What are Kimi Räikkönen's greatest F1 races?

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After a long and glittering F1 career, we rank ten of Kimi Räikkönen's best races

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Räikkönen has entered 351 grands prix, winning 21 of them – but which are his greatest races?

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352 grands prix entered. 21 races won. For so long Kimi Räikkönen seemed like an irrepressible force on the grid, and always a huge presence despite his few words.

‘The Iceman’ appeared on the Formula 1 scene with little experience, but immediately made a big impression with points on his 2001 debut before taking the grands prix title in ’07.

With the sport’s most experienced driver calling it a day, we rank ten of his F1 best races.

10. 2001 Australian GP – 6th

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With only 23 car races under his belt prior to his F1 debut, Räikkönen scored points on his very first start

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Looking back, how did anyone expect anything less? The driver with only 23 car races and three F1 tests to his name turns up at his first race for a middling team, fresh off taking several loop the loops in a fighter jet for a promotional stunt, and finishes in the points on his debut.

The Iceman – as he wasn’t yet known – was apparently asleep 30 minutes before the race, in which he started 13th.

In the Grand Prix, the young Finn showed a maturity and calmness where other more experienced drivers lost theirs. A host of retirements and crashes – plus a time penalty for Olivier Panis, ultimately left Räikkönen in a highly impressive sixth place on his debut.

Many, including Max Moseley, had claimed he was too inexperienced to race in F1 – he proved them wrong.

 

9. 2007 Australian GP – 1st

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No Michael? No problem

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What post-Schumacher hangover? Räikkönen was signed as the new heavyweight to replace the Scuderia’s beloved Schumacher, and the Finn delivered first time out.

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The Iceman converted his prime grid slot into a lead and never looked back, only briefly dropping to second twice during the pitstop cycle.

2007 would end up being slightly more eventful than this race suggested, but Melbourne ’07 was a serene scene for Räikkönen.

 

8. 2007 Chinese GP – 1st

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Whilst lost their heads in China ’07, Räikkönen was calm and collected

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Time and again in classic Räikkönen performances, we see the Iceman keeping his cool in moments of adversity – China ’07 was another particularly crucial example of this.

Seemingly in a losing battle with McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton and champ Fernando Alonso for the title, the Finn trailed the McLaren pair by 17 and 12 points respectively going into the penultimate ’07 round.

Japan (more on that below) and China were where Räikkönen really turned things around.

Qualifying second, 0.15sec off Hamilton, the Ferrari driver just about kept his rival in his sights in tricky wet conditions, running the longest of the leaders to reduce the Brit’s lead to 4sec when the pitstops shook out.

Then the track began to dry out and it became a case of who could hold their nerve for the longest.

As it turned out another shower came in, with the Finn closing in on Hamilton, who was nursing threadbare intermediates.

After one aborted pass, Räikkönen managed to get past on lap 29, pulling away at an alarming rate of 7sec per lap, before he had to pit to shed his worn inters.

This left the rapid Robert Kubica in the lead on dry tyres, but, after leading for just one lap, his hydraulics failed, leaving Räikkönen and his team to take a masterly win when the other had thrown it away.

 

7. 2018 US GP – 1st

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“******* finally” said Räikkönen as he passed took his first win in five years.

Starting second next to Lewis Hamilton in Austin, Räikkönen had on the set of ultrasofts he had used to get into Q3.

Not ideal in terms of planning for the race, but what it did mean was that the Finn rocketed off the line when the lights went out, easily taking first off the Mercedes driver.

As the Ferrari’s tyres wore, Hamilton closed in, before electing to pit under a virtual safety car on lap 12.

Taking pole by over four-tenths from nearest challenger Fernando Alonso, incumbent team-mate Felipe Massa was down in 16th after crashing in Q1.

Räikkönen stayed out, with the Mercedes closing back in on the one-stopping Scuderia car, but the Finn crucially fended him off before pitting on lap 21.

Using his new soft tyres to maintain a strong pace, the Ferrari was able to stay in touch so that when Hamilton pitted again, the race belonged to Räikkönen.

An expert example of a driver treating his tyres just right to beat what was probably a faster package in Hamilton and Mercedes.

 

6. 2007 Japanese GP – 3rd

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It might not have been a win, but third was a valuable result for Räikkönen at Fuji in ’07

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A delayed message from race director Charlie Whiting to the Ferrari team (sound familiar?) meant Räikkönen and his team-mate Massa switched to inters before the start of the torrential race when rules stated they had to be on full wets when it started behind the safety car.

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Once team principal Stefano Domenicali’s email inbox was suitably refreshed, Ferrari had to pit both their men to rectify the mistake.

The Finn was 16th when the safety car at last let the field go on lap 20, and he immediately began to make progress.

The spray was such that drivers could barely see metres in front of them, but Räikkönen was undeterred.

Making up almost a place every two laps, the Ferrari had been sixth briefly before pitting again just before Alonso crashed, bringing out the safety car.

In an incident-filled race, a young Sebastian Vettel crashed into Mark Webber under the safety car, meaning that Räikkönen was back to seventh when the green flag fell.

He would pick up four more places to grab the last podium place, in what was a hugely significant race for his title success.

 

5. 2013 Australian GP – 1st

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The sweet taste of victory…

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Once again Räikkönen’s delicate touch towards his tyres brought victory.

The Finn qualified his Lotus down in seventh, but on race pace no-one could match him, as other other cars destroyed their tyres.

Leaping from seventh to fifth at the start, he then passed Hamilton on lap 2, before pole sitter Vettel pitted on lap 7 as his tyres cried enough.

A virtuosic pit strategy then took hold: once Massa pitted, Räikkönen followed the pattern of Alonso by pitting on lap 9.

However, after making a second stop on lap 33, the Finn then appeared to no longer be bound by the same rules as everybody else.

The rest of the grid had to make three stops, but such was the Lotus driver’s excellent race pace, he was able to make two stops work and reclaim the lead by lap 43, taking a second win for Enstone.

 

4. 2012 Abu Dhabi GP – 1st

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Räikkönen’s soft tyre touch brought another victory at Abu Dhabi

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The race in which Räikkönen coined one of his most famous radio lines was the first after his two year break from F1 in the WRC.

The Finn put his car fourth in qualifying, but was up to second after the start by passing Webber and Pastor Maldonado.

Hamilton, who was leading, twice came under pressure from the Lotus driver after losing temperature in his tyres before then fighting back to set fastest laps.

On lap 20 though, a fuel pressure problem meant Hamilton was out, putting Räikkönen in the lead.

From here the Finn was in control. Fernando Alonso managed to get within 0.9sec, during which the Finn radioed his famous “Leave me alone, I know what to do.”

He certainly did, as he showed the others how it was done to win in the age of Pirelli preservation.

 

3. 2005 Monaco GP – 1st

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No one could match the Finn at Monaco in 2005

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In terms of the blistering pace which Räikkönen initially made his name with, 2005 is arguably peak ‘Iceman’.

One of the races he truly demonstrated this devastating speed was the 2006 Monaco GP.

In first qualifying the Finn went 0.5sec faster than Alonso, meaning in second qualifying the team could afford to put in more fuel for the race.

Räikkönen held off a challenge from the Spaniard at the start to build a six-second lead, which was erased by a traffic jam caused by Christijan Albers.

Others pitted but a radio miscommunication meant that the Finn stayed out under the resultant safety car.

The-then McLaren man needed to pull out a monumental gap if he wanted to pit and have any chance of staying ahead of those who had pitted behind him.

With a margin of 34.8sec created, he made his only stop on lap 42. He stayed first, then remarkably built up another 30sec margin before backing off to win by over 13sec over Nick Heidfeld.

Alonso was fourth, having munched his tyres in an attempt to keep up with the peerless Räikkönen that day.

 

2. 2004 Belgian GP – 1st

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Räikkönen overcame a problematic car and gearbox issues to take a famous win at Spa

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During a tumultuous year for McLaren which saw the B-spec of the team’s ill-fated MP4-14, journalist Bob McKenzie claimed he would run naked round Silverstone if the Woking squad won a race that year.

McLaren held him to the bet, and at Spa ’04 Räikkönen made it a certainty.

He began the race stranded down in tenth after a rain-hit qualifying, but predictable La Source carnage meant that the McLaren driver was fifth after the first lap.

With Michael Schumacher not able to get his Bridgestones into the right operating window temperature-wise, the Ferrari was vulnerable, and Räikkönen lined him up into the hairpin on lap 4 when the race restarted, getting past as he showed greater bravery up the inside of Eau Rouge.

Despite struggling with transmission issues, the Finn pressed on, slipstreaming Coulthard on the run into Les Combes.

“I was changing the switches on the steering wheel, trying to get some sort of idea of how I could push again,” Räikkönen would highlight after the race. “We have different positions on engine braking, and one of them was working but it was an extreme one, almost locking the rear wheels.”

The pole-sitting and race leader Jarno Trulli stopped for tyres on lap 9, but from then on became an obscurity, unable to get back into the fight.

Oil on the track meant that Alonso spun twice, so that by lap 12 Räikkönen was in the lead.

After a tyre failure struck David Coulthard, Schumacher was now the next threat behind the Finn, and when Jenson Button then crashed to bring out the safety car, he was right behind.

That was as close as he got though. Even after another safety car brought the pair together, the Finn was still supreme, setting the fastest lap of the race, 0.4sec quicker than anyone else, with three laps left.

One of his greatest wins.

 

1. 2005 Japanese GP – 1st

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Japan ’05: thought by many to be his greatest win, and one of the greatest grands prix of all time

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As mentioned above, most of Räikkönen’s best moments have been produced when coming up the greatest adversity.

Suzuka ’05 is probably the prime example of this. The rain which hit during single-lap qualifying meant that Finn’s McLaren was down in 17th, but rapid progress on the first lap of the race saw him 12th by its end.

Team-mate Juan-Pablo Montoya binned his McLaren at the final corner of that tour, bringing the field conveniently close again under the safety car.

Räikkönen would then pick off five cars over 13 laps, before pitstops elevated him to sixth, behind Alonso and Schumacher, who had also been climbing their way up the field.

After that trio came in, Räikkönen and Schumacher would then make their way back through the pack together, before the McLaren slip-streamed past the Ferrari on the pit straight on lap 30 to move into fourth.

He was now 17.6sec behind Giancarlo Fisichella, who would stop with 15 laps to go.

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Räikkönen strategically ran longer, meaning he would jump both Button and Mark Webber to be 7.7sec behind the Italian with seven laps left, and with fresher rubber.

Advancing at a rapid rate, he had brought that gap down to 0.5sec with three laps left.

A clearly nervous Fisichella then began defending into the chicane when it wasn’t even necessary on both the 51st and 52nd lap, bringing the Finn ever-closer.

On the very final tour into the first corner, Räikkönen leapt to the outside and magnificently swept round the outside of Fisichella, claiming the lead after a race long charge to the front.

It was his final victory for McLaren and, quote justifiably, considered by most to be his greatest in F1.