Kimi Räikkönen was another distinguished Flying Finn following in the McLaren wheel tracks of twice world champion Mika Häkkinen, although Kimi did not manage to emulate Mika’s achievement until he joined Ferrari after a four year spell with the Woking squad. Having graduated from karting like most of his contemporaries, Räikkönen spent just one season in Formula Renault before being head-hunted by the enterprising Sauber F1 team who shrewdly promoted the young Finn to the sport’s most senior category at the start of the 2001 campaign.
Moody, mean and motivated, Räikkönen was a formidable competitor on his day although he had to wait longer than most expected – to the 2003 Malaysian GP – before posting the first of his 18 F1 victories achieved so far. One of his most memorable victories came at Suzuka in 2005 when he brilliantly outfumbled Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault going into the first corner of the race’s final lap to beat the bewildered Italian by just over a second. At the end of 2006 he decided to switch to Ferrari, driving brilliantly to pip Lewis Hamilton to the title crown, but this was followed by two lacklustre seasons and he left F1™ at the end of 2009 to spend two years trying his luck in the World Rally Championship.
Kimi had little luck with this career detour and signed a two-year deal to return to F1 in 2012 with the Lotus-Renault squad, hoping to pick up the threads of his successful time in his heyday with McLaren and Ferrari. Time alone would tell how successful he would be.