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Kimi Räikkönen

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Kimi-Matias Räikkönen, b. October 17, 1979 in Espoo, Finland, is a talented Formula One driver.

Presently one of the best drivers in the sport, he had a long line of success in karting and by the age of 20 began racing Formula Renault cars. He was outstanding in his year-plus in the series, winning all but 4 of the 17 events he appeared in.

Peter Sauber[?] was so impressed that he gave the Finn a test, and after a successful test was signed to the Sauber team for the 2001 season. Without a single bit of experience in Formula 3[?] or Formula 3000, the two series generally believed to be "feeder" series to F1, he was not immediately granted the superlicence necessary to race in the series, with the thought that his lack of major experience was going to be a hazard on track. FIA president Max Mosley[?] was among those against him getting one. None the less, he narrowly got enough support and raced for Sauber that year.

In his first race, he finished a very solid 7th, which became 6th after Olivier Panis[?] was penalized. It started a solid debut year where he proved he was ready for the big time, finishing with 4 points scoring finishes and 8 finishes in the top 8. More importantly he was far from the hazard that people expected him to be. While he was outscored by teammate and fellow prospect Nick Heidfeld[?], McLaren was sufficiently impressed by Kimi that the young Finn earned a spot on Ron Dennis[?]' team for 2002, replacing departing Finn Mika Häkkinen, over his teammate.

The McLaren car suffered many engine problems that season, but the times Kimi did finish he was often on the podium, proving that they made the right choice of drivers. He nearly won his first race in France that year but spun out with a handful of laps to go and settled for 2nd place. All told, he finished a very solid 6th in points.

Through 7 races in 2003, Kimi's McLaren has been exceptional, netting his first win in Malaysia. He came extremely close to a win in Monaco as well but lost by less than a second to Juan Pablo Montoya. In 6 of his 7 races he has reached the podium, only missing the podium after a crash on the first lap of a race that he was forced to start from the back of the field after a spin in his only shot of qualifying.

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