In the world of Formula One, everybody knows the name Kimi Raikkonen. After all, this Finnish driver has been around in the sport for more than a decade now. He also happens to be the only other Finland native to make it to Formula One aside from Mika Hakkinen. And while he may not be as impressive as the likes of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna when it comes to racing wins and records, Raikkonen has always shown that he can be an incredible driver.
It is no wonder that he has attracted the attention of several teams throughout his career. Over the years, the one-time Formula One champion has already driven for Sauber, McLaren, Lotus, and Ferrari.
Even now in his late thirties, Raikkonen remains in fighting form. In fact, he feels that he still has what it takes to win races, which is why he is not planning to retire yet. “As long as l feel l can win races and fight for championships then it's fine,” he remarked during an interview with Sky Sports.
So far in the current season, Raikkonen is showing that he can still fight his way to the top. As we continue to watch him do that, let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts behind this driver who is also known on the track as the Ice Man.
20 He started driving at a very early age
Like other impressive drivers in Formula One history, Raikkonen also started his career in racing fairly early in life. In fact, the official Ferrari website reports that he tried karting for the first time when he was only three years old. Back then, all he had to work on was a simple pedal kart. That didn’t matter one bit, however. A young Raikkonen was very much eager to dominate the circuit with it.
Raikkonen kept at it until he became a true karting success. In 1998, he won the Nordic Kart Championship in Varna, Norway. This was followed up by another win in 1999 when he finished second in the European Formula Super A Karting Championship.
19 His first race outside of his home country was quite memorable
After kart racing for several years, Raikkonen decided to show off his driving skills outside the country. This led him to his very first race outside of Finland when he was only 15 years old, according to Motorsport.
The race took place in Monaco and proved to be one of Raikkonen’s most memorable yet. During the course of the race, the steering wheel on Raikkonen’s car unexpectedly broke.
This, however, did not deter the young Finn. Instead, he continued racing and informed his mechanic of the problem by waving his steering wheel frantically in the air.
Not long after, Raikkonen had another memorable race in Monaco. This time, he was reportedly thrown during a collision. Determined to keep racing, Raikkonen lifted his kart back to the track. In the end, he finished in third place.
18 A Single Seater Was All He Needed
After achieving victory in a number of karting races, it soon became evident that it was time for Raikkonen to switch to a single seater car. It seems this is what led him to compete in the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2000. According to Renault Sport, th series was developed to cater to the needs of drivers who have just finished competing in the entry level and/or karting series.
In the case of Raikkonen, he immediately showed that he was more than ready to compete. In fact, a record from Motor Sport Winners reveals that the Finn driver won seven of the 12 races that year. This was absolutely good enough to win him the 2000 championship.
17 After his Formula Renault victory, Formula One took notice
Once you have managed to win a UK Formula Renault Championship, you can expect the prestigious Formula One to take notice. This is exactly what happened to Raikkonen after his 2000 victory.
His win earned him the opportunity to take part in various tests with the Sauber Formula One team in 2001.
In no time, Raikkonen won them over as the team was impressed with his pace on the track. Shortly after, Sauber decided to sign Raikkonen to become their driver that same year.
During this time, many reportedly questioned his readiness to race, according to Formula One. This is because he seemed to have taken an unconventionally short route to one of the top motorsport championships in the world. However, Raikkonen proved he was worthy of the spot by finishing in sixth place during his grand prix debut.
16 He was viewed as a successor to another remarkable Finn driver
It seems Raikkonen’s entry into the world of Formula One coincided with the retirement of a legendary Formula One driver who also happens to be a Finn. During this time, Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen was set to retire after winning two championships. This is why Hakkinen’s team, McLaren, was eagerly looking for his successor. Upon seeing Raikkonen race, they knew that they had found one.
As he continued to race, experts praised him for his expert driving style. He managed to finish second in the championship in 2003 and 2005. Overall, his time at McLaren resulted in as many as nine race wins and 36 top three finishes. Despite his victories, however, Raikkonen rarely spoke out and simply kept to himself.
15 He became known as the “Ice Man”
It did not take long before Formula One fans (and the media) found the perfect name for Kimi Raikkonen. It was none other than the “Ice Man.” This was perhaps due to his cool and calm nature, despite all the tension and excitement surrounding him on the track.
In fact, experts described Raikkonen’s driving style as seamless and mostly mistake-free. When asked about this, he simply said “I never really think about what I'm doing. I just do it,” according to Formula One.
Meanwhile, when in front of the cameras, Raikkonen also rarely smiles. He often prefers to hide his face beneath a baseball cap. He also prefers to speak in monotone whenever the media has questions for him. Raikkonen can be quite icy indeed.
14 He Won His First Championship With Ferrari
Racing for McLaren did not prove to be satisfying enough for Raikkonen, especially considering that the team’s car could sometimes be unreliable. This is perhaps, what prompted him to sign with a new team in 2007. That team was none other than Ferrari, who was considered the current top team thanks to Schumacher’s recent series of victories.
After Schumacher announced his retirement, Ferrari knew they needed somebody good to fill the void. It did not take long before the Italian team announced that they had signed Raikkonen to a three-year contract.
Once inside the Ferrari car, Raikkonen showed he was in his element. During his first year with the team, he also achieved his first ever Formula One championship.
13 He Received A Huge Payout From Ferrari...To Go Away
Towards the end of the 2009 Formula One season, Ferrari announced that Raikkonen would soon be leaving the team. This was despite the fact that the Finn driver already had a contract with the Italian squad for 2010.
According to ESPN UK, Ferrari had managed to confirm a deal with Spanish driver Fernando Alonso at this time. The only way to give him a slot on the team was to push Raikkonen out. To do this, the team decided to pay Raikkonen a cool $25 million.
As you may have guessed, Raikkonen was more than happy to take the deal. After all, he knew that he did not have to stop racing just because he was leaving Formula One.
12 He continued racing even after he left Formula One
It seems that for Raikkonen, as long as there’s a track ahead of him, he would be more than happy to race. In fact, he joined the World Rally Championship in 2010 and immediately became a driver for the Citroen Junior team alongside driver Kaj Lindstrom.
In 2011, Raikkonen also decided to stay in the World Rally Championship. This time, he raced for his own team, ICE 1 Racing. Nonetheless, he continued to race in a Citroen car.
Meanwhile, 2011 also saw Raikkonen become a NASCAR driver at the Camping World Truck Series. Raikkonen signed on with the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota team for a limited schedule in the championship’s Truck Series.
11 He has a need for speed
There’s no question about it, Raikkonen loves speed. In fact, he even likes to experience it on and off the track. This is probably why his former team Sauber decided to treat him to a fighter jet ride with the Royal Australian Air Force before his track debut at the Australian Grand Prix, according to a report from CNN.
Aside from this, his official website says that Raikkonen also enjoys going on motorbikes and pushbikes. He also loves participating in winter sports, especially when he gets to go on a snowmobile or a pair of skis.
Meanwhile, Raikkonen also participated in some powerboat racing while competing under the pseudonym “James Hunt.” He also made sure to make a statement during the event by racing while wearing a gorilla suit. As you could expect, Raikkonen and his team were awarded the best-dressed crew.
10 He was married to his first wife for eight years
Over the years, Raikkonen earned quite the reputation for being a playboy. Nonetheless, he soon found himself ready to settle down when he met Jenni Dahlman. Dahlman reportedly met Raikkonen during the Miss Scandinavia contest in 2002. Just two years later, the couple was married on July 31, 2004.
For a long time, it seemed like the couple had found their happily ever after. They reportedly lived in an impressive (and expensive) property in Switzerland. They tried to spend as much time together as possible, with Dahlman often hanging around the Formula One track during race season. Aside from that, the couple also worked together, posing for an ad for Tag Heuer Eyewear.
Unfortunately, Raikkonen and Dahlman separated in 2013 before filing for divorce in 2014.
9 He married again soon after his divorce
Raikkonen managed to find love again soon after his divorce, despite his busy schedule. During the summer of 2013, Raikkonen was reportedly introduced to Minttu Virtanen by a common friend. According to F1 Ladies, Virtanen was a former flight attendant who became a fitness model.
The moment she met Raikkonen, there was an instant attraction. In fact, it was believed that Virtanen had moved in with Raikkonen just months after their first meeting.
In 2014, Raikkonen and Virtanen became engaged. Not long after, the couple also welcomed their first child in 2015. The following year, the couple decided to tie the knot at the Abbey of San Galgano in Siena, Italy. According to a report from the Daily Mail, Raikkonen arrived at the ceremony with the couple’s son.
8 He has two children
Today, Raikkonen is a proud father of two children with Virtanen. Their oldest son, Robin Ace Mathias Raikkonen, was born on January 27, 2015. Meanwhile, Raikkonen and his wife welcomed a daughter on May 16, 2017. According to a report from Grand Prix 247, the couple named their second child Rianna Angelia Milana.
During an interview with Daily Mail, Raikkonen’s new wife confessed that the Finn driver wanted to have more children right away after he got married. Moreover, Minttu also remarked that it’s important for both of them to keep the age gap between their children as small as possible.
While it is unclear if the Raikkonen family is eager to have a third child soon, one thing is certain: Raikkonen is very happy to be a father.
7 He returned to Formula One to drive for Lotus
As early as 2011, many believed that Raikkonen was already considering a return to Formula One. According to motorsport.com, the Finn driver was spotted at the Williams team headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire during the week before the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix. However, the team refused to say anything about Raikkonen’s visit.
Nonetheless, in November 2011, it was confirmed that Raikkonen would be making a Formula One comeback. However, he was not going to drive for Williams. Instead, he decided to sign a two-year deal with Lotus.
His first year with the team was quite impressive. Raikkonen became the only driver to finish all 20 races of the season. He also finished third in the championship and even won the grand prix in Abu Dhabi.
6 It did not take long before he made his way back to Ferrari
Raikkonen continued to have a good season in 2013, although he missed the last two races due to a surgery for a back injury. Around this time, he also decided it was time leave Lotus for good. Raikkonen then announced that he was going to be returning to his old team, Ferrari, for the 2014 season.
Unfortunately, his return was quite a disaster. Raikkonen was partnered with then Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, and it seemed the Spaniard made him look like a failure on the track. In 2013, Alonso scored three times as many points as Raikkonen had. During this time, Raikkonen blamed his worst results on the car’s inability to match his driving style.
5 His biggest fan seems to be a little boy
Back in 2017, the Formula One community discovered that Raikkonen’s biggest fan is not of driving age yet. In fact, it happens to be a little boy by the name of Thomas.
During the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix, a squeeze into turn one led to an incident among drivers Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen. As a result, the steering column in Raikkonen’s car broke and the former champion was forced to leave the race.
This did not sit well with Thomas, a young boy who was watching the race live with his parents. The boy could be seen crying hysterically after realizing that his favorite driver was no longer in the race.
To make him feel better, ESPN reports that Thomas and his parents were escorted to the Ferrari motorhome. There, Thomas got to meet Raikkonen, who made him smile again.
4 He escaped a grid penalty during the 2018 season
Today, Raikkonen continues to drive for Ferrari, and early on in the 2018 season, he nearly received a grid penalty.
The incident occurred during the second free practice session at the Sakhir circuit during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Raikkonen had just set the pace and decided to drive to the pits for a practice stop towards the end of the session.
However, when Ferrari released Raikkonen’s car back onto the track, it was found that one of his car’s wheels was not properly attached. Typically, a driver gets a penalty for a fault like this. However, the FIA found that Raikkonen stopped the car as soon as he could after realizing the problem. Hence, only Ferrari was fined.
3 The Unlucky Mechanic
This early in the season, you could say that Raikkonen has already experienced all sorts of trouble. Just recently, he ran over one of his team’s mechanics by accident.
This incident occurred during race day of the Bahrain grand prix weekend. During a pit stop in the middle of the race, the Ferrari crew had encountered an issue in removing Raikkonen’s left rear tire. That meant pit crew member Francesco Cigarini could not fit the new tire into the car.
Despite this, however, Raikkonen was given a green light to signal that the pit stop was complete. Dutifully, Raikkonen started to drive away, knocking Cigarini to the ground as a result. In the end, the mechanic suffered from a double leg fracture and required surgery. According to Formula One, Ferrari was fined €50,000 for the unsafe release.
2 He and his teammate are good friends, sort of
Ever since Sebastian Vettel moved to Ferrari, it seems that things are going well between him and Raikkonen. In fact, the two have been seen hanging out together in the paddocks. It is believed they also have a great deal to talk about since both champion drivers are also parents to young children.
It’s also safe to say that Raikkonen respects Vettel has a driver. Back in 2016, when Ferrari ordered Vettel to pass Raikkonen during the inaugural Baku race, the Finn driver said he had no issues. “I think in the end it didn’t make an awful lot of difference,” he even told Fox Sports in an interview.
Recently though, it seems Raikkonen has been quite a snob to Vettel. During a recent podium finish, Raikkonen even stopped Vettel from spraying champagne on him.
1 He has gotten into some trouble off the track
While Raikkonen has been known to be quiet and slightly snobbish on the track, the former champion seems to be the exact opposite off the track. In fact, he has gotten into trouble with the media because of the way he handles his private life.
According to a report from The Mirror, Raikkonen and his friends were inside the London Mayfair club For Your Eyes Only when the Finn driver pulled out his manhood and played with himself in front of two lap dancers. The manager of the club was shocked at what he saw. “I thought I'd seen most things in the lap dancing game but when I saw one of the world's top racing drivers sprawled there with his trousers undone I couldn't believe it,” he said during the interview.
Sources: formula1.ferrari.com, motorsport.com, en.espn.co.uk