The driver’s market in Formula One has been the hottest subject in the sport for several weeks now. While the main focus is still shifted towards news on Sebastian Vettel’s future, some other drivers do not seem to have been given any attention at all in the past two months. Surprisingly, Kimi Raikkonen (The Iceman) is one of them. Are we at risk of not having this unique man on the grid after 2020 is over? Let’s find out!
WHO IS KIMI RAIKKONEN?
Kimi Raikkonen (40) is one of the most experienced Formula One drivers ever. Having participated in 315 races, the Finn stands just 11 starts short of Rubens Barrichello’s all-time record of 326. Kimi debuted in 2001 with Sauber, and shortly after progressed to McLaren-Mercedes for the 2002-2006 period. Despite his strong competitive skills, his McLaren’s lack of reliability denied him the championship multiple times. Essentially, his first move to Ferrari in 2007 resulted in his one and only championship, scored by a single point over Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso’s second and third places. The following two years were not Kimi’s greatest, which resulted in his first retirement after season 2009. Raikkonen came back in 2012 with Lotus and finished third that season, scoring multiple podiums and one victory. Initially, 2013 was also a good year for Kimi, but towards the end the tension between him and the team had escalated, resulting in his return to Ferrari for the 2014-2018 period. During his second stint for the Scuderia, Raikkonen’s function was a rather teammate supporting one, scoring stable points finishes and podiums over the years. Ferrari signed young Charles Leclerc for the 2019 season, offering Kimi Leclerc’s previous seat at their sister team of Sauber (now Alfa Romeo).
WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION?
Raikkonen is set to drive for Alfa Romeo until the end of 2020. Their team did not exactly show much speed last season, after Kimi finished 12th in the championship, and his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi placing 17th. It is safe to predict that this season’s situation for Alfa will not be drastically improved, based on the results from winter testing in February. However, The Iceman does not seem to be bothered by his team’s weak performance, as much. Kimi himself said last year during an interview that competing in Formula One has “become more of a hobby”, rather than a job. As of now, both Kimi and Giovinazzi’s contracts are expiring at the end of the year, and there has not really been any official statements from either of them or the team. Former Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld suggested yesterday that Mick Schumacher is on track to potentially replace Kimi for the 2021 season. However, the German did not reject the possibility for Mick to replace Antonio, instead. Mick (21), who is Michael Schumacher’s oldest child, currently races in Formula Two, and has previously tested with both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. Therefore, such a scenario is not to be dismissed, and it definitely is something to follow on drivers’ social media profiles or Alfa Romeo’s official website.
WHY IT THIS IMPORTANT?
Raikkonen is one of the all-time most beloved personalities in Formula One. Currently, The Iceman is the oldest by age and experience on the grid. At almost 41, Kimi is technically old enough to be a father of many of the new drivers like Lando Norris, George Russell, Lance Stroll, and several others. Raikkonen’s unique charisma is well-known to the Formula One audience, due to his apparent lack of emotions or willingness to express them. Multiple generations of fans have discovered their passion for the sport under Kimi Raikkonen’s name.
Not many drivers get to stay active for as many as twenty years, while going through several drastically modified configurations of the cars. Kimi is also the only of the current drivers to have raced during the V10, V8, and V6 turbo-hybrid engine eras. He has shared race tracks with men who debuted in Formula One in the 1980s, like Jean Alesi, and continues on sharing them with drivers, like Nicholas Latifi, whose debut was in 2020. Many anticipate Raikkonen’s decision on whether to stay or not after this season to come soon. SkullKing Sports will make sure to follow The Iceman closely, as we are only about a month away from this season’s first race.