After two years of absence the Finn returns with a Lotus F1, the last to win the World Championship with Ferrari. But without nostalgia. “The Reds? Not feel anything… Do not end well.” I’m back because I was tired of racing against the clock: I wanted to race in front of real opponents. To think that someone has dubbed to see the Iceman thrown on a sofa while drinking latte in front of a tennis match makes you laugh. Certainly the Husky stare and the almost albino colors look promote misunderstanding, however, only takes a few seconds of conversation with Kimi Raikkonen to understand that the image of the boy coldly and without emotion is the result only of superficial considerations. Of emotions, passions and things to say, Kimi has in abundance. It’s only the way to express it what’s different, but in the end there is more truth in his answers than there are in the “strategic lies,” Alonso has said in a hundred press conferences. The truth about Ferrari, for example, with which he opens in his first interview since returning to the wheel of a Lotus Formula 1 car: “It will not make an impression to see the Ferraris, I feel nothing. It was a beautiful page of my career, but it’s over. And not so good. “
And so no thrill when you see – or in front of your mirror – the profile of the machines of Alonso and Massa?
“No, nothing. Besides, I already saw the success of McLaren” from outside “.”
But in recent days how you felt when – after two years of absence “due to the rally” – you climbed aboard a F1?
“It was like coming home.”
What you missed in F1?
“The competition against a true, visible and present opponent. In Rally you race against the clock, you do not see any other throughout the race. Only the road. And the difference is huge.”
When did you decide to return?
“Last year. In the pauses of the rally season. I was able to do some ‘of experience in NASCAR. And there you have forty rivals per race … it was the first time that I found someone on the track since I left F1. As soon as the race started I felt within me the old appeal of the competition. I called my manager to ask around to see if there was something. We talked a lot with Williams but not if it has done nothing. When we got in touch with Lotus we had no doubt and we reached an agreement very quickly.
How did the first few laps of “rehabilitation” in the Lotus went? two years ago, when they did Schumacher in 2009 to prepare for the injured Massa was a tragedy …
“Well, it hurts my neck. But not any more than it hurt me when, a few years ago, started to drive after the winter break. I thought it will be worst.”
And from a technical standpoint?
“Even there I thought it will be worse. Of course I drove on exhibition tires and its performance is not those of next season tyres, but from that point of view, the new Pirelli will be a first for everyone.”
What goals have you given yourself for this season?
“Pushing as much as possible.”
You will have as team mate Romain Grosjean, previously you have “crossed” Heidfeld, Coulthard, Montoya and Massa. If you were to put them in order of skill?
“I have no reason to do so. They’re all good boys and good pilots. And so is Grosjean.”
Massa, who was your last team-mate at Ferrari, it’s having a tough time, and seems to suffer from Alonso’s arrival and it’s at his final year on the Reds (except for a miracle). They would have done better to keep you and let go of the Brazilian instead?
“Massa is a very fast driver. Bad periods happen to everyone.”
The next year, the grid will be full of world champions, besides you there will be Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Vettel. In your opinion who is the strongest?
“My opinion that is completely irrelevant. It will be good for F1. But in the end we will not change anything, we all start from scratch. Perhaps those who have a global bulletin board should handle a little ‘more pressure, a little’ more expectation from the fans, but for those used to drive an F1 car is nothing. In the end, I think that whoever has the fastest car, wins. “
What do you think of “Vettel phenomenon”?
“It is very fast. But there are also three seasons that he has the best car.”
Have you ever thought to stop driving?
“Well, in those days, after the end of Ferrari I did. To completely change my life, perhaps to do motocross, or something else. But it did not last long. The time to hop on a car again.”
2. What do you expect from the next tests?
Difficult to say. We’ll see then what the new car is like. I don’t think that it’s terribly different. I don’t know about the tyres. They say that they have changed a bit.
3. What kind of season would you yourself be satisfied with?
I haven’t really thought anything concrete. I see in the tests what the car is like and how good it is. That decides. How it feels, that’s a thing you notice right from the first test. At least I have noticed it immediately earlier.
4. You are used to really big teams during your F1-career. Does it show in the operation of Lotus that it’s slightly smaller than McLaren and Ferrari?
No, it’s just the same. We have all the same equipment here and hence we also have a chance to make a good car. The same gang who earlier won championships is still here. And physically the team is located in the same place. Maybe it’s smaller in the sense that Lotus doesn’t have a car factory behind them like Mercedes or Ferrari had.
5. During the last months a few motorbikers have passed away due to an accident. Does a professional driver think more about the sport’s dangers and risks when hearing these kinds of news?
Those are never nice news no matter if you know them or not or if they even are from your own genre’s circle. Those just happen. Sadly it’s part of many other sports too. Of course anything can happen and happens. Sad things but part of life.
6. You have already won your WDC in Ferrari. From where do you get motivation to continue?
I have never had any problems with motivation, although everybody always colors things. I have always liked to race. Back in the time there were quite many factors why I started to rally. Now I got a reasonably good chance to drive in F1. I get to race against others again. I guess that’s the biggest reason.
7. You have always been an excellent track-racer, but your attitude towards the media has been a bit questionable. On the scale from 1 to 10, how much do you hate these kinds of media-days?
I don’t hate them but they always ask the same questions. They won’t change to anything else. If I could decide I wouldn’t come here. It’s definitely not the first thing that comes to my mind when waking up or something that I would be excited over. But I think it’s the same for everyone else too. They probably would rather drive than do other things. If someone claims that they like these things, then I guess he is lying. Of course driving is always the number one thing. I don’t have anything against these. Maybe they have made the matter a bit too big.
8. Has Jenni already healed from her riding accident?
She is better now. She is still in pain but that’s normal. It wasn’t any serious matter.
9. You have probably without any cause been in the publicity because of alcohol. What is your relation to alcohol now?
It’s just the same as it was before. If I want to go out and have fun, I go. I don’t have any problem with it. Nobody forbids me and I don’t have to ask anyone for permission.
10. Do you think that you have changed during the years?
I’m sure every person changes, but I don’t think anything bigger has happened in me.
11. In public there is also the understanding that this Lotus-deal would only be a step to Red Bull in either 2013 or 2014. Is it correct?
I don’t have any plans. Lets see how this goes. In F1 everything can change reasonably fast. I hope that we can have fun with the team. At least I have had fun so far.
12. Do you have a two-year deal?
Yeah, in principle.
Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that he doesn’t expect to be challenging the front-runners during the 2012 season.
Raikkonen makes his comeback this year having been absent for two seasons since leaving Ferrari. The 2007 world champion has had his motivation questioned, with some observers doubting how long he will remain with Lotus if not given a competitive car. However, Raikkonen said that his expectations for this season were not high, and that it was a situation he was familiar with. “I expect to have to fight in the middle group,” Raikkonen told the BBC. “But it will not be a drama. It’s no different to my last year at Ferrari.”
Raikkonen did admit that he aspires to win another title, but said it wasn’t the main reason for his return. “Of course the championship is the goal,” he is quoted by Turun Sanomat. “It’s fine to try it, but I am not obsessed about having another championship or not.” With pre-season testing yet to get underway, Raikkonen has only driven the 2010 Renault in a private test so far. He said that one he gets to drive the new car his initial impressions will give an indication of how competitive he can be this year.
“Generally, if the car feels good right from the start, you are usually competitive (for the season). The races I don’t think are so different (from 2009). Vettel was strong even then even though there is much more passing now, but that depends on the moving wing. I haven’t tried it (DRS) yet, or the KERS because it was the 2010 car (at Valencia). But it’s just one or two more buttons to push.”
According to Kimi Räikkönen it’s much more nicer in Lotus than it was in Ferrari and McLaren.
Kimi Räikkönen doesn’t miss his boss Ron Dennis from his McLaren-times or Ferrari’s boss Luca di Montezemolo. He is already sure that the working peace between the driver and the team will maintain better in Lotus. “This is a relaxed team. Much more homey and warmer than Ferrari or McLaren. So far I have had really fun with the crew from Lotus and I don’t think that the situation will change,” Räikkönen said yesterday.
Lotus is getting a new F1-simulator
“It’s going to be better than any other team has. I myself am not going to drive a lot in the simulator. Even if I would drive in the simulator all days I don’t believe it would give any advantage in the final games.” Räikkönen is still trying to get permission from Lotus to drive some rallies this year also. “One can get injured in normal life also but it’s understandable that the team is trying to protect their drivers from dangerous hobbies. Maybe we can still reach unanimousity about the rally-matter at some stage.” It is still possible that Räikkönen would drive in Finland’s WRC-rally in August.
No Red Bull -plans
According to Räikkönen Lotus isn’t a stepping stone to Red Bull. “I have no plans in Red Bull’s direction,” Kimi assured. Räikkönen doesn’t see Red Bull or Ferrari as any special challenge. “If one wants to do well then one has to win everyone. Ferrari hasn’t been in the top for a few years. For me it’s just a team among other teams.“
Kimi about his new team: There is a more homey atmosphere here
Kimi Räikkönen gave MTV3 an exclusive interview in Switzerland. Kimi Räikkönen is after the first tests assured of his new employer Lotus-team’s atmosphere and action. “There is a clearly different working atmosphere here than there has been in my earlier teams. Here there are no uptight people, the atmosphere here is much more homey,” Kimi Räikkönen said to MTV3. The man has raced in three teams earlier: Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari. “There are as many people here as there are in other teams also. Everybody is working for the same matter, everybody is trying to do their best. The next tests tell what the car is like,” Räikkönen said.
Kimi Raikkonen primed for Formula One comeback with Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen says he had no trouble re-adapting to a Formula 1 car in his first test this week after two years away from the sport. The Finn, world champion for Ferrari in 2007, completed two days of running with his new team Lotus in Valencia. “I was expecting it to feel faster than it was,” said the 32-year-old, who has spent the last two years in rallying. “OK, Valencia is not the fastest circuit, but it was still pretty normal.” Raikkonen, who was speaking in an exclusive interview with the BBC’s new F1 commentator Ben Edwards, said the car did not feel especially fast. “I was expecting it to feel fast when you really go with the throttle but I had the sensation maybe once,” he said. Nor, he said, did he suffer any neck pains, despite the high G-forces of an F1 car – which can reach 5G during braking and around the fastest corners. “I don’t feel in the neck any stiffness,” Raikkonen said. “I probably expected to have more problems in the neck but I didn’t really have any.” Raikkonen was driving a two-year-old car because F1′s testing restrictions forbid teams running current cars outside official tests. That meant the team was unable to establish definitively whether he was on the pace, although trackside operations director Alan Permane told BBC Sport that “from the first run he was pretty much there.”
Raikkonen will make his debut in the team’s 2012 car at the first pre-season test in Jerez on 7 February. He refused to set any targets and ambitions for his first season with his new team, who finished fifth in the constructors’ championship in 2011. “We try to do as well as we can of course in every race, but it’s very difficult to say,” he said. “We have to see how the car is in the testing and go from there. Hopefully we can have a good car to challenge in front and that would be nice, but if not we try to improve it and go to the front. The team has everything we need to produce a good car. We are not missing something that’s the reason we don’t have a good car.The people are very keen to have a good year. The atmosphere is great, it is a bit more family like than in other big teams, very nice people to work with and I’ve been enjoying it so far.” Raikkonen said the main reason for his return to F1 was that he was missing wheel-to-wheel competition. “Racing is the biggest thing, that’s why I’ve probably come back,” he said. “That’s really the main thing.”
Räikkönen bangs: Of course my goal is to win the WDC
Kimi Räikkönen doesn’t make his F1-comeback with the tail between his legs. The man who is known as a silent hero told on Thursday in Zürich that he returns to F1 only to win his career’s second WDC. “Of course the championship is my goal. You always go after it but another WDC is not any obsession for me,” Räikkönen said. They have predicted Räikkönen a difficult season in Lotus-team after his rallying adventures, but the Iceman refuses to take the role of someone who is cooling off. Räikkönen has often stated that as a racing driver he was only interested in the victories. That thought is still strong although Lotus isn’t one of the top teams based upon preliminary estimations. “I don’t drive just because it’s cool to drive. It’s abnormal if you aren’t reaching for victory. One can’t be terribly happy over 2nd or 3rd positions. But it isn’t possible to always win, one has to learn to relate to other things than just winning,” Räikkönen said.
Tests in Jerez tell a lot
Despite his tough goal Räikkönen is not starting the season bragging. He was away for 2 years and one can’t say much anything about the competitiveness of Lotus before they have tested the new car. “It’s possible that we are behind the lead. But the car wasn’t terribly good on my last season in Ferrari either. In Lotus they know approximately what went wrong last season. Let´s hope they have learned from their mistakes so we get a good package.” Räikkönen thinks he is wiser about his chances to succeed after the tests in Jerez. “Usually the first tests with the new car tell what the pace is compared to others. If the car feels good right from the beginning then it’s often also the most competitive car.”
Lotus won’t let Kimi on rally paths
In rally Kimi Räikkönen went to ditches but also flashed his speed. He didn’t achieve the sharpest top which wasn’t any big surprise. Mikko Hirvonen for example stated when Räikkönen’s rally-career began that Kimi can’t get in the top-speed just by snapping fingers, because he lacked the required experience of the roads and driving to notes. People took Räikkönen’s adventure in WRC a little bit too seriously. Of course Räikkönen drove at times with a goal, however rally became a hobby for him. Still a part of those following Räikkönen also expected podium positions from him in rally too. “I never wanted to try rally as anything else than just a hobby. I didn’t have many expectations. At times I drove in the forest and the ditch but I’m still satisfied with my achievements in rally. I paid myself for my hobby. Hence I could decide myself if I would go to some rally or not. I didn’t want to take it too seriously,” Räikkönen said. Despite his F1-comeback Räikkönen is still a passionate rally man. “If I could continue driving rally at the same time as racing in F1, then I would do so. However now I have to wait for a while until driving rally again.” Lotus has bad experiences of their driver’s rallying hobby, hence Räikkönen has to control his passion. Robert Kubica’s accident is fresh in the memory. “The team is now quite on guard with these things. But the same seems to happen in other teams also,” Räikkönen thought.
Räikkönen revealed his favorite for President
F1-star Kimi Räikkönen can’t say if Finland would get a better president of Sauli Niinistö or Pekka Haavisto. “I guess I would wish that Niinistö becomes president. But this matter isn’t really on the top of my mind,” Räikkönen said in Zürich about the second round of the president election.
“In F1 everything can change damn quickly”
They have speculated with Kimi Räikkönen’s comeback to F1 ever since he left the series in 2009. Yet part of the audience was astonished when the comeback with Lotus was finally confirmed. They pondered why a WDC makes a contract with a team that according to preliminary estimations has no chance of fighting for victories. However the decision to come back was very Räikköish. He is used to making his own decisions without caring what others think. And now Räikkönen felt like going back to F1. “Now was a good chance to drive in F1 again,” he said on Thursday. “The coolest thing about the comeback is when getting to race against the others.” Räikkönen assures that his motivation is top class. “I have never had any problems with motivation. Still many seem to color that matter.” It has been speculated that the Lotus-seat would only be a temporary seat for Räikkönen on his way up to the top teams. Räikkönen doesn’t admit or deny this. According to him the Lotus-deal is “in principle 2-years”. “I don’t have any long-term plans. Let´s see how it goes with Lotus. But in F1 everything can change damn quickly,” he said.
From: www.mtv3.fi – Translation: Nicole and miezicat
Kimi leaves the anger on the track – Jenni Dahlman has been following from close Kimi’s painful seasons in McLaren.
“Of course the DNFs bug Kimi terribly. He has never been angry at me even though his nerves have sometimes been on trial and the reporters have had to leave without any comments,” Jenni assures. “The worst of all was France GP when he was so close to winning. Kimi was swearing for a week about it and it was still burdening him in the next race in Germany. I have tried to support Kimi telling him not to care about the DNFs and it helps because they aren’t his own fault. It goes without saying that it always bugs Kimi when something breaks down but the nickname Iceman is right. Others would have lost their nerves completely,” Jenni said.
From: Turun Sanomat 12.10.2002
During his first season in McLaren in 2002 Kimi had to retire in 11 races. Half of the retirements were due to a DNF. Last season Kimi only had to retire in 3 races. When he now has already two retirements it’s easy to guess that he has no business to last season’s level. Jenni shares Kimi’s disappointments and she has also found new features in Kimi. “Kimi doesn’t anymore express his disappointment and anger when he has a DNF by throwing things around. Two years ago he got really fed up when the race didn’t go as it should have. After last season’s good results he knows what he is capable of and that’s why he can take bad luck better,” Jenni described.
From: Turun Sanomat 22.3.2004
“It would be fun to sometimes listen what Kimi’s first words inside of his helmet are when something happens. I bet a few swear words are flying,” Jenni says. “When something has gone wrong Kimi always goes straight to his own place in McLaren’s garage. If he is really fed up he might kick a door on his way. He never throws a tantrum at me, only to bad luck,” Jenni told Turun Sanomat. “When we leave for home he might say in the car, helicopter or airplane with one sentence that ‘it didn’t go well once again’. And that’s that.” Jenni admits that Kimi is especially irritated when he has to explain over and over again the same thing to different people.
From: Turun Sanomat 15.8.2004
Kimi Raikkonen is set for more intense running on the second day of his comeback Formula 1 test with Lotus on Tuesday.
The Finn completed just over 300km in a 2010-specification Renault R30 at Valencia on Monday using three sets of Pirelli’s very durable demonstration tyres. He has four sets of Pirellis available for Tuesday’s running and is scheduled to complete more laps than on the first day as the team is hoping to give him more long runs as part of a wider-ranging programme. “We’ll do some more high and low-fuel runs,” Lotus track operations director Alan Permane told AUTOSPORT on Monday. “And there will be a few more set-up changes as we did some basic ones today. “There will also be some procedural stuff like starts that will be subtly different to what he experienced at Ferrari, just to get him up to speed before he drives the new car.” Lotus has structured its running around Raikkonen’s needs, with re-acclimatising to F1 his priority ahead of the first pre-season test at Jerez, which starts on February 7.
As Raikkonen left F1 before refuelling was banned in 2010, giving him experience of varying fuel loads is also key. “It isn’t a traditional test, it’s more about doing what he wants and getting him up to speed,” said Permane. “We wrote a run-plan and pretty much stuck to it [on Monday]. But I said to Kimi in the morning that the test is really for you and that if you want to do something different, that’s fine, let us know. “But he just got on with it. We did a few little set-up changes and ran the car on a very high fuel load because that’s something he didn’t do as he left F1 before the refuelling ban came in. “So it gave him a feel of the car on 150kg [fuel levels] when there’s a difference of four or five seconds a lap. The plan is for more of the same on Tuesday.” Raikkonen is looking forward to the extra mileage on what is his first experience of an F1 car since November 2009. “Obviously you get more into the zone with the more laps you complete as you discover more about the car and the tyres,” he said.
Official Video from Lotus about Day 1 of the Test:
Kimi Raikkonen thinks it will still take him some time to fully return to his best in Formula 1, despite quickly settling back into the cockpit of a grand prix car at Valencia on Monday.
The former world champion has begun a two-day test in a 2010-spec Renault R30 in a bid to reacclimatise himself with F1 machinery prior to his first run in the team’s 2012 machine at Jerez next month. Although the age of the car, plus the fact it is running on Pirelli demonstration rubber, means that lap times are meaningless, initial feedback from the team suggested that Raikkonen was showing well already. Raikkonen said he had little problem learning to drive an F1 car again – but said that understanding how to get the best out of the team and tyres was not going to be the work of the moment.
“It was nice to get back in the car,” explained Raikkonen. “It was quite a few years since I have driven last time, [and] of course it takes a little while to get used to it. But the main driving, braking, turning, that doesn’t take many laps. But of course to start learning about the car and team and tyres, that will take time.” Raikkonen also suggested that he never took it for granted that he would make a return to F1 after he had embarked on a career in the World Rally Championship. When asked if he had expected to be back in F1, he said: “Not really. I didn’t have any plans for the future. “There were different choices to do this year and I really wanted to do racing. We did some NASCAR stuff last year and I enjoyed it a lot, racing against other people. “That is where I decided to do racing, and [if you are] doing racing, F1 is the highest level and probably where most people want to be. I found a good chance to come back and do racing with Lotus.”
See Kimi´s full Interview here:
Here I have several Videos from Kimi´s first run in a F1 car after over 800 days! The Videos are not my capture!
Kimi on the track:
Driving out of the pits for a lap:
Kimi in the garage:
Lotus’s trackside operations director Alan Permane said Kimi Raikkonen proved on his first day back in a Formula 1 cockpit that his return to grand prix racing can be a success.
Raikkonen is spending two days testing a 2010 Renault at Valencia this week as he settles back into F1 after two seasons in the World Rally Championship. No times were released from today’s test, and Raikkonen’s pace would not be representative as he is using demonstration tyres and an older car, but Permane said his quality had shown through. “From the first run he was pretty much there,” Permane told BBC Sport. “It’s very difficult to know where he should be but he was pretty much on the pace on the first run. He didn’t find a whole lot of pace during the day. “I don’t see any reason why he won’t be on the pace – you can tell he’s a very, very experienced driver.
“It was very clear we were working with a former world champion. It was a good day.” Permane added that he could not understand why Raikkonen had a reputation for being uncommunicative, as he had got on well with the Lotus team so far. “He must have two faces – one for [the media],” Permane said. “He’s perfectly normal. “He was very happy to sit and talk about the car for as long as it takes. He’s very open.”
Watch here Kimi´s Interview:
Kimi Raikkonen has returned to the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time since the end of 2009, driving a two-year-old Renault R30 at Valencia as he reacclimatises himself to the sport with Lotus.
Raikkonen arrived at the track at 0830 CET and took to the wheel of a two-year-old Renault R30 car – painted in Lotus’s contemporary black and gold livery and using Pirelli’s demonstration-spec rubber – for an installation lap just after 0900. The Finn is taking part in a two-day session designed to help him reacclimatise himself with grand prix machinery. His first test with the team’s 2012 car will take place at Jerez early next month. Under the terms of F1′s strict testing limitations, teams are not allowed to run contemporary F1 machinery apart from at designated tests. However, machinery that is two years old is free from such restrictions – which is why Lotus is able to run him in a 2010 Renault car that is fitted with demo rubber.
Raikkonen last raced in F1 in 2009, when he was dropped by Ferrari and chose to switch to the World Rally Championship for the following year. He competed there for two seasons. Keen to return to racing, however, Raikkonen briefly tried the NASCAR truck series last year before eventually agreeing a deal with Lotus to return to F1 in 2012. Raikkonen said last month that he believed the biggest hurdle he faced in returning to F1 was getting used to the tyres. He told the Lotus website: “I don’t think I’ve lost any speed. Getting on top of the tyres will be the hardest thing, of course, but I’m not really worried.”
I guess it goes to show you have changed in recent times.
KR: Have I?
Six years of Formula 1 changes everyone.
KR: Not me. I continue to like the things that I liked six years ago: I enjoy myself with friends playing ice hockey. The difference now is that I don ’t have so much free time to do it anymore.
Looking at what certain newspapers write, maybe it ‘s better this way.
KR: Some papers are full of nonsense. Thank God I don ’t read much.
Have you ever thought of changing your attitude?
KR: I can’t change my life depending on what people like and what they don’t. Even more, on certain papers. I will continue to do what I love.
You talk as if your life is difficult.
KR: Well, it’s not all fun walking out of your house and seeing loads of people looking for sensational stories. But, I cannot call myself unlucky, obviously.
Do you see racing as a way to escape from that?
KR: It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to be a driver. When you go in the car and drive, stop and talk with the engineers, the rest of the world stays outside. The only thing that counts is going fast.
But, at McLaren Ron Dennis was watching things closely and kept things tight.
KR: Yes, but it’s normal for a boss to ask how things go exactly and where people that are working for him go. I have never felt surpressed. I just pushed my day forward, fighting in the way I liked. Of course, I could not be seen as a classic McLaren driver because of that. But when you let your head down you’re in trouble with Ron.
Have you ever feared that you could lose this independence going to Ferrari?
KR: It hasn’t happened. On the contrary, at Ferrari I’ve immediately understood that I have my freedom. The team has welcomed me very well, I feel well, everyone helps me in a constructive way and the atmosphere is how I like it: very friendly. Believe me, I haven’t found any difficulties in becoming part of the team.
You haven’t impressed in the way the fans expected you to.
KR: I am the first to be dissapointed. But there are logical explanations, I haven’t simply unlearned how to drive during winter. All the problems are technically related: learning how to drive the Bridgestone tyres, the way the tyres influenced the regulations. And then some driver mistakes of course.
What is so difficult using the tyres?
KR: That you can’t find the limit, you don’t understand it, as long as you don’t push to the limit and stay on track. It’s a matter of getting used to it, but I will.
Do you need more time?
KR: At the moment I feel very well within the team. Also now the team had to reorganize with new people in new roles. But we’ve only made mistakes in a couple of races. It’s enough to have two races spot on to be back in the game.
So you think you can still win the championship?
KR: I will try it. I can’t imagine McLaren reaching the end of the year without a technical problem.
Is it a big advantage to have your teammate in front of you?
KR: I wouldn’t say so. Massa and I work well together.
If you remained with McLaren you might have led the championship now.
KR: I don’t think about that a lot. I am with Ferrari and don’t regret that. I wanted to change myself, I ’m happy to have done so. I knew very well that the two teams were at the same level. And that every once in two years McLaren is able to build a very fast car. I didn’t expect anything else than what has happened. Apart from a few results from my part.
And still, at McLaren there are people that say you would be faster than Senna, at Ferrari there are people that say you would be faster than Schumacher.
KR: I’m honored. But it’s not so unlikely to be the fastest and still lose. Success depends on a number of factors, the start of the season for instance.
The season has started better for Hamilton than for anyone else. Don’t you think it’s incredible a rookie does so well?
KR: He’s good. He started in an ideal situation, in an ideal year. Had he made his debut in 2006, he would have suffered. He has been testing a lot on the tyres we use now and hardly did any testing with the Michelins. It doesn’t happen normally with rookies but McLaren is a first class team and their car is very strong. No, it’s not incredible.
Have you ever heard someone in the team say: ‘Michael would have done it like this, Michael behaved in a different way’?
KR: No. The past is the past. I have my staff and I discuss the car and the races with the engineers that belong to me. Schumacher talks more with Felipe than with me. But it’s not a factor that has influence on my race results. From my part, I don’t even tell that I did ‘this and did that’ at McLaren.
Is it true that whenever friends come to visit you at your house in Switzerland, you can never resist to challenge them for whatever, be it swimming, karting, cycling?
KR: It’s true. The visit is a lot more fun this way.
Have you ever thought about having children?
KR: Certainly, even more than one. I love children. But it’s not the right moment for it. I want to be a serious father and as long as I fly from one capital of the world to another, that is not possible.
Will you learn Italian one day?
KR: I really hope so, but I am not rushing it. It’s a beautiful language but very difficult. I’ve always played hockey, you know. Being behind books for hours, it’s horrible.
What if you lose the championship? What about next year then?
KR: Next year will be a completely different story. New rules, no traction control. A different story.
Better or worse?
KR: More fun I suppose. And perhaps better for the drivers as there is a greater chance to make the difference. In case you have a good car obviously.
Once you’ve taken part in a race and won on snowmobiles under the name of James Hunt. Why was that?
KR: Maybe because I’m born in the wrong century. Had I been a driver many years ago, I wouldn’t be in the spotlights, my life would have been a lot easier.
Formula One journalists are used to seeing new promising talents show up in Formula One, racked up with trophies from F3000 or F3, hailed as the Next Best Thing, then only to vanish into the long list of “had potential” has-beens. But Kimi Raikkonen is different. He simply showed up out of nowhere, with little if any experience in open wheel racing. The FIA refused to give him a superlicense; the pundits in the paddock raised an eyebrow at Peter Sauber. Four races into the season, Kimi-mania is very much alive, and veterans of the press center are talking about the young Finn with enthusiasm rarely seen. Timothy Collings caught up with the endearing youngster, to hear from him about life in the fast lane.
Having overcome some pre-season prejudice caused by his inexperience, a team decision to ban his and his teammate’s girlfriends from the garage, pits and team hotel, and a cynical press with little faith in Peter Sauber’s ability to spot a rising star, Kimi Raikkonen will have enjoyed hearing the sound of words being munched with rare enthusiasm in the last few weeks. This 21-year-old open-faced, broadshouldered and straight-talking Finn is a rising star, has phenomenal talent and will almost certainly have a flock of females following him around for months and years to come, whatever anyone may try to do about it. In short, as Frank Williams has recently admitted, he is the newcomer to have made the biggest impression so far in the 2001 season.
Yet, to meet him is to meet a shy, bashful and endearingly unsophisticated young man with few cares in the world apart from the performance of his Sauber Petronas car. Speed, reliability and drivability are the keystones of his life. And the rest of it all is taken in his stride with a slow grin. He is not used to big crowds, noisy cities or polluted racetracks. He is used to wide open spaces and nature all around him close to his native Espoo in Finland. But nobody would ever know. He just eats it all up with a vengeance. “Formula One is easier than I expected it to be,” he said at Imola. “I was worried at first, more nervous than upset. But it is not so bad. I am getting used to it now. Maybe the worst thing was just the start and getting used to things. When we were told ‘no girlfriends’ it was a bit of a fuss, you know. But, I am not bothered now by the rules, they are not against me. If I want to bring my girlfriend here now, I can. There are no special races. And about the superlicence to drive in Formula One – I don’t think about it. It is not a worry. They will check it, they are just rules — not a problem.”
In speech, Raikkonen wastes nothing. Words come sparingly. He talks as he drives, with controlled precision. Speed is gained by the lack of fuss. The message is communicated and he is ready for the next question. It is not like talking to Keke Rosberg, not quite yet, but there is something of all Finns in this young man with his steady gaze, steady hands and outrageous level of ability. No wonder Peter Sauber is smiling all the way to Maranello for his next batch of customer engines from Ferrari. His only real beef, in the circumstances, will be that the new Finnish superstar may also end up in a scarlet machine, perhaps as Michael Schumacher’s next change of partner. However, confusion still reigns over the conclusion of Raikkonen’s probation period after the young Finn was voted into Formula One before the start of the season, despite his very limited experience, and he is currently racing on a provisional superlicence. Before the start of the season, Peter Sauber, manager of Raikkonen’s team, said that the young star’s superlicence would be under review after the fourth race of the season in San Marino, but with that over, the FIA have remained quiet on the matter, and no-one connected with the young star has been contacted.
The FIA regulations state that every new driver receives his superlicence on a probationary period of one year, but Raikkonen received his license under exceptional circumstances. The governing body have confirmed that this means he will have his performance reviewed after every three months during his first Grand Prix year, but could not reveal when the superlicence was issued. However, a spokesperson confirmed it is extremely unlikely that the license would be taken away considering Raikkonen’s superb performances during the season so far, and added that the probation automatically continues unless there are any problems. But at this time of his career, Raikkonen is not concerned by the supposed uncertainty of his future and he is more interested in learning circuits, people’s names and other drivers’ good and bad habits. “Yes, this is my first time here, I’ve never been here before,” he confirmed in Imola, at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. “I think it is quite a nice circuit. And for me it is nice to be back in Europe again. The circuit is good. Uphill and downhill which is interesting. I like it. I liked Brazil quite a lot. But they are all different. So far, I have liked them all and they have all been new!
“It makes no difference to me that we have Ferrari engines. It means nothing with me or the Italian crowd. I am just driving the same as anywhere. I feel better, now, of course, than at the beginning of the season. I have more confidence. Then I was unsure what it was going to be like in Formula One. Now, I know. There are no surprises I think. I know a little bit now. You always learn something every time you go in the car and you go quicker every time. Now, for me, it is getting better because I am learning more things all the time. I am more used to it and I am getting faster and better, I think. “Of the 17 circuits for this year, I have only driven at Barcelona, and at Spa, Silverstone — but only on the half circuit, and Magny-Cours in testing. No others. Not Monza. But I think I learn quickly. I have no special system. I just go easy at first and the best thing is to have someone else that you can go behind for a while. But of course you don’t always get any help. I haven’t asked anyone for help at all. I slow down if someone is coming and they are quicker. Also I find the in-car camera is a big help when I watch the other drivers. “I have done a few races now, yes, but I still don’t really know anybody. Not personally. Not the other drivers. It is not like that. I know Mika a bit, of course. He talks to me sometimes at the drivers’ briefing. We have a little talk. I didn’t follow him particularly, but of course I remember well when he started in Formula One. When I started to go racing, I had no idea that I wanted to go to Formula One.
That only started for me in the last two years. And I have been very lucky to have good management behind me — my main manager is Steve Robertson. “I have always enjoyed motorsport. When I was five or something, I was doing moto-cross and things like that. I liked it. Yes, I could have gone to rallying, but I didn’t because my brother was in rallying. I was not going to do the same as him. My older brother and me, we were both in karts and doing OK. I didn’t want to copy him. He is nearly two years older than me and his name is Rami. I don’t get home much. I have just moved to Switzerland to live in Hinwil. I have been there for four days now. It is good. I have my own place and I like it. But it is difficult to be there very long as we are always away somewhere. It is something I have to get used to…” Like racing among the big boys, showing people that he deserves not only a superlicense but to be among the Formula One front-runners, and that he has the talent to go all the way to the top.
How much fun does a world champion have in the midfield of F1?
You always have to fight more in every race when you don’t have such a strong car. And especially this year were we all are closer than before. That makes it exciting. But we all have more fun when we fight for the win.
Your last win is more than a year ago…
Of course it would be nicer if it wasn’t that long ago. But I’m sure we will win again this year. But it’s not easy to catch someone when you are behind.
How can you help as a driver in this situation?
I tell my engineers what I need. But they are still the same engineers who have built winning cars before so they know also without me. Everybody knows what he has to do.
No Italian chaos?
There is a lot of talk. The atmosphere is good. Sure, it would be better, if we win. That’s normal. But differently than some say are we working hard. And there is no conflict inside the team.
Also not in Barcelona, where you couldn’t get into second qualifying?
I thought I would come through. A silly mistake.
In Monaco the qualifying is very important because you can’t overtake…
Actually Monaco isn’t a good place to work. There isn’t much space. But the atmosphere is great for the fans. And also for us drivers it is a nice challenge to get the perfect lap. If you manage that, it’s a great feeling.
What is the most difficult spot?
The whole track is tricky. And this year we have to take care to not touch anywhere with the big front wings.
Do you have your yacht again in the harbor?
Probably not. And I have never slept on it but in the hotel. The yacht was for the guests. And it was mostly rented.
Would you prefer to race in the wild 70s?
Definitely! (laughs) That would have been much easier! There it was more about racing. That I would have liked. Driving is the relaxing part of the race weekend for me.
What bothers you the most in current F1?
If I could only drive, nothing! That is what I love the most. I’m here to drive races.
For how long? Fernando Alonso should replace you 2010…
Yes, I now that rumor. I have a contract for next year. So I will definitely be here. What happens then, I don’t know. I have options to continue. But nobody knows what happens with F1.
Your buddy Sebastian Vettel is also under discussion for Ferrari. Would he suit the Scuderia?
He gets along with everybody. Sure he also wouldn’t have any problems at Ferrari.
Does he have a real chance for the championship?
Sure! I mean, he has a good car. And until now the Red Bull drove without double diffuser. I’m sure he will be quicker in Monaco when he has one. So Sebastian has every chance for the title. Because I think he will fight for the win in most races.
You beat him all the time in Badminton. Doesn’t he want to play something else?
We have already some other games…(laughs)
Is it true that you move nearby him?
I move, but not to be close to him. But now we are just 10 minutes away. Before it was 25. Now I can beat him more often in Badminton.
Another hobby of yours is rally…
In the beginning of this year I drove a rally in Finland. When you do a job for years and then can do something where you learn anything every day, is that always more interesting. Rally is totally different to F1. You can’t compare it.
Does it appeal you to drive with 200 through snowy forests?
Probably rally is more dangerous than F1. There is no safety road. But the risk is not the point why I love rally. It is simply something different than F1.
Is that your biggest passion now?
There are a lot of things I like. But that doesn’t need to know the whole world. How boring life would be if you wouldn’t have any passions? I enjoy my life in any case.
Former F1 world champion Kimi Räikkönen made his WRC debut on Rally Sweden. Ben Barry followed him every step of the way. Literally.
This feels wrong. We´ve only just arrived at Färjestad – venue for the Super Special Stage that kicks off Rally Sweden – yet in a few seconds I´ll be standing next to Kimi Räikkönen, one-time F1 world champion, now full-time rally driver – the only F1 driver ever to make such a full-time switch. We´ve sneaked in to an autograph session and moved quickly up the line by pushing past small children and bypassing other drivers. Any second now I´ll be able to talk to Kimi, maybe even tickle him under the chin, and there´ll be absolutely no security guards or barriers between me and one of the world´s highest paid sports stars, just a flimsy wooden table.
I´m surprised how nervous I am – my heart spikes, my mouth dries and my carotid arteries pound in my neck. What to say to Kimi? What to say? Two girls ahead get a signed picture – no pleasantries exchanged – then walk off upright, breathless, eyes wide, before having an entire conversation of convulsive shrieks. There are male fans too, all dispatched silently. It´s only the youngest kids that Räikkönen goes out of his way for all of whom are too shy to make eye contact. He leans over the table, smiles, speaks briefly and places the signed card in their hand. My turn. Oh god.
“Hello Kimi, we´re from CAR Magazine and we´ve come to…” Räikkönen looks up slowly from under the oversized brim of his Red Bull baseball cap and fixes his wolf-like, ice blue eyes dead on mine. He looks absolutely furious, and I mean absolutely, genuinely ready-to-punch-me angry. “Ach, this is not the time for this”, he drones. “I just wanted to say we´ve come to follow you on the rally”, I stammer. “Look, well, take this,” he says, staring into the distance, handing me two glossy bits of signed card that depict his Citroen C4 jumping through the air. “Are you enjoying rallying?” I ask. “Yes”, comes the reply, one labored with the emphasis a child might use to assure his mother he will tidy his bedroom.
Later his PR will explain that Citroen – our hosts – hold no real sway over Räikkönen because he´s Red Bull´s driver. An interview is impossible; if I´m lucky I´ll get a stalky fan pic. Rallying is very much Plan B for the 2007 F1 world champion. Plan A was to contest the 2010 F1 championships – he was contracted to Ferrari this year, but Maranello pushed him out to make way for Fernando Alonso. Other talked staled, and so Räikkönen´s long held WRC ambitions took over, the Finn hooking up with follow countryman Kaj Lindström, one-time co-driver for multiple WRC champion Tommi Mäkinen.
“We first talked when I worked with Tommi [who retired at the end of 2003!]. Kimi said he´d like to do rally one day, and I said I would be his co-driver”, says Lindström, revealing a more deeply-held desire and sense of loyalty on Räikkönen´s part then his icy, stoic demeanour can suggest. Making – and trusting – pacenotes is something Räikkönen has struggled with after the predictability of F1 circuits. So, how do they build that trust? Through simply driving? “Well, you have to do things to get to know each other outside the car too”, says Lindström. “What like?” “Well…things”. All Räikkönen´s inner circle are desitant when it comes to fleshing out details. The pair has done five rallies so far, this weekend´s 2010 season opener being their sixth, and Räikkönen´s first as a fully fledged WRC driver. He´s driving a Citroen C4 alongside Sebastien Ogier in the Citroen Junior Team, a peg below world champion Sebastien Loeb and Danni Sordo´s factory effort. When you look at the awnings and the slick team transporters, the tow outfits look pretty similar, but where as many as 70 people work at the factory team, just 17 work with Räikkönen and Ogier. Testing is far more limited too, and the car – though similar – is to Loeb´s 2008 spec. Meanwhile, Räikkönen´s engineer, Cedric Mazenq, is a young chap whose motorsport CV dates back to only 2006 and whose WRC career began only in 2009. No red carpet here.
“Kimi rang me personally in October last year to ask if he could do this”, says no-nonsense Citroen Racing boss Olivier Quesnel. “I said he would need to bring the budget. Red Bull paid; we met in January. Does Räikkönen get preferential treatment? “No, he has to go fast first. He is like a young driver, Rallying is very complicated and he has to learn. But I know that he´s doing it very seriously and really wants to succeed. After the first hald of the year we´ll see, but I´m sure he´ll do well.” “He is professional, open-minded and clever”, adds engineer Mazenq, “and his feedback – because of F1 – is very precise; he feels every click on the dampers. But he knows it´s a new challenge, that he can´t yet compete with the top drivers and that he has to lean slowly. We have tried to set up his car so it is easier for him, so that he can concentrate 70% on driving, 30% on pacenotes. He has a slightly softer suspension set-up then the others so he can easily feel the lateral and longitudinal grip and have more confidence. But he is smoother on entry with the steering than normal, so he gets understeer. We have to half-way adapt the car, half-way adapt Kimi.”
Some moen that rallying isn´t as grueling as it was, but they´re still long old days on the WRC. It starts on Thursday at 8pm with the Super Special, two cars racing Scalextric-style in a stadium. The next day starts at 8.18am in the forests, the drivers carely stopping until gone 8pm. Saturday is “just” 4.58am until nearer 6pm; Sunday 7.52am until 3.30pm. During that time the drivers will pound 345km of difficult stages, trusting pacenotes entirely as they commit to blind bends, later navigating a further 445km on public roads as spiked tyres rumble coarsely below them. F1 it ain´t.
At 8am on Friday we drive to the stages with studded winter tyres clawing at icy, snow-dusted roads, grateful for our multiple thermal layers and waterproofs and thick boots as the temperature dips to -21degC. We park and walk into the forests, and the sun spears through evergreens laden with snow, backlighting smoke from fires that fans have lit to keep warm and cook food, a smell of sausages wafting through the sharp, cold air. There´s a lot of beer about, kids roaming, Finnish flags waving and just a handful of marshals who´ll blow a whistle seconds before a rally car roars by at 75mph in a place where you´d barley top 30mph.
Loeb is past first in a blur of guttural induction slurps and thunderclaps, then he´s slightly sideways and airborne over a crest, a snowy mist enveloping us in his wake; Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen is next, clearly faster, absolutely on it. Räikkönen´s seventh – quick, committed, but visibly slower. Later he´ll spin, then compound his error by sinking into the soft snow banks at the side of the road while turning round. Twenty six minutes will tick by.
When he rolls into service after dark, Räikkönen is mobbed by the press as we abandon the leaders for a guy who´s now half an hour down on them, 47th out of 54. Barely able to open his door in the crush, he leans out and pushes gently at a photographer. We all sway backwards, and the driver who´s kneeling behind us trying to fix his car gets crushed and pushes back; nobody´s in control of this tumult of flashbulbs and notepads. Räikkönen talks to no-one, but his co-driver does. “For a guy who´s done five rallies, his driving is absolutely incredible,” says Lindström, buzzing with adrenaline. “You ask Petter Solberg, anyone, it´s incredible. Okay, it´s unfortunate we went off, but these things happen and Kimi Räikkönen himself was digging us out with a shovel! I just hope people focus on his driving, not making some kind of scandal newspaper story.”
With that Lindström´s gone, checking the car into service, tailed by more reporters. Later we´ll eavesdrop on a WRC TV interview, the only media who get access, but Räikkönen says nothing revelatory – “it would be nice to go faster”; “it´s much more challenging then F1” – then, remarkably, pushes past me with what I´m sure is a horrified glimmer of recognition, walks over to the inebriated Finnish fans who´ve been incessantly shouting his name on megaphones, then laughs and signs their crash helmets. Is my approach too subtle? Saturday sees some impressive performances on what even leader Hirvonen describes as very difficult stages: “There are deep ruts; loose snow, ice and gravel. You take chances all the time.” Räikkönen remains consistent, if unspectacular – 54.4sec off the pace on stage nine in 11th; a minute down in 32nd through 10; 22.8sec down but up to sixth on stage 15.
We continue to follow him everywhere. When he gets out of his car to check tyre pressures at a remote refuelling station, we bound out from behind a pile of logs; when he takes the back way into the service area, he doubletakes as I wave from the side of the road; when stake out his motorhome, he slips out of another door and merges between two tents. I stand next to his car for an hour at evening service as my feet freeze, then discover he´s eating in Citroen´s hospitality area. He is as well; Kimi Räikkönen eating his dinner right there. We can just walk in.
I take the horse whisperer´s approach – walk in timidly, look at the floor, take a seat at the opposite end of the marquee, sit there for a few minutes, then approach his PR while WRC TV grabs an interview. One picture with Kimi. One picture. “Kimi. One picture,” says his PR. Kimi Räikkönen rolls his eyes, then walks over and stands next to me. “Thanks Kimi,” I say. There´s no reply. Mark Fagelson takes the snap. Räikkönen immediately retreats to safety. That´s it. We´re dine. Wow. The rally ends the next day after 21 demanding stages. Hirvonen finishes 42.3sec ahead of Loeb who´s 33.1sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. Possibly the world´s best F1 driver finishes in 30th, 37min 47.2sec off the winner and over 30 minutes behind fifth-place teammate Ogier. “In F1 the only big change is when you´re on slicks in the wet,” he tells WRC TV later, “but in rally every corner can be different and usually is. I have a lot of respect for the top-level guys.”
Will he be back for 2011? Team boss Olivier Quesnel hasn´t ruled out promotion to the works team, but I doubt it. Räikkönen says he enjoys the WRC´s no-bullshit ethos, but with that comes an autograph session that anyone can gatecrash; a service park where journalists roam in wild packs; the necessity to drive on roads where the public can simply follow you. The WRC won´t change to accommodate Räikkönen, and you wonder if he might not crave a bit of F1 bullshit – some properly defined barriers between him, the public and the press – from time to time. It´d certainly get me off his back. As we leave to catch our plane I figure his PR is getting me off his back too when he tells me to email some questions and Räikkönen will answer them. It feels like emailing Father Christmas. Then, four days later, a response pings into my inbox. I can´t quite believe it.
“Do you have rally heroes?” I´ve asked. “No, I never had any heroes in F1 and it is the same in rallying,” writes Räikkönen. “But I´ve always been friendly with rally drivers like Tommi Mäkinen, who has run my car for me in the past. He has been a great champion.”
“Is rally scarier than F1?” “I´m never scared in the car so it´s hard to say. It´s true that in rallying you are close to the trees, but the speeds are lower than F1. At the moment it is more difficult than F1, certainly!”
“Will rallying make you a better F1 driver?” “I don´t think so as it´s another style of driving completely. In rallying you are competing on such a huge variety of surfaces and conditions, and technically F1 is very different with all the parameters like aerodynamics that don´t really play a part in rallying.”
“Was Sweden more grueling than an F1 weekend?” “In some ways, yes. We were leaving at 5.30am, then not getting back until after 10pm. You have just half an hour at service halts, then a bit longer in the evening, so there is not much time to do everything. On the other hand, the physical forces on your body are not as big as they are in F1.”
“Everyone says this is a learning year for you in the WRC, but can you really see yourself in the 2011 WRC?” “There´s no point in thinking about that until halfway through this season, but for sure there is a possibility that I might stay in rallying next year.”
All that time stalking, freezing and travelling and a simple email answers more then we´d probably have covered in person. “The trick,” says the PR, “is to get him when he´s bored.”
As we´ve learned, that´s harder than Räikkönen´s apathetic glaze suggests.
Watch here Kimi´s Saturday Interview and Review Interview of Rally Sweden 2010:
Iceman is a nickname given him by Ron Dennis, patron of the McLaren. Well suited to Kimi Räikkönen, a such cold, icy, essential driver that when he ran for the English team he used to answer to the questions of his engineers moving the head, to agree or say not, while he was passing at the 300km/h in front of the box. No surprise.
The Iceman arrived in F1 from the Finnish birches forests where he played slalom between the trees and on the creaking ice. He was 8 years old and he was a tiny but decided fair haired young man. On a very small car he skidded, he hit trees, he straightened and he started again. When he grew he made the same thing with a Lada, an old and in bad conditions Soviet car, bought with little money. It had a red body that he black painted. In the slalom between the trees it was much damaged. But it was the engine that betrayed him, not the blows. His father Matti put it in order. However his childhood and adolescence were serene lived near Espoo, in an old house builted by his grandparents. Sure, he didn’t have a rich family, but his parents gave him everything also to cost of strange “sacrifices”. His dad asphalted roads with the road roller. Mother Paula worked at the post office. Rami, his brother, who now runs in rally, was the adversary to beat. The house where they lived had an external bathroom and the family was saving money in order to built one inside. But the guys were so passionate for racing that parents thought the toilet could wait for and they bought two karts.
It was not easy for Kimi to go on the top, fighting against more competitive chassis, more powerful engines. A fifth place was a success for him. Kimi also desired a lot playing sport, hockey on ice specially, a real passion, like that one of Michael Schumacher for soccer, but he was not in the mood for studying. When he was 16 years old, in fact, he stopped his course for mechanics at the professional school and as soon as he was 18 he decided to leave the family in order to try his luck in United Kingdom, with the Haywood Racing, that gave him a Ford car to drive. His dad, when he said goodbye, put in Kimi’s jacket pocket 500 dollars and told him in brief: “Nobody of us wants to hamper your career, go and live the life you like, but be careful and don’t get you into troubles. And remember: this money is for your eating.”
Matthew (at the registry office) Räikkönen, Kimi for all, played his cards. After some time, in a cold morning in 2001 he arrived at the Mugello circuit to drive a Sauber F1, with all the expert to look at him, like Schumacher or Piero Ferrari, and they said “oh!”, and they ask from where that splendid rookie came from. Today he is a big of the F1. He will be 28 aged on 17th October, he earns about 30 million euro per year, he has bought a new house with many bathrooms and three years ago he married Jenni Dahlman, ex Miss Scandinavia. There are things to which he couldn’t give up. For example, an evening with his best friends: “During my free time I do what I like”, he says. He likes to have a drop (but the reputation attributed to him born from metropolitan tales). Or going to his gymnasium to lift weights because he says that physical exercise relaxes him.
His style of communication is very original. It could be defined: “Not, I do not know, it does not interest to me”. So, in the age of the drivers who want to attract attention, he is the most nonconformist. And, in fact, he’s the only one who evades from the rules of the image-man driver and great communicative man. He wants to go fast and to remain himself. And if you ask opinions, comments, backstage about his arrival in Ferrari, his relationship with Schumacher, the acclimatization in Italy, he answers frankly, but he doesn’t go over ten words, conjunctions included. Then, it seems Kimi has one extraordinary gift: the awareness of himself. To such a degree that he has been able to erase, since the beginning, the insidious trap of the misunderstanding. Without haughtiness he simply said: “Schumi is incomparable, if we begin to draw parallels between who was and who is here, we don’t go anywhere”. As result, Ferrari and the supporters of the scuderia of Maranello will learn to know a driver who refuses any comparison with the master of Kerpen, one who says calmly: judge me for what I am and for what I am worth.
Q: Who wins the World-Championship?
KR: It’s early to say it. Obvious, I hope to win it.
Q: Are you sure?
KR: Yes, I am, but the things in F.1 can change very fast, even if this year with the same tyres a parameter that made difference has been erased.
Q: What do you think you need to win it: more the car or more luck?
KR: More the car.
Q: More quality/style or charism?
KR: The style is a part of you, the charism can be acquired.
Q: Who has charism?
KR: Who can express some moral qualities and, with these one, he is able to motivate people.
Q: McLaren and Ferrari: which differences?
KR: Technically it is difficult to make comparisons because many things are changed this year. From another point of view I can say that at Maranello there is “a more warm” atmosphere.
Q: How was your first meet with Ferrari?
KR: Very positive: people received me very well, trying to put me in the best conditions to express myself.
Q: Does a Ferrari style exist?
KR: Yes, sure, even if I am discovering day by day.
Q: From what can you recognize it?
KR: By the attention they put into the details, they put the person in the middle of the project.
Q: Someone says that you don’t respect the mechanics of the car, that you are hard and you break a lot. Is it true?
KR: No, it isn’t.
Q: What did your Ferrari engineer ask to you?
KR: Chris (Dyer) is an excellent technician and a nice guy: when we met for the first time he didn’t ask me anything in particular. In the winter test days we have spoken a lot, as it’s normal. We are going to know better, as we will spend much time together on the track.
Q: Have you spoken with Michael Schumacher?
KR: Sure, sometimes.
Q: Has he given you some advices?
KR: No, why should he do?
Q: Press says that the men of the scuderia compare you to Niki Lauda for your character instead of Michael Schumacher…
KR: I had not ever heard it. However I think it’s early to say to who I look like.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from some special driver?
KR: Nobody in particular.
Q: Is it true that your love for the Ferrari comes from far away? That you had a Ferrari in your garage?
KR: Yes, I had and I still have an Enzo, a very beautiful car.
Q: Every kind of motorbikes: for water, ice, cross, road. A passion that cannot be given up?
KR: Absolutely: I like the speed, on every type of surface.
Q: What have you got in your garage? Have you got also some great motorbikes which cost 100.000 euro?
KR: I have a lot of motorbikes and cars, but the most expensive, the most precious is the Enzo.
Q: You live in Switzerland but you are still very affectionate to your home in Porkkala. Is Finland important for you?
KR: Yes, it is my country and I go back as often as I can.
Q: When you come back what do you do?
KR: It will seem boring, but I’m a simple person. I do exactly what boys of my age like to do: to go around with my friends, to listen to music, nothing of “sensational” that can attract the attention of the paparazzi.
Q: When did you feel that your life would have been to be a driver?
KR: It’s what I have always desired to do.
Q: With wine, beer or pineapple juice?
Q: A dinner with Flavio Briatore or Ron Dennis? With Jean Todt or Frank Williams?
KR: Sure with Jean.
Q: Have you more pleasure when you beat Felipe Massa or Fernando Alonso?
KR: I don’t run against someone, I only try to win.
Q: Have you a book in your suitcase or on your bedside table?
KR: I don’t read very much.
Q: Your favourite song?
KR: I don’t have one in particular, but I often love to listen to music, above all the Finnish POP.
Q: London or Helsinki?
Q: Is it true that you are searching a house in Milan?
KR: No, it isn’t.
Q: Your greatest passion?
KR: To be a driver: could I be luckier? I already have this job.
Q: Do you like family?
KR: A lot: I love my family, my parents.
Q: Do you desire to have some children?
KR: Yes, but not now.
Q: The most romantic thing you have made?
KR: I don’t like to speak about these things very much: it’s a part of my private life.
Q: Is it easier to please or to displease all?
KR: Sure to displease: it’s difficult to find something on which everybody agrees.
Q: What don’t you like about what press says about you?
KR: When press writes false things, and unfortunately, it often happens.
Q: Everybody has a dark side. Have you already discovered it?
KR: Honestly I haven’t ever thought about it.
Q: Are you superstitious?
KR: I’m not superstitious.
Q: What do you think before a race?
KR: I try to relax me and to think in a positive way.
Q: And the night before the race what do you do?
KR: I sleep!
Q: How is an engine made?
KR: I know well how an engine is made! Since when I was young I did like to work on my cars, and I still do it when I go in motoslitta; for example in F.1 I prefer to give this work to the technicians and the mechanics, but because there is little time: I like to know the details of what they do on the car.
Q: A surprising gift you have received?
KR: All the gifts made by my wife and my family: they are given with the heart and I feel it.
Q: Travelling around the world, what are you collecting?
Q: Which watch do you prefer?
KR: The Tag-Heuer.
Q: Your clothing?
KR: Casual: jacket, jeans and t-shirt is my uniform.
Q: Your favourite brands?
KR: No brand in particular.
Q: The first time have you wear a smoking?
KR: When I was 14 or 15 years old and I was invited to a prize-giving of a kart championship in Finland.
Q: If a driver overtakes you on road in a wrong way?
KR: I know well that the road is not a race-track where I can run or overtake at the limit, so I think the others should make the same with me but if it happens I certainly don’t react.
Q: Driving style of men and women: Which do you prefer?
KR: For me there is no difference, because when I’m in car I always want to drive.
Q: SUV or wagon?
KR: With two dogs, I prefer the SUV.
Q: The most beautiful moment?
KR: The day of my wedding.
Q: The unhappiest moment?
KR: There have been various bad moments, but I can’t say that there has been a situation worst of all in absolute.
Q: Are you sorry for the losers?
KR: For me winning is all.
Q: What are you afraid of?
KR: I’m afraid of something bad that could happen to my family.
Q: What do you desire to do in your life?
KR: I don’t like thinking too much about future, I try to enjoy the moment.
Q: Why do you desire people will remember you?
KR: Because I have been a winner.
F1-immigrant Kimi Räikkönen can once again train with full steam. On Sunday it was precisely 10 weeks before the opening GP in Australia 2012.
On Saturday again it was 4 weeks when the new Lotus-driver hurt his left wrist after falling with the snowmobile in a show in Austria. They protected the hand with a spatula until the new year. “Because of the hurting wrist we had to change plans a little, but in practice we have been able to keep a short training program of one and a half day all the time”, Räikkönen’s physio Mark Arnall explains. “All work on neck and legs have been fully taken care of – just as the endurance-side also. We have progressed in a very positive manner and Kimi is in a good stitch”, Arnall assures.
It doesn’t take long to get used to driving
Räikkönen was in Lotus-Renault factory in Enstone on Thursday for a seat-fitting. “First it was a bit weird to sit in a F1-car with the helmet on after a long time. However I got used to it quickly and it has felt the same before too when being in a seat-fitting for a new car”, Räikkönen confessed. The new car will be on the testing track on 7th of February in Jerez, but before that Räikkönen will get used to F1-driving by driving a Renault from year 2010 for two days during January 23-24th on Ricardo Tormo -track in Valencia. Räikkönen has often before started his winter testing after a few months winter vacation. Now he has had a break of two years and three months. “I think I will get used to driving itself after 10-15 laps but there’s more to learn about everything else”, Räikkönen thinks. Räikkönen gets to try this year’s new Pirelli-tyres only after the winter testing has begun – meaning he will be on the same line as all the other racing drivers.
Neck strong only by driving
Arnall has taken care of Räikkönen’s training programs and wellbeing for ten years already, which is a record-long period of time in today’s F1-racing. “We already know from before that we can do everything else except strengthen the neck muscles. They will strengthen to the level required only by driving a F1-car”, Arnall emphasizes. Räikkönen has had for a several years in his home in Switzerland a driving vehicle built by Technogym, a vehicle that is as close to F1-driving as possible. “There the driver gets in the right driving position and the muscles are strained the same way as if he would drive on the track. Only neck muscles can’t be strengthened as much as with a real F1-car because of the lacking G-forces”, Arnall said.
Räikkönen has eight days before Australia’s opening GP. After Valencia’s private testing he will drive the first two days with the new car in Jerez and then four days later in Barcelona, where they divide driving tasks with French team mate Romain Grosjean. If there are no technical problems then he can drive 3500-4000 kilometers in eight days. “Eight days isn’t much but that’s what everybody else also gets. It sort of helps Kimi in a way that the track in Albert Park isn’t one of the toughest one. This way he will get three more driving days to strengthen his neck for places that are physically more demanding”, Arnall thinks.
From: Turun Sanomat 9.1.2012
Kimi Räikkönen’s mother Paula says his son has changed into more liberated after his switch to Ferrari.
His mother says that the Italian mentality suits Kimi. “The one thing that has been so wonderful to see is how liberated and happy Kimi is. He is full of excitement and highly motivated”, Paula Räikkönen described Kimi’s feeling at Ferrari. According to Paula Kimi didn’t like the mold he was squeezed in at McLaren. “He doesn’t love strong authorities. The mold he had to fit in in his latest team must have been quite stressing.” The publicity around Kimi amazes his mother sometimes. “Sometimes you think that is it true that they are talking about our boy? I just can’t seem to internalize it and maybe it is for the better, not to internalize it so much”, Paula said.
Kimi’s father Matti thinks that it will take some time to get used to finding Kimi from the red car. “It may happen that I look again after three laps and say ‘Shit, that Schumi is again driving in the lead’ until I realise that hey, it’s our Kimppa”, Matti said. Kimi being a superstar hasn’t changed Matti and Paula Räikkönen. “It’s wonderful that Kimi’s dream has come true but it doesn’t make us special in any way”, Paula said.
From: MTV3, January 2007
Kimi Räikkönen moved to Switzerland shortly after starting his career in Formula One.
Q: How are you enjoying your new country?
KR: I really enjoy my living in Switzerland compared to my third home in Monaco and I feel very much at home here. In Monaco the houses are very close to each other, but in Switzerland there is so much private space and it reminds me of my own country Finland. Also I like Switzerland because of the high level of living and it is like feeling at home! What I do not have in Finland are the high mountains and it is really beautiful! Also it is quiet and nice here and that is good for relaxing. Up till now I have tried some different winter sports and winter toys.
Kimi has plenty of time enjoying the Swiss Alps as it currently is a long winter-break in Formula One. Since childhood Kimi Räikkönen has always liked extreme sports involving anything with an engine, like skidoos, Jet-Skies, Moto-X. That is what he likes to do for his free time, anything that has a challenge! Seeing the way he pushes everything from the snowboard to the skidoo to the limit it comes as no surprise!
Q: How do you look back at your Formula One career so far?
KR: Well, I never really expected to come into it so quickly, especially not into one of the best teams. It has really gone the right way so far and I hope it will continue! It is great to be able to drive in the top teams, as you would have the possibility to win the races and also try to win the championships.”
Q: How do you feel about your new teammate?
KR: Well, Felipe Massa and I get along very well, but of course he will try to beat me and I will try to beat him! He has a lot of experience and it is too early to speculate the outcome. Anyway, I feel very much at home with the new situation, the Ferrari team and my teammate etc and I really look forward to the new season!
Q: Which car was your first one?
KR: Well, there is a car in Finland which is very popular and it is called Lada. When you see it you will probably smile, but as my first car I enjoyed it very much because it was my very own!
Q: How were your skills at school?
KR: It was quite normal, but at the same time I was a lot into racing.
Q: What ambitions do you have outside racing?
KR: I would like to have a family in the future.
Q: What is the negative side of Formula One?
KR: Most of it is good and people are mostly nice and friendly. There is one thing that I would like to change however and that is the break during the seasons. Right now there are very few breaks and I think it would do me good and the team to have some more breaks.
Q: Are you the only one driving in the family?
KR: No my brother drives in the Finnish National Rally Championship, but he does not take that seriously as I do with my racing. It is more like a hobby for him.
Q: Did you ever plan to be a Formula One driver when you were younger?
KR: No not at all. I never even thought of it. Those thoughts started first to come as a dream when I went to England for racing, then I just dreamed “maybe it would be possible….”
Q: Do you know the former Formula One Champion Mika Häkkinen?
KR: Yes, he has become a good friend of mine and we see each other once in a while. I do not have so much time, but he does! However, when we meet, we do not talk very much about racing.
Q: Does Mika Häkkinen give you any good advises?
KR: Well, in my opinion you cannot learn from somebody else how to drive the car, you have to do it yourself. If you are not good enough now you should not be in Formula One.
Kimi’s guests in the FIA-Gala were Jenni, his parents Paula and Matti Räikkönen, David and Steve Robertson and Mark Arnall. Jenni Dahlman-Räikkönen will probably remember the evening for a long time since she sat between Monaco’s Prince Albert and Max Mosley. Toni Vilander was also crowned as a GT2-champion in the FIA-Gala which only made Räikkönen’s day better. According to information Turun Sanomat has, the champions were seriously talking about what it would feel like to change genres. Räikkönen is fascinated by rallypaths whereas Loeb is in driving F1.
Räikkönen participated in Ferrari’s Christmas Party on Saturday in Maranello and Bologna. On Sunday Kimi and Felipe will dress themselves as Santas and give presents to Ferrari-staff’s children in Fiorano.
He is the F1-driver of the new generation. Way too inexperienced. Way too unpolished. Way too stubborn. And way too good, way too soon.
“Say *****!” There’s still time for Monza qualification so a Finnish man has time to keep a language course in a bus that is filled with Italian F1-fans. “P****”, an Italian boy learns. After the important substantive has been learned, it’s time to move to names. “Häkkinen!” “Räikkönen!” “Schumacher”, an Italian tries to say but he is shouted silent. The learning lesson stops for a moment while the Italians can take a picture of the Finns. But repetition is the key to learning. “Then say P*****” Although the Finnish flag is waving in Monza it isn’t the number one destination for Finnish formula-tourists. Budapest, Barcelona and Hockenheim are traditional places. In the plane that took us to Milan – Monza is 20 km from Milan – a rumor was circulating that the Finnish employees of Hewlett Packard had cancelled their trip because of the terror-strikes. But Sonera’s people aren’t afraid like they are. The atmosphere is in the roof and the truth is that other liquids than petrol are used. “This is already my 11th drink”, one Sonera-man who is enthusiastic over the serving during the flight crows behind his gintonic half an hour before we arrive in Milan.
We are experiencing an exceptional motorsport-weekend: the main focus isn’t on Michael Schumacher. The Italian paper Il Gazzetta dello Sport has dedicated almost two pages for flying Finns. Mika Häkkinen has announced that he will take a one year leave. He will be replaced by 21-year old Kimi Räikkönen who cost Ron Dennis 160 million marks to get him out of Sauber. That’s a lot of a driver who nobody knew anything about 13 months ago. One can only guess Räikkönen’s salary at McLaren but without doubt it will be more than the 6 millions Sauber paid him according to Italian sources. Nine points in 15 races with Sauber’s car is a sensation. As is also the fact that Räikkönen has fought with his team mate, the big promise Nick Heidfeld, evenly all through the season. Heidfeld has after all a long career in F3, testing driver for McLaren and races in Prost team. When looking at the amount of hours and the machinery, Räikkönen has made a miracle resulting in Team Clerasil – which has been the nick name on the paddock for the squad group Räikkönen and Heidfeld – breaking up. There have been omens in the air right from the beginning. Räikkönen scored points in his very first race. Mostly people were astonished by the fact that he was the only driver who didn’t drive off the track during the whole weekend.
Who found this boy who had grown fastened into the steering wheel? You have to look for the answer from Norway. A karting-company guy Harald Huismann had a year before seen Räikönen’s driving lines. He contacted manager David Robertson who had only a year ago pushed the teenager Jenson Button into Williams F1-team. “This you have to see”, Huismann had said. Finally the opportunity to test for Sauber came thanks to Steve Robertson. He was immediately convinced of Räikkönen’s skills. In September 12th 2000 Räikkönen sits for the first time in a formula-car. He has under him 800 horsepower which is 600 horsepower more than in Formula Renault, Räikkönen’s current vehicle. Räikkönen decides to drive just like they say. “Don’t push too hard” And Kimi takes it easy. “Now you can squeeze but try and spin in that specific corner.” And Kimi squeezes and spins in the exact corner. On his 3rd testing day Räikkönen is faster than Sauber’s test driver Pedro Diniz. In November Räikkönen makes a 3-year contract with Sauber. Räikkönen’s contract changes at once the F1-recruiting. The teams wake up and start to look for real talents from lower classes which leads to more younger and inexperienced drivers rising up to F1. The hunger for winning, speed on track, and having a brilliant way to take in new things are enough.
“Räikkönen. Bueno!”, a grey-haired taxi driver praises the boy who has just taken the 9th position in qualification. The taxi takes us to the village Il Triuggio. There the biggest heroes in motorsport get peace. There is only one hotel, Hotel Fossati. It’s the safe home for F1-stars. The lobby has hundreds of signed photos of drivers who have spent the night there. JJ Lehto. Carlos Reutemann. Niki Lauda. Michael Schumacher. Ayrton Senna. The elevator door is full of F1-team’s stickers. You notice the difference to a normal middle class hotel when you speak to the manager. There is a helicopter field behind the hotel. The hotel has a Gerhard Berger-suite and two Schumacher-suites of which the bigger one is – of course – for the big brother. The car garage is filled with Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches. The tennis court can in a minute be changed into a football court if some of the drivers, often Michael Schumacher, wants so. There is also a complete gym. The bathroom in the lobby is so clean that you could have a picnic on the floor. There is a guard in front of the hotel 24/7 and he is there for a reason. About 20 f1-groupies hang around the hotel during the whole GP. Just as the sun has set a slim guy walks by in the lobby.
“I’ll go and eat. Let’s talk after that”, Räikkönen says while walking by. Before he has time to run down the stairs to the restaurant, the hotel manager grabs Kimi familiarly from the hand. “Kimi, Kimi.” When his overwhelming attention stops, Räikkönen goes into the night. But you can’t hide from other drivers in a F1-hotel. Olivier Panis hangs in the hotel bar. He is there with a blonde girlfriend who wears a lot of makeup. Panis eats salty biscuits and talks with other employees from BAR. Heinz-Harald Frenzen carries a brown brief case and looks small.
9.30 pm Räikkönen comes from his dinner. He has had a salami pizza. And maybe a beer? “Nooo, no alcohol before the race” Räikkönen wears jeans and a loose sweater with the number 43. He sits on the sofa chair and doesn’t correct his position. When touching his 8000 marks Nokia Zippo he looks like a boardskater who couldn’t be less interested. They tell that Peter Sauber got upset because Räikkönen’s team-shirt always hangs outside his loose jeans. Finally Kimi agreed to let go of his jeans but the shirt never disappeared inside the trousers. They say that Räikkönen is a boy who asks too often why? And if the answer isn’t well enough justified, he doesn’t take the advice or order. Mother Paula sees Kimi getting through the army as a bigger miracle than his victory in Britain’s Formula Renault last year. When manager Steve Robertson called Räikkönen and told him that he is now a McLaren-man, Räikkönen commented it by saying “aha.” The coolness of Räikkönen is sometimes almost autistic, on the other hand it’s the acting like a machine and the ability to shut out everything that’s irrelevant from his mind that is one of his greatest strengths. When Räikkönen’s water bottle broke in the middle of the race in Hungaroring, a liter and half-filled his helmet. Räikkönen didn’t see much, drove a couple of times to the lawn, but couldn’t make himself go to the pit stop even though his visor was sticky and his face was covered with sugary liquid. Whereas Häkkinen has been criticized of having no fighting spirit when he meets small setbacks Räikkönen again, can change his driving style and drive flat out with even three tyres.
One story. Summer 1988. It rains in Pori so that it’s like standing in a shower. Matti, Paula and Rami Räikkönen are in the trailer. Big brother Rami, a skillful karting driver himself, has said to his parents that he doesn’t dare to drive in that weather. The family is watching with their hearts in their throats how the self-made karting car drives around and around on an empty track. The driver is 8-year old Kimi. The mother hopes that the boy would already come back. Finally the car stops in the furthest corner. Kimi waves wildly to his parents and father Matti rushes out in the pouring raining. “I’m out of gas, bring more.” A year earlier Matti Räikkönen have made it. The brothers Kimi and Rami drove endlessly their ‘Päijänne-race’ on the lawn outside their house in Espoo. If the lawn was dry it was watered with a hose so that they could get their mopeds sliding and so that mud would fly all over. The father decided to buy the boys a karting car and move the sound problem to asphalt tracks. He probably didn’t guess where his decision would finally lead to. Matti Räikkönen did when things were at worst four jobs so that he could fund Kimi’s hobby and later on Rami’s rallying. Mother Paula worked as a clerk. “Now I have a chance to pay back to mom and dad. Things were many times put on ice because of money”, Kimi says and you can’t fail to see how satisfied the look on his face is. All of a sudden the interview is stopped because the hotel manager’s son comes with a chocolate cake. The star has to taste this magnificent cake, he simply has to. “No thanks. No sweet”, Kimi rejects. Räikkönen’s trainer, Jukka Viitasaari, says that Kimi has left almost all fat, red meat and sugar out of his food. “He eats healthier than many top sportsmen.” The driver takes care of his body with the right nutrition – the salami pizza was an exception.
Viitasaari says that Kimi runs 10 km in under 40 minutes and 3500 meters in Cooper-test. Although the F1-drivers are these days in top form, those results are exceptional. “Mika Salo ran 3200 meters”, Viitasaari knows. When Räikkönen is in Finland he runs in the surroundings of his childhood home in Espoon Keskus or in Helsinki central park usually over 10 km at a time. In GP’s Kimi has a habit of jogging around the track a couple of times. Viitasaari thinks that Räikkönen’s ability to control his body is phenomenal. “Kimi could have become a gymnast. He learned to stand on his hands in four days. He immediately succeeded on the sleigh.” Räikkönen’s co-ordination skills are developed in many ways. In one practice they put a one meter board on a football where Räikkönen has to balance. “Häkkinen was is his youth in a circus school”, Viitasaari reminds. Viitasaari has trained many top sportsmen. According to him he has only met one sportsman who has had as strong will to win as Räikkönen has, Arto Bryggare.
“When they fail they don’t explain. In fact they aren’t even able to talk because they are so disappointed in themselves because they couldn’t win.” Anecdot: In the army that Kimi hated he was the 2nd best orienteer. The best one was an orienteer in the national team. Respecting team mates too much is without doubt a hinder for winning. But there has to be drivers who Kimi adores, some driver’s clean driving lines or something. “I don’t have any idols”, Räikkönen says. Only barely does he agree to admit that Schumi and Häkkinen has to be good drivers because they have won WDC’s. Snap. Snap. Snap. Kimi stares at his Zippo, writes a text-message, answers shortly and rubs his neck. If there is one thing where Kimi’s professionalism is still questioned, it’s dealing with the media. According to an experienced sport reporter Kimi is in fact a warm person but his shyness makes his behavior clumsy and the answers are often very short.
Finns are used to that but abroad his behavior is seen as impoliteness. Räikkönen’s withdrawal is also seen by the fact that he hasn’t much become friends with other drivers. “I went out with Heidfeld a couple of times in the beginning of the season. Now that has stopped too. I don’t really have any mates among the drivers with whom I could spend time with.” Earlier the same day the F1-circles have been shocked when the Italian Alex Zanardi had an accident in Cart-Series. Zanardi is put in coma and they had to amputate his both legs. Isn’t Kimi afraid? Isn’t his mother afraid? “I don’t think about fear. If I would I would be in the wrong profession but mothers are always afraid. Women are like that.” Kikka Kuosmanen who co-ordinates Räikkönen’s press contacts in Finland says that Kimi is a guy who simply thinks it’s ‘cool’ to cruise 360 km/h. Cool, that’s it. “Yeah, I usually take a nap half an hour before the race”, Räikkönen tells. If Häkkinen is an Iceman then Räikkönen is a carbonic acid Iceman. And a man like that always means troubles for his team mate. The most cynical British reporters have claimed that David Coulthard is afraid of Räikkönen’s performance. If Räikkönen can win Coulthard several times next season, there might well be two Finns in McLaren in 2003. Although they doubt that Mika Häkkinen will ever come back. “If Häkkinen starts to feel anxiety over changing diapers and home life, he will come back, otherwise he won’t”, a British reporter said.
It’s 10 pm, Kimi has to go to sleep because he has a race tomorrow – an important race, Steve Robertson hints. But the wonder boy doesn’t get to sleep that easily. The fans stalk everywhere. Two 20-year old girls grab him. The camera takes photos but Kimi doesn’t smile. It’s not his way. He grins. Kimi Räikkönen drove in 7th in Monza. What is the magic drink then made of? F1-commentators say that the formula of the magic drink is a top secret. BS! F1-drivers drink a 15 % energy drink, trainer Jukka Viitasaari tells. It’s a malt dextrin drink based on carbohydrates with added B-vitamin and salt. You get it in different flavors, berry or fruit. Mostly the drivers drink the same liquids that bikers and runners drink.
From: City-Lehti 2001
“I have not sat in an F1 car since the last race of the 2009 season” smiled Kimi, as he jumped into the cockpit for his first seat fitting at Enstone today. The Finn was with us all day and, despite a heavy technical programme, took time to answer his fans’ questions.
We have received many questions from fans for Kimi today; we managed to grab him to answer a few of them. We will invite you to send us more questions next time he’s with us!
Kimi, today marked the first time you have been back in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car since 2009. How did it feel?
The last time I was at Enstone I quickly jumped into a seat, but this is indeed the first time I have properly sat in an F1 car with a helmet on since the last race of 2009. It felt a bit odd at first because the cockpit seems a bit small, but that’s normal. It’s just like in the past when I have done seat fittings – it feels a bit strange when you first step into the car but you quickly adjust. It will be nice to get back to racing.
How important is the seat fitting?
It is one of the most important jobs. You spend so much time sitting in the car so the position is really crucial, it needs to be 100% right. I’d rather spend a lot of time getting it right at this time of the year because there are many races in the season and you sit behind the wheel a lot. Getting it right the first time is imperative.
Were you surprised by all the interest your comeback has generated these past few weeks?
There has been quite a bit of noise in the press about my comeback and there have been a lot of rumours. For me, coming back to Formula 1 is a good thing and I hope it will be for the team and the fans also! I love this time of the year at the factory. There’s a real buzz surrounding the new car, every single department is working flat out in order to have everything ready on time. You can really feel people’s dedication and it’s nice to be a part of it.
There have been a lot of comments about your comeback… sometimes really positive and other times a bit more negative.
It has no effect on me – sometimes you hear some nonsense and sometimes you hear nice things. The main thing is that coming back is what I wanted and I have a good opportunity with the team so I’m happy. I have never really looked at what people say or think. I do my own thing and as long as I’m happy with it then that’s the main thing for me.
1. Well-dressed Kimi
In a bid for anonymity, Kimi likes to conduct his business in a gorilla suit. He chose to wear the costume for a speed boat race, entering under his nom de guerre, James Hunt. Raikkonen and two friends competed in the Hanko Poker run, a society event where crews speed around the Finnish port, collecting poker cards that they play with. However when the ape tried to moor the boat, the skipper yelled “Kimi, don’t tie it like that,” and proceeded to give him a lesson in knots. Cover blown.
2. Inappropriate Kimi
It was meant to be the glorious swansong of the man Kimi would succeed at Ferrari. Michael Schumacher’s last race, at Interlagos in 2006, saw the German presented with a trophy by Pele. All the drivers turned up to watch – apart from Kimi. Moments later, ITV’s Martin Brundle found the Finn hanging out beside his car. Why had he missed Schumi’s farewell? “I was having a shit,” he disclosed. Well, he was number two on the grid.
3. Gambling Kimi
The Finn’s performance at the 2005 European Grand Prix left all his rivals in the shade. But one small mistake flat-spotted the right-front tyre, and it would cost him dear. With Fernando Alonso close behind, Kimi and his team faced a tough decision: pit and settle for six points, or stay out and go for broke. Sadly, that’s exactly what the McLaren suspension did on the very last lap when the tyre failed spectacularly. Kimi very nearly hit Jenson Button’s BAR as he spun down the straight in a shower of carbon and rubber. No points, but no regrets either.
4. Knife-throwing Kimi
German TV executives realized that, if they were to get Kimi on their programme, they might need to rethink the standard sit-down chat show format. Instead, they set up a circus big top-tent and gave Kimi a motocross bike to ride infront of the audience. But the piece de resistance was when he attempted to throw a set of stake knives at a member of the audience – almost. He may have been a great shot in the Finnish army, but his knife skills are a bit rusty.
5. Kamikaze Kimi
Suzuka 2005 saw Raikkonen’s most impressive performance to date. He started 17th on the grid and fought his way through the field. Giancarlo Fisichella thought he had 10 points when he started the final lap. But Kimi had been planning a dramatic finale. As they raced down the straight to the first turn, Kimi got a good tow, went as far to the outside and he could, rode the rev limiter, flickered right and shot right cross the front of the Renault, snatching the lead with less than a minute and a half to spare.
6. Party Kimi
Raikkonen first gained tabloid notoriety when he showed a London lap dancer the real reason he wears a six point harness. He lost his driving license in Budapest in 2006, but this had nothing to do with a road traffic incident. Kimi had been a Red Bull boat party and was swinging his bag above his head, showering the VIP room with cash and cards. Fortunately everything, including his passport, was returned the next morning. But Kimi’s finest drunken moment was the yacht party where our hero tried to throw something at the crowd below, but lost his balance, falling off the fly deck and onto his head.
What does Kimi Raikkonen do away from the track? One minute he’s Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, the next he’s Bill Murray in Stripes. But the character Kimi really wants to be is Captain Jack Sparrow. He talks to Adam Hay-Nicholls about his life at home, his big screen alter-ego and his maverick spirit.
Kimi Raikkonen is different to most other racing drivers – and certainly different to most Formula One World Champions. Michael Schumacher may race bikes these days and Jacques Villeneuve may occasionally strum the guitar, but neither has anywhere near has the breadth of extra-curricular interests that the Iceman has. Nor do they have as many toys…
Q: You’ve got two amazing Walz Hardcore motorcycles that were custom-made for you. How involved were you in designing them?
Kimi: I was quite involved with the first one, the black one. The new one looks similar – I just told them to paint it red and put some Ferrari logos on it. There are some subtle differences under the skin too. I love them to bits, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them. They’ve been exhibited at a few shows, but they’re for riding. I take them out to Switzerland and I ride to Monza every year with my friends. They have similar tastes in bikes to me.
Q: Both bikes have “Iceman” written across the fuel tank. If you park one of them outside a shop don’t you worry that there will be a crowd of fans standing around it when you get back?
Kimi: No no, I never just leave they because they’ve got no key so anyone could just take them! I have to park them in gated or guarded car-parks or else they will disappear. Besides, I don’t use them to go shopping, I ride them simply to ride. So we’ll go off on a road trip for a couple of days and I won’t leave the saddle. I like to go over the mountains in Italy and let rip along lakeside roads. You can’t get better than that.
Q: At the Amber fashion show charity auction you paid 200,000 Euros for Sharon Stone’s Corvette Stingray. What other toys do you keep in your garage?
Kimi: I’ve got some other bikes, probably 10 in total. Mostly motocross bikes. I have some other cars, including a Ferrari Enzo – my only Ferrari – and skidoos. I have a Hummer and a few Cadillacs including an Escalade pick-up. I’ve just got a new Fiat 500, which I really like. And when I went to see a DTM race a while back I took a fancy to the Mercedes DTM car and bought that.
Q: Your first car was a Lada right?
Kimi: Yeah I sold it a long time ago to a friend. Ladas are good cars – they never break down.
Q: Did you ever try to take it racing?
Kimi: No, but I did something similar with a Beetle. I did some racing with cars you can bash into eachother – not banger racing exactly, it was on sand. I had this Beetle kitted out with a roll cage, then I rolled it four times or something and it didn’t work anymore! Yeah, I pretty much killed it.
Q: And you own a Mini don’t you?
Kimi: Yeah, a very old one. I’ve been meaning to fix it up for years, but I just haven’t found the time.
Q: What’s missing from your garage?
Kimi: Nothing. Instead, I need to be getting rid of some stuff! The thing is, I don’t want to get something and not use it. I use all of these toys all the time, especially the motocross bikes. If I find I don’t need something, I’ll sell it. And often it’s easier just to rent.
Q: Do you get to play ice-hockey much these days?
Kimi: I play every winter. I grew up with ice-hockey, played it all the time as a kid and I like to keep in practice. I don’t have one team who I’m support massively but I have a lot of friends who play in the NHL and in Finland.
Q: Don’t you just watch it for the fights?
Kimi: Well those are of course a bonus! You don’t see so much of it in Finland because they penalize you heavily for it. But the fights are part of the game, I think, and it spices it up a bit. I went to see the Olympic finals when they were in Turin and I’ve been to see the NHL in the States. I wish I could get over there more often, but it’s just finding the time. I try to see the matches on TV, but in Europe they’re shown at 3am. That’s not a problem if I’m at home and I’ve nothing to get up for, but on a grand prix weekend I can’t really stay up. And a lot of the hotels we stay in don’t have the channels.
Q: You say you played a lot as a kid. But what were you like at school? Teacher’s pet?
Kimi: No, bad! Not good, I hated school. I was interested in different things. I only liked sport and lessons where you did practical things.
Q: Aside from F1, what sport do you most enjoy?
Kimi: Definitely snow-mobile racing. But this winter it was tough because there was no snow except in Lapland. And it takes a while to get there. If I could do it in Switzerland, I could do it every day, but it’s illegal there.
Q: Why on earth do you live there then?
Kimi: No, I like it, but for sure, if you talk about motor racing it’s difficult. It’s very strict there but they let you do motocross and it’s the same in Italy where, in a lot of places, skidoos are banned. For some reason, it’s a difficult sport to do. Finland is one of the only places where you don’t get shit for it.
Q: It’s pretty dangerous though. Have you ever broken anything?
Kimi: I’ve been injured many times, but not so bad that I couldn’t walk afterwards. For sure, I have had massive bruises on my back and everything, but so far I haven’t broken anything. As long as I can get back up and jump in a Formula One car, that’s the important thing.
Q: You’ve done a year of compulsory military service too. I’m guessing you weren’t so keen on all that discipline.
Kimi: Yeah I did a lot of things there that I shouldn’t have, and I didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t do this and had to do that…
Q: Sounds a bit like Mclaren…
Kimi (Laughing): Yeah, when I look back on my year in the army it was a good time, but when I was there I hated it because I couldn’t go where I wanted and I’d get shit from people. I still laugh with my friends about some of the stuff we got up to.
Q: What mischief did you get up to? Were you like Bill Murray in Stripes – the joker of the regiment?
Kimi: Yeah something like that. I probably shouldn’t go into too much detail! Anyway, I was 21 then and I was still in the army when I did my first F1 test with Sauber in 2000.
Q: What did you shoot?
Kimi: Nobody so far!
Q: I remember at the Red Bull party in Sao Paulo last year, you celebrated your title by getting behind the bar and making everyone drinks. So what cocktail do you most enjoy making?
Kimi: Not really cocktails. I’ll choose shots, thanks. Or maybe a Vodka and cola.
Q: Have you seen that YouTube clip where you fell off your yacht?
Kimi: I’ve probably seen all of my YouTube clips. I’ve been involved with all of them certainly! Yeah, well, there are a lot of things that don’t end up on there, and that’s a good thing!
Q: If you could be any character from any movie, who would you be?
Kimi: Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean (Kimi roars with laughter). He seems to know how to have a good time. I might need to drink a lot of rum to get into the role! I love movies like this.
Q: If a time machine were invented, where would you travel to?
Kimi: If you’re talking about racing, then a time that was more fun, like the 1970s. I could have enjoyed it. And before that, maybe the Wild West.
Q: Finally, do you think you’re an easy person to interview?
Kimi: I don’t mind what people think too much. If they ask nice questions then yes, but for sure if they ask stupid questions I won’t answer and they will think I’m a dickhead. But it goes both ways. If everyone’s nice to each other it’s much easier.