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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 proved its desire, and ability, to battle the big guns in 2012, with funding, not least from Coca-Cola, things look good for the Enstone team in 2013, and if Allison and his men pick up where they left off, it could be an interesting season for 'The Iceman', which will be good for all of us.

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 1
Seasons in F1: 10
Grand Prix: 175
Wins: 19
Poles: 16
Fastest Laps: 37

Best result in 2012: 1st (Abu Dhabi)
Best qualifying 2012: 4th (3 times)
Worst qualifying 2012: 18th (Australia)

2012: Out-qualified Romain Grosjean 9 times
2012: Out-qualified by Romain Grosjean 10 times
2012: Out-qualified Jerome d'Ambrosio 1 time
2012: Out-qualified by Jerome d'Ambrosio 0 times

2012: Completed 1192 out of 1192 laps (99.9%)
2012: Finished 20 times from 20 starts (100%)


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