remember his legendary radio messages to his team. Several times the pilot asked his engineers to leave him alone. It was the first success for the newly formed Lotus team. With third place in the team standings, Raikkonen delighted both fans and critics at the end of the season.
The 2013 season also started well for the Finn. In Australia, the veteran won the opening race. It should be the only victory, however. He landed 6 times in the course of the season in second place. In addition to the good sporting performances, Raikkonen was mainly noticed by the quarrels with his team. Lotus delayed the Finn's salary payments, which he then publicly complained. An old back injury also broke out in Singapore. The Iceman skipped the last two races for the operation on the spine.
Raikkonen returns to Ferrari and Sauber
At this point it was already clear that he would do that after the season Team would change. From Lotus it went back to Ferrari, where he was rudely chased from the farm in 2009. The Iceman would have liked to show his old and new employer that the decision made back then was wrong. But against his new teammate FernandoAlonso saw the veteran 2014 no country. The qualifying duel was just as clearly lost as the duel in the championship standings. But since Ferrari had no chance of winning the title anyway, Raikkonen's little form was not particularly significant.
That changed over the course of 2015 to 2018, when the new teammate was Sebastian Vettel. With the increasingly powerful car, the Heppenheimer fought regularly for the world championship crown in the end, while Raikkonen could not even clinch a victory for a long time. Nevertheless, the team management of the Scuderia extended the contract with the Iceman again and again for another year.
It wasn't until his fourth last race in red overalls, at the USA Grand Prix in Austin, that the knot burst in 2018 and Raikkonen was once again on top of the podium. Rank 3 in the final accounts was the best ranking since 2012. But the team management's decision had already been made to sort out the blond boy. He was replaced by junior pilot Charles Leclerc.
But despite the advanced age of 39, Raikkonen found a new employer again. With the return to the Sauber team, which started in 2019 under the name Alfa Romeo, the circle was closed for the Iceman after 19 years.