October 17, 1979
|Career statistics to end 2013|
Whether it was deliberate or not, the normally taciturn Raikkonen’s revelation in Singapore last season that he had gone unpaid through his second season with Lotus triggered one of the most intense debates in the F1 paddock all year.
Winner of the opening round in Melbourne, Raikkonen then went winless for the remainder of his tenure with Lotus, which ended when he withdrew from the final two rounds in Austin and Interlagos, ostensibly to have much-needed corrective surgery on his back.
He had already threatened not to race in Abu Dhabi, where he turned up perilously late. He exited the race perilously early, on the opening lap, which seemed ironically appropriate.
And of course there was the small matter of his departure to rejoin Ferrari, announced two-thirds of the way through a deeply frustrating second season back in Grand Prix racing.
The three no-scores at the end of the season cost Kimi third place in the Drivers’ Championship, which would have matched his first-season performance at Lotus.
As it was, he added seven further podiums – five of them in the first half of the season – to claim fifth spot overall despite the dire circumstances at season’s end.
So now he is back at Ferrari, whose cockpits he graced from 2007 to 2009. That three-year stay at Maranello saw him claim nine race victories, five second places and 12 thirds. He was on pole five times and set 15 fastest race laps.
And of course he was World Champion in his first season with the Scuderia in 2007. “I just have to say in Formula 1 things change a lot,” said Kimi in his first press conference after the Ferrari news. He will be hoping they haven’t changed too much since those heady days.
Once again Ferrari has two lions in its cars. Which will roar the louder in the new F1 jungle of 2014?