A Finn farewell: Could 2020 be the career swansong for Kimi Raikkonen?

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The thing with sportsmen and women, and particularly F1 drivers, is that they tend to be an incredibly proud bunch who want to retire at the top of their chosen profession.

And that’s why it can be hard for ‘veterans’ of their trade to face up to the reality that they are no longer a major force in their sport.

Take Kimi Raikkonen. The former Drivers’ World Championship winner now finds himself in the autumn of his career at Alfa Romeo, and their start to the 2020 season has been so mediocre that the Finn finds himself pointless after eight races – teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, meanwhile, has just two points to his name.

To make matters worse, retirements have not been the root cause of the team’s woes, with the C39 vehicle in credible shape with Raikkonen at least finishing in all races thus far. 

Sadly, the car just isn’t quick enough to compete – and that’s a real source of contention for the Finn given that he was in the mix to be among the ‘best of the rest’ in 2019 behind the major teams’ drivers. The most telling factor, perhaps, are the latest outright F1 betting odds for 2020, in which Alfa Romeo aren’t even listed as being amongst the contenders for the Constructors’ Championship. Further evidence comes in the prices for the Tuscan Grand Prix, where bettors can avail themselves of a staggering 3000/1 on a Raikkonen victory.

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At 40, Raikkonen is by no means a spring chicken in F1 terms, and with his Alfa Romeo contract up at the end of the season the future remains very much unclear. Indeed, when quizzed as to his plans for 2021 onwards, the Finn responded with a fairly telling ‘I don’t know yet.’

Could the sport be about to say goodbye to one of the sport’s most intense but likable characters?

The Beginning of the End?

The downturn of Alfa Romeo remains one of the great mysteries of the 2020 F1 season to date.

While they finished a lowly eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, the Swiss firm were still able to provide a decent car to Raikkonen, who amassed 43 points, including a fantastic fourth-place finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The finger of blame has been pointed solely at the under-performing Ferrari power unit – something that even the firm’s boss Mattia Binotto has eluded to, but until those failings are solved why would Raikkonen want to sign an extended contract with the team? The other positive in their favour is that their Zurich headquarters is close to where the Finn has set up home with his young family.

And, of course, we have to look at the other side of the coin too. Will Alfa Romeo want to offer extended terms to a driver entering the final throes of his career – no matter how legendary? They will surely be eyeing young starlets in the Ferrari and Sauber driving academies, and perhaps existing F1 aces who might be heading for a parting of the ways with their present team at the end of the campaign.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this could be Kimi Raikkonen’s final season in Formula One. If it is, let’s hope Alfa Romeo and Ferrari can supply him with a car to do his outstanding talent one last flourish of justice…

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