Kimi Raikkonen ‘should be three-times champion’

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2005 | DaimlerYou’d expect Kimi Raikkonen’s manager David Robertson to have a high opinion of his client but I thought his suggestion last month that Raikkonen should already be a three-timee champion was a bit much to take:

Two championships have been taken away from Kimi. He would be the youngest champion ever without McLaren’s reliability issues.

Saying the championships were “taken away” from Raikkonen is pretty strong stuff but I don’t think the facts are on Robertson’s side.

Robertson did not explicitly state which championships he was referring to but presumably he feels the 2003 and 2005 titles were “taken away” from the Finn. He finished runner-up on both occasions, to Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso respectively.

I would not deny that in both years Raikkonen lost points because of McLaren unreliability, but Robertson is conveniently ignoring the points Raikkonen lost of his own doing.

2003

1 Michael Schumacher 93
2 Kimi Raikkonen 91

Raikkonen retired only once in 2003 due to car failure – while he was leading at the Nurburgring.

The final points difference between himself and Michael Schumacher was just two points and although the ten points lost at the Nurburgring might have overcome that, driving errors probably cost him just as much.

He picked up a penalty for speeding in the pit lane at Melbourne and finished third on a day when team mate David Coulthard won. And he consigned himself to 20th on the grid at both Barcelona and Montreal by going off the track in qualifying. As a result he was eliminated on the first lap in Spain and finished only sixth in Canada.

Full 2003 F1 season statistics

2005

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes, Interlagos, 2005 | Daimler1 Fernando Alonso 133
2 Kimi Raikkonen 112

In 2005 the McLaren MP4/20 was usually quicker than its rivals but champion Fernando Alonso had demonstrably better reliability. He had no mechanically-induced retirements all year, ignoring the debacle at Indianapolis that eliminated all the Michelin runners.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, suffered terminal car failures at Imola, Nurburgring and Hockenheimring, all while leading. His Malaysian Grand Prix was compromised by a puncture (which might have been neither his nor the team’s fault) and he was moved back ten places on the grid at Magny-Cours, Silverstone and Monza after having engine changes.

Again, on the face of it, this would be more than enough to account for his 21 point deficit to Alonso at the end of the year – but this does not tell the whole story.

His suspension failure at the Nurburgring was visibly self-induced, caused by vibrations from a front tyre he had repeatedly locked solid while braking. He stalled the car on the grid at Melbourne and had to start from the pit lane.

At Imola there was suspicion over whether Raikkonen failed to heed McLaren’s warning about not hitting the kerbs too hard which caused the halfshaft failure that forced him to retire.

Full 2005 F1 season statistics

There is no doubt that Kimi Raikkonen is a world-class driver and a thoroughly deserving world champion. But I don’t believe he would have been a more deserving champion than Michael Schumacher in 2003 (ignoring the Michelin tyre row) or Fernando Alonso in 2005.

Photos: Daimler

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26 comments on Kimi Raikkonen ‘should be three-times champion’

  1. Musavir said on 1st January 2008, 8:39

    why are missing the whole point, there no indication whatsoever that kimi would more deserving than micheal or alonso in respective years, its very simple you take out the problem caused by mcclaren reliability we would have had kimi as champion each year.

    flatout attack approach of kimi is bound have him to err, but that is again not the point, as it happens be part motor racing.

    as for 2003,

    kimi retired once, that was enough to make difference, and as far as,

    “He picked up a penalty for speeding in the pit lane at Melbourne”

    the reason for it is a software glitch in the car’s electronic system, the way i see its not his fault.

    as for 2005,

    3 retirements, 3 engine change and 1 puncture you say, need say i any thing more?

    “His suspension failure at the Nurburgring was visibly self-induced, caused by vibrations from a front tyre he had repeatedly locked solid while braking.”

    i think there 4 engine changes, there was one in suzuka as well if remember correctly

    wait didn’t he flatspotted his tyre while he was trying to lap a backmarker, as backmarker didn’t give the racing line?. im failing to see how that is self-inflicted!!!

    again these are more than enough to make up for the deficit

    ooh wait minute, numbers are on Robertson’s side, kimi will be world champion on both occasions.

  2. If we look at it in Mc Laren’s perspective, they probably lost 3 world championships thanks to their drivers!(including 2007)
    I am seriously not suggesting that i believe that but thats the thing with stats, they can be made to sound the way they are wanted.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st January 2008, 12:13

    Musavir I think you’ve completely ignored what I’ve written. I’m not pretending Raikkonen didn’t have car failures – I’m saying that they aren’t the only reason why he wasn’t world champion in those years. Without the driving mistakes he could have been champion too – certainly in 2003, and probably also in 2005.

    Regarding the Melbourne pit lane speeding incident I couldn’t find any source that said it was the car’s fault (please do correct me if I’m wrong) and seeing he was over the limit by 1.1kph it’s not a great stretch of the imagination to assume it was finger trouble on his part. At the Nurburgring in 2005 he locked his tyres several times and whether he was lapping someone or not is irrelevant.

    I do concede that McLaren’s unreliability was conspicuously worse in 2005, but to lump that together with a single car failure in 2003 and suggest that he’s been robbed of two championships is unrealistic.

  4. Kimi might have lost quite a few points by his own mistakes or due to his own driving style, but still, without the car troubles he would still be able to win those 2 titles …

    it all depends from what angle we look at this :-)

  5. The way I see it is if it wasn’t for the reliability of McLaren and the problems Ferrari suffered the Kimi wouldn’t have been anywhere near challenging of the title.

    (And while he would still be the youngest champion had he won in 2003, if he only won 2005 he would only have been youngest for one year until Alonso won in 2006.)

  6. Reliability of the car is an integral part of F1. If we were to go back into history, giving everyone whose car broke down the points they lost as a result, the world championship list would look very different. Those who lost out because of car failures at crucial moments are entitled to sigh and speak of what might have been, but we can never say “so-and-so should have been champion” – luck is part of the game. Just ask Chris Amon, who would probably have been champion at some stage in his career had his cars been able to finish a race.

  7. Number 38 said on 1st January 2008, 15:29

    Without reviewing his entire career, let’s consider your 2003 take on his record:

    He picked up a penalty for speeding in the pit lane at Melbourne and finished third on a day when team mate David Coulthard won. And he consigned himself to 20th on the grid at both Barcelona and Montreal by going off the track in qualifying. As a result he was eliminated on the first lap in Spain and finished only sixth in Canada.

    Admitedly all self inflicted wounds but he STILL came within 2 points. Don’t forget the media darling, young Mr. Hamilton has some self inflicted wounds that cost him a Championship but we still kiss his feet, shouldn’t Kimi be given the same concessions?

    Personally I think Massa is a match for Kimi, and car reliability IS a factor, they (Massa/Kimi) were tied for points at Monza when a Ferrari suspension failure sent Massa packing.
    And I’ll again remind the world Kimi only won the Championship due to Massa’s gift of finishing 2nd at Brazil !!!!!!

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st January 2008, 15:43

    I compared Raikkonen versus Hamilton in the 2007 driver rankings.

  9. Renesha said on 1st January 2008, 18:53

    The fact of the matter is that whatever the reasons Kimi lost those titles in 2003 and ’05.The fact of the matter is that Kimi won the title in 2007.Same goes for Hamilton-He lost the title and until his hype transcends into reality he has every possibility of inheriting the ‘Nearly Man’ tag from Kimi but that is not yet a fact.

  10. AmericanTifosi said on 1st January 2008, 23:14

    I think Kimi deserved ’03 and ’05. If you look at all the times he crashed out at the start in 2003, every single one of them was someone else’s fault. (I watched them on YouTube) Everyone makes driving mistakes and I understand and respect your points, Keith, but it can not be ignored that if Raikkonen had similar reliablility to Ferrari and Renault, he would be three times world champion. As a sidenote, the tyre failure at the Nurburgring in ’05 may have been self-induced but Kimi’s drive to the end was nothing short of admirable.

  11. Daniel said on 2nd January 2008, 2:01

    If we’re talking changing the past, I can include topics such as justice… In 2003, Kimi’s lack of reliability made justice… otherwise, he would be champion with a single win and seven second places, very much Barrichello style, while Schumacher had six wins and three other drivers (Montoya, Ralf and even Rubens!) won more races than him…

    In 2003, Raikkonen only had a championship campaign because he was extremely favoured by the point scoring system change, made especially to impede more and more Michael titles, or at least to make the seasons last longer…

    Let me make clear… I’m not a Schumacher fan… as a brazilian it’s almost impossible to be one… in fact I only supported him during his Ferrari ressurection saga (1996-2000), mostly to see the greatest team ever recover its greatness…

  12. James said on 2nd January 2008, 2:25

    Ive always personally felt that Kimi has been exceedingly unlucky in Formula One, perhaps the driver on the current F1 grid who suffers in the shadow of Lady Luck.

    I do agree with Robertson to some degree. I do agree that Kimi was very unlucky not to win both 03 and 05 titles; and I feel that his car did let him down for both of them. However we must consider that Kimi was also lucky to get that close in 2003 to winning the title in the first place; without the new points system he would’ve been quite a bit behind with Michaels 6 wins compared to Kimis solitary win in Malaysia. In that respect, he was fortunate to come close not to mention the superiority of the Michelin tyres keeping the MP4-17D in the fight.

    Regardless of this, without the failures of the McLaren Kimi would have been the champion of 2003. He didnt make huge errors thoughout the season; the majority of them were in qualifying where on occasions tried a bit too hard (canada) and the crash at the start of the Spanish GP. You havent forgotten the hugely frustrating engine failure that Kimi suffered at the Nurburgring on a race where he was easily winning (I think 20 seconds in the lead) but there was that crash at the start of the German GP which he was completely blameless for. This was not McLarens fault; but without that im sure he would have finished 3rd given Williams’ dominance of that race with Montoya and Ralf probably would have come 2nd barring the crash at the start.

    In 2003, the title went to the right man; but Kimi was very unlucky not to win it.

    In 2005 Kimi was the fastest guy out there. I seem to recall that Kimi would have won about 10 or so grand prix on the trot without reliability issues. If he had Alonso’s R25 reliability then he surely would have won the championship. From Imola onwards Kimi could have won every race bar Shanghai which Renault were worthy victors, and Montoya had Sao Paulo sewn up in fairness. I dont believe the story about the Imola kerbs, I think if they were that problematic the team should have set the car up to be more robust whilst losing a bit of performance, perhaps. The Nurburgring tyre issue in my opinion was Kimis fault; however – and I emphasise this point – he was unlucky that the car didnt last another lap. In a way its unbelievable that he didnt lap say 8th place and get a point or two.

    However its IF there were no reliability issues, and that is part of F1. To use this as an excuse really, then you have to say for example 2005, what if Michael Schumachers F2005 was as fast as the MP4-20 and as reliable as the R25?

    (I still think that Kimi Raikkonen was and is a faster driver than Michael Schumacher, although Schumacher is more complete and would manage a situation alot better than Kimi, and able to set his car up perfectly which could have made alot of difference)

  13. Quote: “Kimi might have lost quite a few points by his own mistakes or due to his own driving style, but still, without the car troubles he would still be able to win those 2 titles …

    it all depends from what angle we look at this :-)”

    Hmm, lemme think.

    2001: Mclaren cooked Mika’s geese
    2002: Mclaren simply not fast enough
    2004: Mclaren cooked Kimi’s geese
    2005: Mclaren cooked Kimi’s geese
    2006: Mclaren simply not fast enough
    2007: Mclaren simply lost the plot

    It is very clear, that someone clearly has lost the plot! May i add, it is beyond any doubt that it is not the drivers. Except, well, in 2007.

  14. Marty P said on 2nd January 2008, 8:56

    If you take Raikkonen’s mechanical problems out of the equation you also have to ignore everyone elses and it becomes rather messy.

    None-the-less, he did make a lot of mistakes in 2003.

    In addition to the above errors he messed up his qualifying lap in Melbourne and lost the Brazilian Grand Prix by running wide on what turned out to be the second last corner of the race.

    At the Spanish and Canadian Grands Prix Raikkonen made more qualifying mistakes, and did himself no favours at Silverstone by running off the circuit twice during the race. Each time he ran wide he lost a position and finished the GP third.

    Even at the final Grand Prix with the championship at stake, Raikkonen crashed heavily during practice and hampered his preparation.

    Kimi’s driving mistakes cost him more points than his engine failure at the Nurburgring.

  15. Musavir said on 2nd January 2008, 13:06

    lot of mistakes in 2003?, his worst finishing position i think was 6th, while micheal had atleast 2 finishes below that!!!

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