Kimi Raikkonen is just 11 races away from breaking an all-time Formula 1 record, although when he does so is in question due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the 21st and final race of the 2019 Formula 1 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit, 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen passed two-time world champion Fernando Alonso for second place on the all-time starts list by making his 312th start.
The 40-year-old Finn has competed in Formula 1 since 2001, although he left after the 2009 season and did not return until 2012.
He entered the 2019 season with 291 career starts, putting him in a position to break the all-time record in the 2020 season.
Rubens Barrichello holds the record as the sport’s most experienced driver with 322 starts throughout his career, which spanned from 1993 to 2011.
Raikkonen was poised to tie this record in the 53-lap French Grand Prix around the 15-turn, 3.63-mile (5.842-kilometer) Circuit Paul Ricard road course in Le Castellet, France on Sunday, June 28, and he was slated to break it the 71-lap Australian Grand Prix around the 10-turn, 2.683-mile (4.318-kilometer) Red Bull Ring road course in Spielberg, Styria, Austria on Sunday, July 5, the 10th and 11th races of the season.
That will not happen.
Now there is no telling what the 11th race of the season will be — or if there will be an 11th race of the season.
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The season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit was canceled even though the teams and drivers were all at the track for race weekend. A McLaren employee tested positive for COVID-19, and that ultimately led to the abandonment of the event.
Upon that race’s cancellation, the next two races on the schedule, the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit and the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix at Hanoi Street Circuit, were postponed.
The following race, the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit, had already been postponed, as the outbreak originated in China and has spread outward.
Now the season, provisionally at 18 races, is scheduled to get underway with what would have been the fifth race, the Dutch Grand Prix at Circuit Zandvoort.
There are obviously questions as to whether or not this race will go on as planned, but the same can be said for most events around the globe, not just in Formula 1, at this time given the ever-changing situation.
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Assuming that conditions are safe enough and this race does open up the 2020 season, which is about the best that anybody can hope for at this point, Raikkonen would not be slated to break the record until September.
He is now slated to tie the record in the 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix around the 19-turn, 4.352-mile (7.004-kilometer) Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps road course in Stavelot, Belgium on Sunday, August 30, and he is slated to break it in the 53-lap Italian Grand Prix around the 11-turn, 3.6-mile (5.794-kilometer) Autodromo Nazionale Monza road course in Monza, Italy on Sunday, September 6.
This is, of course, subject to change, and it also assumes that no other races are affected and that none of the postponed races are rescheduled for between now and then.
At the end of the day, this is trivial when it comes to the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic, not only in Formula 1 but around the globe. Regardless, it is something on a lighter note to look out for as the days pass us by, and it is a great achievement for Kimi Raikkonen (whether he wants to admit it or not). For the sake of everybody, let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.