Kimi R??ikk??nen vs Sebastian Vettel

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Kimi R??ikk??nen vs Sebastian Vettel

Kimi R??ikk??nen and Sebastian Vettel won their world championships in dramatic fashion, coming from behind in the closing stages of the season.

Vettel made his debut the same year R??ikk??nen won his title. But the Finnish driver left F1 the year before Vettel clinched the world championship.

R??ikk??nen’s first F1 team was Sauber, who he drove for in 2001. He quickly dispelled concerns over his lack of racing experience (he was only given a super licence on a provisional basis at the start of the season) and was snapped up by McLaren at the end of the year.

He quickly got on terms with team mate David Coulthard and scored his first F1 win at Sepang in 2003. Although it was his only win that year he was in the running for the championship until the final race.

The following season was a disappointment with the largely uncompetitive and unreliable MP4-19. Its successor was a tremendous improvement – easily the quickest car, but prone to failures. R??ikk??nen won seven times but ended the year runner-up in the championship again, this time to Fernando Alonso.

R??ikk??nen jumped ship to Ferrari in 2007 and results came quickly. He won his first race and first championship with the team, overcoming a 17-point deficit in the final two races to snatch the title from the McLaren drivers.

He started his title defence strongly with two wins in the first four races. But team mate Felipe Massa forged ahead and a four-race point-less streak, including crashes in Belgium and Singapore, killed off R??ikk??nen’s championship hopes.

Vettel made a one-off appearance for BMW in Indianapolis in 2007, picking up a point on his debut as he stood in for the injured Robert Kubica.

A mid-season switch to Toro Rosso led to a full year with the team in 2008. Vettel marked himself out as a man of the future with pole position and victory in a streaming wet race at Monza.

He graduated to Red Bull in 2009 and won four times to finish runner-up in the championship to Jenson Button. R??ikk??nen, however, won once, at Spa, but was dropped by Ferrari at the end of the year and moved to the World Rally Championship.

Like R??ikk??nen at McLaren, Vettel came to learn the strengths and weaknesses of cars designed by Adrian Newey: great performance but questionable reliability. His RB6 failed him while leading on several occasions in 2010. But he also lost points with costly mistakes.

However a late-season charge brought him three wins from four starts. Having been fourth in the championship with two races to go he snatched the title from Alonso in the final race.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Kimi R??ikk??nen Sebastian Vettel
Kimi R??ikk??nen, Ferrari, 2009 Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monte-Carlo, 2010
Titles 2007 2010
Second in title year/s Lewis Hamilton Fernando Alonso
Teams Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari BMW, Toro Rosso, Red Bull
Notable team mates David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Felipe Massa Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sebastien Bourdais, Mark Webber
Starts 156 62
Wins 18 (11.54%) 10 (16.13%)
Poles 16 (10.26%) 15 (24.19%)
Modern points per start1 9.60 9.21
% car failures2 19.23 12.90
Modern points per finish3 11.89 10.57
Notes Signed by McLaren after a single season with Sauber Won in first full season for Toro Rosso
Championship runner-up in third season and again in 2005 Championship runner-up in second full season
Won title in first season for Ferrari after stunning late-season turn-around The youngest ever world champion
Bio Kimi R??ikk??nen Sebastian Vettel

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Kimi R??ikk??nen (71%)
  • Sebastian Vettel (29%)

Total Voters: 752

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Images ?? Ferrari spa (R??ikk??nen), Red Bull/Getty images (Vettel)