Roberto Lippi Kimi Räikkönen, 2009

Robert Lippi (left) and Kimi Räikkönen are celebrating their respective birthdays.
[Original images via F1 Rejects and The Cahier Archive]

Former F1 drivers Roberto Lippi and Kimi Räikkönen are celebrating their respective birthdays today!

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Rome-born Lippi, turning 84 today, was a hugely respected Italian sports car and open-wheel driver in the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s, and one of the pioneers of the Formula Junior series.

Lippi contested three Formula 1 Grands Prix – all of them in Italy – between 1961 and 1963, but only qualified on his first appearance. Piloting a De Tomaso OSCA, Lippi was a mammoth 22.6 seconds off the pole position time, and retired after the opening lap, which was marred by the collision between Jim Clark and Wolfgang von Trips, which would prove tragically fatal for the latter.

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To-date, Kimi Räikkönen remains Ferrari’s last World Champion, and is widely regarded as one of the sport’s most enigmatic drivers.

TurningKimi Räikkönen, 2001 31 today, the Finn’s F1 career started in 2001 with Sauber, where Kimi surprised everyone with his turn of pace, despite obvious concerns over his lack of open-wheel racing experience.

More points-scoring results during his debut season saw Räikkönen signed to McLaren for 2002, where he proved a brilliant replacement for the retired Mika Häkkinen, taking his first race win the following year at Malaysia.

Despite failing to win again that year, he was a championship contender throughout, losing out to Michael Schumacher at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix by just Kimi Räikkönen, 2005two points.

The following year saw McLaren unable to compete with the all-conquering Ferrari F2004, but he took a brilliant win at Belgium, and was again in championship contention in 2005, winning seven times but again losing out, this time to Fernando Alonso.

McLaren again went off the boil in 2006, and he joined Ferrari for 2007 as a high-profile replacement for Michael Schumacher. Despite winning his maiden race for the Scuderia, his form slipped and he was fourth in the standings – behind both McLarens and his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa – with just six rounds to go.

From then on, he finished on the podium every time, whittling down the gap to the leaders and somehow sneaking through the clinch the crown by a single point in the Kimi Räikkönen, 2007season finale in Brazil.

Despite wins in two of the first four races of 2008, Kimi’s season fell away dramatically and he finished a distant third amidst rumours that Ferrari would replace him.

And replace him they did, but only at the end of 2009, where a clearly disinterested Räikkönen was off the boil – aside from an inspired win at Spa-Francorchamps – and decided to take an early payout as they brought on Fernando Alonso, and he slinked off the try his hand in the World Rally Championship.

[Other images via The Cahier Archive]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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