- Kimi Raikkonen is retiring from Formula 1 and the Alfa Romeo team at the end of the season
- The Finnish driver arrived in F1 in 2001 and has scored 21 race victories
- Raikkonen, the 2007 series champion, believes the 23-race schedule in 2022 will be too taxing for teams
There really can be too much of a good thing when it comes to Formula 1. The world’s most-watched racing series is down to two races that will settle the World Drivers’ Championship battle between Max Verstappen and seven-time winner Lewis Hamilton.
However, the 22-race season spanning 8½ months has been draining for the people whose job it is to prepare F1 cars for competition. He won’t be around to see it in person, but veteran driver Kimi Raikkonen says the 2022 season looks worse.
Kimi Raikkonen is retiring from Formula 1 racing
One of the most distinguished careers among active Formula 1 drivers is drawing to a close. Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, 42, revealed this summer that he is leaving at the end of the season. His F1 career is down to races Dec. 5 in Saudi Arabia and Dec. 12 in Abu Dhabi.
Raikkonen made his Formula 1 debut with Sauber in 2001 and made quite the impression as a rookie by cracking the top 10 in all 10 races he completed. However, he crashed out twice and retired early from five races due to mechanical issues, leaving Raikkonen a disappointing 10th in the standings.
He spent the next five seasons as Mika Hakkinen’s replacement at McLaren, where Raikkonen logged the first nine of his 21 victories, and the move to Ferrari in 2007 brought him his only World Drivers’ Championship.
After sitting out two seasons, Raikkonen rejoined F1 in 2012 with the Lotus team. He arrived at Alfa Romeo in 2019 after five seasons at Ferrari, but the former Sauber outfit’s cars have underwhelmed.
Kimi Raikkonen says Formula 1 is scheduling too many races
Michael Schumacher never raced more than 18 times in any of his seven Formula 1 championship seasons from 1994-2004. Lewis Hamilton’s seven title seasons have averaged 19.3 races despite the 2020 schedule being abbreviated by the pandemic.
Teams will have gone to the grid 22 times by the conclusion of the current season, and Formula 1 has released a 23-race schedule for 2022. Kimi Raikkonen calls that excessive.
“It will burn out a lot of people, and this isn’t going to be good for anybody,” Raikkonen said, according to The Sports Rush. “So, I think, maybe as a spectator, it is excellent for having a lot of races. But the people that do most of the work, it is very difficult for them.
“There has to be some kind of better way to go about that. For some teams. It’s just not an option to just hire more people because they don’t have the money to hire. It’s a bit tricky.”
F1 raced in Mexico, Brazil, and Qatar on consecutive weekends this month. In 2022, the schedule shows only one such sequence (the more manageable Belgium/Netherlands/Italy tripleheader), but organizers are squeezing the 23 races into eight months.
Alfa Romeo will undergo a wholesale change
Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement is one piece of the major changes ahead for the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team in 2022. With just 11 points through 20 races, the team sits ninth out of 10 in the constructors’ standings, but the changes ahead may be the first step in climbing closer to the middle of the pack.
After the powerful Mercedes team and driver Valtteri Bottas agreed to go their separate ways for 2022, opening the door for George Russell to come over from Williams, Alfa Romeo signed Bottas. The team then doubled down by dropping Antonio Giovinazzi in favor of Guanyu Zhou.
For now, the moves won’t change the perception that Alfa Romeo is Ferrari’s junior varsity, but Bottas and Zhou offer the Swiss team the hope that it can edge closer to Aston Martin, Alphatauri Honda, and Alpine Renault. It’s still a long climb to the top from there, but it would be a start.
All stats courtesy of Racing Reference.