‘We will leave you alone now’ – Iceman Raikkonen set for last F1 race

Manama, Kimi Raikkonen has created headlines in F1 far beyond his 2007 world title. Now the popular 42-year-old Finn is set for his last race.

Kimi Raikkonen is the last world champion to date for cult team Ferrari but the Finn himself is a cult figure as he leaves Formula One racing after two decades on Sunday.

The 2007 world title for the Scuderia in a dramatic finale against the McLaren duo of two-two reigning champion Fernando Alonso and rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton was the highlight of Raikkonen's career.

But Raikkonen made himself immortal when he told his then Lotus team via radio to "just leave me alone, I know what I am doing" while en route to victory at the 2012 Abu Dhabi race.

His current Alfa Romeo team duly wrote "Dear Kimi, we will leave you alone now" on his car for his farewell on the same Yas Marina course, said dpa international.

That same year 2012 he tried to get through an escape route after sliding off the track at the Brazilian Grand Prix, only to find himself in front of a locked gate and having to turn around.

"You can get back on the track by going through the support race pit lane but you have to go through a gate. I knew this as I did the same thing in 2001 and the gate was open that year. Somebody closed it this time," he said at the time.

That year 2001 marked his debut season in F1 at Sauber, after just 23 previous races.

He also drove for McLaren 2002-06, Ferrari 2007-2009 and 2014-2018, returned after a two-year F1 break at Lotus 2012-13, and ended his career at Alfa Romeo 2019-21, winning 21 grands prix, climbing 108 podiums and st for his 349th race Sunday.

Now 42, Raikkonen has competed against Michael Schumacher and his son Mick as well as Jos Verstappen and his son Max who is fighting for the title against Hamilton on Sunday.

"I don't consider this funny, I like it," Raikkonen told dpa ahead of his finale. "It is quite nice, I don't feel old. You only start to feel old when you are old in the head. But I am not feeling old."

Raikkonen is not known for many emotions and is commonly known as The Iceman.

But he was always popular in the paddock - for his hard racing but also for famous images such as walking through the Bahrain desert in his red Ferrari suit after his car failed, or leaving a Monaco race after a retirement and watching the rest of the race from a yacht.

"It is unbelievable what he has done," Williams driver Geroge Russell said of Raikkonen, and his former Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel said: "If you have it (a problem with Raikkonen) then he isn't the problem - it's you."

Raikkonen said Thursday that probably "my wife will be more emotional than me," as wife Minttu and their two children are in Abu Dhabi for his farewell.

He has also said he had no immediate plans for the future at the end of a career in a sport he never took too seriously.

"I always considered my life outside Formula One much more important than Formula One itself. It takes up a lot of your time but Formula One was never the most important thing in my life," he told dpa.

Source: Bahrain News Agency