Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Best Finish: 2nd (Bahrain, Spain)
Fastest Laps: 1
Laps Led: 7
Championship Position: 6th
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
Coming off the back of two tough years with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed an upturn in fortunes through 2016. He appeared more at ease with the SF16-H than its predecessors, allowing him to even push the Mercedes drivers close in Bahrain, finishing second.
Raikkonen came within a second of his first Ferrari win for eight years in Spain, only to be left frustrated by Max Verstappen through the second half of the race, and he returned to the podium in Austria, capitalizing on the clash between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
But through the second half of the year, Raikkonen was disappointing. Sure, Ferrari lost ground to Red Bull in the pecking order and was firmly the third-best team, yet Kimi still struggled to match teammate Sebastian Vettel through the races (he did win the qualifying head-to-head 11-10, though).
We’ve not quite rediscovered ‘old Kimi’, but the Finn proved through 2016 that he remains a competitive, talented and quick racer. Given the right tools, he could really push Vettel close.
Is there another chapter to be written in Raikkonen’s lengthy F1 career in 2017? Bwoah, maybe!
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
Kimi Raikkonen is F1’s most senior driver in terms of age – 37 – if not race starts after his two-year hiatus in 2010 and 2011, and was back to his best form in recent years this year with Ferrari.
Raikkonen struggled with Ferrari’s 2014 chassis, notably in the front end, but found the 2016 chassis happier to his liking. Beating Sebastian Vettel head-to-head in qualifying this year, 11-10, was no small achievement. He also increased his points total and podium finishes this year from 150 and three to 186 and four this year, although dropped in points from fourth to sixth because of Red Bull’s improvements.
Only in Spain did he really look like winning but Raikkonen did put up his usual great efforts in the Middle East, going well at both Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. He also didn’t back down in his season-long spat with Max Verstappen, and provided a bit of a rivalry for us to talk about this season.