Kimi Raikkonen recently announced his retirement from Formula One through his instagram account on Wednesday evening and, nows, opens the question: who will replace the former world champion?
Despite missing out the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Kimi Raikkonen has had a fantastic career racing in the highest echelon of single-seater motorsport. The 2007 world champion has spent 19 years inside the F1 paddock.
After becoming the most experienced F1 driver to date, with 342 grand prix starts – overtaking Rubens Barrichello, he has obtained 21 race wins, 46 fastest laps and 18 pole positions.
With big shoes to fill, Alfa Romeo will be looking a variety of drivers that could replace the outgoing Finn.
Alexander Albon currently sits on the sidelines of Red Bull Racing’s driver line-up after he had a less-than-optimal season last year, finishing seventh with 105 points: 109 less than his teammate Max Verstappen.
Although he still races for Alpha Tauri in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, also known as DTM, a potential return to the F1 grid looks highly unlikely as Sergio Perez has secured another year at Red Bull. On the other hand, the Milton Keynes’ ‘sister team’ Alpha Tauri hasn’t locked down Pierre Gasly and/or Yuki Tsunoda for 2022 yet – so there still is an option there.
It sounds unlikely to happen, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a Red Bull driver has disembarked from the academy with the likes of Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari in 2015, and Daniel Ricciardo to Renault in 2019.
The test and reserve, and former Formula Two, driver, Callum Ilott is another name worthy of a shout in this list for Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement.
While the British driver is set to make his Indycar debut at Portland with Juncos Hollinger Racing, his connections to the team could prove useful for getting himself a seat in the top level of single-seater racing.
The former F2 driver finished the 2020 F2 championship in second, behind Haas’ rookie, Mick Schumacher – losing out by 14 points. It proves the youngster has potential to move up into the big league.
However, this move would mean that he would take up the second-driver position and Antonio Giovinazzi would be promoted to the lead driver.
The Mercedes teammate to Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas has become one of the favourites amongst fan speculation and the F1 paddock to replace the former world champion. Essentially replacing one Finn for another.
With the odds continuously stacking against him, the Finnish Mercedes driver looks set to be leaving the dominant Silver Arrows and will be replaced by the young Williams driver, George Russell.
A proven race winner and a Finn with a point to prove may result in the team becoming more competitive amongst the midfield teams. Although Bottas is a clear favourite to obtain this free seat, it would leave one question wide open: will Giovinazzi go or stay?