LONDON (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen has one of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One records in his sights this weekend at the Canadian circuit where the now-retired seven times world champion won more races than anyone else.
If Raikkonen finishes in the top 10 in Montreal, the Lotus driver will equal Schumacher’s record of 24 successive grands prix in the points - even if the statistics are deceptive because scoring systems have changed.
Naturally, the ‘Iceman’ has been cool about the prospect.
“I am sure that it will all stop at some point,” he told Reuters recently. “Obviously we always try to get points and do good races but it can be some small part (that breaks) and it will stop.
“Of course it would be nice. It’s already nice now and every time with this team. In the past I kept retiring quite often so it’s different for sure to what it was in the past. But I’m sure that we will have some difficulties at some point.”
The 2007 world champion’s run almost ended in Monaco, the weekend before last, when a collision with McLaren’s Mexican Sergio Perez dropped him out of the points.
With fresh tires, and an insult or two hurled in Perez’s direction, Raikkonen managed to overtake three cars on the last two laps to scramble back into 10th place.
Schumacher started his scoring run by winning the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix with Ferrari and ended it with a sixth place in Malaysia in 2003 - which was also Raikkonen’s first Formula One victory.
Raikkonen, second in the championship after six races, began his current stretch of points finishes in Bahrain in April last year and has now reached the chequered flag in 34 successive races - allowing for his break in 2010 and 2011.
From 1960 to 2003 points went only to the top six. They were then extended to the top eight and from 2010 to the top 10.
Under the systems used when Schumacher set his record, Raikkonen’s current run would be a lot less special, however.
The Finn was 10th in Monaco and also in Brazil at the end of last season. His 23-race run includes two seventh places, an eighth and a ninth.
Taking the present points system to Schumacher’s record would make no difference to that tally since the 24 races were book-ended by retirements in Germany in 2001 and Brazil in 2003.
The record would still have been Schumacher’s even if the top five system used from 1950 to 1959 is applied.
The late five times world champion Juan Manuel Fangio racked up 21 top five finishes in a row between 1953 and 1956. Schumacher enjoyed 23 successive top five placings before Malaysia 2003.
But for the failure in Brazil in 2003, he might have racked up 43 scoring finishes in a row because he went on another run of 18 immediately afterwards.
Raikkonen won in Canada with McLaren in 2005 and has scored points on every visit, except in 2008 when his stationary Ferrari was rammed in the pitlane by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. That memory lingers on.
“Many times the race has been quite a lottery as there seem to be different things which affect it,” he said this week.
“The weather can change a lot, sometimes the tires or the track aren’t working very well, sometimes there are a lot of safety cars, or sometimes another driver runs into the back of you when you’re waiting at a red light.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer