2021 is Raikkonen’s last year in the highest class of open-wheeled racing. The Iceman made up his mind last year, and “it wasn’t an easy decision.”
Kimi wrote on social media that “it’s time for new things,” most likely referring to a different series from the king of motorized sports. In regard to his post-Formula 1 plans, the Finn has taken a liking to the NASCAR series.
Rallying or something completely different are possible outcomes in their own right, especially if you remember that Kimi competed in the World Rally Championship and NASCAR in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Whatever the future holds for the 41-year-old racing driver, the rumor mill is already connecting Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes-AMG to Kimi’s seat.
Ferrari protégé Antonio Giovinazzi hasn’t signed an extension into 2022, and team principal Frederic Vasseur famously said that he’s open to a brand-new lineup. Gio may be replaced by Dutch racing driver Nyck de Vries. Another possibility for Bottas is Williams, which is eyeing Red Bull protégé Alexander Albon for the remaining seat. Of course, just about everyone is looking forward to George Russel at Mercedes-AMG Petronas in 2022.
With Kimi hanging up his gloves, Fernando Alonso will be the oldest F1 driver on the grid next year. The Spaniard is now 40 years old, but he still is top-notch material based on his battle with Hamilton at the Hungaroring.
Sauber introduced Kimi to Formula 1 by means of a test in September 2000 at the Mugello Circuit, and Raikkonen didn’t fail to impress by lapping Pedro Diniz by 0.5 seconds. McLaren signed the Finn in 2002, then Ferrari snatched him for 2007. Raikkonen finished that year first in the drivers’ championship, and no other driver has done it for the Scuderia ever since.
Kimi’s last win took place at the 2018 United States GP during his second stint for the Maranello-based team. As for the abysmal return to Sauber, the Iceman had to jump ship to make room for Charles Leclerc.