Ranking Kimi Raikkonen's Top 5 Moments Ahead of His 200th Formula 1 Grand Prix
Two hundred grand prix starts.
It's a staggering statistic—almost as surprising as discovering that the Finn will turn 35 later this year—with Raikkonen always seeming fresh, fast and timeless.
Since making his debut for Sauber in 2001, he has established himself as one of the most recognisable drivers on the grid, competing for some of the biggest names in the business, such as McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus, and securing the 2007 world championship after a couple of near misses.
His unorthodox handling of "the other stuff"—including media appointments and other non-driving commitments—puts the Finn among the most popular drivers of the modern era, leading to him wear his "Iceman" nickname with pride.
And to mark his double century, here are the top five moments of his career, combining the most outrageous and exciting on-track incidents with the funniest bits that make Raikkonen—well—Raikkonen.
Raikkonen's title-clinching victory in the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix (above) is arguably the most notable absence from the top five.
The Finn's dominant debut win for Ferrari at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix was another significant moment in his career, with a win in his first race for the Prancing Horse quickly consigning the era of Michael Schumacher, his predecessor, to history.
Raikkonen's first victory in Formula One at the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix cannot go unnoticed, whilst his last-lap retirement in the 2005 European Grand Prix, although self-inflicted, left the pure racers among us nodding with sympathy.
As for the other side of him, his retreat to his boat following his retirement from the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix has lived long in the memory, as has that interview with Martin Brundle in Brazil later that season.
His statement of admiration for Schumacher following the German's second retirement at the end of 2012 was predictable.
And, of course, that business with the ice cream during the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix cemented his status as the Iceman.
5. Kimi Gets Snappy, Silverstone 2008
Ahead of a race in damp or wet conditions, you are likely to find drivers frantically discussing their race strategy with their engineers on the grid.
It is a time for concentration, consideration and judgment calls.
Whilst some drivers, such as Heikki Kovalainen and Mark Webber, were found talking tyres with Martin Brundle ahead of the 2008 British Grand Prix, Raikkonen—only yards away—was seen pushing a photographer to the ground.
The Ferrari driver then gave the victim, Paul-Henri Cahier, a piece of his mind before jumping in his car and finishing fourth in a display of damage limitation.
It was another perversely hilarious way for Raikkonen to prove how different he was from his peers.
4. Getting Back into the Title Race, Shanghai 2007
Raikkonen is known as a driver who prefers to do his talking on the track rather than in the press pen—and that was put into practice in the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix, one of the Finn's most underrated performances.
Lewis Hamilton, starting on pole, was expected to be crowned Formula One's first rookie world champion at the end of the 56 laps—but Raikkonen took advantage of changeable conditions to apply considerable pressure to the McLaren driver at the halfway stage in Shanghai.
Hamilton, of course, slid into retirement on the entrance of the pit lane shortly after being passed by Raikkonen, while Fernando Alonso, the remaining title protagonist, finished almost nine seconds behind the Ferrari driver.
Although Raikkonen would not seal his first world title until the next round in Brazil, the final event of the season—by overturning a seven-point deficit to Hamilton—his exploits in China went some way to engraving his name on the trophy.
3. Taking on Michael Schumacher, Spa 2012
The notion of overtaking at Spa's Eau Rouge corner is considerably less daunting than it was a few years ago.
Mark Webber broke the uphill bend's mystique when he passed Fernando Alonso there in the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, with Raikkonen following the Australian's lead 12 months later.
Raikkonen's pass on Schumacher, though, arguably carried more intrigue, with the latter known for his occasionally punchy, underhand antics when in close proximity to other cars.
The overtake revived memories of Schumacher's pass on Raikkonen in the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, when it appeared as if neither driver would make it through the corner unscathed but somehow did.
It was testament to the skill of both drivers and Raikkonen's bravery.
2. Those Radio Messages, Abu Dhabi 2012
There will be a sense of injustice when Raikkonen retires from Formula One and is remembered primarily for something he once said over team radio instead of all those thrilling performances and his often devastating natural speed.
But it is impossible to ignore the effect his team radio messages in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had on shaping Raikkonen, the man.
It wasn't just the humour of effectively telling his race engineer to "shut up" at 200 mph—it was a complete, charming rejection of the tedious strands of information that number-crunchers frequently launch in their driver's direction.
Raikkonen spoke for almost every one of his peers when he hushed the pit wall—and we reveled in it for good measure.
1. Last Lap Pass on Giancarlo Fisichella, Suzuka 2005
For racing drivers, the elation that comes with pulling off a decisive overtaking manoeuvre on the final lap of a grand prix is unrivaled.
It is the motor racing equivalent of a footballer scoring the World Cup-winning goal in the dying moments of extra time.
Raikkonen capped his finest season in Formula One, in which he was beaten to the championship by Fernando Alonso, by clinching victory in the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix with a pass around the outside of Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault.
After heavy rain disrupted qualifying—which at that time was run on a single-lap basis, with Raikkonen being the second driver to set a time due to his second-place finish in Brazil in the previous grand prix—the Finn produced a stunning recovery drive.
The race-winning move on Fisichella was not too dissimilar to an earlier pass that Raikkonen had completed on Michael Schumacher, highlighting just how irresistible the Iceman was that day.
It was Raikkonen at his heroic best.