Debut & Sauber (2001)
Kimi launched into Formula One back in 2001 driving for the Sauber Team. He impressed in his first race in Australia where he finished an excellent 6th. Many other fine drives by the Finn saw him finish 4th at both the Austrian & Canadian GP. He amassed a total of 9 points in his debut season and this helped the team to its best ever championship result, a fine 4th place finish.
Raikkonen had done enough to impress McLaren and he was signed as Mika Hakkinen’s replacement for 2002. He would partner McLaren regular David Coulthard. Kimi managed to secure his first podium finish at the chaotic 2002 Australian GP, however many a fine drive by the Finn often ended in retirement. At the 2002 Monaco GP he was taken out through no fault of his own by the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, ending any chance of a strong result.
But perhaps the cruellest result came at the 2002 French GP, where a fantastic drive by the Finn put himself in a position to win his maiden GP, however a cruel twist of fate conspired to deny him his due. An engine failure for the Toyota of McNish resulted in oil being spilled all over the tract at Turn 5. Raikkonen was the first on the scene, just 6 Laps from the flag and as a result he skidded on the oil, thus allowing the perusing Ferrari of Schumacher through to win the race.
2003 saw Kimi come of age and emerge as Michael Schumacher's main title rival. He looked set to win all 3 of the opening races of 03, but still strong podium finishes in the first 4 races and a maiden win at the 2003 Malaysian GP saw the young Finn take a commanding lead of the championship. Another victory was taken from his grasp at the 2003 European GP after an engine failure stopped his McLaren while he was leading comfortably. Eventually it came down to the last race of the season, Raikkonen needing to win if he had any hopes of winning the title, however his 2nd place finish behind Rubens Barrichello wasn’t enough and he lost by a mere 2 points.
If his hopes were pinned on 2004 for a come back, these hopes were quickly taken away as shocking reliability problems and a lack of pace from the McLaren MP4/19 left Kimi unable to challenge for the title. By mid-season and at the time of the launch of McLaren’s new MP4/19-B Raikkonen was 11th in the title fight with only 8 points from 9 races. He did manage to win the 2004 Belgium GP in fine style ahead of the Ferrari duo, but that was the only highlight of a very disappointing season.
2005 saw a renewed title fight by the Finn, but this time he was chasing down the Renault diver of Fernando Alonso. The McLaren MP4/20 was undoubtedly the car of the season, but again reliability problems off set the car’s blistering speed, thus again affecting Raikkonen’s title fight. Fine victories in Spain, Monaco, Canada, Hungary, Turkey & Belgium, but perhaps his best victory of 2005 was at the Japanese GP. Kimi managed to come from 18th on the grid through to steal victory on the last lap from Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella.
2006 was much the same as 2004 for Kimi Raikkonen as he found himself in a car that wasn't up to the challenge of winning a race let alone propel him to the title. He best results were 2 second place finishes in Australia and Italy. Perhaps his only chance of victory was at the 2006 Hungarian GP, but a bizarre mistake by Raikkonen saw him collide with the Toro Rosso of Liuzzi, thus ending both of their races. Kimi ended the season (his last as a McLaren driver) a distant 5th with 65 points
2007 saw Kimi replace Michael Schumacher at Ferrari to partner Felipe Massa. He won his debut race for Ferrari in Australia as well as take a further 2 podium finishes in Malaysia and Bahrain. However a bit of a mid-season slump saw him slip back before 2 further victories came in Britain and France. In the end it came down to a title deciding race at the final round in Brazil, where Raikkonen was the outsider, however he won the race and won the title by a single point from the McLaren duo of Hamilton & Alonso.Kimi had proven had shown his critics as well as his former team McLaren that he could indeed win a title and thus became the first Finn to win the title since Mika Hakkinen back in 1999.
2008 saw Kimi kick off his title defence with victories in Malaysia and Spain, as well as a 2nd place in Bahrain. By the mid season point Kimi was tided for the lead with both Hamilton & Massa on 48 points each. However after this, another mid-to-late season slump in performance for Raikkonen saw him drop out of contention. Kimi did manage salvage 3rd in the Driver’s Championship after he collected 3 podium finishes in the latter stages of the season. Kimi was confirmed again at Ferrari for 2009 where he will again partner Brazilian Felipe Massa.
Kimi endured his worst start to any season in 2009, with no points and 2 DNF’s from the first 3 races. The Ferrari F60 proved to be a very difficult car to drive and clearly lacked pace. Kimi did secure his and the teams first points of 2009 in Bahrain and later the first podium in Monaco.
By mid-season and with Massa out of action, Kimi was Ferrari’s only hope to bring any success to the team. Even with the most difficult car on the grid Kimi managed a string of 4 podiums from Hungary through to Italy. These podiums also included a fine victory at the Belgium GP, which was his and the teams only time on the top step of the podium in 2009.
Kimi finished the season a dogged and determined 6th with 48 points, 5 podiums and 1 win. However despite this Kimi was due to be replaced at Ferrari in 2010 by Fernando Alonso, thus leaving him without a drive. It was widely believed that without doubt he would be returning to his old team McLaren and partner Lewis Hamilton, however with Jenson Button taking that seat Kimi was left with no chance of a seat with a front running team in 2010.
Rumors began to spread that the Finn would sit out 2010 and instead pursue a year in Rallying. Eventually this was confirmed, when he signed a 1 year deal to drive for Citroen in the World Rally Championship.