Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: The Grumpy Jackal
I was never a fan of Kimi Raikkonen the first time round. Maybe this was residue from the Mika Hakkinen love-in within the Formula One fraternity or possibly I couldn’t see why Michael Schumacher had feared Raikkonen so much that he retired at the end of 2006.
After a glorious period of success, the thought of Kimi replacing Massa and racing Schumacher on equal terms was mouth-watering. It would finally put to rest the consensus that Raikkonen was “that special one” and it would cement Schumacher’s legacy forever because he finally accepted a joint number 1.
The bitter taste as he announced his retirement at Monza was only superseded by this seven time champion clumsily telling the world he retired because of Massa’s future!
To this day I really don’t get the knicker-wetting from Kimi Raikkonen fans when he utters grunts in reply to questions. As to his “legendary” Iceman tag – as team radio has proven – he gets as riled just as the next man does. “Just leave me alone. I know what I’m doing!” He seems obtuse at best and appears downright ignorant at times.
People often jump to his defence by suggesting that Finns are generally very reserved in their words and manner; and yet I remember Keke Rosberg as having character, charisma and on occasions would be most out-spoken.
I guess there’s a selfishness – as a supporter – that you want the success to continue for your team. You invest time, emotion and finances to see them race so therefore you desire payback. Watching these young athletes living a life you can only dream about – they are fundamentally in place for you by proxy.
On this day – the first race of the post-Schumacher era was held. Raikkonen made the perfect start from pole position and controlled the race thereafter. He won by the margin of seven seconds but this didn’t tell the full story. He hardly pushed and yet his fastest lap proved a second faster than Alonso’s best lap.
Behind them was a spectacular debut by the most impressive rookie in a generation – Lewis Hamilton. At the start Hamilton had seen Alonso boxed in by Raikkonen – and a fast-starting Heidfeld – and swept across to take the outside line into the first corner which secured him third position ahead of Alonso.
In an era of Bridgestone tyres, no DRS or any other gimmicks; this remained the order until Heidfeld stopped on lap 15. Raikkonen stopped four laps later and Hamilton led a Grand Prix for the first time in his career. After Alonso stopped Hamilton came in on the following lap and resumed in second position chasing Raikkonen in vain.
Following the Ferrari’s final pit-stop – Mclaren were running 1-2 and it was Hamilton’s that ran for the pits first this time around. Alonso followed a lap later and returned to the track in second position ahead of his rookie team-mate.
Raikkonen became the first driver to win on his Ferrari debut since Mansell in 1989 – something that Alonso would repeat in 2010. Last year Kimi’s return proved underwhelming and Sunday’s race in Melbourne proved an unfortunate event for the Finn but already the signs are that the Vettel/ Raikkonen partnership will flourish.