Verstappen takes Victory in F1 Season Finale

Max Verstappen claimed his 19th win of the 2023 season by dominating the season finale in Abu Dhabi, while Mercedes beat Ferrari to second in the Constructors’ Championship.

Verstappen was forced to defend hard more than once on the opening lap from Charles Leclerc but the Dutchman held him off and opened out an advantage that he would never look like giving up.

George Russell made his way through past Oscar Piastri on track before taking advantage of a slow stop for Lando Norris to grab third, while Sergio Perez himself cleared both McLarens to finish fourth. The Mexican was handed a five-second penalty for hitting Norris at Turn Six though, forcing him down to fourth.

Norris ended up fifth ahead of Piastri, and a late charge from Fernando Alonso saw him climb to seventh. The Spaniard grabbed fourth in the Drivers’ Championship from Leclerc as a result.

Yuki Tsunoda led home Lewis Hamilton despite a last-ditch effort from the seven-time champion, and Lance Stroll rounded out the points.

Daniel Ricciardo finished 11th in the second AlphaTauri, while Esteban Ocon beat Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly to the line. Alex Albon took home 14th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, and they were followed home by Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu.

Carlos Sainz’s car was retired late on after a long two-stop strategy from Ferrari did not pay off. He was classified 18ththough ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen, who could not recover from an early flat spot.

Featured Image Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen Takes Victory In Exciting Las Vegas Race

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc to victory at the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday night.

Verstappen had been given a five-second penalty when he was ruled to have pushed polesitter Leclerc off the track at the first corner, where Fernando Alonso was also involved in contact with Valtteri Bottas after the Spaniard lost grip and span.

Shortly thereafter, Lando Norris lost grip and slammed into the barrier while running behind McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri; the Briton was winded after the shunt and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Having pitted on the opening lap of the race, Sergio Perez was afforded a cheap stop when Verstappen and George Russell collided – the Mercedes driver receiving a penalty of his own as a result. This elicited a Safety Car, allowing Perez to re-join in second behind leader Leclerc.

The Mexican made his way through with just under 20 laps to go before Leclerc grabbed the lead back. Perez would then cede his spot to team-mate Verstappen, who went on to pass Leclerc to take victory in an intriguing three-way battle.

Perez pinched second from Leclerc when the Monegasque out-braked himself at Turn 12, but Leclerc came back at him once more to split the Red Bulls.

Esteban Ocon claimed fourth after a tight battle with Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly, with Lance Stroll coming in behind in fifth.

Carlos Sainz, the recipient of an unfortunate grid penalty after Thursday’s practice incident, came home sixth with Lewis Hamilton in seventh for Mercedes.

Russell’s penalty forced him down to eighth behind his team-mate, with Fernando Alonso and Piastri rounding off the points. The Australian set the fastest lap following a late stop.

Gasly ended up outside the points in 11th, followed by Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen. Zhou Guanyu beat Daniel Ricciardo to 14th, and they were followed home by Logan Sargeant and Valtteri Bottas.

Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri and Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas fell victim to late reliability failures.

Featured Image By Red Bull Content Pool/Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Verstappen wins Miami Grand Prix from ninth on the grid

Max Verstappen took victory at the Miami Grand Prix despite starting down in ninth.

Verstappen made his way up to second after a series of overtakes in the opening 17 laps of the race, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc did battle with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

One of the Dutchman’s moves was a neat double overtake on Leclerc and Magnussen as they diced into Turn One. The world champion was on a charge.

A mega stint on hard tyres saw him re-join right behind polesitter and team-mate Sergio Perez, before passing the Mexican for the win in the closing stages.

Fernando Alonso comfortably held on to take third, while George Russell passed Carlos Sainz for fourth. The Spaniard picked up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, but stayed ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton, who recovered from 13th to sixth.

Charles Leclerc stayed seventh ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, whose team-mate Esteban Ocon and Haas’ Magnussen rounded out the points after a fourth-placed start.

Yuki Tsunoda took 11th, and he was followed by Lance Stroll – the Canadian failing to make the points after a difficult qualifying on Saturday.

Alex Albon came home 14th, with Nico Hulkenberg and Zhou Guanyu following the Williams across the line.

A horrible day for McLaren saw Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finish 17th and 19th respectively, either side of Nyck De Vries. Logan Sargeant, at his home race, endured a miserable day as he finished 20th and last having taken front wing damage on the opening lap.

Perez takes pole in Miami as Leclerc crashes again

Sergio Perez took his second pole position of the season ahead of the Miami Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Mexican set the fastest lap in the early part of the third and final qualifying session, before a late crash for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc left him and Max Verstappen seventh and ninth respectively.

Leclerc lost control in the first sector of the lap on the final run in qualifying. It follows a collision with the barrier earlier in the weekend, and one last weekend in Baku during sprint qualifying.

Perez will be joined on the front row by Fernando Alonso, with Carlos Sainz third ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. The Dane will be investigated later on for an impeding incident with Sir Lewis Hamilton in the first phase.

Alpine’s Pierre Gasly will start fifth ahead of George Russell, and Leclerc had to settle for eighth after his crash on his second run in Q3. Max Verstappen had made what turned out to be a costly error on his initial run in the third session, and the red flag induced by Leclerc means that the reigning champion will start ninth. Valtteri Bottas rounded off the top 10.

Alex Albon got his Williams up to 11th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, and a hugely disappointing day for Hamilton saw him eliminated in the second part of qualifying in 13th. Zhou Guanyu will start Sunday’s race 14th, with Nyck de Vries and Lando Norris behind on the eighth row.

Yuki Tsunoda was out-qualified by de Vries for the first time this season as he qualified 17th, and another surprise exit arrived in the form of Lance Stroll down in 18th.

Oscar Piastri’s elimination in 19th spelled McLaren’s first double Q1 exit this season, while home hero Logan Sargeant starts at the base of the grid.

Perez heads into the race in search of his third win of the season, which could send him to the top of the championship.

Verstappen takes Bahrain GP pole

Max Verstappen will start the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on pole.

The Dutchman beat team-mate Sergio Perez by just over a tenth of a second, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz taking out the second row for Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso’s exquisite pace in practice only translated to fifth after Ferrari and Red Bull opened their toolboxes, while Mercedes endured a disappointing evening; George Russell will start sixth ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Lance Stroll will start eighth – his injured wrist appeared to show during qualifying – before Esteban Ocon and the returning Nico Hulkenberg rounded off the top 10.

It took less than five minutes of the opening session for the red flag to be deployed when some debris flew off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and ended up on the racetrack.

After things got back underway, the lead swapped hands a number of times, with just over three tenths of a second separating the top five.

Further down though, it was not looking so good for McLaren. Oscar Piastri were eliminated in the first session, joining Pierre Gasly, Nyck de Vries, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant.

Gasly’s deleted lap time at the end of Q1 sent him down to last, while Sargeant set the same time as Lando Norris, but set it later. That meant the American agonisingly missed out on a Q2 appearance to the lead McLaren.

Sargeant’s team-mate Alex Albon did exceptionally well to make it into Q2, but could not put a lap time on the board after suffering with understeer.

Norris almost made it into the top 10, but was pipped by Lance Stroll, as Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda also missed out on the top 10 shootout.

Verstappen’s pole in Bahrain was his 21st in Formula 1.

Verstappen takes pole in Suzuka

Max Verstappen took his first Japanese Grand Prix pole position on Saturday after a tremendously close battle between Red Bull and Ferrari.

We started the day off with the news that Pierre Gasly will be joining Esteban Ocon at Alpine next season, while Yuki Tsunoda is set to be partnered by Nyck de Vries, who was so impressive in his appearance at the Italian Grand Prix with Williams.

Despite brake issues, Yuki Tsunoda made it into the second phase of qualifying 12th time this season at his home race, while Kevin Magnussen, who shone during Friday practice, was disappointingly eliminated in Q1.

Alex Albon almost squeezed out of the bottom five, but he was denied by a good lap from Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

The Thai-Briton was joined in the drop zone by Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, whose five-place grid penalty picked up in Singapore is now immaterial.

Max Verstappen had set the early pace for Red Bull, and he led Charles Leclerc at the end of Q2, as Lando Norris faced a battle to make it into the top 10.

The Briton climbed up to fifth as team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, failed to make the final session having been pushed out by George Russell’s late heroics.

Sebastian Vettel’s exceptional effort saw him make it through, maintaining his record of starting in the top 10 every time he has raced at Suzuka.

Home hero Tsunoda was eliminated too, along with Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu and Mick Schumacher.

Sergio Perez snatched the fastest lap time, while a fine run by Fernando Alonso lifted him to second, setting up an intriguing top 10 shootout.

Verstappen set the early pace in Q3, with three tenths separating him and Carlos Sainz in third, either side of Leclerc.

The reigning champion got caught up in a slight incident with Norris on the out-lap ahead of the first run. The McLaren driver sent it through 130R while Verstappen was crawling, and Norris had to take to the grass to avoid him following a kick of oversteer.

The Dutchman found Norris on his way back to the pits, and appeared to offer a hand of apology. The stewards are now investigating the precarious moment.

Try as they might, neither Leclerc nor Sainz could improve, so Verstappen kept pole despite setting a slower second run, before Esteban Ocon climbed to a brilliant fifth.

Hamilton split the two Alpines as Fernando Alonso took seventh, ahead of George Russell, Vettel and Norris.

With half a tenth separating the top three, we are set for an incredible race on Sunday.

Verstappen’s pole is still pending the stewards’ investigation.

Ricciardo to leave McLaren

McLaren have confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo will leave the team at the end of the season by mutual consent.

The Australian joined from Renault in 2021 to replace Carlos Sainz, who headed to Ferrari while Sebastian Vettel joined Aston Martin.

The Australian struggled to find form last season though, scoring points on 13 occasions while team-mate Lando Norris finished in the top ten 20 times.

The 22-year-old also achieved four podium finishes, although Ricciardo did get the team’s first win since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix in September.

All in all however, it was a disappointing opening campaign for the eight-time race winner, who was in search better fortunes in 2022.

Ricciardo has managed a best finish of sixth this year – Courtesy of LAT Images

But this has not really materialised, and solid performances in Baku and Canada have been outweighed by nightmares in Imola, Miami, Silverstone and Budapest.

Norris leads the qualifying battle 11-2 this year, so there has been little reprieve for Ricciardo, who has often not quite been at one with a very tricky McLaren car.

He has added four more points finishes to his tally this year, and his frustrating afternoon in Hungary before the summer break summed up what has been, sadly, a tough time of it for Ricciardo at McLaren.

The results from the Aussie have led to public criticism from CEO Zak Brown, who is now reported to have signed Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri, with the Formula 2 champion having turned down the French side for next year.

There is a possibility that the former Red Bull and Renault driver could return to Enstone to replace the departing Fernando Alonso, but this would partly depend on Renault CEO Luca de Meo, who was not pleased by Ricciardo’s decision to leave after just two seasons together in 2020.

Ricciardo scored two podiums in 2020 before leaving Renault – Courtesy of Renault Sport

Ricciardo’s time at McLaren has been unfortunate, and it can largely be put down to a lack of suitability with the car.

However, Formula 1, like many sports, is a results business, and the results were not good enough for the two parties to continue together.

Team principal Andreas Seidl thanked Ricciardo for his commitment, and praised him for keeping his head high when things were tough.

“I would like to thank Daniel for his dedication and contribution over the last two seasons so far,” said team principal Andreas Seidl.

“Despite the shared challenges, he has always turned up with a fighting spirit and positivity and helped the entire team to always keep pushing forward.

“We will never forget that memorable race win in Monza which was a great boost for the whole team.

“We still have an important battle in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of us for the remainder of the season and we look forward to battle this out with Daniel and Lando.”

Brown acknowledged that his driver’s time with the team was not as big a success as anyone wanted, but he is proud of last year’s victory.

“Daniel has been a great addition to McLaren, and it’s been a pleasure working with him,” said the American.

“I’d like to thank him for all of his efforts over the last two seasons both trackside and back at base.

“It’s no secret that we hoped we could achieve more together but seeing him stand on the top step of the podium as a McLaren driver was a highlight.

“We wish him well for the future and let’s go enjoy the rest of the season together.”

As for Ricciardo’s future, it might not be long until he has news on that front.

“It’s been a privilege to be a part of the McLaren Racing family for the last two seasons but following several months of discussions with Zak & Andreas we have decided to terminate my contract with the team early and agree to mutually part ways at the end of this season,” he explained.

“I’ll be announcing my own future plans in due course but regardless of what this next chapter brings, I have no regrets and am proud of the effort and work I gave McLaren, especially the win in Monza, last season.

“I’ve enjoyed working with everyone at McLaren both trackside and back in Woking and will be giving my all on and off track as we enjoy the remainder of the season together.

“I’ve never been more motivated to compete and be a part of a sport that I love so much and look forward to what comes next.”

Ricciardo had previously affirmed that he would be seeing out the rest of his contract with McLaren, but the mutual termination now all but confirms the arrival of Piastri next year.

Dominant Verstappen beats Leclerc to Miami GP victory

Max Verstappen took victory with a commanding performance at the Miami Grand Prix after passing polesitter Charles Leclerc early on.

A crash and a hydraulic issue had limited Verstappen’s running in practice before he qualified third behind Ferrari, who qualified first and second for the first time since the Japanese Grand Prix of 2019, 48 races prior after they both capitalised on a mistake by the reigning champion in qualifying.

Due to an issue heating the fuel up, Aston Martin’s promising looking qualifying was undone as both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were forced to start from the pit lane.

Verstappen with a great start. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Off the start, Leclerc kept the lead through the first corner as Max Verstappen got round Carlos Sainz at Turn Two, splitting the Ferraris and giving Red Bull a near perfect start.

The Monegasque opened out a second advantage to the reigning champion after the first two tours of the circuit, setting the fastest lap as both of the leaders began to drop Sainz.

Having made a poor start from sixth, Sir Lewis Hamilton was passed by both Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso, with the Briton claiming that Alonso had hit him, but he streamed back ahead of the double world champion shortly after.

The seven-time champion then got back ahead of Gasly, regaining sixth and putting him just over two seconds behind former Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda then engaged in an entertaining battle for 11th as the German got past, while Verstappen was beginning to close on Leclerc as Zhou Guanyu brought his Alfa Romeo back into the garage to retire.

Yuki Tsunoda fighting Mick Schumacher. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

He was told of significant graining on the Ferrari driver’s front left tyre, and he duly took full advantage by getting to within a second and passing his fellow 24-year-old into Turn One, and Leclerc then began to fall away while Sainz began to fall into the clutches of Sergio Perez.

The first stops of the race arrived on lap 13 as Tsunoda and then Kevin Magnussen came in for Hard tyres, followed by Schumacher, with the lack of longevity of the Pirelli rubber this weekend being confirmed.

Alonso’s stop was intended to gain the undercut on Gasly, but an issue on the front right delayed his getaway, and cost him time to the Frenchman.

Vettel would then engage in an entertaining battle with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi after Stroll had cleared the Canadian, with the German and then Magnussen making their way past, as Gasly’s came back out of the pits comfortably clear of Alonso as Alpine’s misfortune this season continued.

Vettel then narrowly cleared Norris as the Briton exited the pits, before Magnussen followed him through past the McLaren after a slow stop, and Perez began to lose power in his Red Bull, causing him to fall back towards Bottas, but his lap times began to improve as he returned to the pace.

Magnussen had a go at clearing Vettel at Turn 11, but he ran out of table on the outside as the 34-year-old defended well.

A great stop for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

Hamilton came in on Lap 23 and was given a splendid stop by the Mercedes crew, and he re-joined behind George Russell after the 24-year-old’s P12 in qualifying left him out of position.

Leclerc then began using the rest of his residual grip on the Mediums as he set the fastest lap, indicative of an imminent stop, but the gap to Verstappen had risen to 4.5 seconds.

Despite his pace, he told his team that the car was “so difficult to drive,” and he was shortly thereafter brought into the pits for a set of Mediums.

Red Bull waited a couple of laps to bring Verstappen in as he got a super stop from his mechanics, and came back out ahead of Perez, who had yet to make a stop, with Sainz in the lead for the same reason.

Sainz pitted on lap 27, but had a slow stop as the crew struggled with the front left, but owing to Perez’s earlier issues, was able to re-join in front of the Mexican, before Hamilton reported to his team that he was beginning to suffer from overheating tyres.

Lance Stroll battles Magnussen. Image courtesy of Aston Martin Media

Magnussen, having finally cleared Vettel, now had a face full of Stroll’s Aston Martin, and Norris was behind the train involving Schumacher as his slow stop continued to cost him time.

As Vettel’s attempt to get back past Magnussen failed, Schumacher gladly took the opportunity to get ahead of the Aston Martin.

That left the Banbury-made cars to battle between themselves as the 29-year-old endeavoured to defend from his younger team-mate.

Schumacher was eventually allowed to get past the Dane, before a Vettel mistake at Turn Seven opened the door for Norris to gain the position.

Russell, meanwhile, had been completing a remarkably good stint, and he told his team he was more than happy to stay out in anticipation of a Safety Car or some rain as Christian Horner began to look nervously at the sky.

Gasly and Alonso made contacted as they continued their squabble as the Spaniard went for an ambitious move down the inside, and the subsequent time loss cost the 25-year-old a place to Stroll, who had yet to pit in another miserable day for Aston Martin.

Contact then ensued between Norris and Gasly, causing a puncture and a spin out of the race for the McLaren and extracting the Virtual Safety Car – an ideal opportunity for Russell to make his stop.

Gasly had been slowing after going off at Turn Eight and, as he re-joined, he turned into the back of the Briton, and the departure of his tyre followed by his stricken car lying out on track brought eventually brought out a full Safety Car.

The subsequent stops put Russell into seventh, while Aston Martin were brought back into the picture, and Esteban Ocon, having started last after being unable to contest qualifying due to an FP3 crash, was placed onto Softs.

Alonso was also given a five-second penalty for the collision with Gasly, who then came in for Softs of his own.

Most importantly though, Perez had put on fresh Mediums, leaving the Ferraris vulnerable to him for when the race restarted, and a neglect on Hamilton’s side of the garage to pit him also looked set to leave him at the mercy of Russell.

Sergio Perez in for his vital stop. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Sainz was immediately forced to fend off Perez on the restart, but Verstappen negotiated it perfectly, remaining ahead of Leclerc as everyone kept it clean on lap 47.

Schumacher managed to clear Ocon for ninth place as he chased his first points finish, and Perez continued to attack the second Ferrari.

Russell tried to make a move stick on Hamilton, but the 37-year-old defended well before a mistake from Bottas allowed both of them to clear the Alfa Romeo, which had made contact with the barrier.

Russell did then manage to clear his Mercedes team-mate after a boisterous battle of the Britons, and Leclerc was sticking within a second of Verstappen as he chased the win.

A highly audacious attempt from Perez into Turn One, and the subsequent lock-up allowed Sainz to get back in front.

Schumacher would then dive down the inside of his friend and mentor Vettel, hitting hi and spinning him at Turn One, allowing Ocon to climb into the points, as well as Alex Albon.

Verstappen opened out the gap to a comfortable margin, and as he crossed the line on the final lap, claimed the 23rd win of his career.

It leaves him 19 points behind Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship, while Ferrari’s lead over Red Bull has been cut to six points.

A finale for the ages – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

After 21 races, 20 countries visited, and 1,242 laps of racing, the 2021 Formula One world championship is about to be decided. As if the excitement were not already enough, this weekend will be the first time in 47 years that the title contenders have entered the final round dead level on points.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have been battling it out for the world championship hammer and tong since day one in Bahrain. Ultimately, the surprise has not necessarily been that they have gone into the final round so tight – it is not even that shocking that they have entered this week with absolutely no disparity between them. The surprise has arrived in how they got there.

Hamilton and Verstappen have come to blows several times in 2021 – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

The two have been involved in several extremely tense and contentious moments over the course of the year, prompting an incrementally personal rivalry between their respective team bosses – Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.

This title race already looked as though it was going to be spicy over the course of the opening few rounds, with the Briton and the Dutchman running a fine line at Imola, Portimao and Spain. Eventually, it would all come to a head at the British Grand Prix in July. The now-infamous collision at Copse prompted a furious Verstappen to criticise Mercedes’ celebrations after Hamilton had won the race while the 24-year-old lay in a hospital bed.

Mercedes’ celebrations riled Verstappen after his 51G crash with Hamilton on Lap one in Silverstone – Courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

It never really died down from there, with a nasty-looking crash at Monza, followed by their off-track excursion at Sao Paulo following. And of course, the recent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix gave us the most bizarre collision yet, with Hamilton running into the back of the Red Bull as Verstappen slowed to let him through having pushed him off the circuit moments earlier.

This has led to whispers of Verstappen possibly utilising the Ayrton Senna technique from 1990, in which the Brazilian wiped out Alain Prost at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix to seal the title. By virtue of Verstappen having won more races, he would clinch the title were the two protagonists to fail to finish.

We are of course hoping that they do manage to keep it clean and, as Nico Rosberg affirmed in 2014, it is of course also partly down to Hamilton as well as Verstappen to ensure this happens.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton became embroiled in an intense rivalry during their four years as team mates – Courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

The finale then takes us to the 5.5 kilometre Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, where the title has been decided twice before, and will be again this weekend. Hamilton has a record-six wins at the track, but Verstappen won this race last year and, of course, whomever finishes ahead of the other takes the title, meaning a win guarantees glory for both of them.

But that is not the only battle that needs settling this weekend. Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz are covered by just 8.5 points in the battle for fifth, which means it is also all to play for between them. Linking in with this, Ferrari need only score six points to seal third in the Constructors’ title from McLaren – the Scuderia are set to take a significant step forward from last year’s finishing position.

Ferrari are six points away from sealing third in the Constructors’ standings – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Press

Interestingly, every qualifying battle has already been settled prior to the final round, with Pierre Gasly beating Alpha Tauri team mate and rookie Yuki Tsunoda a clean-sweep 21-0.

This is it then. All square, all to play for. It is winner takes all at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Iceman’s F1 History

Kimi Raikkonen will contest his 349th and final race in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and we take a look through a sparkling career for the Iceman.

Raikkonen began his career in 2001 with Sauber; he was identified by the team as he dominated through the Formula Renault UK as rookie winning seven out 10 races in 2000.

He had the experienced Nick Heidfeld alongside him who took a fantastic podium in Brazil, whilst Kimi took 6th on his debut then retired consecutively following on from that result. At Austria and Canada in the mid-Season he finished 4th – the highlight of the 2001 Sauber career. Others then began to take notice; another Finn Mika Hakkinen having a torrid having won two championships on the bounce. Mclaren talks were ongoing and it was agreed Hakkinen was walking away, and Raikkonen would replace him at the then-known Silver Arrows Mclaren Mercedes for 2002. Hakkinen, after this announcement in September, did manage to win once more with the pressure off.

The 2002 Season started off well for Kimi, earning his first ever podium with third at the opener Melbourne with the fastest lap. However, the car did have reliability issues which held up, the BMW-Williams also a strong contender for this Season. Mclaren finished third that year due to the reliability issues of the  MP4-17, and Kimi retired from 10 out of 17 races. The highlight of the Season for Kimi was P2 at Magny-Cours – his highest finish to date and double podium. Himself and David Coulthard finished P5 & P6 respectively in the Championship.

2003 was the year Kimi came into his own at Mclaren; Coulthard took his final win of his career at Melbourne but the ever-present Ferrari of Schumacher wasn’t on the rostrom for the first-time since 2001. Mclaren then took victory again at Kuala Lumpur and Raikkonen finally took the first victory of his career, 39.286 clear of Rubens Barrichello in a dominant display. It took Ferrari until the fourth round before they won but Kimi was on the podium in second. He didn’t win again in the year but was on the podium six times, unfortunately missing out on the title by 2 points to Schumacher, scoring 91 points.

In 2004, Mclaren unfortunately went back to MP4-17 levels of reliability. It was so poor that in the Summer we saw the reveal of the MP4-19B. Raikkonen’s best finish was fifth in Canada, and upon returning to Europe Kimi got back on the podium at Silverstone with second. The highlight of 2004 came when he won the Belgian GP at Spa, and a strong end to the Season with a podium with F1’s first venture to Shanghai and at Brazil.

In 2005, Kimi was the bridesmaid once again, but this much different in terms of how it came to fruition. Kimi had his most successful year with seven wins,  winning at Monaco and once again at Belgium. His most fought out win also came in this Season – a fantastic P17 to P1 – overtaking Giancarlo Fisichella on the outside of turn one on the final lap. Alonso won the title, but with new points system he ended up 21 points ahead of the Iceman.

In 2006, as per the previous Championship campaigns, development was slow, but better than 2004. He managed to score podiums in the first two races, and a further three in the first half of the season. Paddock rumours began to float round he was looking elsewhere to find that elusive Championship after those results. Those rumours came true; he was heading to Ferrari to replace Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, and it was announced at the Italian Grand Prix of all places. Kimi got his best result of P2 of the year matching Melbourne – a sign of things to come?

In 2007, Kimi headed into the scarlet red Ferrari, and it couldn’t have gotten off to a more emphatic start, winning the Season opener in Australia. Two more podiums  followed at the so-called flyaways that start the traditional Season. After three rounds we had Kimi, and both Mclaren drivers of Alonso and upcoming rookie Lewis Hamilton all on 22 points. The Season headed to Europe and went to the Americas before heading to France and Britain where Kimi’s challenge began; he was behind but won both races at Magny-Cours and Silverstone. Hungary onwards Kimi was not off the podium; he won again in Belgium, which has become a true favourite of the iceman as it was his third victory at the circuit. He was 17 points behind title leader Hamilton with two races remaining; he surely couldn’t be the bridesmaid or lower again as Alonso was only 12 points behind. He won the final two races of the calendar whilst others faltered. Hamilton had his moment entering the pits at Shanghai, resulting in a no-score and a puncture at Brazil which allowed the 17-point swing, giving Kimi his first World title.

In 2008 the defence began woth a collision, with Kimi fortunate to score due to a race of attrition with P8 and Barrichello later disqualified. However, a spell on the podium thereafter included two wins in the flyaway run, before F1 headed back to Europe. The 2008 Season had its moment in the Canadian pit lane when Hamilton wasn’t looking under safety car conditions, hitting Raikonnen which resulted in Kubica winning, leapfrogging both in the Standings. 

Kimi Raikkonen was less than impressed after being wiped out by Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Press

In France and Hungary Kimi took a further podium but a poor string of results at the normally favoured track Belgium and the new Singapore circuit mathematically ended the iceman’s chance of retaining the title. His team-mate Felipe Massa and Hamilton fought that out, with Hamilton claiming his first championship. A further three podiums saw him finish third in the standings in 2008.

The 2009 Season brought in new regulations, and Ferrari seemed to be in the midpack and not at their traditional standards of the noughties era. Kimi scored four points in the first four flyaways before Europe began; the car development was rife this Season and we saw it with this car specifically. Prior to the Summer break at Hungary he took a fantastic P2, starting a podium streak and on returning to his trusted Belgium he took Ferrari’s sole win of his season. However, he was still 5th in Standings, with half the points of Jenson Button, and rumours were appearing that Kimi was looking away from Ferrari. He took another podium in front of the Tifosi at Monza and a further two points scores, before it was then revealed the team he was speaking to was to actually Mclaren, but the talks broke down so nothing came to fruition. Ferrari then agreed deals with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa for 2010.

Kimi took  a two-year sabbatical and ended up agreeing to compete in WRC with Citroen with P5 Rally of Turkey 2010 best result. Agreements were made for Kimi to join Lotus F1, the former Renault program for 2012.

On his return to the Series with Lotus in 2012, Kimi finished a distant third behind the title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso but on review had a successful campaign with seven podium finishes across the year, only failing to finish in the points in China. He claimed the team’s first victory since Ayrton Senna in Detroit in 1987.

Kimi and Lotus looked like they built upon this as they won the Season opening race in 2013, and then took a further three second places, being ever consistent as he was in the black and gold machinery and was second in the standings after Spain. Upgrades begun to occur and Lotus weren’t as quick to match, and a further four races passed until Kimi was back on the podium; he still scored points but not to the high level needed. Germany and Hungary saw him take two second places, and Ferrari once again came looking for a driver as rumours were floating that Massa was looking at alternate drives. The Italian GP was on the 8 September and on the 11 September it was confirmed that Raikkonen, ahead of the new era of F1, would again race for the Scuderia. He took a further two podiums at Singapore and Korea but his Season ended early as he required some surgery on his back, still finishing fifth in the standings.

Kimi spent two years at Lotus before re-joining Ferrari – Courtesy of Pirelli Media

At the start of the hybrid era in 2014, Ferrari’s machinery wasn’t at the races, capped to a best of P7 in the early rounds of the year, getting lapped at Barcelona. While not being in the twilight years of his career just yet, albeit his 12th Season, Ferrari needed to improve. Results begun to pick up but no podium was yielded, with his best result coming at Belgium with a fourth-placed finish, scoring at 13 out of 19 races, ending just towards the bottom of the top 10.

in 2015 the Ferrari power unit was reviewed and had much more power but was still not on par with Mercedes. He had to retire from opener but matched his best result in the second race and saw the rostrum in the fourth round at Bahrain, generally being best of the rest in this Season as the two Mercedes battled it out. Second at Bahrain was the highlight of the Season but two further podiums at the night races of Singapore and Abu Dhabi also came, and he would finish fourth in the Standings – near enough trebling the points from the year before.

Further podiums for Kimi in 2016 saw the win get closer, finishing second twice in the year, behind Verstappen in that record breaking win at Barcelona. He had four podiums in the Season all very early on, with Austria being the latest.

2017 nearly matched Kimi’s points record of 207 points as he was on the podium seven times this . A nice spell of three consecutive podiums in the Americas late in the Season gave him the push to finish 4th. Hungary and Monaco were the highlight of the Season with second place finishes.

In 2018 Kimi took his final victory, setting a new record of 113 races between his previous win, as he made a one stop strategy work in Texas, COTA. The win was his first since Lotus in 2013 but also his first for Ferrari since 2009. He also took 12 podiums in his final Season for the team as it was agreed he would move back to his routes and Alfa Romeo which were born from Sauber where it all began from him in 2001. He finished third with 251 points, best ever points haul.

Sebastian Vettel & Kimi Raikkonen at Abu Dhabi 2018. Image courtesy of Ferrari Media

The twilight years started for Kimi and Alfa’s car was well prepared, a midfield contender, finishing in the points nine times in the Season of 2019, beginning with four consecutive finishes. In Brazil towards the latter end he managed to get a P4 with team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi P5, taking advantage of penalties and incidents to reel in the team’s biggest points haul to date since their return.

Kimi has spent the last three seasons with Alfa Romeo – Image courtesy of Sauber F1

Developments for cars came in 2020 at a different pace and levels. Alfa Romeo dropped to a certain extent, and while Raikkonen might not have been able to be a consistent scorer he was enjoying himself. In the shortened Season he scored two points finishes through the year at Mugello and Imola.

The swansong Season which we didn’t know until halfway through the Season began and was very much the nearly man in this Season until Baku, finishing P11-P13. He finished P10 at that race, along with Hungary. Kimi unfortunately did miss two races mid-Season due to COVID-19 and returned with an instant best result of P8 in Russia with the same result in Mexico. Points finishes might look likely in Abu Dhabi which would be a good way to end his career.

Kimi throughout his career in F1 had 19 Seasons, claimed 21 wins and 103 podiums with 18 pole positions. He has been involved in 349 Grands Prix which is the official record. The man of few words will be remembered for his wit, his nonchalant communication but, most of all, as a Formula One World Champion. 

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