Nostalgic and wistful are not words you would ordinarily associate with Kimi Raikkonen, but the retiring Finn has taken a trip down memory lane to pick out his best races and cars from his 19 years in Formula 1.
Raikkonen contested 349 races in F1 between 2001 and 2021, taking two years off to try his hand at rallying in 2010 and 2011. He claimed 21 grand prix victories, and became world champion with Ferrari in 2007.
The championship-securing victory in Brazil was one that sprang to mind when Raikkonen was asked about his favourite races, but he had more than one favourite.
“I think the most important obviously was the wins that came with the championship [in 2007] because, as an end result, they were more important,” Raikkonen said on the Beyond The Grid podcast.
“They’re all different; some came quite easily or some came much more difficult. The first one [Malaysia 2003] is nice because [I had] never done it. The last win [USA 2018] was very, very nice, because it took a while again.”
In the end though, he seemed most fond of his Japanese Grand Prix of 2005, when he recovered from 17th on the grid to win the race – passing Giancarlo Fisichella on the last lap.
“I don’t know. It’s impossible to say what was nice. I mean, 2005 in Suzuka was a hard-fought win and it came on the last lap. Does it make it better than others? I don’t know.”
The 42-year-old was then quizzed on the car he had most affection for, and he seemed to enjoy his McLaren challengers in 2003 and 2005, but he also paid homage to his championship-winning 2007 Ferrari.
“Probably that 2005 McLaren.”
He also has a soft spot for the 2012 Lotus – the car in which he made his F1 return and won with in Abu Dhabi.
“I mean, 2003 was also good, but it wasn’t fast enough. 2006 was good, but the engine wasn’t probably where it should have been. The 2007 Ferrari was good, the Lotus… [in 2012].”
Raikkonen believes that winning championships is not the only key to looking back fondly on a race car:
“They were good cars. It doesn’t always mean that the end result needs to be the win or something. They might be a great car but, for whatever reason, it’s not still fast enough, or some more things happen over the year.
“But it’s been a lot of good cars, a lot of average cars and some bad cars… some cars that never even made it to race (referencing the 2003 McLaren MP4/18).”
Raikkonen remains Ferrari’s last F1 drivers’ champion, while he and Felipe Massa orchestrated the team’s last constructors’ championship in 2008.