Today marks the 39th birthday of one of the most influential, talented and loved Formula 1 drivers of all time: Kimi Räikkönen. For the occasion, ROSSO relives the 2007 season, the last winning season for Ferrari, the first with Kimi holding the steering wheel.
The Iceman’s numbers
The Finn is universally considered as one of the best F1 drivers in the history of the sport, and statistics definitely confirm a successfull career. 290 Gran Prix entered (and counting, considering he will stay in the circus for the next two season), 20 race wins, 18 pole positions, 46 fastest laps, 100 podiums, for a grand total of 1761 points to his name. Despite nearing the end of his career, in a season where a good 3/4 of his competitors are at least 10 years younger than him, Kimi also set the record for the fastest lap in the history of F1, in Monza this year (a lap I was lucky enough to see in person). His professionalism, his undeniable talent and his dry-witted character make him a fan favourite, with a poll stating that Kimi is the second most-loved driver (after Michael Schumacher) among Ferrari’s tifosi.
The 2007 season
After five years in McLaren, in which Raikkonen got close to the World Title twice (2003, 2005), he was signed to Ferrari for a three-year term partnering Felipe Massa. The Fin immediately proved his worth in the historical team, snatching a grand chelem (pole position, fastest lap and race win) at the Australian Grand Prix, being the second Ferrari driver ever (after Nigel Mansell) to win in his first race. After two third places in the following races (Malaysia, Bahrain) and a string of bad luck for him and for Ferrari (Monaco, Canada and, partially, USA), Raikkonen was trailing Championship leader Lewis Hamilton by 26 points with ten races to go. In France, after a great move on Hamilton himself and later on teammate Massa, he gained his second race win of the season and the first Ferrari 1-2 on the podium for 2007, followed by another win at Silverstone.
After a retirement in the European Grand Prix and a string of podium finishes (but no wins), Kimi took his fourth win at his most beloved track, Spa-Francorchamps. After another Raikkonen win in China, the circus arrived at Interlagos for the last race weekend with a three-way title fight between the Finn, Hamilton and Alonso, something that had not happened since 1986. An action-packed race saw the Iceman take his sixth win of the season and the title, only one point ahead of both Alonso and Hamilton, respectively ending the race in P3 and P7.
Despite having an up-and-down history with Ferrari, which will officially end when the 2018 season wraps up, Kimi Raikkonen is and will always be a fundamental part in the Prancing Horse history. Not only that: Kimi Raikkonen is and will always be one of the most influential personalities to ever join the F1 circus and the reason why so many people from my generation fell in love with this sport. When the day will come that Kimi no longer races, it will be a hard blow for many, many supporters.