Räikkönen had a long line of success in karting from the age of ten, including placing second in the 1999 European Formula Super A championship. He also competed that year in the Formula Ford Euro Cup, and by the age of twenty, he had won the Formula Renault Winter series, winning the first four races of the year. In 2000, he dominated the British Renault Championship, where he won seven of ten events. After racing in the Formula Renault series later in 2000, Räikkönen had won an astounding 13 of 23 events — a 56% win rate.
His entry into F1 (2001)
Peter Sauber was so impressed that he gave the Finn a test with the Sauber Formula One team in September of 2000. After further tests in Jerez and Barcelona, Sauber signed Räikkönen for the 2001 season. However, some critics (including FIA president Max Mosley) voiced concerns over granting an F1 super license to such an inexperienced driver, having only 23 racing events to his credit; he was nevertheless granted a super license, and silenced his critics by scoring a championship point in Australia, his maiden grand prix. Räikkönen was asleep 20 minutes before his first F1 GP (He loves to sleep - so much so that he needs to be woken up before qualifying and races.)
Far from being the hazard that some people expected him to be, Räikkönen was very calm, cool, and calculating in his race strategy - prompting former critics to nickname him "the iceman". His other nicknames include Kimppa, Räikkä and Kimster (used by his mechanics). Some finns jokingly call him "Räkä", meaning snot in Finnish. This nickname was derived from "Häkä" (carbon monoxide in finnish), the nickname of Mika Häkkinen. He had a solid debut year, proving he was indeed ready for the big time of Formula One. He finished the season with four points-scoring finishes, with eight finishes in the top eight. Completing the year with 9 points, Räikkönen, along with teammate and fellow prospect Nick Heidfeld (12 points), helped Team Sauber to its highest ever result: fourth place in the constructors championship.
His Move to McLaren (2002)
Räikkönen, long rumoured to be linked to a future Ferrari deal, instead sufficiently impressed McLaren, earning a race seat on Ron Dennis's team for 2002, replacing double-world champion (and fellow Finn) Mika Häkkinen.