Raikkonen’s history at the German Grand Prix
Good Karma for Kimi in 2012?
If there was one place which has bad luck written all over it for the Iceman, it’s Germany. He’s never won at either the Hockenheim or Nurburgring circuits but has been pretty close, with a handful of poles and fastest laps taken from both. Here we’ll take a recap over history as Kimi prepares for his German comeback this weekend:
Kimi’s first taste of the German tracks with Sauber – finished 10th at Nurburgring. Retired from a halfshaft problem at Hockenheim.
Podium finish with 3rd at Nurburgring in his debut McLaren season. But retired from a spin at the Hockenheim race later that season.
The closer Kimi came to victory… the more luck was against him!
Kimi Raikkonen took his first ever F1 pole position on German soil with a time of 1:31.523. For 25 laps of the 2003 European Grand Prix held at Nurburgring, Räikkönen looked set to win from his first pole position and regain his championship lead. Then his McLaren’s Mercedes engine broke down and instead it was an unchallenging Ralf Schumacher who came through to take the win.
At the 2003 Hockenheim race, Kimi had a flying start. But in just seconds from lights out, he suffered one of his most biggest crashes:
But don’t feel bad, Ralf Schumacher was penalised for causing that accident.
The following year Kimi was still within a fight for victory in 2004 German GP at Hockenheim. He was running in 2nd place, chasing after Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari in the lead when suddenly the McLaren’s rear wing broke and flew off causing the Iceman to dramatically crash out of the race. Of course, with McLaren’s dreadful reliability that year, Kimi’s engine also failed in the second Germany race at Nurburgring.
This proved to be most bitter year for Kimi’s Germany visit. On lap 30 at the Nurburgring, Kimi appeared to lose concentration, going wide through the Ford chicane, allowing Heidfeld into the lead for one lap before the German had to pit. As he ran off road, Raikkonen damaged his bargeboard. The mistake allowed Alonso to gain 4 seconds. A few laps later, Raikkonen damaged his tyres with a lock up of his front-right whilst lapping Jacques Villeneuve who ignored blue flags, losing a small amount of time to Alonso as he ran wide. This created the “flat spot” which caused severe problems later in the race because of the 2005 regulations, which stated that drivers were not allowed to change tyres during pit stops any more.
Raikkonen was able to continue posting competitive lap times and retain his lead over Alonso, but had to take his second pit stop on lap 43, handing Alonso the lead and a chance to decrease the gap. Alonso set the fastest lap of the race on lap 44, but then lost around 7 seconds after running off the road at the Dunlop hairpin. With 8 laps remaining, Räikkönen held a 7.4 second lead over Alonso, and had victory in sight, but the tyre damage was causing major vibrations throughout the car and suspension, causing him trouble under braking and through corners. Alonso, with a clearly faster car at that stage, was able to close the gap quickly, and with 2 laps left, he had reduced it to just 2.7 seconds. Raikkonen’s tyre began showing signs of imminent failure, and the vibrations in the car became increasingly severe. The McLaren team decided not to change the tyre, instead opting to go for the victory. And it was Kimi’s choice too.
As Raikkonen started the final lap of the race, he was 1.5 seconds ahead of Alonso, and there was a chance for Alonso to perhaps catch the Finn. However, under braking for turn 1, Raikkonen’s suspension broke under the increasing pressure, sending him spinning narrowly past Jenson Button and into the gravel trap, ending his race. Alonso was able to take the last lap easily, winning the race. It was Alonso’s 4th win for the season, increasing his championship lead to 32 points ahead of Raikkonen and Trulli. The failure on the final lap had denied Kimi his third successive victory in 2005.
Two months later, Kimi came back with a vengence and took pole position at Hockenheim with 1:14.320. The Iceman maintained position after the start and first round of pitstops. However, on lap 35, Raikkonen’s car suffered a hydraulic failure forcing his retirement from the race. This meant that Fernando Alonso inherited first position once again. It was Kimi’s fifth consecutive retirement at the circuit.
In Kimi’s final year at McLaren, Germany decided to let the Finn off in 2006. Kimi took his second and last podium at Hockenheim, finishing in 3rd place which was all the MP4-21 could manage.
With the new red Ferrari outfit in 2007, Kimi’s German GP visit was a peculiar one. Kimi went quickest in what was a dry qualifying. The race, however, decided to be a complete wash out – it suddenly began raining extremely heavily during lap 1 – then an error from race leader Kimi resulted in him slipping wide on the paint and he missed the pit entry completely which meant he had to do an extra lap on the dry tyres slipping him to seventh place. And of course… Kimi’s car woes followed him to Ferrari from McLaren and was forced to retire due to mechanical problems while catching up to the leaders running in third.
At least Kimi finished the race at Hockenheim in 6th place.
Kimi’s last race in Germany, wasn’t much different from earlier history – on lap 34 he retired from a radiator issue.
- Pole positions: 4 (Nurburgring 2003 & 2007, Hockenheim 2005 & 2006)
- Fastest laps: 3 (Nurburgring 2003, Hockenheim 2004 & 2005)
- Podiums: 2 (2002, 2006, McLaren)
- Points finishes: 1 (2008, Ferrari)
~ Let’s add a victory to that list. All the best this time round Kimi!