Raikkonen recalls first F1 test at Mugello in 2000: 'I had no neck muscles but didn't complain'

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Kimi Raikkonen has reflected on his maiden Formula 1 test which took place at Mugello 20 years ago this month.

The Finn was essentially the Max Verstappen of his day, making his debut with Sauber in 2001 after just one season in single-seater racing, this being a dominant championship win in Formula Renault UK.

Before he got the seat, however, the Swiss team would trial Raikkonen against then race driver Pedro Diniz around this weekend's Tuscan Grand Prix venue, with his performance being such that even Michael Schumacher, who was testing for Ferrari at the same time, told Sauber they had to sign the man then known as 'The Eskimo'.

"It’s going to be nice to be back on that track with the same team I was there with back in the day," Kimi commented in his pre-race preview.

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Then on Thursday, he recalled: “I remember obviously not everything but a lot of stuff, but we did three days and it was something completely different, quite a challenging track to start with at that time. Now it should be okay.

“We had no power steering in the car when I started, and it was a bit different to Formula Renault.

“I had no neck muscles in those days. I did maybe three laps in a row and then had to come back, so we didn’t put in that many laps over the days. We couldn’t do anything else.

"I didn’t want to complain about the track when I got my chance! I accepted it and tried to do my best.”

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Of course, now Raikkonen is a world champion and potentially in his final year in F1 at just a month shy of his 41st birthday.

So it is almost appropriate that he should get the chance to race at the circuit where it all began.

"I seriously doubt those days 20 years ago are going to give me that much of a competitive advantage," he smiled.

“I know the track from the past but it might feel different obviously with these cars.

“Overtaking might be difficult, apart from Turn 1, if nobody makes mistakes, but we’ll see what happens over the weekend and try to do the best we can.”