kr1.jpgName: Kimi Matias Raikkonen
Designation: Scuderia Ferrari pilot
Nickname: Kimster, Iceman
Born: Finland
Birth Date: Oct 17, 1979
Star Sign: Libra
Nationality: Finnish
Marital Status: Married
Kimi Matias Raikkonen was born in Espoo, Finland on Oct 17, 1979. His father Matti Raikkonen worked as a roadbuilder while his mother Paula Raikkonen was a government office clerk. Kimi’s love for speed was apparent even at a young age when he dabbled in bikes a little before taking to kart racing when he was seven. Despite not being very rich, Kimi’s father sometimes worked three jobs simultaneously to support his younger son’s racing ambitions, as Kimi went on to win several karting championships. At 17, Kimi stopped his schooling and shifted to Holland to pursue racing as a career. At the age of 20, Kimi had competed in British Formula Renault winter series and Formula Renault UK championship – 23 races in all, out of which he had won 13.

After catching the eye of Peter Sauber (who is responsible for introducing more Ferrari drivers than you can shake a stick at), the Finn tested with Sauber Formula 1 team in September 2000. It only took a couple of more tests in Jerez and Barcelona for Sauber to realize he was looking at a special talent, and Sauber rather prudently signed Kimi Raikkonen for the 2001 season. This led to a mini-controversy in the paddock with many against granting superlicence to someone so apparently inexperienced , and Kimi was kept on probation for the first four races till he could prove he deserved the race seat.

If one thought all this would add to the enormous pressure already on the rookie, it is rumored that Kimi was peacefully asleep 20 minutes before his debut GP, and it must have been Sauber who was having the butterflies instead. Kimi’s cool approach to racing later won him the nickname of ‘Iceman’ and the approval of Ferrari team boss Jean Todt. He won a championship point in his very first race, and went on to finish 8 times in the top 8 during the season- a decent first year which won him the McLaren seat vacated by Mika Hakkinen.

Despite 2002 starting out as a fairytale with a podium finish in his first race with McLaren, it rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare featuring repeatedly blowing McLaren engines and other mechanical failures. After an engine failure, wheel-related problem, exhaust failure, broken wing and another engine failure in the next 5 races – Kimi somehow managed a few more podiums in the middle before facing 4 additional engine failures towards the end.  Kimi finished on the podium 4 times in 2002, finishing 6th in the championship overall. He almost got his first win in France, but McNish blew his Toyota engine for a change and left some oil on the track in the process, and Kimi unfortunately found it.

The next four years with McLaren were more of the same, with two closely missed opportunities to win the driver championship (2003 and 2005) in cars plagued with reliability issues. 2003 started off with a software glitch (which is a welcome change from engine failures), followed by Kimi’s first win in Malaysia 2003 after starting 7th on the grid. Kimi displayed tremendously consistent driving in 2003 despite McLaren using the 2002 chassis for a sizeable portion of the season, and good strategy combined with Kimi’s special talent kept him in the fight for the championship till the last race despite having only one win. Of course the change in the points system helped a bit.

 2004 was a big low even going by McLaren reliability standards – Kimi finished just 2 of the first seven races – he could only manage 1 championship point compared to Michael Schumacher’s 60. He somehow managed another win in Belgium 2004 displaying superb pace, but Raikkonen parking a smoking car in the gravel and walking back after shoving a marshal or two in frustration became quite the norm during the year.

Kimi Raikkonen’s main rivals in 2005 were Fernando Alonso and McLaren reliability. 2005 has been his most succesful season so far, with 7 wins and 4 other podiums totally though he was still not completely rid of mechanical issues – finally finishing second in the championship. He lost out on certain wins in Imola (drive-shaft failure), Nurburgring (suspension failure) and Hockenheim (hydraulics failure) – he was leading the grand prix on all three occasions. Needless to say the championship story might have turned out differently if his car had held together on any of these occasions. Fernando Alonso won the championship in 2005, but Kimi Raikkonen was named ‘Driver of the year’ by F1 Racing, Autosport and other magazines.

2006 was another lacklustre year for the flying Finn as he continued to be plagued by bad luck and reliability issues. Raikkonen was announced as a Ferrari driver at Monza 2006, and it is reported that he has signed a lucrative 3 year contract with the Maranello based company where he will remain till end of 2009. It is widely believed that given a fast and reliable Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen is more than capable of bringing home the championship. His main rivals for the 2007 season are expected to be Felipe Massa (his teammate), and Fernando Alonso (if his McLaren car permits).

In his spare time, Kimi enjoys watching movies, playing ice-hockey, following other motorsports, spending time with friends and sleeping…not in any particular order.