When Kimi Raikkonen made his Formula 1 debut back in 2001 with Sauber, his lack of car racing experience led to questions about his suitability and readiness for the sport. Within two years, he was a grand prix winner ready to fight for a world championship.
It was therefore fitting that Max Verstappen’s breakthrough grand prix victory in Spain came after a nose-to-tail fight with Raikkonen, a driver twice his age.
Verstappen’s readiness was also doubted when Toro Rosso announced he would be entering F1 in 2015, and there were even question marks when Red Bull gave him a surprise promotion to its senior team for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Oh how that paid off…
For Raikkonen, second place in Spain continued his excellent start to the 2016 season and lifted him to P2 in the drivers’ championship ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
However, the Finn made no secret of his disappointment, knowing that he had missed a big opportunity to claim his first victory since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.
“I’m happy for Max, disappointed for myself, but that’s racing,” Raikkonen said.
“We were fast, but I could not follow close through the final corners, and was losing downforce. I tried everything, but it wasn’t enough.
“After yesterday we would have been happy with second and third, but we got so close, so it’s even more disappointing – it’s just part of racing.”
Raikkonen raced against another Verstappen in 2001 and 2003: Jos Verstappen, Max’s father.
So what does Kimi make of the age gap to F1’s newest winner?
“He’s a good driver and in a good team now,” Raikkonen said.
“It’s the youngest and oldest, but I raced against his father, so that’s more scary.”