Austria 2001 – When Kimi joined F1 in 2001, I remember the hype around him, it being mainly pessimistic, debating whether he could stand up to the challenge and tough competitiveness of F1. He finished 4th in Austria, in just his 6th F1 race. The previous 3 races he had retired, but it shows that Kimi’s mentality is such that he just relies on his capabilities, and mostly, his love for driving fast. 2001 was the best season for Sauber, and most critics would lay that as the reason of Kimi getting those 9 points. But they can’t deny how well he coped in his debut season having only raced 23 races prior his first F1 test.
Canada, Magny Cours and Hungary 2002 – After getting his first F1 podium in Australia, Canada was outstanding. I remember his qualifying that weekend, and he was pushing the limit so far, SO far that he was almost off the track around the whole track, and was pushing Michael Schumacher to the limit. Juan Pablo though was on it (as always) and got pole. Kimi out performed his McLaren that weekend, qualified 5th, and finished 4th, he was exhausted being on the limit. Magny Cours of course was Kimi’s point where he would have reached his maiden F1 victory, but for an oil spillage on the track. Kimi qualified 4th that weekend, keeping his consistancy up, its all his McLaren could reach as the Ferrari’s were always right infront, but Kimi was always right behind them. When the time came, it was Kimi infront and he kept his pace so consistant, each lap was hardly different to the other, but fate interfered and he had to lose his first win to Schumacher, all because of an oil puddle! ROAR!!! Hungary was tough for Kimi. He struggled in qualifying, which ended in 11th place on the grid. How was he going to make up for that in the race!? Well he did. He pushed his way up into 4th place, similar to the results he could manage in the previous races anyway, he always fought for what he lost, and got it back.
Malaysia and Brazil 2003 – As the McLaren car became more competitive in 2003, Kimi made use of it ALL! He drew every single tenth out of that car. But when this inexperienced Kimster drove it all over the tracks, mistakes were the course of nature. Thats normal. He qualified 7th. Oh dear. But boy did he make up for that! He won his first F1 race, Kimi was now an F1 race winner in his 3rd season. He overtook a bunch of cars from the start lap, and got into 3rd. Alonso was infront, but Kimi was pounding in. After all the pitstops, Kimi was a flyer! He pulled a 30 second gap from second place driver and took it easy. He cruised to his first win, and well deserved it was! Brazil was a tough race. It was hard to keep your head on in the midst of the drama outside. He qualified 4th, just 0.050 hundreths off his teammate. It was a race drenched in rain, the safety car dominated most of the start of the race, crashes and slides and spins distracted the attentions and concentrations of the drivers. Kimi kept his cool though, and overtook his teammate into turn one, where many cars were spinning off. At the time on lap 53, Kimi was declared winner, but sadly for Giancarlo he missed out on his first F1 win with confusion on the safety car/pit stop situations. Fisichella lead the race on the lap 54 which the race was red flagged and stopped. Kimi handed over the winners trophy at the next race, but Kimi could feel pleased that he drove a great race and never let anything bother him. Infact, had there been no crash, Kimi would have been WC with those precious 2 points he missed out on in the end of the season.
USA and Japan 2003 – The title in 2003 looked set to be Kimi’s at the start, his consistancy didnt leave a doubt other than his predictable inexperienced errors now and then, however the reliability issues of the McLaren that year was the haunter. But as always, Kimi’s feelings and frustrations were put aside, and he got his 2nd pole position right in the heat of things. The rain in the race created a lot of drama, and Kimi had to grab as many points he could with both hands. He had to settle for 2nd place and never put a foot wrong with the worry of losing his first world title in his head. He did lose, by just 2 points. Michael Schumacher was so impressed with Kimi’s consistancy that he said something along the lines of ‘I have won 5 races and Kimi only 1, yet he has always been right on my tail in the points’.
The 2004-2006 seasons to be continued.