It's a sad day for Formula 1. Kimi 'The Iceman' Raikkonen announced that he will retire from F1 by the end of the 2021 season.
In an Instagram post, the 41-year old Finnish racing driver said that he will be hanging up his helmet and gloves after an illustrious 20-year career competing in F1.
“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. 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,”
After Raikkonen announced his retirement, F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali, who worked at Ferrari when Raikkonen won the 2007 world championship, said that Kimi will be missed once he leaves the sport.
“Kimi is an incredible part of our sport, a personal friend and a true champion. I had the privilege of working with him at Ferrari and know the fantastic person he is. We will all miss him and his unique style and wish him and his family the best for the future,” said Domenicali.
Following the Iceman's departure after 2021, it opens up a seat at Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season. It's still not clear who will be Antonio Giovinazzi's new teammate. However, rumors suggest that current Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas could be his replacement in Alfa Romeo. Meanwhile, current Williams driver George Russell will supposedly replace Bottas at Mercedes next year.
Raikkonen first made his racing debut in 2001 when he joined Sauber (now Alfa Romeo). Despite being a newbie, he quickly scored points and was able to establish himself as one of the most talented rookies in Formula 1 at the time. A year later, Raikkonen replaced Mika Hakkinen at McLaren and took his first-ever victory in 2003, later finishing second overall in the championship.
In 2007, he signed with Ferrari where he secured his first world championship, beating Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by a single point during the dramatic Brazilian GP finale. Raikkonen then took a two-year break from Formula 1 in 2010 and 2011 as he tried other forms of motorsport such as rallying and even NASCAR. He says the break helped him get his drive back into F1.
Kimi returned to F1 in 2012 with Lotus but left before the 2013 season to undergo back surgery. He then signed with Ferrari once more, staying for five years before returning to Alfa Romeo in 2019.
During his 344 Grand Prix weekends, the Finn has scored 21 wins, 103 podiums, and 18 pole positions. He also remains Ferrari's last world champion. While he may not have the most wins/podium finishes, Kimi will always be famous for his blunt responses, deadpan expression, and carefree attitude both in and out of the track.
But what will Raikkonen do after he leaves Formula 1 for good? The Iceman did mention that he wants to try new things after the 2021 season ends. Does this mean he'll join another type of motorsport? Or will he do something entirely different?
Whatever the case, we will surely miss seeing Kimi on the grid next year.