On this day in 2009, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen announced that he was taking a break from F1. The decision was partially driven by the news of Fernando Alonso joining Ferrari for 2010. Ferrari paid off Kimi’s contract in order to make room for Fernando, the latter partnering Felipe Massa. He tried to get a drive with McLaren for the coming season, but talks fell through.
Kimi was axed because, over the past couple of seasons Massa had been the faster driver. Plus, he’d been out for half of 2009 with an injury – Ferrari could hardly drop him off the back of that.
During his sabbatical Kimi entered the WRC, achieving a best finish of fifth at Rally Turkey in 2010. He even dabbled in American stock car racing series, NASCAR. Two years later, he realised that he had missed being an F1 driver and returned to the sport with Lotus in 2012.
Many believed that he was making a mistake by returning and even questioned his choice of team. However, he proved all his critics wrong by snatching a few wins and even finishing 3rd in the championship. He would stay with the Lotus team for the 2013 season, finishing 5th in the championship. He notched up 2 wins and 12 podiums during his two-year stint.
Finally, Ferrari decided to reacquire his services in 2013 and he would remain with the team until 2018. During his second tenure with Ferrari, he racked up 25 podiums and one win. He had been beaten by teammate Sebastian Vettel for much of his stint but has now begun to perform better this season.
However, it seemed to be too little, too late as Ferrari have signed Alfa Romeo-Sauber rookie Charles LeClerc. In the meantime, Raikkonen will be taking over the seat that LeClerc vacated. Coincidentally, Sauber was the very team that he made his Formula One debut with back in 2001.