[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] KIMI RAIKKONEN: LOVING F1

At 39, 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen is the oldest man on the grid, and by some margin, six years older than Lewis Hamilton, and 20 years and one month up on rookie Lando Norris for the biggest age gap in 2019.

But he’s still proving experience pays, as the only driver outside of the top teams to score points at every round so far.

Räikkönen is revitalised at Sauber-turned-Alfa Romeo Racing this season, despite it being a move that few believed to be the right one after it was announced pre-Singapore last year Charles Leclerc would replace him at the Scuderia from 2019.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
5-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Kimi [Räikkönen] is one of the best drivers that Formula 1 has seen so it'll be very hard to say that a young kid [Charles Leclerc] is going to do better than him but he's got great potential, Leclerc.”

China was another successful outing for the Iceman. Räikkönen finishing ninth for two points, making it seven-straight top-10 finishes for the Swiss team dating back to the United States last year.

And Räikkönen is doing it for the pure love of racing, something he wasn’t always able to do during his tenure with Ferrari.

… where he played second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel from 2015.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“It’s everything, otherwise I wouldn’t do it, for sure. Obviously some days it doesn’t feel like the most funnest job and you don’t always enjoy it because there’s good days and bad days.”

The 39-year-old is still one of the most popular drivers on the grid, despite being the oldest man in F1’s youngest-ever field… 

…the class of 2019 having an average age of just 27, the new guard very much making its presence felt.

And while Räikkönen will be 41 when his Alfa Romeo contract runs out at the end of 2020, he’ll be far from the oldest driver to start a race.

That record is owned by Louis Chiron, who was 58 and 288 days when he started the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix. The Monégasque more than 2-years older than second-placed Luigi Platé.

Räikkönen, though, could yet go longer still if he continues to enjoy racing and snagging top results: a contract extension potentially taking him to 43, the same age as Michael Schumacher on his second retirement. 

… and why wouldn’t he, when he’s reported to be receiving $4 million US dollars a season, and Alfa Romeo’s Hinwil factory is just 40 minutes’ drive from his Swiss home.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Now it’s a bit easier [for me] obviously, in a Swiss team is not far from my home so it’s much easier to travel to the factory. My son has been there, and the family with me a few times so it’s quite handy on that side so it works well.”

There’s no doubt he’s also serving a purpose at Alfa Romeo… 

…providing the world champion-level benchmark in improving the team’s performance on-track and behind-the-scenes.

And being a target for full-time rookie Antonio Giovinazzi, who is the first Italian on the grid since Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2011.

The Iceman may have melted just a little in his twilight years in the sport, but as long as he’s delivering, both Alfa Romeo and F1 will want him to continue for as long as he can.

… as a firm fan favourite, one who definitely knows what he’s doing.