Just as everything looked set for the 2022 Formula One season, Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he’s retiring after this year’s final race in Abu Dhabi. Not only is this news given the Finn’s 19 seasons in the sport, but also because it opens the door for a slew of unexpected driver moves. But more on that later.
Raikkonen’s accomplished many feats that other F1 greats haven’t, like winning the drivers’ championship in 2007. That title came with Ferrari after he finished runner-up in the standings twice with McLaren during the early 2000s. With 21 Grand Prix victories total, he’s the winningest Finnish-born F1 driver in history, and he’s the only one to stand atop the podium in the series’ V10, V8, and hybrid V6 eras.
The 41-, soon to be 42-year-old shared this news on Instagram Wednesday afternoon, sending ripples throughout the driver market. With a seat now available at Alfa Romeo next season, there must be a driver to fill it and Racer reports that current Mercedes number-two Valtteri Bottas may be that one. In a move that entails Mercedes potentially calling up George Russell to accompany Lewis Hamilton, Bottas could head for Alfa with the surprise candidate of Alex Albon being considered for the Williams seat.
While we’re yet to see how all that will shake out, the motorsport industry is bidding farewell to Raikkonen. This withdrawal from F1 seems more permanent than his 2010 and 2011 sabbatical. He raced in the World Rally Championship during that short two-year span, along with single races in NASCAR’s Truck and Xfinity series.
It’s hard to say what the future holds for Raikkonen after this year, and he specifically mentioned that “Formula 1 might come to an end for me” but didn’t rule out other types of racing. Then again, he seems just as likely to focus on his hobbies.
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