Kimi Raikkonen - When the golden silence speaks
I remember re-watching the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix. The excitement and anxiousness that went through me when Kimi Raikkonen passed Giancarlo Fisichella on the last lap made me jump and clap. And though it wasn’t live and nor were the results very unknown, I had just seen one of the best possible grands prix of my life.. once again!
After the worst qualifying session ever with pouring rain, Kimi and Fernando started P17 and P16 respectively. But a dry forecast on Sunday was a relief for Renault and McLaren, for both their drivers could charge from the back of the field. Alonso, like ton Sunday had a good getaway and was in P8 by the end of the very first lap, but Raikkonen made a small error and let all the cars behind him pass.
Making through the field almost twice during the race, this Finn went on to win the grand prix after surviving safety cars, run offs, and by showcasing some of the best overtakes in F1. And so we saw possibly the most impressive podium – Kimi, Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso.
We were back at Suzuka, though a bit muted this time since the championship ‘battle’ has been pretty much been sealed in the hands of Sebastian Vettel, as he stamped his supremacy at each circuit this year. This time though, we didn’t see the same ho hum Vettel domination, but actually a very tactical race amongst the top 3, followed by real racing action from master finishers – Fernando and Kimi, who again were making their way to the front after qualifying below average on the grid.
While the young German makes the headlines almost every second Sunday, Ferrari bound Kimi Raikkonen, has been putting phenomenal drives season long, all done without inviting much of the attention on race day.
Raikkonen had the best possible start to the season; winning the tire war by beating the Red Bull pole sitter Vettel in Australia to finish 1st from starting 7th on the grid. After which Kimi took a series of 2nd place finishes in Bahrain to Spain. But just as success ends, his luck too ran out at his favourite circuit – Spa – where he retired with technical glitches. And the trend continued in Italy where a bad qualifying saw him immobile from P11.
Just as the Asian leg kicked in, Raikkonen was back in form – not physically, but mentally. A bad back saw the 2007 world champion qualify no greater than P13 in Singapore.
In fact, the condition was as bad as Lotus were taking a call to retire him from the race. But a gritty Raikkonen charged from P13 on, what’s called a ‘difficult overtaking track’ to finish a phenomenal P3 behind Alonso. While the commentators and viewers concentrated more on Vettel’s mind boggling pace, charging from behind with a winning tire strategy was the flying Finn who started from row 7.
For people who are fans of statistics, let the numbers do the talking. Kimi’s average grid position has been approximately 7.5 in last 15 races. And maximizing his result, the Iceman has made it to the podium 8 times making it a 53% podium result. These aren’t Vettel stats, whose I presume will be 98% wins, but for Kimi, who never started in the top three after the lone Chinese grand prix, it speaks loads.
We never know what he’s doing, but he always knows what he’s doing. Starting from row 5 or row 6, it doesn’t matter for Kimi Raikkonen because he’ll stealthily make it to the podium with his ice cool attitude. For when the golden silence speaks, it’s a roar.
Now that we already know who’s champion, how about enjoy the last few races of the V8 era?