Kimi Raikkonen blasted onto the F1 scene in 2001 with Sauber after just 23 races under his belt, yet the fresh faced and steely eyed youngster quickly grew into the Ice Man when he joined McLaren in 2002, winning nine races.

In 2007 he moved to Ferrari and did something not even Michael Schumacher could do, and won the title first time out with the Scuderia.

So which of his drives ranked the best? BadgerGP investigates…


Malaysia, Sepang 2003

Credit: The Cahier Archive - Kimi shares a steely glare with someone in Sepang.
Credit: The Cahier Archive – Kimi’s steely glare in Sepang.

You never forget your first time. For his first win, Raikkonen could only qualify a lowly 7th in Sepang, back in the days when you qualified with your race fuel on board. This left him with an awful lot to do on Sunday afternoon. The young Finn rose to the occasion brilliantly though getting himself into third by the first turn, mainly owed to a collision between Michael Schumacher and Jarno Trulli behind the leader Fernando Alonso.

By the end of the second lap Kimi was running behind team-mate David Coulthard, but the Scot’s electronics gave up on him almost instantly. Only Renault’s Alonso was in his way now, and both wanted to be F1’s youngest ever race winner. Raikkonen cleverly played the long game and waited for Alonso to make his stop on lap 14 before unleashing the true pace of the McLaren MP4-17B to pull away from the Spaniard at the rate of around a second a lap.

No one could touch the Finn, and by the end of the race he was nearly 40 seconds ahead of runner-up Rubens Barrichello, who had jumped Alonso himself during the second round of stops. It was pure and utter domination from Raikkonen for his maiden victory.


 

Belgium, Spa 2004

Credit: The Cahier Archive - Raikkonen on his way to his second career win.
Credit: The Cahier Archive – Raikkonen on his way to his second career win.

Raikkonen had to wait over a year for his second career win to come. He finally managed it in a chaotic Belgian Grand Prix in 2004, after qualifying in a disappointing 10th place. A crazy first lap saw Raikkonen come out of it all in 6th place just behind a poor starting Michael Schumacher, Raikkonen himself had hit the front of Felipe Massa knocking off the Sauber’s front wing.

Incidents involving Webber, Sato, both Jordans and a Minardi left the stewards with no choice but to throw out the Safety Car. Raikkonen immediately got the jump on Schumacher when the race got back under way, and one lap later he got by team-mate Coulthard for 3rd. He began chasing don the two leading Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli, sensing a win could be on the cards.

Lap 10 saw Trulli dive the pits, leaving Alonso in the lead, but two laps later the Spaniard was spinning off track with an oil leak handing Raikkonen the race lead. The Ice Man briefly lose the lead to Juan Pablo Montoya in the next pitstops, but was back in front by lap 17 after the other Williams of Pizzonia also pitted.

There’d be a further two Safety Car periods, one for an accident involving Jenson Button and the other for debris caused by Coulthard, but Raikkonen kept a very calm head to avoid the chaos around him. Schumacher followed him home but the win was deservedly Raikkonen’s after a faultless race from lap 1 onwards. It was a long time coming!


 

Monaco, Monte Carlo 2005

Credit: The Cahier Archive - Kimi celebrates winning the Monaco Grand Prix in 2005
Credit: The Cahier Archive – Kimi celebrates winning the Monaco Grand Prix in 2005

Kimi came into Monaco 2005 in formidable form, having led every lap of the Spanish Grand Prix just two weeks earlier. Both him and his MP4-20 had finally come together as a complete speed machine, but with reliability still troubling the Woking team, they were still on the back foot in the title chase.

Raikkonen was magnificent in qualifying, with the positions based on aggregate times between two sessions, grabbing pole with ease after going nearly half a second faster than Fernando Alonso’s Renault in the light fuelled session one.

Monaco is notoriously difficult to pass so Raikkonen only really had to stay in the lead into St Devote. He did that with ease, but the way in which he pulled away from man of the moment Alonso mid-race was simply spectacular.

The Renault pair had stopped for fuel on lap 23 when a Safety Car was deployed for an incident further down the field, while Raikkonen did not. It seemed he had done the wrong thing, but he put his head down and pulled out a staggering 34.7 second lead prior to his own stop on lap 42, averaging 1.7 seconds a lap faster than championship leader Alonso.

After that Kimi paced himself beautifully to finish 13 seconds ahead of Nick Heidfeld, after Alonso had dropped down the order owing to awful tyre wear. This was Kimi at his absolute best.


 

Japan, Suzuka 2005

Credit:The Cahier Archive - Kimi pounds round Suzuka to take an unforgettable victory.
Credit:The Cahier Archive – Kimi pounds round Suzuka to take an unforgettable victory.

Seventeenth. That’s where Kimi Raikkonen started the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix from and winning seemed like a distant dream on Sunday morning. The championship had already been won by Fernando Alonso at the previous round in Brazil, so Japan was simply about pride and having fun – and boy did these two have some fun!

The opening lap saw Kimi making good progress in his McLaren with Alonso not far behind him. The other McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya crashed at the end of the first lap, forcing a Safety Car, and briefly curbed Raikkonen’s progress. After the restart he was a man on a mission, disposing of Christian Klien to join Alonso in chasing down Michael Schumacher.

Kimi struggled to pass the German, and was still behind after the first stops. This wasn’t for long, as he passed the Ferrari into Turn One quite quickly after. Alonso dropped behind the Finn after the first stops, and was right back on his tail as the Finn got stuck behind a battling Jenson Button and Mark Webber.

Alonso stopped first after running lighter than the rest all race, before Button and Webber stopped on the same lap, finally giving Raikkonen the clear air he needed for the first time in the race. This unleashed the McLaren’s true pace, as he began to set fastest lap after fastest lap, eating into Fisichella’s 20 second lead before he peeled into the pits for the final time.

When Raikkonen returned to the track he was just five seconds behind Fisichella, and set about chasing down the Italian. Three laps from the end Raikkonen was right with Fisichella and made a move into the 1st Curve, but the Renault driver defended brilliantly. Kimi would try again on the penultimate lap only for the door to be shut once more.

It was third time lucky, and on the final lap as Kimi swooped round the outside of Fisichella this time, and chopped in front of the Renault sending the crowd wild. The win was so good it famously made Ron Dennis cry. Kimi never won another race for McLaren.


 

Brazil, Sao Paulo 2007

Credit:The Cahier Archive - Kimi is showered with silver ticker tape upon winning the 2007 title.
Credit:The Cahier Archive – Kimi is showered with silver ticker tape upon winning the 2007 title.

Coming into the Chinese Grand Prix, Kimi was 17 points behind title leader Lewis Hamilton, yet heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix finale, Kimi was 7 points behind title leader Lewis Hamilton, and by the conclusion of the season Kimi was World Champion by 1 point. It was as classic a title decider you can get.

Raikkonen didn’t get the pole he needed, instead that fell to team-mate Felipe Massa, and worse still for Kimi was that Hamilton had qualified on the front row. Brit Lewis was the firm favourite to be the first ever rookie champion on Sunday morning, with Kimi still being the rank outsider, even behind Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso.

The race start was a disaster for Hamilton though, as first Raikkonen jumped him into the Senna Esses, and then he went off track at the Reta Oposta dropping to 8th, and then a few laps later his McLaren spluttered to a crawl with a strange gearbox issue. Eventually he got his car going again, but by the he was plum last and Raikkonen was sitting pretty behind Massa in second. Suddenly Kimi only had to worry about Alonso for the title, and if the Spaniard finished third with a Raikkonen win the title was with the Finn.

The first stops saw Raikkonen pit two laps after Massa, and he took on more fuel than the Brazilian in order to jump him during the second stops later in the race. The Ferraris continued to pull away from a strangely quiet Alonso, and while all this was going on Hamilton was trying his best to pull off a title winning comeback. Lewis had made it up to the top 10 but McLaren oddly put him on a three stop strategy meaning he had to do it all over again.

His first stop dropped him to 13th. The second stops played out exactly as Ferrari had planned with Raikkonen emerging in the lead and therefore a title winning position. Hamilton, having pitted for a third time by this point was in 7th, and still below the 5th place he needed with Alonso stuck in 3rd place, a long way off the Ferrari pair.

Raikkonen strolled home to win the race and finally become Formula One World Champion, in his very first season with the Scuderia.


 

Australia, Melbourne 2013

Credit:The Cahier Archive - Kimi shares a smile with Alonso on the Oz podium.
Credit:The Cahier Archive – Kimi shares a smile with Alonso on the Oz podium.

Kimi came back to F1 in 2012 after a two year break, and immediately impressed all with his consistency. His speed seemed to be lacking slightly compared to his McLaren days, but this Kimi was a much smarter racer, as his win in the 2013 Australian Grand Prix proved.

The race was as odd affair, with qualifying taking place on Sunday morning thanks to a deluge of rain on Saturday. Raikkonen started the race from 7th in his tyre friendly Lotus. He managed to work his way up to 5th on the opening lap, and quickly made it 4th on lap 2 as he breezed by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

The super-soft Pirelli tyres were going off as quickly as lap 4 for the Red Bull of homeboy Mark Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel lasted just three laps more before his tyres cried enough. Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso managed to tease their tyres out to lap 9 before pitting for the mediums, leaving Force India’s Adrian Sutil a surprise leader of the race after starting on the medium compound.

Raikkonen, still behind Alonso and Vettel, quickly caught up with the German and took the lead after Sutil, Vettel and Alonso all pitted for a second time. Kimi cleverly stayed out, knowing his Lotus was kind to it’s tyres, and drew out a 16 second advantage over Alonso. The Finn made his second and final stop on lap 34, falling down to 5th but knowing everyone ahead of him had to stop again twice.

Vettel and Alonso got held up behind the slower Sutil after their second stops, allowing Raikkonen to peg the gap to around 7 seconds. Alonso tried his hardest to chase down Raikkonen after making his third and final stop on lap 39, but the Finn sent the Spaniard a clear message when he set the fastest lap of the race on lap 56, the 23rd lap on that particular set of mediums.

Kimi had just out driven and out though the entire field to take his 20th and so far final win. The Ice Man had never been smarter.