F1: Walker predicts Hamilton career in 2008
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Lewis Hamilton has added his voice to the many others who have paid tribute to Kimi Raikkonen after he announced his impending retirement from F1. The Iceman has revealed his intention to step away from the sport at the end of the current season, 20 years after he made his debut with Sauber.
2021 is Raikkonen’s 19th season in the sport, with two long spells separated by a two-year gap in which he pursued other racing interests.
The Finn broke the record for the most starts in F1 history last year, and leaves behind a legacy of 21 race wins and one world championship with Ferrari in 2007.
Despite his quiet demeanour, Raikkonen has always been a big character in the paddock and a “tough but very, very fair opponent on the track, according to Hamilton who led the tributes.
The seven-time world champion said: “I remember before I got to Formula 1, in computer games I’d always be in Kimi’s car.
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“So I had this crazy experience of racing against him, losing a championship to him and then [having] lots of great battles [with him]. He will be missed.”
His words about Raikkonen’s ability and class on the track were echoed by Fernando Alonso, who also lost that title to the Finn in 2007 and was his team-mate at Ferrari in 2014.
“He is always fair, always respectful, always a tough competitor but also cool… No tricks,” the Spaniard said.
“In that aspect I will miss him because you knew you could trust Kimi when you were side by side. He will never do any crazy thing or anything that would put you in danger.”
Another ex-team-mate Sebastian Vettel joked “the silence” is what he would miss most about his former Ferrari partner, adding: “He’s an incredible talent and seeing that first-hand as a team mate for some years was impressive.
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“Just the amount of speed he has right from the get-go and the ability he has to get used to different cars, different conditions. He definitely earned his place and had a long, great career.”
As well as being a great racer on the track, Raikkonen is also known for his unique sense of humour and deadpan delivery.
George Russell has not been in the sport for long compared to many of the others who paid tribute to the Finn, but was able to share a story which summed up his penchant to do some bizarre things at times.
“The first time I ever spoke to Kimi, the conversation ended with him twisting my nipples!” said Russell. “[It was] at the FIA Gala in 2018.
“He’s one of a kind, and respect for everything he’s achieved on-track and off… as well. He’s a bit of a legend and for sure he’ll be missed – there’s no one like him.”
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