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Pirelli’s comeback kings

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Kimi Raikkonen
The ‘Iceman’ had two comebacks with Pirelli, strictly speaking. Having turned his back on Formula 1® at the end of 2008, one year after he won the world championship, he returned to competition as a rally driver, at the start of a two-year World Rally Championship campaign with Citroen. At the time, Pirelli was the sole supplier to the series, so Raikkonen drove on Pirelli’s P Zero and Scorpion tyres for rallying, with a best result of fifth place on the 2010 Rally Jordan and one fastest stage time in Germany. Then there was a second comeback with Pirelli, when he returned to Formula 1® with Lotus in 2012 – racking up two wins there before re-joining Ferrari in 2014.

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Alex Zanardi
One of the biggest heroes in motorsport, and an inspiration to so many people, put his driving career on hold to concentrate on the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro last year, where he claimed a gold and a silver medal in hand cycling, to add to the gold medal he had previously won in London in 2012. When he returned to driving after the Paralympics, it was for the final round of the Italian GT Championship in Mugello, driving a Pirelli-equipped BMW M6 GT3. After finishing sixth in the first race, he won the second race. “There are no words to describe what I feel,” he said afterwards. “Today I saw the sun setting and it never looked that beautiful. What a year; not only what a day…”

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Robert Kubica
The Polish driver’s life and racing career was turned upside down by an accident at a small rally in northern Italy that nearly killed him in February 2011, as well as severely injuring his right arm. But showing the determination that had made him a grand prix winner, he was determined to come back. He chose rallying, as the space inside the car allowed him the most freedom of movement, with his shoulder doing most of the work for his injured arm. After a learning campaign in the European Rally Championship and WRC2 rank of the World Rally Championship, he was ready to step up to the big league of the main WRC, with Pirelli. And on the first rally of his first full season, he was straight into the lead of Monte-Carlo, with an astonishing advantage. In the end, the results never quite lived up to the potential, but he remains one of the quickest people ever to sit in a rally car.

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Gigi Galli
The Italian rally driver, a larger than life personality, attracted a crazy army of fans who dressed up as chickens (his surname means ‘chickens’ in Italian) and followed him all over the world. Having finally achieved his dream of a factory drive with Mitsubishi, it all turned sour after the squad withdrew from the series at the end of 2005. However, Pirelli threw him a lifeline, by backing a privately-entered Peugeot 307 WRC on selected world championship events. He took his bright yellow Peugeot to third overall on Rally Argentina in 2006, as well as fifth in Finland during the same year. 

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Fabio Leimer
Swiss driver Fabio Leimer won the GP2 Series with Pirelli and Racing Engineering in 2013, racking up three wins during the season, and then moved into Formula 1® in 2015, taking up a third driver role with Manor Marussia. While he took part in some FP1 sessions, he also drove in the World Endurance Championship as well as selected outings in Formula E (replacing former Toro Rosso F1® driver Jaime Alguersuari) but his promising career eventually stalled. After a brief spell on the sidelines he returned to competitive action last year with the Pirelli-equipped Ferrari Challenge, winning the Trofeo Pirelli at this season’s first race in Valencia, Spain, on his first outing in the 488.

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Erik Comas
The Frenchman was a star in Formula 3000, winning the title in 1990, and soon graduated to Formula 1® with Ligier and Larousse. He retired from F1® at the end of 1994 and then pursued a GT career in Japan, winning the championship there twice, before calling a definitive end to his circuit driving days at the end of 2006. 
Yet he wasn’t entirely done with competition as he always maintained a passion for historic rallying, so he recently returned to a full championship with Pirelli and the iconic Lancia Stratos. He’s now contesting the FIA European Historic Rally Championship and is in strong contention for the overall title. 

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Michael Schumacher
His life was devastated by the tragic skiing accident at the end of 2013, but one of the most sensational comebacks seen on Pirelli tyres finished just a year earlier, when Michael Schumacher completed a three-year return to F1® with Mercedes.
Back then, Mercedes was a long way from being the dominant force that it is today, and yet Schumacher still proved to be regularly competitive with this year’s reigning champion Nico Rosberg. 

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