20 years on from his F1 debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen is set for his nineteenth season in Formula One when the 2021 season gets underway in Bahrain this weekend. He’s set for his 330th start this weekend after breaking the record for most Grand Prix. starts in 2020.
Asked if he has the same qualities today that made him fast 20 years ago, Raikkonen responded in trademark style.
''Not if I’m fast or not, you know,’’ the Finn quipped in an interview with Sky Sports F1.
''I try my best and for sure the sport has changed since 20 years ago and some days it’s a bit harder than others... but that I guess is the fun part of the racing.’’
2022 will see the massive regulation changes that were due to come in this year; they had to be delayed a year because of the pandemic that started in March of 2020.
Raikkonen says that they won’t make a difference in regards to his future, but he’s hopeful that the changes to come can improve the show.
''I think everybody is excited to see what happens, but it honestly doesn’t really dictate if I am racing or not,’’ he said.
''I hope for the sport, I think everybody hopes for the sport that it does what they say it’s been planned to do.’’
Raikkonen departed the sport in 2009 and competed in the World Rally Championship and NASCAR for two years before making his return in 2012.
After a two-year break of his own, Fernando Alonso is back on the grid for 2021. The Finn believes his fellow World Champion will enjoy his comeback.
''Without that break, for sure today I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about F1. I think he (Alonso) will enjoy it.’’
Mick Schumacher is set to make his Formula One debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend. Having already raced against Jos and Max Verstappen, Raikkonen will have raced against both Michael and Mick Schumacher come Sunday evening.
Schumacher won the Formula 2 Championship last year before he graduated to F1. The Alfa Romeo driver says the German has earned his spot in the sport.
''Sure part of it is that (people having a lot of goodwill for him because of his Dad), but he’s not in F1 because of his second name,’’ said Raikkonen.
''It’ll be exciting to see; hopefully he has a decent car. He reminds me a lot of his Dad. I’m very happy for him.’’