"The Iceman", "The Flying Finn", " The King of SPA" , These are some of the names given to the man who made it to Formula 1 after just 23 races in the Formula Renault Series! - A Jump many considered too dangerous for Formula 1. His Monosyllabic Answers and Expressionless Face make him a nightmare for media; but as a McLaren Mercedes' pit crewmember said "Outside He is a different guy, an introvert, but when He gets behind the wheel, his character changes completely! He is focussed and has so much knowledge about his car.. Its simply Astonishing!"
The man is from Espoo, Finland , the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion KIMI RAIKKONEN!!
Well lets have a quick look at his Formula 1 Career :
Peter Sauber, Owner of Sauber Formula 1 team signed him for the 2001 season amidst opposition from many critics because of Kimi's Racing Inexperience. However the Finn didn't disappoint achieving four points-scoring finishes and eight finishes in the top eight. Completing the year with 9 points, Räikkönen, along with teammate Nick Heidfeld, helped Sauber to what was then its best result of fourth place in the constructors' championship.
Ron Dennis a long admirer of Finnish Drivers considered him a worthy replacement for the retiring Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen and signed Kimi in 2002, Ferrari also being a prospective destination.
2002 - 2006 saw him complete 5 seasons with McLaren Mercedes. The Woking Based team however suffered from unreliability which cost Kimi dearly in the Championships. He finished 2nd in 2003, two points separating him and the winner Michael Schumacher. 2005 could have been his year but poor reliability and component failures forced him to finish 21 points behind Fernando Alonso - Youngest Formula 1 champion in 2005. McLaren Mercedes struggled in the other season inspite of having quick cars.
Kimi finally made the much anticipated switch to Scuderia Ferrari in 2007 taking the place of the 7 time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher. However Kimi never let the disappointments of the previous seasons trouble him as he clinched his maiden Formula 1 Championship in the last race in Sao Paulo ( Brazil ) winning by a solitary point from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
2008 & 2009 saw him struggle again. The first half of 2008 was fruitful with Kimi getting a couple of victories but Tyre Temperature issues troubled him in the second half. 2009 witnessed many changes most notably Kinetic Energy Recovery System ( KERS ). Ferrari opted to use it though it was optional and struggled throughout the season. He however did win His Favourite GP of Spa Franchorchamps in Belgium winning 4 times in the last 5 Belgian GPs earning the title "THE KING OF SPA" .
2010 saw him leave Formula 1 for Rallying. Ferrari replaced him with Fernando Alonso.
After a couple of mediocre seasons in Rallying with the Citreon B Team, rumours were ripe of Kimi's return to Formula 1 when he was spotted at Williams' Oxfordshire factory during the Singapore GP weekend. However the talks failed and just when all hope seemed lost, Lotus Renault surprised us all.
The Announcement came on 29th November 2011 with Lotus offering the Finn a 2 year contract.
2012 is going to be an amazing season featuring 6 Formula 1 Champions - Sebastien Vettel ( Youngest Double World Champion - 2010 & 2011 ), Fernando Alonso ( 2005 & 2006 ), Lewis Hamilton ( 2008 ), Jenson Button ( 2009 ), Kimi Raikkonen ( 2007 ) & Michael Schumacher ( 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 ).
Kimi Raikkonen will have to settle in quickly to challenge his Close Friend Vettel's Crown. Although experts are having mixed reactions about his return, underlining Schumacher's performances as a reference, I feel Kimi when given the right car is more motivated to win than anyone else on the grid. In his words "Only I know what is going on in my mind" goes to prove that the Finn wants to prove his worth again. The 2nd Highest Sportsman in 2009 knows how to accomplish the task at hand.
He will have to first build Renault, using his Formula 1 expertise and making them the team that they were in 2005 & 2006. Renault knows that guys like Raikkonen, Alonso are born racers and I am sure this move won't backfire. Kimi has enjoyed his preliminary testing in Valencia and has said he is more motivated than ever. Alonso has welcomed his friend's return to Formula 1. “Kimi’s return is certainly a very great news for all of us, not only to Formula 1, but also for the spectators, for people who love the races, because he is a very talented driver. I have always respected him and a driver you can trust racing wheel to wheel,”
His return has aroused the Formula 1 passion for supporters like me. We hope to see King Kimi back on the podium soon and Hopefully even lift his Second World Title. 2012 Season Bring it on!!
Till then Adore the Man in his new Avatar!!
Photo credits : www.lotusf1team.com