Max Verstappen on becoming Formula 1 World Champion
It’s never easy to see one of your heroes going down in flames at the biggest single event there is.
Kimi Raikkonen has become the first man to lift the F1 honours in back-to-back 24 Hours races at the Nürburgring.
The Dutchman and Mercedes driver led the race for 107 hours over the two races by setting the fastest lap and leading six times. He ended up fourth overall after a second place at the Norisring, and beat Sebastian Vettel’s four minutes by over two seconds.
Afterwards, Kimi said: “I knew that even in a 24-hour race the first lap can be the hardest one. Even though I was faster than Sebastian that is not how I would have won. In the last 20 laps when I was on the limit, I felt I had to make a lot out of a bad situation. I have a few things to do and I hope to come back stronger.”
It’s the kind of speech you’d expect from a man who has been to the Nürburgring on three occasions and who is now the only person since 1938 to have won on all three occasions. He may not have come home with a silverware, but he did come home with a trophy.
It took a little longer for him to win the WEC title (in a very close final, where he and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did almost everything right), but even so he’s the first man to win the title in back-to-back races at Le Mans.
It is one of the greatest sporting stories ever, in that Kimi will not be retiring from motor racing after winning the crown, but will be moving on. Kimi’s father and Mercedes boss Toto seems to know this and says he would like Kimi to have the honour of winning the World Championship in his own sport.
“He will be leaving F1 in a few years and a lot of people will be sad to see him go,” he says. “There are also many who will look forward to his retirement.”