Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he will retire from Formula One at end of 2021 season.
Raikkonen’s retirement comes after he spent 19 seasons in F1 despite a two-season sabbatical between 2010-11, following his release from Ferrari of which he spent two stints at Maranello as one of five teams which Raikkonen raced for throughout his F1 career.
The 41 year-old decided to announce his exit on Instagram, posting; ‘This is it. This will be my last season in Formula 1. This is a decision I did during last winter. It was not an easy decision but after this season it is time for new things.’
Raikkonen went on to pay tribute to his loved ones and everyone who he has worked with throughout his racing career, saying: ‘Even though the season is still on, I want to thank my family, all my teams, everyone involved in my racing career and especially all of you great fans that have been rooting for me all this time.
‘Formula 1 might come to an end for me but there is a lot more in life that I want to experience and enjoy. See you around after all of this! Sincerely Kimi’
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Raikkonen’s departure now opens up the possibility of Valtteri Bottas replacing his compatriot after reports suggested that he is set to lose his Mercedes seat to George Russell at end of season.
End of an Era
Raikkonen begun his single-seater career in 1999 where he enjoyed rapid success across two seasons in various series, which led to a F1 seat with Sauber in 2001 where he finished tenth in his rookie season to secure a five-season move to McLaren from 2002-06.
2007 saw Raikkonen sign for Ferrari as Michael Schumacher’s replacement following the German’s first retirement, which saw the Finnish star clinch the title in his first season for the Scuderia in a dramatic three-way title deciding 2007 Brazilian GP as he took the championship by a single point.
Third and sixth-placed championship finishes followed in 2008 and 2009 before Ferrari released him following the arrival of Fernando Alonso in 2010, which gave him a chance to take on Rallying for two seasons as well as two brief NASCAR appearances in 2011.
2012 saw Raikkonen return to F1 with Lotus where he enjoyed a third placed championship finish and victory at that year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix albeit in comedical fashion as he uttered famous words over team radio; “Just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!”
Back surgery however ended Raikkonen’s 2013 season prematurely with the Finn electing to leave Lotus to return to Ferrari, where he spent five seasons playing second fiddle to Fernando Alonso then Sebastian Vettel, with his final victory coming at 2018 US GP after executing a perfect race strategy.
2019 saw Raikkonen return to Sauber (rebranded as Alfa Romeo in pre-season) in a swap deal after Charles Leclerc was promoted to Ferrari, with the move seeing Raikkonen struggle for form due to poor car performance, yet still continues to be competitive and deliver hilarious social media memes.
In total, Raikkonen took 21 victories and 103 overall podiums in 341 race starts out of 344 entries so far, as he ends his career as F1’s current most experienced driver, although Alonso is set to displace him if he completes entirety of 2022 season.
It is therefore no doubt that this is an end of an era for F1 as it loses one of its longest-serving drivers who has provided plenty of promotional value across social media with his team radio and humour on and off track.