Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Interlagos, 2021

2021 F1 driver rankings #14: Kimi Raikkonen

2021 F1 driver rankings

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In his 19th and final season as a Formula 1 driver it wasn’t always easy to recognise Kimi Raikkonen as the champion he is.

Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying6/19
Beat team mate in race10/18
Races finished18/20
Laps spent ahead of team mate658/1057
Qualifying margin+0.17s
Points10

But his core strength – that rock-solid race pace – was still very much in evidence. So too were his dependably superb starts, which gained him more than two positions per race on average.

They needed to, because he gave far too much away on Saturdays. Antonio Giovinazzi out-qualified him by a more than two-to-one ratio, and that simply left Raikkonen with too much to do in a car which was eighth-quickest on its best days.

Five races in, Raikkonen was yet to get on the score board. But at Baku he took brilliant advantage of a mid-race Safety Car period to pass the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, no less, and kept it behind to the flag.

Raikkonen added another point in Hungary, despite tangling with Nikita Mazepin in the pits when Alfa Romeo released him from the pit box too hastily. Raikkonen was not one to take it lightly when his team slipped up, bringing one of his withering radio criticisms upon them after one too many encounters with a misbehaving drinks system late in the year.

He missed two races after the summer break when he tested positive for Covid-19. But on his return he enjoyed his best form of the season.

At Sochi, Raikkonen out-qualified Giovinazzi and nailed the switch to intermediate tyres late in the race for eighth place. He had the pace for another top 10 finish at a damp Istanbul but Giovinazzi was unwilling to co-operate when told to let his team mate by and as a result neither overhauled the struggling Esteban Ocon for a top 10 spot on the final lap.

However Raikkonen claimed eighth again in Mexico after another of his better qualifying performances and despite a somewhat compromised start which left him needing to re-pass George Russell.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Raikkonen was in fine form at Sochi
The rest of the season was largely a case of the car not quite being quick enough to score points or, from time you time, mistakes by team or driver. A couple of the latter were conspicuously major errors: His collision with Sebastian Vettel at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix (he also tripped over his former Ferrari team mate in Jeddah) and a bizarre tangle with Giovinazzi in Portugal (which led Raikkonen’s son to remind his father: “You always told me to look forward”).

No driver has started as many F1 races as Raikkonen and some who had careers of comparable lengths passed the point at which they should have stopped well before they did. That isn’t true of him.

However there were obvious weaknesses in his game by the time he hung up his helmet. Alfa Romeo must look at Raikkonen’s race performances this year and Giovinazzi’s qualifying record and reflect that with the best of both drivers they could have had many more points finishes out of the C41 – perhaps even enough to beat Williams to eighth in the championship.

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What’s your verdict on Kimi Raikkonen’s 2021 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments. Add your views on the other drivers in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “2021 F1 driver rankings #14: Kimi Raikkonen”

  1. Still a bit to high in just driver performance (without the car included) while his races were beter then Antonio it was clear he was cruising to his pension. He knew before the season started and it showed i would rate both Alfa drivers 1 place lower.

  2. No driver has started as many F1 races as Raikkonen and some who had careers of comparable lengths passed the point at which they should have stopped well before they did. That isn’t true of him.

    I’d argue against this – he really looked past it in 2021. Towards the end of his time at Ferrari he had decent form (though vettel was completely imploding at the time so it’s hard to judge) but there have been way too many “rookie” errors during his time at Alfa. I think you could easily have Gio ahead in these rankings and I’d probably have stroll ahead of both.

    Just thinking the lower part of the grid was actually pretty weak in 2021 – for all the fireworks up front, the overall quality of F1 is questionable.

  3. I have the feeling that with a better pair of drivers, Alfa could have achieved a lot more in 2021. I mean, Kimi was heading to retirement and Giovanazzi has never proved to be that fast (especially on Sundays).

    1. I tend to agree, I don’t think either were poor, I just think they weren’t very spicy on track.

      I imagine the type of Grosjean/Magnussen pairing would have been interesting. Actually, Kevin Magnussen would have been highly entertaining in that car with his sharp elbows!

      1. I wish Kevin Magnussen gets another shot at F1 in 2023. He isn’t too old to come back. But it feels like Grosjean is having more success outside F1.

  4. Thanks Keith,
    I, for one, am going to miss Kimi’s presence in Formula One.
    Here’s to a long and happy retirement!

  5. Both alfa drivers are handicapped with a lot of team and strategy errors during the season.
    So we will never know what both could achieve in a different team.
    In the ranking of drivers a part that is not really accounted for.

  6. I’m just sad to see a driver with character and personality leave. I loved the fact he hated the intrusive media side of F1 and just wanted to drive one of these machines for a thrill. Good luck Kimi.

    1. For as long as I am following the sport, I remember people complaining about the lack of character in drivers. I can see why that would be said in the late 90#0s, early 00s, but I can’t see it as a fair complaint nowadays.

      Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Alonso, Ric, Norris, Sainz, Russell all display plenty of character imho.

      Maybe, when people complain about lack of characters, they actually mean lack of controversial characters?

      1. I didn’t mention any other drivers, just that I was sad to see a real character go in Kimi.
        Of course it adds to the entertainment if you have controversial characters too. It would be a boring world if everyone was the same.

      2. José Lopes da Silva
        12th January 2022, 21:39

        People just mean “I miss the drivers of when I was young because those were the days”.

  7. Just leave him alone – he and we all just know he is much higher than 14th!

  8. I think he’s been flattered in the rankings this year. He was slower than Giovinazzi throughout the season. On raceways, he was slightly better at the starts than his teammate, but his race pace wasn’t much better. He was lucky to finish in front of him in the points.

    If I had to rank them.. I would put Kimi at #15 and Gio at #14.

    1. Races are more important and if the positions we have to work on are 14th and 15th I’d give 14th to raikkonen, but I think someone (stroll in this case) should’ve been ahead.

    2. And possibly ricciardo behind, at this point he should be 13th, but that already sounds very lenient.

      1. I think Danny Ric had 10 solid races, and three really good ones: Barcelona, Monza and COTA. So I do see him slightly ahead of those mentioned up to now, and even would put Valtteri behind Danny Ric.

        1. The last point is where I really don’t understand how some people can rank bottas behind perez, he’s simply performed better on a similar car imo.

  9. Outside of Kimi’s personal enjoyment, i believe it was sort of a waste of time for him to be in Sauber these last three years. Maybe two years would have been too much? Other than his enjoyment and a social media following not sure what esle waa gained. Either way I hope he enjoys his time at home and maybe we will see him racing in some other series in due time.

  10. So, I got, so far:

    20 – Nikita
    19 – Nicolas
    18 – Yuki
    17 – Mick
    16 – Kimi
    15 – Lance
    14 – Antonio

    I think this is the most similar I have been to Keith in at least a decade…. let’s see how it continues…

  11. Surely Dani is around the corner. Anything higher that 13thfor him will be generous.

  12. I agree. Some say he looked past it, I say he looked like Kimi. Some quali’s didn’t go to plan, saubers season did not go to plan.
    In 2021 some drivers were more fortunate than others (sainz jr and Ham) and others like Kimi didn’t quite get all points out of it.

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