Kimi Raikkonen Sumar
Kimi Raikkonen cut his teeth in national and international kart racing from the age of ten, before taking up car racing in 1999. Here he competed in four races for Haywood Racing, finishing third in his first outing before retiring from the next three due to technical problems. He also competed in the Formula Ford Euro Cup where he finished fifth, but unfortunately, his final entrance into the Formula Ford Festival, saw him forced out of contention. Signing
for Manor Motor Sport, he won four races out of four starts to secure the Formula Renault Winter series.
Staying with Manor, 2000 saw the young Finn competing in the British Renault Championship, taking the title with relative ease after securing seven wins out of the ten races contested, however he stood on the podium for every race and took seven pole positions and six fastest laps. During the same year, he also competed in the Formula Renault series where he took two wins, two poles and two fastest laps. Out of the 23 races contested, Kimi has a success rate of more that 50%, winning a grand total of 13, making team boss, Peter Sauber sit up and take notice.
He then made his Formula One debut for the Swiss based Formula One team in 2001, after only competing in 23 car races, none of which involved F3 or F3000. However the FIA granted him the necessary Super Licence because of the promising performances the young Finn has displayed in earlier testing. The first time Kimi got behind the wheel of Formula One car was September 2000, before further sessions in Jerez and Barcelona three months later.
His debut season produced some superb performances and he helped the team to their highest ever finish, fourth place overall in the constructors battle. Despite the negativity surrounding his entrance into the sport, his strong drives didn't go unnoticed and he was chosen by McLaren to take the place of double world champion, Mika Hakkinen, who opted to retire.
The young Finn put in some superb performances throughout 2002, out qualifying his more experienced teammate David Coulthard on several occasions. He also came extremely close to winning his first ever race, but unfortunately the 22-year-old driver ran wide at the Adelaide hairpin due to oil on the circuit from Allan McNish's blown Toyota engine, handing victory to Michael Schumacher.
Raikkonen confirmed his potential in 2003. The Finn won his first Grand Prix in Malaysia and fought for the championship title until the very last race against Schumacher. 2004 promised a great deal for the Finn, but sadly it was a season with few high points.
The team started the 2004 season with the new MP4-19 chassis and before long it was accepted that the car simply was not competitive. As Raikkonen retired from race after race with mechanical failures early in the season, his dip in motivation was clear to see and also understandable. Armed with a much more competitive 'b' specification chassis mid-season onwards and Raikkonen raised his game and became a regular points scorer again. With little in the way of competition form team-mate Coulthard throughout the season and appalling reliability early on in the year, Raikkonen managed to finish just seventh in the overall standings with one victory coming his way at Spa Francorchamps.
2005 was a complete turnaround for Raikkonen and McLaren Mercedes. Raikkonen may have missed out on the title to Fernando Alonso, but he had a stunning season let down only from some reliability issues from Mercedes. Raikkonen showed the way to new team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, scored seven race wins and not once did he make a significant error on track. Raikkonen remains with McLaren in 2006 and heading into the new season, is expected to be very much in contention for the World Championship.
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