Before his F1 debut Kimi raced in the Nordic karting Championship and European Formula Super A, Formula Ford Euro Cup and by the age of 20 he had won the British Formula Renault winter series of 1999.
From 2002-06 Kimi joined McLaren taking over from fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen, he scored a third place podium finish in his first race with McLaren during the 2002 Australian Grand Prix.
At the opening of the 2003 qualified 15th in the spare car, he also took a speeding penalty caused by a software error but managed to finish 3rd. In Malaysia Kimi had his first Grand Prix win after starting 7th on the grid The same year in Brazil Kimi was declared the winner after the race was stopped on lap 55. A week later evidence emerged that Fisichella was on lap 56 when the race was stopped therefore the winner was decided at lap 54. This granted the win to Fisichella with Raikkonen 2nd.
Raikkonen's start to the 2005 season season was less than perfect. The car was reported to be too soft on its Michelin tyres, with the result that it was not generating enough heat to post competitive qualifying times - after 7 wins including Belgium, Monaco, Canada, Japan and Hungary he received the F1 Racing "Driver of the Year" accolade and Autosports "International Driver of the Year" award.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw Raikkonen qualify second behind Alonso and in front of Michael Schumacher. The running order was Alonso, Raikkonen, Schumacher until the second set of pitstops where Raikkonen was demoted to third by Schumacher, a position he held until the end of the race. In Canada, Raikkonen achieved another podium. In the United States Grand Prix, his teammate punted him out in an expensive seven car accident. The French Grand Prix saw Raikkonen qualify his car in sixth. His teammate was now former test driver Pedro de la Rosa in place of Montoya. Raikkonen ended the race in fifth. In Germany, Raikkonen qualified on pole. After a battle with Jenson Button, he finished the race for the first time in his career, ending in third place. Another pole came in Hungary, but he collided with Vitantonio Liuzzi after 25 laps, causing his fourth retirement of the season.
After the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari announced that Raikkonen had signed a three-year contract with Scuderia Ferrari for the 2007–2009 seasons. Raikkonen said after the move that he was very happy with this change of events but wished McLaren the best of luck in the future. He became the teammate to Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had been driving for Ferrari since 2006. Following the retirement of Michael Schumacher and his new deal with Ferrari, Raikkonen was estimated to be the highest paid driver in F1, with a base salary reportedly worth $51 million annual.
In the week before the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix, several news sources reported that Raikkonen was eyeing a return to Formula One for the 2012 season with Williams F1 after he was spotted at the team's headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire. Several reports went so far as to suggest that Raikkonen had entered preliminary negotiations with the team. However, the team refused to comment on the reports, with driver Rubens Barrichello dismissing them as rumour and speculation. On 29 November 2011, it was announced that Raikkonen would be returning to Formula 1 in 2012, signing a two-year contract with Lotus.