Kimi Raikkonen's F1 Career In Pictures

Raikkonen

A look back over Kimi Raikkonen's Formula 1 career to date in photographs.

Kimi Raikkonen had started only 23 single-seaters races when he was hired by Peter Sauber to contest the 2001 F1 season. The Swiss team boss had seen something special in the young Finn, but faced a struggle to simply get him on to the grid. A number of drivers and senior figures in the sport did not believe Raikkonen should be given a superlicence, while the team's sponsor Red Bull wanted Enrique Bernoldi in the car.

But Sauber won the day and Kimi quickly silenced the doubters with a superb drive to sixth on his debut in Australia. He was part of a stellar crop of rookies that year: Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso made their first starts on the same day.

Raikkonen put in several more strong drives, particularly his runs to fourth in Austria and Canada. And, when Mika Hakkinen announced he would take a year out of the sport in 2002, Kimi was quickly confirmed as the two-time world champion's successor. His rise to the top had been nothing short of meteoric.

The 2002 McLaren was not Adrian Newey's finest work. Raikkonen took a podium first time out in Australia, but scored only three more rostrums all season - and no maiden win. He'd looked on course at Magny-Cours, but a last-gasp error allowed Michael Schumacher to snatch P1.

The real Raikkonen began to emerge in 2003 when he challenged Schumacher for the world title. But this wasn't ultra-fast Kimi: his championship challenge was built on consistency, with his maiden in in Malaysia proving to be his only victory of the season. However he also took seven runner-up finishes to end the season a mere two points behind Schumacher.

2004 was something of a disaster for McLaren, who switched from the MP4-19 to the MP4-19B mid-way through the season. Kimi could only finish the campaign fifth, but he did register his first win at Spa-Francorchamps. He has since won a further three times at this ultimate drivers' circuit, and it would prove to be his only victory of 2004.

In 2005 Raikkonen was a title challenger once more. But unlike 2003, he now had awesome outright speed but fell short due to his car's reliability. In total he scored seven wins, including victory from pole in Monaco and a stunning last-gasp triumph at Suzuka.

But he lost too many points to DNFs - notably a final-lap tyre blowout at the Nurburgring - and finished the year 21 points behind world champion Fernando Alonso.

Still, that Suzuka win was something to cherish. Starting 17th, Raikkonen carved his way through the field, eventually passing leader Giancarlo Fisichella on the final lap. The victory would be his last for the McLaren squad.

Just as his title push in 2003 was followed by a poor year for McLaren, 2006 saw the team fade after coming so close the previous campaign. Raikkonen scored six podiums but no race wins in the underwhelming MP4-21, eventually finishing the year fifth in the standings.

What's more, 2006 represented the end of his McLaren career. At the Italian Grand Prix, it was announced that Kimi would move to Ferrari to replace the retiring seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Those were significant boots to fill, and Raikkonen was viewed as one of a very small group of drivers capable of taking on the task. Appropriately enough, they went on to finish one-two at Monza, with Schumacher taking top spot.

Raikkonen kicked off his Ferrari career in perfect style by winning the season-opening grand prix in Australia. However the emergence of Lewis Hamilton at McLaren alongside Alonso looked set to seal the crown. Back-to-back wins for Raikkonen at Magny-Cours and Silverstone boosted his chances, but with four rounds remaining he was 18 points - almost two race victories - behind the Brit.

Kimi began his fightback with another win at Spa, but it still seemed unlikely that he could snatch the title - particularly after Hamilton won next time out in Japan.

But when Hamilton slithered into the gravel in China, Kimi capitalised by taking maximum points. That put him seven behind the McLaren driver, still a big ask in the days of 10 points for a win. At the finale in Brazil he received a significant helping hand from team-mate Felipe Massa, who allowed Kimi through to take the win. With Hamilton suffering a disastrous race on his way to seventh and Alonso finishing third, Raikkonen sealed his first world title by a single point.

After a few near misses, he had finally captured the world championship his talents deserved.

His title defence began well with two wins from the opening four races. However it faded thereafter: he did not stand atop the podium again in 2008, with team-mate Felipe Massa taking the fight to Lewis Hamilton. Kimi ended the year third, helping Ferrari to secure the constructors' title in the process.

2009 was a difficult year for Raikkonen. Ferrari had failed to adapt to new regulations and his team-mate Felipe Massa was badly injured in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Prior to this Kimi's form had been poor, but he rallied in Massa's absence to give the Scuderia their only win of the season. It came at Spa, the track Raikkonen has most excelled at during his F1 career. However with Fernando Alonso waiting in the wings Ferrari paid out Kimi's contract, prompting the Finn to depart for a whole new set of experiences in the World Rally Championship.

 

Raikkonen was often fast behind the wheel of a rally car, but he also had an unfortunate habit of ending up in ditches. His first season was decent, with a fifth-place in Turkey his best result, but by the following year he was seeking a return to F1. He was linked with a switch to Williams for much of the summer, but Raikkonen eventually signed a deal to race for Lotus in 2012, alongside newly-crowned GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.

Many questioned Raikkonen's ability to remain at the sharp end, but he quickly answered his critics with a podium at round four in Bahrain. Five more top-three finishes followed during the European portion of the season.

His breakthrough win finally came in Abu Dhabi, a race that also saw Kimi deliver his famous "leave me alone, I know what I'm doing" line over team radio. He ended the season a hugely impressive third - though that left Raikkonen a touch grumpy that he'd have to attend the FIA prize-giving ceremony.

 

His second season at Lotus began with a bang but ended with a whimper. A smart strategy saw Kimi bag a season-opening victory in Australia, and though there were no more wins he remained a regular podium finisher, picking up seven top-three results over the course of the campaign.

But as the season wore on it became clear that Kimi and Lotus were on the verge of falling out, allegedly over the non-payment of the Finn's wages. Raikkonen withdrew from the final two rounds of the championship, ostensibly due to a back injury, though many suspected that his financial gripes were equally to blame

His new partnership with old rival Fernando Alonso at Ferrari was billed as a clash of modern F1 greats, but unfortunately for Kimi it's not quite worked out that way. Alonso has dominated the intra-team battle, while the Finn has struggled to make the underperforming Ferrari suit his style. With Sebastian Vettel set to replace Alonso next term, Raikkonen faces another stern test - and this one from a man seven years his junior - in what could be his final year of grand prix racing.