Kimi Raikkonen ‘should be three-times champion’

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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