Raikkonen says 2021 will be his final season in F1

Sports Desk, Sep 1 (EFE).- Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, the Formula 1 world champion in 2007, announced Wednesday that he will be leaving the sport at the end of the current season.

“This is it. This will be my last season in Formula 1,” the Alfa Romeo driver said in a message posted on Instagram.

The Finn, who turns 42 next month, has started 341 Grand Prix races, more than anyone in F1 history, winning 21 of them and taking 18 poles in qualifying.

And the “Iceman” is one of only five drivers with more than 100 podium finishes.

“This was a decision I did last winter. It was not an easy decision, but after this season it is time for new things,” Raikkonen said.

His most recent victory was in 2018 at the United States Grand Prix during the final year of his second stint with Ferrari.

“Even though the season is still on, I want to thank my family, all my teams, everyone involved in my racing career and especially all of you great fans that have been rooting for me all this time,” the Finn said on Instagram.

Raikkonen began his F1 career in 2001 with Sauber and spent five years with McLaren before joining Ferrari, which has not won another driver’s championship since the Iceman’s triumph in 2007 by one point over future seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn was twice runner-up for the title, in 2003 and 2005, and finished third in the driver standings in 2008, 2012 and 2018.

He stepped away from F1 in 2009 for a sojourn in the World Rally Championship, but returned to racing’s top circuit in 2012 with Lotus.

By 2014, Raikkonen was back driving for the Scuderia.

The announcement of his retirement fueled speculation that compatriot Valtteri Bottas will leave Mercedes for Alfa Romeo in 2022 to make room for George Russell.

The young Williams driver got behind the wheel of one of the Silver Arrows for one race last season when Hamilton was sidelined by Covid-19 and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is widely thought to want Russell to replace Bottas. EFE arh/dr

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