The Formula 1 2021 season’s last race’ final lap ended with Max Verstappen passing Hamilton to win his first world title. It was one hell of a season, and the rivalry between Lewis and Max spiced up the season well. There is still debate about race director Michael Masi’s controversial decision on the final lap, and the internet combat between Max and Lewis fans looks never-ending. Whatever happened, happened. Max and Lewis are not at fault, so let’s first congratulate Max for winning the title. Many believe that next year will be much more thrilling and exciting. But the F1 community is going to miss one guy in the grid.
A man respected and admired by all. A guy who was in the field for more than 22 years. The years of experience this guy has in his F1 career is more than the youngest driver in the grid last year. He is the same guy who gives one-word answers to interview questions and is well known for his humour. The one and only Kimi Raikkonen alas The Iceman.
He has competed in Formula 1 between 2001 and 2009, representing various teams: Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Alfa Romeo. He won the 2007 Formula1 World Championship, driving for Scuderia Ferrari, their last World Driver’s Championship to date. He has 21 Grand Prix wins in his name and 103 podium finishes while having 349 race starts. As a racer, he defends like a champ. It’s all or nothing for Kimi. He is one of the most successful drivers the sport has ever had.
The 2007 WDC was Kimi’s first and last Championship and Ferrari’s last Constructor’s Championship. The season started in Australia, where Kimi won the first race. At the end of the first half of the season, Kimi was 26 points behind the then leader Lewis Hamilton. The championship battle was intense between Lewis, Kimi and Alonso.
But Kimi came back more robust. By the end of the season, Kimi managed to win five more races for Ferrari. In the end, Kimi won a total of six races and had 17 podiums in his belt of achievements. He also won the Championship with a one-point lead from Fernando Alonso. It was at this moment that Kimi was at his peak.
It felt like he couldn’t do anything remarkable after returning to his old team in 2019. But he proved everyone wrong with his outstanding opening lap at the Portuguese Grand Prix 2021, which also won him the “FIA Action of the Year” award. He overtook ten cars in the opening lap, which stunned everyone.
As said before, Kimi is known for his iconic dialogues. The best of it, the one we all wish to hear again, was said by him during the 2012 season finale in the Abu Dhabi GP. That was the first time Lotus had won a race since Aryton Senna’s 1987 in Detroit. During one of the conversations with the engineer, Kimi responded, “Just leave me alone. I know what to do”. It may look a little bit aggressive, but Kimi was just being Kimi at the moment. The dialogue became so famous.
His 2021 season was also a little bit difficult. He finished the season in 16th place with 10 points. He tested positive for COVID-19 during mid-season and did not take part in Dutch Grand Prix. In his final race in Abu Dhabi, he was forced to retire the car on lap 25 due to a technical issue with a wheel nut and couldn’t complete his last Grand Prix drive. The team radioed a final message to him saying, “Dear Kimi, we will leave you alone now”. Kimi replied, “It doesn’t matter how it comes to an end, it’s the end now, and yes, I’m looking forward to it.” It was heartbreaking to see a hero not have a perfect ending to his magnificent carrier.
As the fans and the people involved in the sports were very sad to bid farewell to him, he replied, “I’m looking forward to it. I’m happy that it’s soon over. So, it’s nothing sad, nothing bad about it. I think it’s good.” We know there will not be an emotional farewell speech from him. But it will not be the same without Kimi from next year onwards. We are going to miss him for sure. Let’s hope he stays in touch with the sport and lead a happy and prosperous life with his family.