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Kimi Raikkonen will retire from Formula One at the end of the season

Finnish ‘iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen, who won the 2007 Formula One world championship for Ferrari, announced on Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the season after a record run in the sport. The 41-year-old, currently racing for the Swiss-based Alfa Romeo team and his departure opens up a seat, with compatriot Valtteri Bottas strongly tipped to take it when he leaves Mercedes.

Rikkönen is the oldest driver on the starting grid and holds the all-time record for most race starts, having participated in 341 of the 344 Grand Prix so far. “That’s it. This will be my last season in Formula One. It’s a decision I made last winter,” Raikkonen said in an Instagram post to his 2.4 million followers.

He said, “It was not an easy decision, but after this season it is time for new things. Formula One may be the end for me, but there is more in life that I want to experience and enjoy.” “

Raikkonen, a blunt fan favorite whose love of racing is matched by a dislike for media duties and the corporate side of the sport, made his F1 debut in 2001 with Sauber, the team he now races as Alfa. He was so inexperienced in single-seater racing that the team had to convince the governing body to super-license him.

He moved to McLaren in 2002, won Malaysia for the first time in 2003 and was dubbed the ‘Iceman’ by team boss Ron Dennis for his calmness under pressure. Now he has the word tattooed on his forearm.

Raikkonen joined Ferrari in 2007 to replace seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. His title success remains the last championship for a Ferrari driver and came when the Finn overtook McLaren’s then-rookie Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by one point after winning three of the last four races.

Raikkonen left the sport at the end of 2009 but returned in 2012 with Lotus, with whom he won two races from 2014–2018 before his second stint at Ferrari. His last win was at the 2018 US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas and his contract was due to expire at the end of the year. He will turn 42 in October.

“Kimi is an incredible part of our sport, a personal friend and a true champion,” said former Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, who now runs Formula One as chief executive. “I’ve had the privilege of working with him at Ferrari and know he is a wonderful man. We will all miss him and his unique style and wish him and his family the very best for the future.”

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