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Kimi Raikkonen




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Kimi Raikkonen


Espoo, Finland
Baar, Switzerland

Official website:


Kimi made his controversial Formula One debut at the start of the 2001 season. The young Finn had competed in just twenty-three car races before catching Peter Sauber's eye, and despite concerns from fellow drivers, and FIA president Max Mosley, he was eventually awarded a provisional super-license.

An impressive Australian GP debut saw Kimi finish seventh, (later promoted to sixth), and he scored a further three points finishes during his debut season, helping Sauber to achieve its most successful season to date.

A number of strong performances saw Kimi catch the eye of McLaren boss Ron Dennis, and after much speculation it was announced late in the 2001 season that he would leave Sauber to replace departing, fellow Finn, Mika Hakkinen at McLaren (much to Sauber team mate Nick Heidfeld's frustration).

Described by his former boss as 'arrogant and egotistical', Kimi outlined his ambition to become formula One's youngest champion, surely two of the characteristics that make World Champions.

Unfortunately the MP4-17 was not one of McLaren's finest, though its tendency to oversteer certainly suited Kimi's style, whereas team-mate Coulthard hated it.

The Finnish youngster got his season off to a great start thanks to a superb third at Melbourne, spoiled only by the fact that he was narrowly out-qualified by his Scots team-mate. When you think that this was the youngster's second season, you realise that Ron Dennis must have been feeling pretty chuffed with himself.

Despite not having the best package, Kimi demonstrated that he had the raw speed and courage of which champions are made. His battles with Montoya in Germany and Hungary were short but sweet, the Finn refusing to be intimidated by the hard-charging Colombian.

At Magny Cours it so nearly came together, with the Finn just a few short laps away from a historic victory, however bad luck and inexperience meant that Kimi and his fans would have to wait just that little bit longer for that all-important first win.

In Belgium, Kimi's qualifying performance was awesome the youngster coming close to achieving his first pole, while in the latter stages he regularly out-qualified his illustrious team-mate.

In Malaysia, the second race of the 2003 season, Kimi took a sensational win, the first of his F1 career, and following on from his third place at Melbourne this meant he now led the World Championship.

A string of second places meant that the Finn went to Canada with a four-point lead over Michael Schumacher, even though the German had won three consecutive races. A victory for the reigning champion in Canada meant that Kimi lost his World Championship lead and sadly was unable to regain it.

As the season wore on it was clear that the McLaren was no match for the WilliamsF1 or the Ferrari, despite the best efforts of the Finn. Furthermore mistakes on his 'hot lap' in qualifying meant that Raikkonen started from the back of the grid on two occasions.

Nonetheless he took the championship down to the wire in Japan and gave Schumacher a real run for his money.

Despite the fact that he finished a distant seventh in the 2004 drivers' championship, the young Finn served notice of what he was truly capable of.

The MP4-19 was a dog of a car, and even though the sight of Kimi, and teammate David Coulthard, abandoning their (often smoking) cars, became the norm, the youngster never gave less than 100%.

Where other drivers would have exploded - along with their engines - or merely gone into a sulk, the worse things got, the more resolute 'The Iceman' became.

Therefore, when McLaren finally delivered the MP4-19B (in France), Kimi was ready, and in no time at all he was back challenging the best of them. A fine second at Silverstone was followed by a well-deserved win in Belgium and finally another second - to future teammate Juan Pablo Montoya - in Brazil.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, that's the adage, and it certainly applied to Kimi in 2004.

According to the record books and statistics, Fernando Alonso was the undisputed 2005 Formula One World Champion, however, according to race fans who voted in numerous magazine and website polls - including that of Pitpass - Kimi Raikkonen was the people's champion.

In the opening races the McLaren, hampered by a poor aero-chassis package that left the team struggling in qualifying, Kimi lost ground to his Renault rivals that he was never going to make up - though that didn't stop him trying.

That said, the problems at the start of the year, which saw Alonso build a 29 point lead in the first four races, weren't entirely down to he car. There was the mistake in Melbourne which resulted in damage to his bargeboards, and the qualifying cock-up in Bahrain.

Then there were the antics away from the track, which culminated in the Finn receiving a written warning from his employer.

For the most part however, the Iceman staged one of the most dramatic fight backs in the sport's history, refusing to surrender the title to his Spanish rival.

Despite the numerous mechanical failures which cost grid positions and points, the Finn always gave 100%. Who will ever forget the dogged determination at the Nurburgring, resulting in that last lap suspension failure, caused by having pushed his tyres beyond the limit? Then there was the cruel hydraulic leak at Hockenheim, which eliminated him whilst leading.

Ron Dennis believes that the title(s) were lost at the beginning of the season, when Renault and Alonso built such a commanding lead, however the mechanical failures during much of the summer didn't exactly help.

Nonetheless, Kimi fought on, and perhaps his season, indeed his attitude to racing, can be summed-up in that monumental move on Giancarlo Fisichella on the last lap of the race in Japan. He took the victory, keeping his team in the running for the Constructors' Championship, even though Alonso had already taken the drivers' title two weeks earlier.

With Alonso heading to McLaren in 2007, talk prior to the start of the 2006 season centred on the future of the Finn, with many claiming that a deal with Ferrari had already been done.

After the success of 2005, much was expected in 2006, especially with the prospect of a new super-team, featuring Kimi and Alonso, in the offing.

However, it was not to be, the McLaren-Mercedes was not up to the job, though it often seemed that someone had forgotten to tell the Finn.

Admittedly, the question of Kimi's future hung over the team for much of the season, McLaren as much in the dark as the rest of us. Then again, there was talk of a rift between the youngster and team boss Dennis, Kimi still incensed at the written warning he'd received following an incident in 2005.

Second in Melbourne and Monza was as good as it got, in Italy the Finn's result helped by Alonso's grid position and subsequent retirement.

Nonetheless, Monza was when Ferrari and Kimi finally let the cat out of the bag, revealing that the Finn was to replace Michael Schumacher in 2007.

Ahead of the new season, indeed, the beginning of the new era, fans and F1 insiders alike were intrigued by a number of issues relating to Kimi and Ferrari. Whether the team would favour either of its drivers, with many openly questioning the relationship between (team boss) Jean Todt and his son Nicolas, who just happened to manage Felipe Massa. Then, there were those who wondered how Michael Schumacher's presence at tests and races might affect the Finn, claiming that it was like having the wife's (successful) ex-husband looking over one's shoulder. Also there was the question of whether the Finn might be too hard on his car, after all, he only appeared to know one speed, and doesn't do 'gentle'. Finally, the big question; could Ferrari survive following the departure of Schumacher, Brawn and Byrne.

Pre-season, it was noted that Kimi was smiling and actually talking a lot more than during his time with McLaren, and things got off to the best possible start when he claimed victory in Melbourne, his first race for the Scuderia.

However, despite third-place finishes in the next two races, the Finn's performances, following Melbourne, were decidedly lacklustre, with matters not helped by some very strong performances from his teammate. Fans and F1 insiders alike were struck by Kimi's apparent failure to rise to the occasion, so unlike the man whose seat he now filled. Furthermore, with the Finn now slipping behind in the title race, it was widely speculated that Ferrari would force him to play second-fiddle to Massa, a move which would hardly help Kimi regain his confidence.

However, as we know from experience, the Raikkonen motto would appear to be 'never say die', and in France and Britain he scored back-to-back wins, with only a hydraulic failure at Hockenheim ruining a string of strong performances that took him through to the end of the season.

Following his retirement from the European GP there was no keeping Kimi off the podium, taking a win, two seconds and two thirds from the next five races. However, with two races remaining, though he headed teammate Massa by 10 points, he was 5 adrift of Alonso and a seemingly insurmountable 17 behind Lewis Hamilton.

Some, including Bernie Ecclestone, have said that McLaren lost the championship, however, this is a major disservice to Kimi. In China and Brazil he gave 100%, he was the balls-out racing driver we always knew him to be, and while, McLaren and Hamilton made mistakes, the Finn was pluperfect, and consequently, against all odds, took the title, by a solitary point.

Remarkably, Kimi only led the World Championship twice in 2007, once following the Australian GP, and again when it mattered most, in Brazil.

It's sad that many, especially the British media, spent the close season mourning the loss of Hamilton's title when there was so much that was good regarding Kimi's fight back. But that's the media for you.

With the monkey off his back, Kimi went into 2008 hot favourite to repeat (fellow Finn) Mike Hakkinen's achievement and win back-to-back titles. Sadly, the reality was a little different… to say that Kimi's defence of his title was non-existent would be an understatement.

For much of the season the Finn appeared to lack motivation, indeed, there were times when one wondered whether the champion was on the point of calling it quits, imagine the surprise therefore when it was announced post-season that he was staying with the Maranello outfit until the end of 2010.

While Australia was a disappointment, the Finn finishing 8th after a problem in qualifying, the next four races were altogether better with two wins a second and a third. But then the rot appeared to set in.

In Monaco he was involved in a controversial incident, losing control on the damp track and taking out Adrian Sutil, who appeared certain of a points finish. In Canada, Kimi was the hapless victim of Lewis Hamilton's moment of madness in the pitlane, while an exhaust problem robbed him of victory in France.

While there were glimpses of the old Kimi, over the course of the remainder of the season there also some moments of classic stupidity, not least his retirement in Singapore where he made an unforced error and hit the wall.

Kimi looked good for the win in Belgium, however, a late rain shower, which brought out the very best in Lewis Hamilton, and some rash over-driving from the Finn, saw the World Champion crash out, but not before being involved in one of the most controversial incidents of the season - the infamous moment which was to lead to Hamilton being a given a time penalty which ultimately handed the win to Massa.

It is said that from the moment he arrived at a circuit on Friday morning it was evident whether it would be a good or bad weekend, and in all honesty there were times when this appeared to be true, such was the Finn's apparent lack of motivation.

The car, with its tendency towards understeer, was better suited to Massa's driving style, while the constant speculation regarding Fernando Alonso probably didn't help. However, the overriding feeling was that having won the title Kimi had had enough, hence the surprise when he extended his contract.

One of the most frustrating things about Kimi's 2008 season was that despite the topsy-turvy nature of his race performances, he was almost always able to post the fastest lap of the race, posting 10 over the course of the season.

Everyone is allowed an off day, an off race and maybe even an off season, in which case it was widely hoped that Kimi would be firing on all cylinders in 2009. That said, there were some who believed, even before the season had got underway, that Kimi had fallen out of love with F1 and that his days were numbered.

Caught out by the double diffuser saga it was not until Barcelona that Ferrari had its own version (of sorts) on the car. Admittedly, the Italian outfit worked flat-out in its efforts to make the car competitive but once again it was the failure to generate heat into the front tyres quickly enough that caused the team problems, particularly in qualifying. While this might have suited his teammate it was the last thing Kimi needed.

After three races the Italian team had failed to score a single point with Kimi finally opening the team's 2009 account in Bahrain by finishing sixth.

For Monaco, Ferrari had worked hard introducing numerous updates and Kimi rewarded the Italian team by qualifying second and finishing third the following day, thereby, after 6 races, giving the Maranello outfit its best result of the season thus far.

As the season progressed, Kimi continued to give hit and miss, totally inconsistent, performances that confused his team and fans alike. To add to the frustration once again there was speculation that Alonso was being lined up to replace the Finn in 2010 even though he had another year to run on his contract.

Ironically, it was once Felipe Massa was sidelined by his accident in Hungary that Kimi appeared to wake from his slumber stringing together a run of four podium finishes including a win at Spa, the fourth time he has won at the Belgian track.

Two weeks after the Italian Grand Prix, in which Kimi finished third behind the two Brawns, Ferrari confirmed F1's worst kept secret revealing that Alonso would partner Massa in 2010. While the exact details remain shrouded in mystery, Kimi's managers, David and Steve Robertson, had secured a very, very healthy compensation package for the Finn.

Following a fourth in Japan, Kimi gave a typically bullish performance in Brazil, a drive so typical of the 'Iceman'. Following a first lap collision, the Finn was one of several drivers who needed to pit, however, a mistake in the McLaren pit where Heikki Kovalainen was being topped up with fuel, saw Kimi's Ferrari engulfed in flames as it headed down the pitlane. Despite having his eyebrows singed, Kimi didn't say a word and gave a typically stoic performance moving his way up the order to finish sixth.

As reported else where on the site, Pitpass was able to reveal that at the time he preparing to replace Massa, Michael Schumacher carried out a secret test in the F60 at Mugello. According to our sources the 7-time champion subsequently climbed from the car and said: "If you think I'm risking my reputation in that piece of s**t you've got to be joking!"

The German legend's reaction, combined with the obvious problems Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella encountered with the F60, probably says more about Kimi's performances in 2009 than anything else.

At season end, having finished sixth in the championship, Kimi said that unless he could secure a drive with a top team in 2010 he would take a sabbatical. Soon after McLaren announced that it had signed Jenson Button to partner Lewis Hamilton, Within days Kimi confirmed that he was heading to the World Rally Championship with Citroen having made his WRC debut in the 2009 Rally of Finland at the wheel of a Fiat a couple of months earlier.

In April 2010, Kimi scored his first WRC points when he finished eighth in the Jordan Rally, thereby becoming the second driver after Carlos Reutemann to score championship points in both Formula One and the World Rally Championship.

In September, the Finn achieved his first rally win when he participated in the Rallye Vosgien 2010 in France, winning all six stages of the asphalt event.

The Finn entered the 2011 World Rally Championship season with his own team, ICE 1 Racing with a Citroen DS3 WRC. He finished eighth in the opening round, Rally Sweden, skipped the Mexico event, and next competed in Rally Portugal where he finished seventh.

It was reported in March 2011 that Kimi would try NASCAR beginning with the Camping World Truck Series in the summer with an eye on also running in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.

On May 20, Kimi debuted at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he finished fifteenth having qualified thirty-first of thirty-seven. Later that same month, at the same track, he finished twenty-seventh after getting debris stuck under his car and getting a penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Round about the time of the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix, rumours began emerging of a return to F1 for the Finn, indeed, there were claims he had already visited Williams HQ at Grove.

On 29 November 2011, it was announced that Kimi would be returning to F1 in 2012, the Finn having signed a two-year contract with the Lotus F1 Team, formerly known as Renault GP. Ironically, in late 2010, Raikkonen had been linked with the same team, at a time when it was still dithering over whether it would retain the services of Vitaly Petrov.

According to reports at the time it was the Finn who contacted, Renault, where team boss Eric Boullier was unclear as to the Finn's motive. "I would have to speak personally with him first, look him in the eyes to see if I see enough motivation there for him to return to F1," said Boullier. "It doesn't make sense to hire somebody, even a former world champion, if you cannot be sure that his motivation is still 100%. Why should you invest in somebody who leaves you guessing?"

However, Raikkonen subsequently issued a statement saying he had not contacted the team and that it was merely using his name for its own purposes.

While Vettel was the 2012 title winner and Alonso the 'Peoples' Champion', it's fair to say that one of the true sensations, and fan favourites, was the Iceman, be it for his monosyllabic responses to the media, his sheer speed or his on track antics.

While some continued to doubt the wisdom of comebacks, pointing just along the pitlane to Michael Schumacher, with Kimi it was as if he had never been away. Right from the outset he was a quick and just as moody as ever.

Scoring points from the outset, if there was one weakness it was on Saturday afternoons when he often struggled, thereby making things harder for himself on Sunday. Nonetheless, it was on race day that he truly came alive.

Though he could have pushed harder in Bahrain, appearing to settle for second, the win did finally come, albeit at the expense of Lewis Hamilton.

One of the most striking things about Kimi's season however was the sheet consistency, the Finn scoring points in all but one race and completing all but one lap of the 1192 laps season, a 99.9% finishing record.

The win in Abu Dhabi was further enlivened by Kimi's interaction with his team over the radio. Warned that Alonso was 5s behind and he would be kept informed of the Spaniard's pace, Kimi replied: "Just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing!"

Then, with 14 laps of the race remaining, and running behind the safety car for the second time, the Finn was told to keep working his tyres. "Yes, yes, yes, I'm doing that all the time," was the response. "You don't have to remind me every 10 seconds!"

Such was the reaction to the comments, the Finn subsequently presented all 500 members of the team with T-shirts bearing the words... 'Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing'.

After Lotus had proved its desire, and ability, to battle the big guns in 2012, with funding, not least from Coca-Cola, things were looking good for the Enstone team in 2013.

Taking victory in Melbourne, things got off to the best possible start, though in many ways it was the team's highlight of the year. Though it was on the pace at most circuits, it was problems behind the scenes, mainly financial, that were to dominate. Not as badly affected by the Pirelli rubber as some, even the change to the compounds at mid-season didn't seem to damage the team as much as its rivals.

Early in the season there was talk of Lotus being one of several teams suffering money problems, the flames of speculation subsequently fanned when it was revealed that James Allison - widely regarded as one of the up and coming technical stars - jumped ship… the Englishman returning to Ferrari.

Shortly after Allison's departure - which was with immediate effect - Lotus announced that it had agreed a deal with Infinity Racing Partners Limited (Infinity Racing) which was to acquire a 35% minority stake in the team. Sadly, by season end the deal had not yet been finalised. Indeed, as Infinity morphed in to Quantum Motorsport, the reasons for the failure to conclude the deal became ever sillier.

In the meantime, as more top members of staff sought positions elsewhere, it was revealed that Raikkonen was not being paid. While Eric Boullier did his best to paper over the cracks and hold things together it was clear that the team was in difficulty.

Following a blip in Malaysia, where he was demoted three places for impeding Nico Rosberg during qualifying, and only managing seventh in the race after damaging his car at the start, Kimi put together a string of strong results with seconds in China, Bahrain and Spain.

In Monaco he was the victim of typical overzealousness from Perez while Montreal was the one track where Lotus clearly couldn't get its act together.

Strong results in Germany and Hungary were followed by a brake issue in Belgium which just about coincided with the beginning of his break-down with the team. Indeed, it was shortly after, following weeks of speculation, that Kimi revealed he would be returning to Maranello for 2014.

By Singapore, with mounting speculation over the team's financial position, and whether he had been paid, Kimi was complaining of 'back issues' though a typically dogged performance in Korea saw him record his sixth second-place of the season.

In Abu Dhabi, where at one stage it looked as if he wasn't even going to bother turning up, having not arrived at the track until the Friday, he finally admitted that he hadn't been paid all year, and though the team, especially Eric Boullier, worked hard to limit the damage, it came as no great surprise when Kimi pulled out of the two remaining races citing the need for an operation on his back.

Missing the last two races saw Kimi lose third position in the championship and drop to fifth, though at least this meant he didn't have to attend the dreaded end of season FIA Awards.

Already one of the star attractions in F1, one of the few to speak his mind, not to mention being a real racer's racer, we expected more fun and games with Kimi in 2014, especially when paired with the equally no-nonsense Alonso.

Sadly, the 'fire and ice' partnership was a damp squib, to put it mildly, Kimi but a shadow of the racer we'd seen the previous two seasons with Lotus.

Like a number of other drivers, most notably Vettel, Kimi wasn't at ease with the 2014 breed of car however, in particular, the Finn didn't like the F14T, especially its lack of out-and-out grunt.

If there was a standout performance it would have to be Belgium, a track where he has won on four previous occasions, but even then it was nothing to write home about.

That Ferrari, for the first time since 1993, failed to win a single race doesn't begin to tell the story of a season in which the Maranello outfit finally began to implode. Statistically it was a nightmare for the Finn, 106 points down on his teammate, and the first year, since his debut season, in which he failed to score a single podium result.

Most weekends it was hard to believe he was still out there, more than not battling for the last couple of points, whilst even the Kimi-isms of the Lotus years were a thing of the past, the Finn clearly not enjoying himself.

In a year that saw a massive overhaul at Maranello, the Finn was retained for 2015, to be joined by his good friend Sebastian Vettel, as the Italian outfit looked to emulate the success of the Schumacher period.

In pre-season testing it was clear the Scuderia had made progress, certainly in the engine department. However, Maurizio Arrivabene's demand of two wins seemed somewhat over optimistic, especially after the shambles that was 2014.

As early as Malaysia - the second round of the season - new boy Vettel was atop the podium, excellent strategy and a superb drive giving the Scuderia its first win since Spain 2013.

Weeks later, in Bahrain, it looked as though it might be Kimi's turn, the Finn taking a convincing second. Previously, in China, a late Safety Car cost him the chance of upstaging his teammate, while in Malaysia he finished fourth despite being eliminated in Q2 the previous day.

For much of the year however, as in 2014, Kimi appeared to be MIA for much of the time, his qualifying and race performances, anonymous and lacklustre.

OK, the F15-T was never going to beat the Mercedes on a regular basis, but how is it that teammate Vettel scored almost double the points?

Qualifying a ludicrous 18th in Austria he was involved in an equally silly clash with former teammate Alonso at the start, whilst unforced errors in Canada and Britain were equally costly.

To be fair it wasn't all Kimi's fault, there was the brake issue in Mexico and the loose wheel in Australia.

But - and let's not forget, and we're major fans of the guy - for the most part he appeared to be simply going through the motions.

When he raised his game, it was just like the old days, but what about those needless clashes with countryman Bottas, both of which happened after Ferrari had renewed his contract.

Out-classed by Alonso in 2014, in 2015 it was another multi-champion who outshone Kimi, a man who not that long ago clearly still had the hunger.

Whilst retained for 2016, many believed he was simply keeping the seat warm, possibly for the likes of Grosjean, Rosberg or Bottas. But that didn't mean the Flying Finn had to settle for another year of mediocrity.

One of the most popular drivers in F1, and one of the quickest, "is it too much to ask him to start delivering again?" we asked as we looked ahead to 2016.

Fact is, the SF16-H appeared to suit Kimi, certainly the Finn seemed happier with it than its predecessors. Whether he got the most out of it or not is another matter.

Like his teammate, Kimi suffered from woeful strategy and poor reliability, on the other hand the only time he realistically looked like winning was Spain, and even then this was largely due to the kamikaze antics of the Mercedes duo. Indeed, it was the scrapping Silver Arrows in Austria that ensured his fourth and final visit to the podium of the year.

In Canada, Singapore and Austin he suffered the team's increasingly poor strategy, however, considering his experience, his speed and his attitude it was his failure to ever really deal with young Max Verstappen that surprised. Also there were the errors which saw him crash out in Monaco and Brazil, though given the conditions at Interlagos...

Throughout the second half of the season, Verstappen and Kimi were a regular item, but it was almost always the Red Bull driver who came out on top.

While Kimi and others complained about the youngster's tactics, particularly in terms of defending his position, it took Charlie Whiting to give the Dutch driver the all-clear clarifying that what he was doing was perfectly legal.

In terms of qualifying Kimi had the edge over his illustrious teammate, particularly in the second half of the season, yet he rarely capitalised on this.

With Ferrari not only failing to close on Mercedes but losing out to Red Bull, it was difficult to judge Kimi's overall performance in 2016.

On the face of it, it was a vast improvement on 2015. However, with a clearly off-colour Vettel in the other SF16-H, was this a proper benchmark?

Retained for 2017, we looked forward to seeing an improvement from both Ferrari and the Flying Finn. And if that sounds overly critical, well the fact is we know how sharp Kimi can be, even when he's not in the best car out there (remember Lotus anyone?), so we know he can do better.

In pre-season testing Ferrari appeared to have taken a major step forward, certainly in terms of pace. Tantalisingly however, the Maranello outfit never showed its full hand, allowing both Vettel and Kimi to set a blistering pace in the opening sectors only to ease off in S3.

That early promise was well and truly delivered on in Australia where Sebastian took a convincing win. Another win in Bahrain was proof positive that Melbourne was no fluke and finally Mercedes appeared to have a fight on its hands.

In the SF70H, Ferrari had delivered a good all-round car that though lacking outright grunt, was good to its tyres and appeared to work well in all conditions. To see where Ferrari was really missing out however, one needed to look no further than Saturday afternoon, when Mercedes could regularly turn it up to 11, Nigel Tufnell style, leaving the Maranello squad thinking 'if only'.

As in previous years, Kimi was frustrating to behold, some of his on-track performances as laconic as his approach to press conferences. Far too often the Finn was nowhere near the pace of his teammate, and while some will point to Monaco and team orders, this doesn't account for the fact that by season end he was not only over 100 points adrift of Vettel but only managed to claim fourth in the final standings thanks to Daniel Ricciardo's retirement in Abu Dhabi.

While there is question mark over the team's strategy in Monaco - where Kimi took a well-deserved pole -and again in Hungary, where Ferrari used the Finn to protect his teammate's rear - there were far too many occasions when the popular Finn did himself no favours.

Where Vettel really aided his cause was Saturday afternoons, when he regularly split the Mercedes duo. But all too often Kimi under performed in qualifying leaving himself not only with more to do on Sunday, but, as was often the case, in danger of falling victim to the increasing number of young hopefuls.

Much as we love Kimi, on the whole he was disappointing in 2017, frustratingly so. Like Bottas at Mercedes, he should have been aiding Vettel's title hopes but all too often he was missing in action.

There were some bright moments, particularly Silverstone and Hungary, while, for reasons known only to himself, like his countryman he produced a late flurry of results that left us wondering why he didn't do it earlier in the season.

Retained for 2018, Kimi was going to have to do something pretty special if he was to remain with Ferrari - or indeed any other F1 team - in 2019, especially with Charles Leclerc entering the equation.

As ever, it was the Finn's radio outbursts rather than his driving that proved most memorable in 2017. However, in 2018, rather than hearing Kimi reminding us that he knows what he's doing, we wanted to see him prove it.

He did.

While there were weekends when he appeared to be going through the motions, the fact is that his basic pace remained strong. Indeed, though out-qualified by his teammate 17-4 over the course of the year, the Finn was usually there or thereabouts.

While Vettel benefitted from the safety car in Melbourne, in Bahrain Kimi suffered the first of his four DNFs of the season. A further power unit issue in Spain was also problematic as it put his planned upgrade programme out of sequence.

Technical issues aside, 2018 saw Kimi raise his game, a mid-season run of 7 podiums from 8 races proof positive that the Finn still had it.

Ahead of the Italian Grand Prix however he was informed that he would not be retained for 2019 and that Charles Leclerc was to partner Vettel. Kimi responded by taking pole - courtesy of a helpful tow from his teammate, which was not reciprocated - and subsequently finishing second to Hamilton, after Vettel ruined his own chances with an unsuccessful (and unnecessary) attack at the second chicane.

Though his dumping by Ferrari was followed almost immediately by news of a two-year deal with Sauber - the team with which he first entered F1 - the next few races proved disappointing.

But then came Austin and what is widely seen as one of the most popular victories in living memory. Austin was the Kimi of old, where all his experience, combined with clever strategy, saw the Finn take what might well be his final F1 win.

While podiums in Mexico and Brazil were followed by his fourth DNF of the season in Abu Dhabi (electrics), Kimi finished third in the driver standings, which meant he had to attend the dreaded FIA prize-giving, but even then The Iceman took centre stage.

His decision to remain in F1 with Sauber was clear proof that Kimi still has the racing bug, and at a time the sport was losing Fernando Alonso, it was good to know that there would be at least one real character on the grid in 2019.

In the latter stages of the season, as Vettel's championship fell apart with each new error, we wondered if Ferrari had made a mistake in not dropping the German and retaining Kimi, for if not for those DNFs the gap between the two might well have been a lot less than 69 points.

Back at Sauber - or Alfa Romeo as it was now to be known - Kimi was clearly more at ease, indeed one could say that The Iceman had thawed a little, though he remained as cool as ever.

The obvious pressure at Ferrari now lifted from his shoulders, Kimi was able to do what he enjoys most, talking to the media... sorry, racing, and for a few races the C38 allowed him to do just that.

However, while there were times in 2018 when the C37 was the best of the rest, the C38 didn't carry on where its predecessor had left off. Fact is that the team was expecting more, as were we.

However in the three, four, five-way battle that is the midfield, and with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull effectively filling the first six places, there is only so much room for improvement, certainly in terms of point scoring, and scoring points in the first four races was possibly the worst thing that Kimi could have done, for it offered false hope. Yes, there was another flurry of point scoring mid-season, followed by that fine fourth in the ever-changing conditions in Brazil, but for the most part the Finn didn't have the equipment at his disposal.

The C38 wasn't a bad car as such, but neither was it a particularly good car, and while it showed glimpses of good one-lap pace it was on Sunday afternoons that it struggled, a situation not helped by the struggle with the 2019 tyres or a number of strategic errors.

For the most part, Kimi dominated his young teammate, however in the latter stages of the season - perhaps due to weariness on the Finn's part - Giovinazzi began to hit back.

Though he out-qualified his teammate 11-9 and scored 43 points to the Italian's 14, it will be interesting in 2020 season to see not only whether can Giovinazzi mount a sustained challenge to his teammate but how Kimi deals with it.

It would be wholly wrong to dismiss Kimi as a 'journeyman', or call for the seat to be handed to another Albon-like rookie, for the Finn brings much to his team and the sport in terms of his experience, his personality and his sheer love of racing.

There were a number of good performances in 2019, and while Brazil got the points it was in Hungary, where he drove a convincing drive to seventh that we got to see the Kimi of old.

That said, he - and the rest of us - will be hoping that Alfa can give him a car this season with which he can have some fun again.

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