2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he would retire from Formula 1 at the end of the current season, bringing his 20-year tenure in the sport to an end.
Currently racing for the Sauber-operated Alfa Romeo Racing outfit, the 41-year-old Finn has made the decision to turn his back to the sport when the chequered flag falls at this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“This is it,” he said on Instagram. “This will be my last season in Formula 1. This is a decision I did during last winter. It was not an easy decision but after this season it is time for new things."
"Even though the season is still on, I want to thank my family, all my teams, everyone involved in my racing career and especially all of you great fans that have been rooting for me all this time.
“Formula 1 might come to an end for me but there is a lot more in life that I want to experience and enjoy. See you around after all of this," concluded the Finn.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, commented: “There isn’t any driver out there like Kimi Räikkönen. His presence, his charisma and his unique attitude, matched with the innate skill that made this team give him a chance back in 2001, have made him a legend of our sport in a way which numbers and statistics struggle to convey.
"It was a pleasure to work with him in these years and I believe I speak on behalf of everyone at Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, from the shop floor in Hinwil to the garage here in Zandvoort, when I say a driver like Kimi has written some indelible pages of our team’s, and our sport’s, history.”
The Espoo-born driver made his F1 debut with Sauber in 2001. The following year saw him join McLaren with which he scored his maiden F1 victory. In 2005, he was in contention for the championship title, but reliabilty issues prevented him from winning the title.
Raikkonen then joined Ferrari for the 2006 F1 season, replacing the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. After winning his first race with Ferrari in Australia, he went on to take the title, which is still Scuderia's last Drivers' title.
At the end of the 2009 season, he was ousted by Ferrari to make place for Fernando Alonso. The Italian team's decision prompted Raikkonen to leave the sport, testing his skills in other motorsport desciplines including Nascar and the World Rally Championship. In 2012, he made his return with Lotus, driving two years long for the Enstone-based squad.
He rejoined Ferrari for the 2014 season, first partnering Fernando Alonso, then Sebastian Vettel. In 2019, he left the Maranello-based outfit and was signed by the Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo outfit.
Raikkonen's current team Alfa Romeo have yet to confirm their plans for 2021 with both seats open. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, FIA Formula E World Champion Nyck de Vries and ex Formula 1 driver, current DTM racer Alexander Albon have all beenmentioned as possible candidates for one of the Hinwil based team's seats.