Alonso, Vettel will miss "outstanding" Raikkonen when he exits F1

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso believe an "outstanding" Kimi Raikkonen will not only be missed as a Formula 1 driver, but also as a person.

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Raikkonen announced in September that the 2021 season will be his last in the sport, bringing a career that spans over 20 years to a close.

The 42-year-old Finn made his F1 debut with Sauber in 2001 and went on to win the 2007 title with Ferrari, scoring a total of 21 victories with the Italian squad and McLaren.

Vettel was Raikkonen's teammate at the Scuderia from 2015 to 2018, and the four-time champion is one of the few drivers the Finn considers his friend.

The German admitted he feels "great respect" for Raikkonen for the way he has stayed unchanged throughout the years.

"I think it's a natural thing," said Vettel of Raikkonen's retirement.

"Time goes one way, and at some point, time comes for him, and at some point, time will come for me and at some point even time will come for Lando, even though that's a long way to go.

"It's probably the most natural thing. Will he be missed? Yes. I think he was a true character, and I enjoyed the time I had with him as a teammate.

"But to be fair, I got to know him already before, and he's probably one of the very few drivers I've met from day one until today that hasn't changed in the sense that he has been very, very open, welcoming me as a young kid when I entered F1, and at that point he was probably the most established Formula 1 driver.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

"Great respect. I don't think you can have an argument or a problem with Kimi. If you do, then the problem is not him, the problem is you.

"He's a great person, and I'm sure we'll stay in touch. I wish him all the best and I will miss the silence."

Two-time world champion Alonso, who partnered Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2014, labelled the Finn a "very good person" who changes dramatically when he is away from the track.

"I think Kimi will be missed in Formula 1," said Alonso. "I like him a lot, the way in his own way he loves the sport, and has been for so many years in Formula 1.

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"I think he's very honest always, which I really like that part of Kimi. And I think outside he is maybe, mask off of being a cold and Iceman, there is a very good person inside that you meet from time to time outside the circuit.

"We meet in airports, restaurants, places that you are not in this paddock environment and Kimi is a different person.

"As I said, he has been outstanding for Formula 1, and he will be missed because he has his own character and he was different."

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