The Alfa Romeo Formula One World Championship team designed a special livery bidding a fond farewell to racing legend Kimi Räikkönen, who retired from the competition at the end of the 2021 season.
Räikkönen is one of the most loved characters in the history of Formula One due to his off-the-cuff comments that never failed to amuse other drivers, commentators and fans alike.
The Finn made his F1 debut in 2001, racing for the Red Bull Sauber Petronas team for his first season before moving to West McLaren Mercedes, where he remained until 2007 when he joined Ferrari.
Räikkönen won his one and only F1 Drivers’ Championship in his first season with Ferrari, a year in which he claimed six race wins and 12 podium finishes. He remained with Ferrari until 2009, when he left F1 to switch sports and take part in the World Rally Championship.
After a stint also racing in NASCAR in the US, he returned to F1 as part of the Lotus F1 team for two years, before moving back to Ferrari for a five-season run, the final year in which he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship.
Räikkönen spent the final two years of his F1 career with Alfa Romeo, finishing 16th
in the Drivers’ Championship in both years, bowing out after the final race of the season in Abi Dhabi in December 2021.
It was at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the scene of the now-infamous, controversial Drivers’ Championship win by Max Verstappen – that Alfo Romeo produced the special livery as its way of saying goodbye to one of the sport’s best.
The message ‘Dear Kimi, we will leave you alone now’ was incorporated in the Alfa Romeo logo featured on the car’s engine cover, with wording taking the place of the horizontal arm of the Milan Cross.
The phrase was in reference to one of Kimi’s many, now-famous team radio messages that have entered F1 lore during the Finn’s long career in the sport.
Alfa Romeo produced a similar tribute for Antonio Giovinazzi, Räikkönen’s team partner who also left the team after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to take up a career with the Formula E electric-car racing series.
Giovinazzi’s message read ‘Grazie di tutto, Antonio’, which the team intended as a special thanks for the Italian driver’s contribution to the team since his debut.
“As the 2021 season comes to an end, so will the partnership between two drivers who have charmed millions of fans with their personality, their humour and their commitment to racing, proudly representing the Alfa Romeo values both on and off the track,” the Alfa Romeo F1 team said.