(© Ben Johnston 2014)
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen will take part in his 200th Formula One Grand Prix at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. The Finn began his career with the Sauber F1 Team in 2001 and finished in 10th place in the Drivers championship.
However, in 2002 Raikkonen made his breakthrough in Formula One when he joined McLaren Mercedes and teamed up with David Coulthard after replacing fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen at the Woking based outfit. In his first race for the team Raikkonen finished the Grand Prix in third place behind race winner Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Raikkonen's next podium came at the 2002 European Grand Prix when he once again finished the race in third place. At the following race in Silverstone the Finn retired from the Grand Prix. In France, Raikkonen finished the race in 2nd place, he best every finish in Formula One. 'The Iceman' as he is known scored another podium at the 2002 season finale, the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 2003 Formula One season would be a fantastic season for the Finn as in the opening race of the year in Australia he qualified in 15th but went on to carve his way through the field to finish the race on the podium in third place. He followed this up with his very first Formula One victory at the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Following the victory, Raikkonen scored back to back podium's in Brazil and San Marino. The Finn eventually scored 10 podium's and finished the season in second place in the championship, just two point's behind Michael Schumacher.
Eight retirements and four podium's including one victory in Belgium saw Raikkonen finish the 2004 season in seventh place in the championship.
A total of seven victory's and eleven podium's saw the Finn once again finish the championship in the runner up spot behind Renault's Fernando Alonso. The stand out performance from Raikkonen came at the Japanese Grand Prix as he started the race from 17th place on the grid and went on to finish the race in 1st place.
in 2006, his final year with McLaren was one of his toughest with the Woking based outfit as he failed to win a Grand Prix but managed to finish on the podium six times.
2007 saw Raikkonen join Ferrari and in his first race for the team in Melbourne, Australia The Iceman started the race from pole position and went on to win the Grand Prix. He followed this up with two third place finishes in Malaysia and Bahrain.
In Britain and France, Raikkonen took back to back wins. From the Hungarian Grand Prix until the final race in Brazil Raikkonen went on an incredible run where he finished on the podium including three wins in Belgium, China and Brazil to win the championship by one point from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
2008 wasn't the best year for the Finn as he failed to defend his title from 2007 but did take two wins including nine podium finishes.
In 2009, Raikkonen took five podiums including one win in Belgium and went on to finish the season in 6th place in the championship.
Raikkonen, who had a year left on his contract with Ferrari was bought out of the deal by the Italian team and was replaced for the 2010 season by Fernando Alonso. He spent two season's away in the World Rally Championship and tried his hand in NASCAR before it was announced in 2011 that he would be making a return to Formula One with the Lotus F1 Team.
It proved to be an inspired move for the Finn as at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix the Finn secured a podium with second place behind Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel. He followed this up with a third place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Raikkonen won the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the first win for the Lotus F1 Team since they took over the Renault team in 2011.
Raikkonen finished the 2012 season in third place behind Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Last season Kimi Raikkonen was once again with the Lotus F1 Team and started the season with a sensational win at the Australian Grand Prix. He went on to collect eight podium's including the win and finished the season in fifth place after missing the final two Grand Prix of the year following back surgery.
Kimi Raikkonen has rejoined Ferrari for 2014 replacing Felipe Massa as Fernando Alonso's team mate. The Finn has had a difficult start to the season and has so far scored just 17 point's in the opening five Grand Prix of the season.
The Finn will be hoping to celebrate his 200th Grand Prix this weekend in style with at least a strong points finish.
©Ben Johnston 2014