Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Nurburgring, 2020

Raikkonen: Decision to extend F1 career wasn’t difficult

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Kimi Raikkonen says it wasn’t a difficult decision to extend his Formula 1 career, which is already the longest for any driver, by another year.

The Alfa Romeo driver broke Rubens Barrichello’s record for most grand prix starts earlier this year. His new contract to drive for the team, announced today, could see him reach 350 starts during the 2021 F1 season.

Raikkonen is already the sport’s oldest driver and will turn 42 during his 19th season in the sport next year. But he said it wasn’t a hard decision to commit to another season.

“I don’t think it was anything difficult,” he said. “There was many aspects from the team’s side: What they want to do, what I want to do, and obviously there’s other things in a life that you need to look into.

“But in the end it made sense from my side and obviously for their side, and once we started to talk about it, it wasn’t such a long process. So it was quite straightforward in the end.”

The 2007 world champion has scored just two points in a difficult campaign this year, partly as a result of the team’s uncompetitive Ferrari power unit. Raikkonen said he hopes Alfa Romeo “do a lot better than this year” in 2021.

“Obviously as a team none of us are happy where we are but unfortunately this is the situation right now and the aim is to improve and be a lot better off. But there is no guarantee on anything so we have to simply do a better job overall and hopefully next year we’ll be a bit happier with things and be where we expect to be.”

Raikkonen is the only driver in the field who has raced at Imola previously in Formula 1. He said he enjoys driving at the circuit but hasn’t previously had the results to show it.

“I haven’t been around the track since the days that we raced here. I think the last chicane is missing but the rest of it is pretty much the same apart from some kerbs might be different. It’s nice to come back.

“I always enjoyed the track. I never really had a very good time, I think we did well but we never really finished the races very well. But I always enjoyed the track to drive and hopefully it’s the same tomorrow when we go again.”

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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18 comments on “Raikkonen: Decision to extend F1 career wasn’t difficult”

  1. You are only as good as your last race. And he was pretty good :D.

  2. It seems inevitable that F1 drivers will follow other successful people and stay around long enough to embarrass themselves. Schumacher, one great example, and I am betting Hamilton will make the same mistake. I hope not. Surely the sad sight of Kimi clinging on and on will be a lesson?

    Probably not.

    Let the youngsters have a turn.

    1. For me Raikkonen doesn’t seem to be klinging on as he has no designs on any meaningful results, but just there for the enjoyment of driving and racing F1 cars which is refreshing. To see a youngster going through the inevitable rookie mistakes and throwing away vital points for a team that is so dependent on them, is frustrating.

    2. Huh? Kimi seem genuinely to be enjoying himself, and I can’t really think of other drivers putting in a much better performance in the Alfa.

  3. “Will you still give me money if I don’t keep racing? No? Sign me up for one more year then.”

  4. Astounding how Raikkonen always manages to put in a good race performance before these new contracts get signed. I could be sarcastic and say ‘entirely coincidentally I’m sure’ (which I in fact did write) but why not just say it openly: he’s an enormous talent who only sometimes really switches on the magic. Most of the time he literally seems happy just driving around in circles, lost in his own world. Less of a criticism, more of a frustration at not seeing more.

    1. That’s probably true, some of his performances over the years were really high level, even if you go back to 2018, looking example at monza or austin, others were abysmal.

      1. @esploratore I also really just enjoy watching how he drives, there’s a streamlined elegance to his style that’s quite something when he’s switched on. The drive through the field in Portugal was a perfect example, precise track positioning at every moment, anticipating the gaps that then opened up for him.

  5. A magnificent decision that all Formula 1 lovers appreciate (except the English, of course).
    Having this extraordinary champion on the grid is far more important than having an unknown and unpredictable rookie.

    1. Christopher Gill
      30th October 2020, 15:48

      I’m English and this is the best news I have had in a long time. Kimi is and always has been in F1 because he enjoys racing, his form is related to the performance of the car and the role he has in the team. A measure of the man is to read what his team members have said about him in the past, he is fast, thoughtful and humble. Go Kimi Go!

    2. A magnificent decision that all Formula 1 lovers appreciate (except the English, of course).

      What?

      What narrow minded nonsense have you been reading to make you think that the English don’t like Kimi?

      1. Hence why he is not a Russell fan.

  6. The fairly simple explanation here is that Alfa Romeo as a title sponsor wants Kimi in the car. Love Kimi but this is purely a branding play.

  7. The persona around Kimi is pure nostalgia, a way to connect with other legends, other battles, other machinery and he is a great driver BTW. Winning that championship for Ferrari was magical. I can remember him looking at the dash of the car in silence after winning for a single point. I loved it.

  8. Lots of negativity towards Raikkonen in these comments… I like Kimi and I’m glad he’s staying for another season. I’m also glad Alonso is back. I don’t think they’re embarassing themselves as someone said here. They are so good that even past their prime they’re more than a match for the likes of Ocon, Giovinazzi, and others.

    1. True that, and even schumacher, when factoring into the 5-6 tenths lost from 35 to the age he was driving at on his comeback, drove pretty well.

      I would’ve liked alonso to replace albon at red bull, would’ve probably performed better than ricciardo even at this age.

  9. Kimi is a one off. Always has been since the day he entered F1 in 2001.
    Has his own opinion, is forthright when he decides to give it, no verbal diarrhoea, and never grovels before anybody.

  10. Very good to read a comment such as “raikkonen is the only one who raced at imola before”, 14 years and he was already racing a few years earlier!

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