‘Schumacher’ review – An incredible, bittersweet look at the man behind the legend

image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari

I want to preface this review by simply stating that I am a big Michael Schumacher fan. My childhood coincided with the glory days of Michael and Ferrari, and so I had a lot of vested interest in this documentary. I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

‘Schumacher’ is a celebration of Michael’s career and an intimate look into his psyche, his will to win and his personal life from those who know him best. We get stories from his family, commentary on vital parts of his career from those in and around him at the time, and candid archive interviews from the man himself on topics such as life, death, and Formula One.

For those who watched during Michael’s heyday will know he was a ruthless competitor whose hard work, determination and desire to be the best made him come across as somewhat robotic at times. But this documentary humanizes him in a way that those not close to the superstar maybe wouldn’t have noticed.

There’s a section devoted to how he would stay late working on the car and really making an effort to talk to each and every mechanic, as well as ensuring everyone in the team was appreciated, even the cook.

Though perhaps one of the most pertinent parts of the two-hour doc is following the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, in which F1 legend Ayrton Senna passed away following a high speed accident. Michael spoke on how his analysis of a race circuit changed. He was driving around Silverstone thinking about how he could die at every corner. Michael rarely expressed fear during his career, and this shows he is in fact human.

Schumacher was no stranger to controversy though, and this movie doesn’t shy away from that. It shows the infamous incidents at Adelaide in 1994 and Jerez in 1997. Two title finales which involved collisions with Williams drivers. One working in Michael’s favour, and one not. While the footage was shown, you are given insight from Ferrari’s head honchos at the time; Jean Todt and Ross Brawn. Brawn even admitted that Michael could overstep the line sometimes in the pursuit of victory, and to have that insight from someone so vital in Michael’s success is truly fascinating.

The highlight of the documentary is without doubt the bittersweet ending, the ending focuses on his family, who are the real stars of the piece, his wife Corinna, daughter Gina, and son Mick. It shows beautiful footage of family holidays , having fun together as a family. Days which have sadly long gone since Michael’s tragic skiing accident in 2013. Since which Michael hasn’t been seen and news of his condition has been minute.

A line which as stuck with me is from Michael himself about how he started to regret his Formula One comeback in 2010, and how he should now be spending time with his family. Time which sadly, he didn’t really get to enjoy for obvious reasons.

But it’s his son’s words which cut the deepest with so many. He speaks of his regret that they can’t ‘speak the language of motorsport’ together, and that he would ‘give anything to be able to do that.’ Mick is now forging his own path in Formula One competing for the Haas team this season, and you just have to believe Michael is watching somewhere and is immensely proud of his son.

His family and management have come under scrutiny for the lack of information given about Michael’s current state. Unfortunately, this documentary won’t give you much more of an idea, but it’s clear to see why things have been sparse in the way of updates. Throughout his career he was shy, reserved, and liked to keep his family matters out of the limelight. He was reluctant to talk to press and this film illustrates that at various points.

It’s clear to see and understand why the family haven’t given us any information. Corinna says it best herself: ‘Michael protected us, and now we must protect Michael.’

Naturally this film is going to be compared to the also-excellent documentary on Ayrton Senna, someone Michael idolised. There are some parallels between the two, both giants of the sport, both incredibly quick drivers, but sadly, both of their legacies are shrouded in tragedy. Neither are present to tell their own stories.

The best sports documentary I’ve seen is The Last Dance, a look at basketball behemoth Michael Jordan and his dominance with the Chicago Bulls. In this Jordan is there to give hindsight into his actions and look back on his own career. Sadly, Senna nor Schumacher have been able to do that. While that doesn’t detract from ‘Schumacher’, it makes you upset and leaves you feeling empty that the great man isn’t who he once was.

I’m proud to admit I wept at the ending; this man resonated with me as a kid sat in front of the TV watching this amazing sport, his posters on my wall. He was a big part of my childhood and listening to glowing tributes from those who knew him best and even those who fought him hardest (Mika Hakkinen & Damon Hill for example), really leaves a catch in your throat and a tear in your eye.

Is this film better than Senna? In my opinion, yes. Even for people who do not enjoy Formula One, it is a must watch. For those who do, it’s a tear-jerking, bittersweet, rollercoaster of emotions and a celebration to Der regenmeister.

Keep Fighting Michael – wir sind alle bei dir.

McLaren back at the front of the pack!

Race 2 of the weekend for the full 53 laps at the temple of speed and all eyes were on the front of the grid. Verstappen looking to capitalise on the bad start for Hamilton yesterday and both McLarens in the fight who wanted to mix things up and get a podium.

After his crash yesterday Gasly had some issues on his reconnaissance lap with a stuck throttle. However, starting from the pitlane after having to replace parts of the car it looked like they had repaired the car in the garage and was able to start the race. However, the car was undriveable and Gasly was out by lap 5. On the other side of the garage there was some late drama for Tsunoda whose car was pushed off the grid and into the garage 5 minutes before the race start. The car had some hydraulic brake issues which is not normally a quick job so Alpha Tauri tried their hardest for a pitlane start but they couldn’t get it out in time, and he didn’t start the race. A race to forget for Alpha Tauri.

Lights out and Daniel Ricciardo beat Verstappen into the first corner and lead the race into turn 2. Hamilton managed to get around the outside of Norris into turn 1 and picked up the slipstream from Verstappen, moving alongside him into the second chicane. 2 into 1 doesn’t go and Hamilton ended up being forced wide, similar to Imola this year. Hamilton then lost another place to Norris who had watched it unfold.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 12: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 12, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Further back and Giovinazzi went wide at the same chicane, unsafely coming back onto the track and clipping the front of Sainz, spinning him into the wall and losing his front wing. This brought out the Virtual safety car to recover the debris for 2 laps before the track was cleared. Giovinazzi got a 5 second time penalty for this which he served at his next pitstop.

Perez was on the mediums and coming into play for RedBull as he made his way up the grid. He had a great battle with Sainz for P6 on lap 10 from turn 1 all the way to the second chicane where Perez eventually won out and gained the place. The other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was also making his way up the grid making the hard tyres work for him.

On lap 15 Vettel and Ocon were fighting for P12, Vettel closing in on Ocon into the second chicane and he was alongside going into the corner. However, Ocon was closing the door on Vettel, not leaving enough room, and the two made contact with Vettel losing out. Ocon gained a 5 second time penalty for his contact with Vettel and not leaving him enough room despite being alongside.

Lap 22 and the leader came into the pits with a perfect stop from McLaren. RedBull and Verstappen respond immediately but they had a terrible stop being held for 11 seconds in the pit box due to a slow right rear tyre. At the same time Hamilton finally overtook Norris and took the lead of the race. Norris then came into the pits and another perfect pit stop for McLaren.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 12: Max Verstappen driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 12, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Mercedes responded, he was held slightly but came out between Norris and Verstappen. Norris got past but Verstappen attempted to get around the outside of Hamilton into turn 1. Verstappen ended up on the sausage curb and was lifted over Hamilton, destroying the back wing but the halo doing its job as the tyre of the RedBull.

At the restart Ricciardo got away and Norris caught Leclerc out and used the tow to his advantage, taking P2 behind his teammate. Leclerc didn’t have a great restart and lost another place to Perez, then to Bottas moving down to P5. However, Perez hopped across the corner to gain the place and didn’t give the place back was awarded a 5 second time penalty which was added at the end of the race. Bottas on the mediums was faster than the leader Ricciardo by 1.3 seconds per lap. The charge was on for him and next to hunt down Perez and stay within that 5 second window.

After the chaos of the restart, by lap 40 normal racing had resumed and Norris was looking faster than Ricciardo but McLaren confirmed they would hold station to gain maximum points for the team. Just 4 laps later, after making contact with his teammate and locking up going straight on at turn 1, Mazepin’s engine gave out and he stopped bringing out a brief virtual safety car neutralising the battles.

Leading from start to finish after a great move into turn 1, Daniel Ricciardo won the Italian Grand Prix with his teammate Lando Norris in P2. To add to the achievements Ricciardo gained the fastest lap point on the last lap. This is the first win for McLaren in 9 years and its fantastic to see them back on top. Perez finished P3 on track but after the 5 second penalty he drops to P5 and Bottas finished on the podium.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren (McLaren Racing Media)

It has been a turn of fortune since coming back from the summer break for Daniel Ricciardo. McLaren have also been on the way back up since 2018. Shout out to Norris who put in a mature drive for the team to bring home a 1 – 2.

For the championship the crash means Verstappen leaves with the 5 points lead from yesterday. The incident is being investigated and the repercussions could last for weeks. This is becoming a very intense battle for the title which every fan is excited about. Good to see both drivers get out of the car OK and this will only add to the fight going into Russia in 2 weeks’ time.

Monza Sprint: Bottas wins but Verstappen on Pole

The highly anticipated second ‘Sprint’ of the season and it was Bottas who started at the front. He will take an engine penalty for tomorrows race but not for today because this was still part of qualifying. The strategic play from Mercedes was the talk of the paddock before the race with RedBull seemingly off the pace all weekend in comparison to the last few weeks.

Lights out and Hamilton had a terrible start losing 4 places before turn 1 putting him in P5. Gasly got caught up in the first corner pack and clipped the back wheel of Ricciardo, damaging the front wing and crashing into the barriers at turn 3 but was ok. In the other Alpha Tauri Tsunoda had an incident with Kubica at the second chicane, spinning Kubica. Tsunoda had to pit for a new wing, pushing him down to last. The safety car was brought neutralising the race.

Just 2 laps later and the safety car was in, Bottas had a great restart catching Verstappen out and pulling a gap to the RedBull. Alonso charging through the field on the restart and gaining places on Vettel and Ocon. Tsunoda made up 2 places on the restart and began his charge back up the grid.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 11: Yuki Tsunoda driving the (22) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 11, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

The chase was then on for Hamilton to get back to the front of the grid for tomorrow. He was hunting down Norris, consistently in the DRS zone but not able to put a move on him. Norris was on the saft tyres, so Mercedes were hoping his tyres would drop off and Hamilton, on the mediums, could take advantage. Unfortunately for them, Norris was solid in his performance on those tyres.

Lap 9 and Stroll was battling for P10 with Perez. Into turn 1 Stroll had the inside line forcing Perez off the track. The fight continued into the next chicane, but Perez told to give the place back for gaining an advantage and overtaking the Aston Martin by going off the track. With DRS the following lap, Perez made it around the outside going into turn 1 and this time stayed on the track to make it stick.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 11: Sergio Perez driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda and Lance Stroll driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 11, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Back out in front Bottas had pulled out a nearly 2 second gap to Verstappen. With the knowledge of Bottas’ penalty tomorrow, RedBull were happy to sit behind him and gain 2 more points on Hamilton who would not be gaining any points.

With 3 laps to go Perez was in P9, having dropped down at the start he was back up to his qualifying position. He struggled to get past Giovinazzi who was having a fantastic drive in P8 after a great qualifying session. They finished in P8 and P9, a great result for the Alfa Romeo driver.

Valtteri Bottas lead from start to finish and took the 3 points for todays Sprint. Verstappen finished P2 and Ricciardo P3 taking 2 and 1 points respectively. With Bottas’ penalty applied Verstappen will take pole position and a front row start for Daniel Riccardo and McLaren in P2. Norris will start in P3 and Hamilton has work to do starting in P4. McLaren look strong for the race tomorrow so RedBull and Mercedes will need to be strong to come out on top after 53 laps.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 11: Max Verstappen driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 11, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Italian GP: Bottas takes top spot for sprint race as Verstappen comes 3rd

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas pipped Lewis Hamilton to take the top spot for the sprint race on Saturday. Mercedes looked fastest in free practice 1 which also translated into the qualifying form for the German team as they beat Redbull by quite a margin. Hamilton will however be slightly disappointed not to have had the top spot as he will have to start much closer to championship rival Verstappen.

In a qualifying session where drivers were playing all sorts of tricks to have the all important tow in Monza, McLaren shined well. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo managed to put in a shift and placed their McLarens at P4 and P5 for the sprint race tomorrow. Verstappen could find no answer to the sheer pace of Mercedes and has to settle with 3rd spot for tomorrow while his teammate Perez in the other Redbull will be starting P9.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 10: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez of Mexico and Red Bull Racing talk in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 10, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Pierre Gasly continued his stellar run this season as he has put in yet another great performance in qualifying and put his Alpha Tauri at P6 for the sprint race tomorrow. His teammate Tsunoda however has his work cut out after a deleted lap time in Q1 means that he will be starting the sprint race from P17 tomorrow.

Both the Ferraris will be starting the sprint race from P7 and P8 with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc respectively, a result which the 50% capacity Monza crowd would probably not be too happy with.  Leclerc’s Ferrari experienced some engine braking issues during Q1 but Ferrari were able to fix it during the session and the Monegasque driver managed to make it to Q3.

Antonio GIovinazzi of Alfa Romeo continued his impressive run after the summer break as he qualified P10 for tomorrow’s sprint race after some really good laps in Q1 and Q2. The Italian might just be in serious contention to retain his seat alongside the newly announced driver Valtteri Bottas with a run like this. His teammate Robert Kubica who is still the stand-in driver for Kimi Raikkonen in the other Alfa Romeo could not manage get out of Q1 and will be starting at P19.

Aston Martin had both their cars knocked out in Q2 with Sebastian Vettel set to start P11 and Lance Stroll set to start at P12. They will be followed by both the Alpine cars in Fernando ALonso at P13 and Esteban Ocon at P14. This could be an interesting little midfield battle brewing in the bottom half of the grid and could make the sprint race all the more interesting.

Williams’ Geroge Russell made it out of Q1 thanks to Tsunoda’s deleted lap time but could not make a mark in Q2 after he is set to start at P15. His teammate Latifi in the other Williams will be starting from P16. The back of the field is yet again the familiar cars of Haas with Mick Schumacher at P18 and Nikita Mazepin at P20.

With points on offer for the top 3 finishers of the sprint race, Valtteri Bottas is set to start at P1 alongside Lewis Hamilton at P2, followed by Max Verstappen at P3. Bottas who has taken new engine components which exceeded his quota of allocated parts, will be starting the Italian GP from the back of the grid. However, a tactical move by Mercedes now means he will still start the sprint race from the top spot. This could mean that Mercedes could deny Verstappen a chance of getting any points from the sprint race.

2021 Italian Grand Prix, Friday – Steve Etherington

A new F1 qualifying format is set to be put to its 2nd test followed by SIlverstone from last time around. Monza being quite the track known for its sheer speed and overtaking, the sprint race which decides the grid for Sunday’s race is set to be a thriller.

Verstappen dominant in front of the Orange Army

Max Verstappen took victory at his home Dutch Grand Prix with a dominant display at Zandvoort.

36 years since the last race at Zandvoort and anticipation was high. The Orange Army were in full force all weekend as Super Max blared through the speakers at the track. Having qualified on pole, it was all set for Verstappen to win with overtaking being notoriously difficult here.

Having gone out in Q1, Sergio Perez was already on the back foot but a change in engine for both him and Latifi meant they started from the pitlane. This meant that Verstappen would have to fight off both Mercedes to take the victory.

Sergio Perez’s Q1 exit on Saturday was exacerbated by a pit lane start – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Lights out and both front runners got a good start with Verstappen closing the door on Hamilton before turn 1. All cars managed to get through lap 1 cleanly, the Alpines touched but Alonso got around the outside of his teammate in turn 3. There was some concern for Daniel Ricciardo whose engine appeared to be blowing smoke and dropping oil. However, the team were happy with the car and asked him to carry on. Verstappen had pulled out a 2 second gap at the end of lap 2 and the cars began to separate, making this a race of strategy.

After a huge flat spot on the hard tyres trying to overtake the Haas, Perez came in early on lap 10 to get rid of those vibrations. There was also a switch up of strategy from Aston Martin, who pit Vettel for a new set of soft tyres around lap 13. An unexpected move from them as most pitstops were predicted at lap 25, but this was to try an affect his race.

Overtaking is difficult here but not impossible as Perez makes a great move on Mazepin through the chicane stadium section. Proving the Red bull is a very fast car, he quickly made his way past Latifi, Kubica and Tsunoda in the next couple of laps.

Hamilton came in on lap 21, with a slow stop on the front right. Verstappen then reacted the next lap with a good stop from them and expectedly came out in front of Hamilton. Importantly, Mercedes left Bottas out longer than Hamilton, so he was leading the race after the pit stops. This looked to be a strategy to hold up Verstappen and potentially back him into Hamilton.

It was now time to see if leaving Bottas out was a good decision, Verstappen had caught up around lap 30. The narrow track made it hard for Verstappen to pass Bottas, he was only help up for 1 lap, but it was enough to bring Hamilton into the DRS zone. Although once in clean air, the gap was back to 1.5 seconds between the top 2.

Hamilton and Bottas attempted to pincer Max Verstappen after the first stop – to little avail – Courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

Just as George Russell makes a great move around turn 1 on his former teammate Kubica, he received a 5 second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Lando Norris was P8 at the halfway point and still putting in impressive lap times on his 35 lap old medium tyres. He was managing his tyres back into the points after starting 14th on the grid.

Vettel went for a spin around turn 3, briefly bringing out the yellow flag and impeding Bottas who had to take avoiding action to miss Vettel’s car in the middle of the corner. This meant that when the 2 leaders pitted, he was no longer able to help Mercedes.

Hamilton pitted again on lap 40 and use the extra set of new medium tyres Mercedes have over Red Bull. A response from Red Bull the following lap with Verstappen, who ended up on new hard tyres, importantly the slower of the 2 sets. The chase was then on for Hamilton, only just edging Verstappen for fastest lap each lap.

By lap 55 Hamilton started to catch Verstappen with a gap now back down to 1.5 seconds. Having been told by his team to focus on P2, he could see Verstappen in front of him so decided to ignore his engineer and close the gap. However, the medium tyres couldn’t cope with the speed and, with 10 laps to go, Hamilton had to back off and the gap opened up again.

A battle between Perez and Norris was rising in tension for P9. Both drivers put in solid performances all race with each putting in some decent moves. Perez managed to make the move on Norris at lap 67 around turn 3 after carrying the speed on the outside of turn 1, touching wheels on the way. Alonso was also showing his experience, looking for a move on Sainz who had a very different race to his teammate, being off Leclerc’s pace by at least half a second.

The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz brought the cars home in fifth and seventh respectively – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Media

Mercedes pitted Bottas as a precautionary measure in case they needed to pit Hamilton for fastest lap point. Bottas was told not to do the fastest lap attempt, and after going purple in sectors 1 and 2 it was the infamous message “Valtteri, it’s James” and was told to abort the lap. Bottas did slow down but it was not enough, and he achieved fastest lap. Hamilton was then forced to pit with 1 lap left.

Verstappen won with a very dominant performance around a Zandvoort lined with Orange. Hamilton crucially got the fastest lap on the line but conceded defeat from an outright faster Verstappen and Red Bull. Bottas rounded off the podium with a P3 finish. Verstappen led from start to finish, achieving over 1000 race laps lead. He was in control for the whole race meaning Mercedes had no answer for him.

Gasly managed to convert his great P4 qualifying into a P4 finish, an excellent result for him and Alpha Tauri after Tsunoda had to retire early having had power issues on track. Perez got a deserved driver of the day and finished P8 from starting in the pitlane.

This means that Verstappen goes into Monza next week with a 3 point lead in the championship. Having broken his Italy curse earlier on in the year he will want to replicate today’s performance.

W Series Qualifying: Kimiläinen beats championship rivals to pole

Qualifying at Zandvoort was an important session for the drivers as overtaking here could be hard. The crowd was already electric on a Friday, with Beitske Visser was looking to impress after a P5 in practice.

After a short 5 minute delay due to red flags earlier on in the day, the session got underway, and it was noticeable that with different power and tyre compounds, the majority of the drivers took wider lines through the banked in comparison to Formula 3 and Formula 1 in order to hold onto the speed through the corners.

Fabienne Wohlwend crashed out of qualifying early in the session at the exit of turn 3 after going wide from the banked corner. She got out of the car and was OK but will be starting from the back of the grid tomorrow.

Back on track when the red flag was lifted and there was a switch up in run plans with nearly 24 minutes left on the clock. Visser and Sarah Moore came out on fresh tyres, while others stuck to their used tyres which did not need as long to warm up.

Jamie Chadwick had provisional pole for the first 10 minutes and was improving all the time. Jess Hawkins and Alice Powell were improving behind her though. Hawkins couldn’t quite match Chadwick in the end, but Powell went faster and took provisional pole.

Irina Sidorkova went off at turn 9 but was able to make it back onto the track. However, she joined by going straight across the racing line and is under investigation. The off hurt her run plan and she qualified P15, looking to move up the order during the race tomorrow.

Emma Kimiläinen had to sit out most of practice so was looking to improve massively and put in some fantastic laps to be provisional P2 at the halfway mark. Chadwick then improved and went fastest with home favourite Visser managing a P3. At the halfway point every driver was still improving lap times and so much movement happening meant the timing graphics couldn’t keep up.

In the last 9 minutes it was set to be all change in the order as the lap times kept tumbling down. Powell put in a stunning lap to get provisional pole which couldn’t be matched by Chadwick who lost out in the final sector to go P2. Kimiläinen was in P3 and Nerea Marti put in her personal best lap to be in P4. With 5 minutes 45 seconds to go the red flag came out again as Sabré Cook spun and beached the car at the chicane. She was then out of qualifying, finishing P17 in a day to forget for the Bunker team.

Once the track was cleared the session was back underway with a shootout for pole position. Chadwick went fastest in the first two sectors but again lost the speed in the last sector and couldn’t improve on her time. Kimiläinen was the only driver improving in the first laps out, but all drivers were improving again on the second laps. Issues with the timings meant there was confusion at the end of the session as to who had actually taken pole.

Once the timings had updated, impressive speed in sectors 1 and 2 meant that Kimiläinen took a great pole to continue her momentum from her victory last time out in Spa. Powell narrowly beat Chadwick to P2 because Chadwick was struggling to gain time in that final sector. This is the first time this season that someone other than Chadwick or Powell have qualified on pole.

There are six Brits in the top eight with great results for Abbi Pulling in P5, Hawkins in P6, Abbie Eaton in P7 and Moore in P8. Beitske Visser only managed P12 at her home race, but with the crowd behind her she will be looking to put some moves on the other drivers to make her way to the top.

Race starts at 16:30 local time (15:30 BST) tomorrow on Channel 4.

Kimi Raikkonen: A World Championship and 19 years later, its time to hang up the gloves

Kimi Raikkonen announced this week that he will be leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season. Whilst this has maybe been expected for the last few years, and with the rumour mill in full swing, this could be the first piece of the puzzle for the 2022 driver line up. However, no matter when you first knew of his driving style, attitude, or outlook on F1, he has been a popular driver throughout his career.

The Early Speed

First coming to the grid as a young 21-year-old, he debuted for Sauber in 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix and immediately put in a strong performance, scoring a point and a P6 finish. He proved many critics wrong after driving in Formula Renault the year before – three racing levels below Formula 1 at the time.

Having impressed early on he was very quickly signed to McLaren for 2002, replacing the retiring 2-time world champion, Mika Hakkinen. This was a successful partnership, competing head on with Michael Schumacher and coming close to titles in both 2003 and 2005. He gained a reputation for being one of the fastest drivers on the grid and to this day is still applauded for his race craft and speed.

One of his greatest wins came in 2005 at Suzuka where, having started down in 17th, he had to fight his way from the back of the grid to win the race, having to get past an extremely quick Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher. Putting in fastest lap after fastest lap, he took the lead from Giancarlo Fisichella with an absolutely fantastic move on the outside of turn 1 with just 1 lap to go. This cemented his place as one of the best drivers on the grid.

The Iceman’s Championship

For the second time in his career, at the end of 2006 he was set to replace a world retiring world champion. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher decided it was time for him to exit the sport seemingly for good at the time. Kimi Raikkonen had already attracted the attention of Ferrari, having been one of their main rivals for the last 5 years. This opening meant Ferrari signed him for their 2007 season, little did they know this would be a successful title battle.

With tensions boiling over at McLaren with teammates Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, Raikkonen was able to make up a huge points deficit which ended in a title fight between the Iceman, the Champion, and the Rookie at the final round in Brazil. It was a thrilling end to the season which meant that Raikkonen came out on top by just one point. A surprise champion but definitely deserved after his first few years in F1.

Raikkonen beat Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to the championship by just one point in 2007 – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Media

The Comeback Kid

Raikkonen did have a contract with Ferrari until the end of 2010, however with Alonso becoming a free agent at the end of 2009, the Italian team paid him off in order to get Alonso in the car. Having been evenly matched to Felipe Massa for most of his time at Ferrari, putting Alonso in the car began to make some question Kimi’s performances because Alonso was comfortably outperforming Massa. As a result, Kimi spent 2 years out of Formula 1 and focused on Rallying and Nascar.

In 2012 however, Lotus were looking to get Raikkonen back on the grid and so he returned much to everyone’s delight. It was a great couple of seasons for the team and driver, with Kimi having the edge over teammate Romain Grosjean due to his experience. He took two wins with the team – first at Abu Dhabi then at Melbourne – and the car seemed to be working well for the Finn.

With confidence dwindling for Alonso at Ferrari, Raikkonen made his way back to the Red team in 2014 to partner the Spaniard in his final season there. He would eventually become teammates with Sebastian Vettel in 2015 after Alonso finally decided to leave for McLaren. He became the apparent number two driver as Vettel consistently outperformed the Finn until, at the end of 2018, Ferrari decided to swap their 2007 champion with their rising star Charles Leclerc.

Having come full circle, Raikkonen has spent the last few years with the team he made his debut with, now Alfa Romeo. He has had some great drives for the team and clearly enjoyed still being in Formula 1 despite not being at the sharp end of the grid. He famously made a cameo in the second season of Drive to Survive saying: “its more like a hobby for me”.

Raikkonen has been with Alfa Romeo since 2019 – Courtesy of Sauber Group Media

With 341 Grand Prix starts, he is the most experienced driver of all time. He has 21 race wins, 103 podiums, 48 fastest laps, a world title and 19 years at the pinnacle of Motorsport; he will definitely be missed among fans and the F1 paddock. He has provided many memories over the years and it will be exciting to see what he does next if he decides to race in other series. For now, we look forward to seeing a relaxed Kimi race the rest of the season before he gives up his hobby to focus on other things.

W Series Preview: The Dutch Comeback!

The Formula 1 circus arrives at Zandvoort for the first time in 36 years with the W Series there to be a part of it all for Round 6 of the championship. Having had plenty of work done to get the circuit ready, it is now 4.259Km long, 0.007Km shorter than the track which Niki Lauda won at in 1985. The track boasts a mixture of some high speed, cambered corners, and blind braking spots unlike any other circuit.

After last week’s crash during qualifying at Spa it was great to see all six drivers involved come out OK. Beitske Visser and Ayla Agren have both been cleared to race this weekend, and Visser especially will be looking to have a successful home race. She has a mixed experience with the circuit, having won her first race in ADAC Formel Masters Series back in 2012 there just 1 day after breaking her back. She showed then her determination to fight back to race and will do the same again this week.

Abbi Pulling is back for the second time for the PUMA W Series Team. Finishing in the top 10 at Silverstone, she had a strong performance on her W Series debut and will be looking to repeat this success after some disappointing recent results in British F4.

Only a few drivers other than Visser have experience of the track in different configurations. Pulling and Fabienne Wohlwend have the most recent experience, competing there in the 2019 Ginetta GT5 challenge and 2017 Audi TT Cup respectively, while Sarah Moore has raced the old track Emma Kimiläinen has tested at the circuit. This means the experience of the drivers is relatively level so this will be a test to see who can master the track over Friday and Saturday.

Can Chadwick extend her lead?

Emma Kimiläinen had a fantastic race last time out at Spa, winning by 8.4 seconds and passing both Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell on her way to victory. With Chadwick finishing P2 and Powell finishing P4, there is now a 7 point gap at the top of the table between the defending champion and her rival.

Every point is crucial, and Alice will be looking to use her driving experience to gain knowledge on the track and have an advantage on Jamie Chadwick over the weekend. Both drivers will be aiming at maximum points so expect maximum attack from these 2 as the season starts to draw to a close. With just 3 rounds left, including Zandvoort, Powell can’t afford to lose sight of her competitor and Chadwick will be focused on extending the gap.

W Series Hungary Preview: Powell in the lead in tight battle at the top

Round 4 at Budapest signifying we are nearly halfway through this exciting season. In an 8 race season every race counts, so it’s important to optimise the more tighter style at the Hungaroring compared to the fast track of Silverstone.

The Hungaroring is a 4.38km circuit which held its first Formula 1 race in 1986, with this year’s race being its 36th event. The first females to race at the track were Annette Meuvissen and Mercedes Stermitz in 1988 during a one-off DTM race. Since then, there have been relatively few females’ appearances. However, on the 2021 W Series grid 3 drivers have had experience here.

Beitske Visser has the most experience at the Hungaroring, competing in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Renault 3.5 World Series and in the GT4 Euro South competition. When GP3 supported F1 in 2012 both Alice Powell and Vicky Piria competed around the track, however neither made the points.

Can Alice Powell hold on to the lead?

During a dramatic Silverstone race where, after qualifying on pole with a stunning lap, Alice Powell lost first position in the first few corners, then had a race-long battle with Fabienne Wohlwend to eventually come out on top. This adds to her win in round 1, and with Jamie Chadwick finishing in 3rd at Silverstone this means Powell is currently on top of the standings, 6 points ahead of Chadwick.

Alice Powell is having a good season so far, getting her first pole position in the series and beating her number of wins from the whole of the 2019 season. Widely considered a very strong contender for the championship, Powell is taking advantage of her run of form.

Jamie Chadwick, however, is looking to fight back. After a 3rd place finish at Silverstone where she was on her own all race, she is hoping for a strong race weekend in Hungary to take back the lead of the championship and add to her win from round 2 at the Red Bull Ring.

Sarah Moore and Wohlwend are not far behind Chadwick in the standings, and a strong race for both means they come into this weekend with confidence. Wohlwend in particular had an impressive performance in her fight with Powell, which she will be hoping to repeat in Budapest.

Caitlin Wood’s comeback

Caitlin Wood (Drew Gibson / W Series)

The 24-year-old Australian competed in the inaugural 2019 W Series season, but narrowly missed out on automatic qualifying for the next season at the Brands Hatch and was therefore listed as a reserve driver. She finished 13th overall with 11 points scored and a highest finish of 5th.

Caitlin will be racing for PUMA this weekend; she is the first Australian woman to compete successfully in the European scene. She has also taken part in GT4 European Series and Formula Ford along among others.

Many drivers looking to improve their own performances for this weekend and it will be exciting to watch who can tackle this track which is known to test fitness and skill. Qualifying starts at 3:30pm GMT on Friday, lights out at 3:30pm GMT on Saturday.

British GP Friday qualifying: Hamilton fastest at home

Image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest on Friday qualifying after a blistering first lap in Q3 made sure that he would be starting from P1 for the sprint race on Saturday. An all new trial format for Formula 1 this weekend means that the drivers will go again on Saturday with a 17 lap race at Silverstone and the winner from that race will be awarded pole position for the actual race on Sunday. Hamilton’s teammate Bottas in the other Mercedes is set to start from P3 after his lap was two tenths shy of Hamilton’s lap time.

Hamilton’s closest title rival Max Verstappen was complaining of understeer through out qualifying and fell short of P1 by just about 0.075 seconds while his teammate Sergio Perez could only qualify 5th after his time from the second run during Q3 was deleted due to him exceeding track limits. Redbull who have been fastest during the course of the season will not be happy with this result and will have their work cut out before the sprint race.

Ferrari will take heart from Friday qualifying after Charles Leclerc managed to be the 4th fastest on Friday courtesy of a Perez deleted lap time. Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari could only manage a P9 but crucially for Ferrari, they have atleast one car ahead of McLaren at P4.

In what was a tough few days for McLaren off track with Lando Norris incident at Wemblely and team boss Zak Brown coming down with the coronavirus, it was not a bad outing for the British team after Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have both put in lap times which are good enough for a P6 and P7 on the grid for sprint race tomorrow.

‘Mr. Saturday’ Geroge Russell has also proved that he would be an excellent ‘Mr.Friday’ should this new race weekend format stick, after a brilliant Q2 lap meant that he was into Q3 yet again. He then set another excellent lap time in Q3 which means 8th position on the starting grid is his for the sprint race. Things were not that great for his Canadian teammate Latifi in the other Williams after he could not get out of Q1 and will be starting from P18.

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel makes up the last of top 10 fastest drivers on the grid after having his first lap time in Q3 deleted for exceeding track limits and will be starting P10 for the sprint race. His teammate Lance Stroll couldn’t quite find a similar pace and will be starting from P15.

It was a bad Friday outing for Alpha Tauri in comparison with the last few weekends, after Pierre Gasly only managed a lap good enough to put him on P12 for tomorrow while his teammate Tsunoda had things go worse for him after his lap was not good enough for the rookie driver to go to Q2 and he is set to start from P16.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon finally managed to get out Q1 this time around and is set to start P13 for tomorrow while his teammate Fernando Alonso narrowly missed out on Q3 and will be starting P11. Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi managed to get out of Q1 but could only go as high as P14 while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen could not manage that and will only be starting P17. Both the Haas cars will be starting with Schumacher at P19 and Mazepin at P20, which has become rather predictable based on how their season is going.

A new format in on trial at a packed Silverstone but it is the old and familiar top 3 of Hamilton, Verstappena and Bottas is set to start the sprint race.  With points up for grabs and of course the pole position for the main race on Sunday, it is set to be an interesting 17-lap race on Saturday. Redbull seem to be running away with the title but a resurgence from Hamilton and Mercedes is definitely on the cards as the race for pole is on.