|Born||17 October 1979|
|Formula One World Championship Statistics|
|Team||Team McLaren Mercedes|
For the 2006 Formula One season Räikkönen continued with McLaren. The year was relatively dissaspointing for him and McLaren, going the season without a win and ending in 5th place in the Drivers' Championship. At the end of the season Ferrari announced he would join the team next year to replace the outgoing Michael Schumacher.
In Bahrain, Räikkönen suffered electronic problems during Friday practice and a spectacular rear suspension breakage during the first qualifying session, which forced him back to 22nd place on the grid. Nevertheless he drove through the field, ending third behind Alonso and Michael Schumacher. In Malaysia, Räikkönen was hit from behind by Red Bull Racing's Christian Klien on the first lap. The impact caused a left rear suspension failure resulting in Räikkönen retiring from the race. Having started the year clearly behind Renault, McLaren improved in Australia, where Räikkönen finished second after flat spotting a tyre and losing a wing end-plate, which caused him to fall off the pace somewhat around the midpoint of the race. Chasing down Alonso during the final stages of the race, he set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, finishing only 1.8 seconds behind the Spaniard. At the San Marino Grand Prix, a bad choice of strategy and a mistake from Räikkönen in qualifying (8th) saw the McLarens get caught in traffic in the early part of the race allowing Michael Schumacher and Alonso to get away at the front. Räikkönen eventually finished 5th, with team mate Montoya ahead in 3rd place. McLaren team boss Ron Dennis blamed what he deemed to be Räikkönen's poor performance for the team's failure to finish in the top two in the race.
At the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen qualified 9th. However, he managed to get up to 5th place on the first lap of the race. He retained this position for most of the race, finishing in 5th place. A few days after the Spanish Grand Prix, he admitted that he had no chance of winning the 2006 Championship. In Monaco, Räikkönen qualified third. During the race he got up to 2nd and kept pace with Alonso, however he retired during a safety car period after a failed heat shield led to a wiring loom inside the car catching fire. After the retirement he was seen on live TV walking along the Monaco sidewalks with his helmet still on to the harbour and climbing aboard a yacht.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw Räikkönen qualify second behind Alonso and in front of Michael Schumacher. The running order was Alonso, Räikkönen, Schumacher until the second set of pitstops where Räikkönen was demoted to third by Schumacher, a position he held until the end of the race. In Canada, Räikkönen achieved another podium. In the United States Grand Prix, his teammate punted him out in an expensive seven car accident. The French Grand Prix saw Räikkönen qualify his car in sixth. His teammate was now former test driver Pedro de la Rosa in place of Montoya. Räikkönen ended the race in fifth. In Germany, Räikkönen qualified on pole. After a battle with Jenson Button, he finished the race for the first time in his career, ending in third place. Another pole came in Hungary, but he collided with Vitantonio Liuzzi after 25 laps, causing his fourth retirement of the season.
A first turn incident with Scott Speed at the Turkish Grand Prix led to an exploded tyre and suspension damage. After a tyre change, Räikkönen's race ended half way into the next lap when he crashed into the barrier at turn 4 because of a loss of rear grip. Räikkönen qualified on pole for the Italian Grand Prix by 2 thousandths of a second from Michael Schumacher. He led the early part of the race until the first pitstops where he was passed by Schumacher. He stayed in second place for the rest of the race. After the race, Schumacher announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Later, Ferrari announced that he would be replaced in the 2007 season by Räikkönen.
The Chinese Grand Prix saw another retirement for Räikkönen due to throttle problems. His last two Grands Prix, in Japan and Brazil, did lead to 2 finishes, but he missed the podium on both occasions. Räikkönen ended his time at McLaren-Mercedes with a fifth place in the World Drivers' Championship, with McLaren placing third in the World Constructors' Championship at the end of a winless year.
Räikkönen's British Formula Three Championship team Räikkönen Robertson Racing claimed their first major success, with British driver Mike Conway winning the 2006 British F3 International Series title and the prestigious Macau Grand Prix.
Complete season resultsEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|2006||Team McLaren Mercedes||McLaren MP4-21||Mercedes FO 108S 2.4 V8|| BHR|