They say the end comes quickly in professional sport and it is certainly proving the case for F1 elder statesman Kimi Raikkonen, who has been urged to retire after a series of careless crashes.
On the final lap of last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix the Alpha Romeo driver crashed into Sebastian Vettel, causing the four-time world champion to spin off the track, forcing him out of the race with just moments left.
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Vettel was surprisingly calm after the incident but Raikkonen was furious at his team for not warning him that Vettel’s Aston Martin was fast approach to overtake him.
“Why the f*** did you tell me now?” he yelled over team radio.
“If you don’t tell me, how the f*** should I know?”
The 2007 world champion was less angry after the race.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal when you tell me I’ve already had a warning, but I don’t know,” he said.
“I mean, obviously the car behaved pretty well and we were just a little bit too slow. We caught up again but not an ideal ending. In the end it didn’t really change (anything), we were out of the points.”
F1 experts weren’t impressed at the totally preventable crash.
“That was totally senseless from Kimi,” former driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Sports Germany.
The end is near for F1 veteran Kimi Raikkonen. (Photo by Christian Bruna – Pool/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
“He just drove straight into his car. What he did was embarrassing.”
It’s not the first time this year Raikkonen has been involved in a careless crash.
At the Portuguese Grand Prix earlier in the season, the 41-year-old ran into the back of his Alpha Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, and made the shocking admission after the race he didn’t have his eyes on the track ahead.
“Basically it was my mistake,” he said.
“I was checking something on the steering wheel, changing a switch that I got wrong coming out of the last corner so I had to change it again and then I just drove into him, so clearly my mistake,” admitted Raikkonen.
The Finn is the oldest and longest-serving driver on the grid and has 338 race starts, the most in F1 history.
But calls are growing for Raikkonen to retire at the end of the season as former drivers believe his age is catching up with him.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas is firming as the favourite to take Raikkonen’s seat at Alpha Romeo. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
“I was 37 when I stopped,” former driver David Coulthard told German newspaper Bild.
“You suddenly make mistakes and don’t want to admit that you’re to blame. But it’s you. I also noticed that it has to do with concentration weaknesses, especially towards the end of a race.
“This was also the case with Michael Schumacher at the end of his career.”
If Raikkonen does decide to hang up the helmet after this year, it would prompt a major shuffle of drivers to different F1 teams.
Valtteri Bottas currently appears the most likely candidate to take over Raikkonen’s seat at season’s end, which would leave a highly sought-after place at Mercedes vacant.
Rising star George Russell has impressed this year for Williams and has long been viewed as a future driver at Mercedes.
Time will tell if Raikkonen decides to call time on his successful career, but one thing is certain – a another round of F1 musical chairs is set to begin.
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