Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Räikkönen heads to Japan needing a strong result, after four-straight disappointing races immediately following F1’s summer break… with no points scored.

The Iceman was Mister Consistency in the first half of 2019, with top-10 results at eight of the first 12 races and went into the break eighth in the drivers’ standings on 31 points.

But he’s failed to score since then, dropping to 14th place behind Sergio Pérez. The Mexican earning points in three of the last four events, Nico Hülkenberg in 11th finishing in the top-10 in all four.

Räikkönen, though, has been unlucky - with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crashing into him at Turn 1 in Belgium. Monza saw a crash in qualifying, followed by a pitlane start, but was then mistakenly given the wrong tyres for a stop-go penalty and no hope of points. 

Singapore saw a collision with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, with Russia a case of damage limitation after a jump start.

Sochi was especially disappointing, given it was his 307th start - putting him third on the all-time list ahead of Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button. He will eclipse Rubens Barrichello as number one next season.

So it’s been a series of tough races for the Finn, but he knows the potential is there and is confident in the team’s direction with Alfa Romeo boss Frédéric Vasseur leading a tight ship.

“It’s very easy to talk [to him] and go through things, and I think it’s very helpful. He seems to be a very, very nice guy - or man. And he’s doing a good job, getting the people doing what needs to be done. And all the people in the [Alfa Romeo Racing] team seem to be very hard working and excited.”

So Räikkönen heads to Suzuka looking for a smoother weekend, where he’s able to just race, pure and simple, as he loves to do.