Curvy, sandy roads lead us to the huge gate in Porkkala. We announce our coming and the gate opens. An incredible view appears in front of us: The Gulf of Finland shines brightly in the sunshine and the fancy villa the Räikkönens bought two years ago, can be seen in the end of the asphalt road, it stands stylish on the rock. Right next to the sea there’s a finnish sauna, and a couple of boats and jetskis.
Kimi Räikkönen, 25, and Jenni Dahlman-Räikkönen, 23, who have just got back from the Hungary GP on the day before, welcome the guests with open arms. Jenni, dressed in jeans and a shirt, has already had time to go horseback riding that day. Kimi has just been sprawling and thinking of the last weekend’s tasty victory at Hungaroring. He laughs that he hasn’t even had a toast for the victory since there has been so many other things to do. Kimi, walking with bare feet and dressed in jeans, throws a charming smile on his face. He’s in a great mood. A year ago Kimi was standing on the most important pole of his life. He was waiting, little nervously but standing straight, on the altar for his fiancee Jenni Dahlman. The altar had been made of a huge ice block for the wedding in Vanajanlinna’s garden. When ”the Iceman” saw his future wife walking towards him, his face was shining. Luckily the ceremony didn’t last too long. Otherwise the ice altar would have melted of Kimi’s smile in front of over 100 guests.
After the priest had said ”amen”, Jenni became Dahlman-Räikkönen. The couple’s life continued as a married couple. A year has passed and there has happened a lot. Actually, more than in during an average married couple’s whole life! Beside GP victories, there has been also disappointments on the F1 tracks but Kimi has learnt to deal with them like a grown up man. Of course he has left the track being furious and without saying a word to anyone. Also that shows maturity: it’s better to say nothing than take the anger out. Then there has been those other harming things. Kimi and Jenni’s vacations and nights out has been documented in media all around the world. The things which have grown huge and sometimes even totally fake rumours have been bothering. Kimi and Jenni have been commenting on them sometimes but most of the times they have let the rumours live their own life.
Now they’re in Finland because the F1 circus is on 3 weeks break. Nearly two years ago bought Porkkala’s villa has been used a lot by the couple itself and their friends. The appartment in the centre of Helsinki the couple uses mostly in winter. During the holiday in Finland Kimi and Jenni can be seen also in night life. Kimi has always aimed to live like a normal young guy: the couple wants to go out with their friends. In the normal circumstances that wouldn’t be a big deal but because Kimi is a world-famous celebrity, his every move is followed very carefully. “Now also I’m getting my share of that”, Jenni laughs, meaning the secret pics which have been published of her. At first, Kimi didn’t think how and where he was celebrating but now he has learnt that he cannot walk on the streets without peope recognizing him. “Maybe in ten years I can have a bit more of my own privacy when I’m not driving anymore, just being on holiday”, Kimi points out.
Many people have noticed that Räikkönen has changed. In the press-conferences he talks long these days, he has got sureness to his voice. In a few press-conferences he has shown his humour talents as well. The team boss Ron Dennis has praised that Kimi is great at handling situations. After the success and disappointments Kimi has got new kind of sureness to himself. “Yeah, disappointments in the races do build character”, Kimi laughs and calls their 11-months-old pet, to come to him. After the Hungary GP, Kimi’s dream of winning the worldchampion title have rised to the top again. Also Jenni-wife believes in her husband. “You have to hold on your dreams. You cannot give up. If Kimi wins the next races and Fernando Alonso gets no points from two races, it’s clear”, Jenni counts while we walk around the lovely garden. “That’s true, we haven’t lost anything yet”, Kimi nods.
We move inside to the beautiful house. The terraces in downstairs open up to the sea. Somewhere further away the ships are sailing towards Stockholm. The view is just like from a postcard. The young couple sits on the white, cosy sofa in the living-room. “Of course Kimi’s retirements, especially when you know that they were not his fault. He has got so huge fire for the title that I don’t think no one really realizes that. He loves his job nearly as much as he loves me Jenni”, says and winks. Kimi leaves to the next race in Istanbul, tasting the victory in his mouth. “We don’t do anything special on holiday. Drive with jetski’s, sailing, go to sauna and hang out with friends. We also love to cook together”, Kimi reveals. It’s been a year since the couple’s wedding day. “Day by day, living together feels better and love feels stronger”, they admit. During the marriage the nasty rumours have caused problems but those things have been talked over at home.
“In the beginning of our relationship the mean and unreal articles bothered us but now we just let them be. We don’t even bother to read them anymore. A human cannot live like that he follows what papers write about him. That’s not healthy”, Kimi sniffs. When Kimi met the beautiful Jenni Dahlman in autumn 2001, it was love at the first sight. And that love hasn’t faded away, it’s other way around, it has got stronger and stronger. “Jenni is the woman of my life”, says Kimi who rarely speaks of his private life and feelings openly. During the years they have spent together their lives have grown together very well. In the beginning they travelled to the races together but then Jenni suggested that she’d like to continue her riding hobby which she found when she was younger. Kimi took Jenni’s wish very well. The husband bought his wife three horses: Liber, MC Kinley and Caland.
“I practise nearly every day and I try to compete as often as possible. Of course I also try to be with Kimi in the races as much as I can”, Jenni tells. “Of course I support my wife. You can see the passion in Jenni for her own sport. The same passion which I have for racing. Although, I do have more horsepower”, Kimi jokes. Because of her hobby, Jenni hasn’t been able to come to every race. At first, Kimi was a bit sad about it but he understood that he had to let her wife to express herself. “It’d be nice if Jenni could come with me. At nights in the hotel room it can get really boring when you are alone. Of course I can talk with her on the phone. She knows me better than anyone else and understands how I feel”, Kimi admits.
“The last races I’ll try to travel with Kimi. Although Turkey GP happens to be at the same time as the fashion week but together we’ll fight of the world-champion title”, Jenni says. The life in Porkkala seems very blissful. Their villa has been decorated with white and brownish furnitures. There’s enough space to have kids as well. “All in good time”, the couple grins.
They say that some top sportsmen have eyes in their back. The senior physician of Finland’s Olympic Committee Aki Hintsa can scientifically prove that formula star Kimi Räikkönen belongs to this elite group.
“We found out in our neurological examinations that Kimi has an exceptionally well developed ability to give a form to time, place and shape. It’s a neuropsychological feature and it gives a guy like Kimi who works in a speed of 360 km/h an enormous advantage.” As a neurosurgeon Hintsa knows that he himself has a very good ability to give form too. “But Kimi’s ability can be considered as exceptional. It’s an inbuilt ability that is almost as fast as a lightning. A thing like this, to say it out loud, is really special”, Hintsa emphasises.
The ability to give a form to 3-dimensional events is something every person has according to Hintsa. “We all have it. It might be poorly developed, well developed or extremely well developed. You need it in everyday life but it gives you a substantial advantage especially in sport. A person who can give form very well reacts automatically fast and exactly like the situation requires whereas a slower has to think about different things”, Hintsa describes. “It’s like having an excellent eye for the game in ball games but there’s more to it. In tests you can see who has a natural talent and who hasn’t. Kimi’s ability to act in racing situations comes straight from his backbone. He doesn’t need time to think, he just does the right decisions naturally. He can give form to an upcoming situation practically automatically and can because of that make just the right decision”, Hintsa praises.
When you may face the most unbelieavable situations in GP’s, the ability to draw the 3 dimensional line into the right spaces helps to direct the car in a top speed exactly the right way. Eyesight has nothing to do with this ability. “Let’s take X-Y-Z -space in which a bullet draws a certain line. When asked how the bullet moved, 99 % of the people start to think and draw the movement of the bullet. But then someone like Kimi can just show you exactly how the movement was born including the impression of depth. He doesn’t have to think. It just is there”, Räikkönen’s doctor praised.
Even Mika Häkkinen had an ability to give form that worked excellently. “When you follow Mika’s interviews and when he is asked about a certain racing incident, Mika usually draws the answer in the air. That expresses this special feature, how Mika saw what happened and remembers it so vividly. An exceptional special ability is a gift that is almost impossible to test. When the skill comes from the genes and is natural you can enforce and improve it by being in the situation all the time. That way you can learn to keep up the ability for as long as you need it”, Hintsa said. Neurological tests are done to race drivers just in case. If some serious accident happens we know the basic level the sportsman had before the accident. Häkkinen was in a tragic accident in Adelaide qualification in 1995. The serious skull injury almost killed him. “God has built human being’s brains in a magnificent way. There’s a great capacity that isn’t even used. When damaged nervecells don’t renew themself again there’s new routes to replace them.” Hintsa says that Häkkinen became an even more whole person after the accident.
Räikkönen himself doesn’t care at all about Hintsa’s flattering research results about a race driver’s exceptional eye for the game. “Doctors know about those things, I don’t. I haven’t noticed anything special. I have been in some examinations. I guess it’s some kind of a technology. And I most certainly don’t see any better than anybody else who has a normal eyesight,” Räikkönen thinks.
Source: Turun Sanomat 18.6.2005, Text: Heikki Kulta
Kimi Räikkönen (26), who opened doors to his home for OHO, turned out to be a lot more laid back guy than his reputation tells. The world star, known of his nickname Iceman, was actually very relaxed person. Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen’s and his model-wife Jenni Dahlman-Räikkönen’s (24) home Porkkala isn’t that kind of place where whoever can go whenever.
In the end of the curvy road there’s a metal gate, followed by a private asphalt road, lined by low light poles. After few hundred meters opens up a view to a fancy house right next to the sea and there are expensive cars parked on the yard. The villa the Räikkönens have owned for a couple of years is one of the couple’s three homes. They’ve one apartment in the centre of Helsinki and one house in Switzerland. Couple’s German shepherd Ajax is the first one to welcome the guests. There have been dogs in Kimi’s family before so getting an own dog was a natural decision. The master and the dog seem like an inseparable couple. Ajax swarms around his master quite often and demands for attention. “Ajax enjoys to go to the stables with Jenni, he’s got a girlfriend there too”, Kimi tells with a proud voice while he plays with his pet.
We bought a furnished house
When you step into the house, you find yourself in impressive room with a fireplace. After that you come to a spacious living room with a open kitchen. Besides the bedroom after the living room there are also few bedrooms in upstairs and there’s also enough space to stay a night in the sauna house which is located to the shore. Both the fire place room’s and living room’s wall towards the shore is made of glass from the floor to the ceiling. There’s plenty of views in this house. The villa was built in 1999. “Jenni likes to furnish more so she can take care of that part. Although most of the furniture were here already when we bought the place“, Kimi explains.
We ended up to Porkkala by coincidence
After the Formula 1 season Kimi has been spending lots of time in Finland. He doesn’t really give interviews on his holiday, because he wants to have as loose schedule as possible. Actually, Kimi doesn’t want to plan his free time at all. Kimi likes to spend time in Porkkala even though the greyness of November annoys a bit. The fact that they chose Porkkala to be their second base in Finland was more like a coincidence than very carefully thought move. “It doesn’t really matter where you are as long as it’s your own home. You get to see hotels enough during the season. It doesn’t take that much time to drive to the city and even by boat you get to Helsinki in half an hour“, relaxed Kimi says, sitting in the living room. The trip to the capital is easily by sea because Kimi owns a boat as well, besides several cars. “The weather isn’t so great at the moment that you would like to spend too much time outside. Maybe me and Jenni will go on holiday somewhere in the end of this month“, Kimi wonders.
Riding isn’t my thing
In the shelf of living room you can find the wedding photo which was published in the newspapers and under that there’s an invitation to Kimi and Jenni’s wedding which was held in 2004. The mistress of the house is out riding during this interview so Kimi is keeping an eye on the house with Ajax. There’s enough space for them to play around. “I did go and try riding with Jenni but I’m so badly allergic to horses that I couldn’t really do it”, Kimi tells. The Räikkönens have been called “Finland’s Beckhams” but Kimi doesn’t care about the trends, even though he’s wearing his cloth sponsor’s expensive shirt and trendy jeans. Kimi turns out to be a normal finnish man even though circumstances are better than many other guys’ at his age. “I don’t really go to buy clothes. I hate shopping. Going to the grocery store is enough for me”, Kimi laughs.
We don’t really argue
Kimi’s calm appearance doesn’t really meet the image which rumour articles and city legends have created of him. Kimi assures that he likes to be in Finland and he can go out normally. He doesn’t start to mock finnish reporters even though they have been lurking around in front of the Porkkala’s gate and taken pictures of the house from the air. Kimi doesn’t seem to stress of certain articles either. “Well yeah, we’d be having a crisis every other day if you believe the stories. And we always have lawyers if the stories go too far”, Kimi laughs. “Sometimes in the beginning we might have ended up arguing over some stories but not anymore. It’s enough that you know yourselves what’s the truth. We don’t really argue that much anyway”, Kimi points out.
The old friends have stood by
At the moment the man is bothered by the limitations after the knee operation. “Normally I’d go to play bandy or ice hockey but now after the surgery I have had to take a bit more calmly. Jenni and I don’t really do that much on our free time. Pretty often we just watch movies or television together and eat sweets. I miss finish sweets when I’m abroad”, Kimi admits. On their free time, Kimi and Jenni meet their friends, of course. “The best friends I have are still my old buddies. Of course I’ve got some friends from formula 1 world, like from Sauber team”, Kimi says. “Of course I know Jenni’s friends too and she knows mine but I’m not that close with them that I could just call them”, Kimi describes.
I still go out
Because of his work, Kimi has to spend lots of time apart from his wife. He doesn’t admit to be a very jealous type anyway. “I’m not jealous of Jenni while I’m abroad. We’ve got clear rules”, Kimi says shortly. Kimi doesn’t avoid answering to the questions about his relationship but he’s not too interested in discussing about the rumours of Jenni and her riding teacher Tomas von Retting and their close friendship. How must it feel when your own wife is told to be sleeping with her own riding teacher? “Yeah, you’d better ask them,” Kimi passes the question with a laugh. Another favourite subject on tabloids is Kimi’s partying. He still doesn’t get annoyed of the questions even though the subject can’t be too pleasant. “Well, I’m not going to quit going out just because someone wants to write about it. Although sometimes I wish no one would recognize me”, Kimi admits. “Things are so great now that I shouldn’t be complaining”, Kimi adds.
I don’t remember to call home
Kimi doesn’t get to see his parents too often during the F1 season, but that situation gets better during the off-season. Kimi admits that he’s not always too good at keeping touch with his love ones. “Usually I don’t remember to call home and then my parents call Jenni and ask how we both are doing”, Kimi reveals. Kimi is used to taking care of his own businesses and his parents don’t intervene their son’s money issues for example. “They don’t know how much I earn in a year, for example. They don’t intervene my businesses anyhow. I’ve managed to buy my own houses and I don’t think I have done anything really stupid either”, Kimi analyzes. When the season is on, media follows carefully how often Jenni is seen in races. “It’s nice to have some company in the evenings but during the days I’m so busy that we wouldn’t have time to be together. That’s why I tell Jenni every now and then that she doesn’t have to come with me to races. It’s not nice when the other one has to suffer.”
I’m not afraid of accidents
Kimi’s occupation isn’t the safest one of all. Still, fear is not an option for him. “I’m not afraid. You’ve got the wrong job if you’re afraid of accidents”, Kimi says. Also in civil life, Kimi knows how to drive and doesn’t admit to be a road hog anymore these days. “I’ve got some speeding fines. When I was younger, I was driving more recklessly but not anymore. Nobody drives exactly like the limitations say in Finland but I don’t speed any more than anyone else”, Kimi assures. Suddenly, Kimi’s cell phone starts to ring. Jenni reminds her husband to bring the digital camera with him. The couple has some plans for the night and it’s time for the guests to leave from impressive – and extremely clean – home. “Yeah, we do clean by ourselves. Although the cleaner comes once or twice a week” Kimi grins.
Source: OHO Magazine, November 16th 2005
You know, I still don´t know why I agreed to give Kimi Räikkönen a three-day test at Mugello in autumn 2000. At the time I knew nothing about him: we´d never met and I´d never seen him race. The test happened on the back of several conversations I´d had with David Robertson, Kimi´s manager. David isn´t someone I naturally trust – like all driver managers he´s a salesman, and I still call him a carpet salesman whenever I see him! But he sold Kimi´s story in such a way that I became intrigued by him. I wanted to see how good he really was. We agreed on three days at Mugello in mid-September, and it was on day two of the test that I actually met Kimi for the first time. In fact, we didn´t speak much for several reasons. First, his English was even worse than mine back then, and he didn´t speak any German. Second, it was clear that he liked his own space and I decided not to invade it beyond the usual formalities.
We said hello and shook hands, but I wouldn´t say that Kimi came across as very polite. He was like a shy animal who didn´t want to be disturbed – and animals are not polite. Although we didn´t talk much, he gave me the very clear impression that he was a young man who knew exactly what he wanted. That impression strengthened as the day progressed and, in the end, I felt that he would smash through a wall to get to where he wanted to go. He had such determination and focus. On-track Kimi did a good job for a guy who had just 23 car races behind him. We weren´t expecting him to break the lap record, and he did four-lap runs because his neck couldn´t withstand more than that at a time. His lap times were okay but not outstanding. He was so composed. I´d never seen anything like it before in my life.
That was enough for me and Willi [Rampf, Sauber´s technical director]. We knew we wanted him in the car for 2001, and didn´t even look at his telemetry, which was very unusual for us. For instance, we relied quite heavily on telemetry, when it came to signing Felipe Massa for 2002, but we didn´t need to do that with Kimi. We just knew that with a bit more experience he´d be fast. Soon after the test we signed a four-year deal, but everything was dependent on him getting a Superlicence, which was in doubt. In fact, it still puzzles me that he did get it because there was so much opposition. Max [Mosley, FIA president] was quite outspoken, and with good reason because Kimi had so little experience. But we got all necessary paperwork and Kimi did a great job for us in 2001, finishing sixth in his very first race. Of course, he moved to Mclaren the following year, as a result of Ron [Dennis] working hard on him from quite early in the year. Even Mika [Häkkinen] got involved, trying to persuade him to sign for Mclaren.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Kimi had made up his mind that he wanted to switch to Mclaren and I could see immediately that the same quality that had attraced me to him – his steely determination – was also the reason I´d lost him. Once he´d made up his mind, that was it. There was no going back. We still say hello whenever we see each other, and we live less than one kilometer apart in Wollerau, near Zürich. But I still can´t quite believe that I agreed to him that first three-day test!
Source: F1Racing, September 2007
He is the great unknown of Formula 1 and corresponds to every stereotype that exists of Finns: world champion Kimi Räikkönen talks few, loves sauna, and when he drinks, then until you drop. A search at the start of the new season.
Kurutie is the Finnish word for ravine, and there is a gorge, through which runs a small road, rocky and overgrown, surrounded by forests of Espoo. A few hundred meters further surges over the highway from Helsinki to Turku. Here he comes, the champion with the cloak of invisibility: Kimi Räikkönen, 28, Ferrari driver, an estimated 25 million € annual salary. There were street workers in the 1930s, street workers like Kimi’s father and grandfather, who founded this settlement. Dark red is the parents’ house, of wood, you can see, it was renovated, the porch is new and the roof, there is an inside toilet now a long time ago, but the typical Finnish outhouse there is out there, too. And besides, there stands this garage made of corrugated iron, big as a three-family house from which flows a smell of full throttle. The Temple of the Räikkönens´. It is a gnarled world from which comes the champion. The last great unknown in the brightly-lit formula 1, a sport in which one believes to know everything about the heroes – therein Räikkönen, who looks so friendly and is so uncommunicative, is a cataract. A guy like from a film by Aki Kaurismäki, his countryman. There, in dark nights horrible dressed people wandering around, with furrowed faces, silent of melancholy.
“I could not care less”
Is he perhaps just extremely shy? His former boss Ron Dennis baptized him once “Iceman”, many think he is cool, others cold. His appearances offside the track, after the victory fail consistently anyway. As in São Paulo and in early 2008, Ferrari has traditionally invited to the Ski-Days to Madonna di Campiglio, earlier talked Signore Schumacher, now Kimi sits there. The photo wallpaper sensationally with the Dolomite peaks at his back makes him look thin. The night before he rushed down the steep slope without lights at the torch relay, in the end he filled up himself properly full, it has become a bit late. Now he fights apparently with strange voices in his head, the simultaneous translation will be aborted. Feels like 16 of 17 questions he answered with “Oh Donn Kähr”. This is not English, not Finnish, but Kimish for: but I could not care less. “Typically Kimi,” said Rami Räikkönen, 31, his older brother, “but that is not obstinate, he is simply a Finn. We only say something when we have something to say.” Finns hate small talk. Anyone who is friendly, admits he has nothing to say. One has therefore to imagine Kimi Räikkönen as a very polite man. His brother leads the visit to the garage, where the fleet of the family houses. “Our toys” says Rami, and proudly displays: a truck to transport the rally cars, snowmobiles, a Hummer, three “Legend Cars, miniature replicas of historical models that Kimi’s father Matti himself uses for race driving, including tools, tires and spare parts. Rami is a mechanic with own tuning shop, with 1.85 meters, 10cm higher than Kimi. He points to the garden, which descend to forest: “Here we have begun to race, with tiny motocross bikes,” he says. “We have made a competition out of everything. Of course, it was about who drives faster, but also who can stay longer in the sauna or can pee farther. Kimi is so ambitious that it is difficult to imagine. He has, even though he smaller and weaker, won much more often than I did. And if once he did not win, he trained until he was better. “
Räikkönen family lives for racing
Finns call this persistence, which we believe anchored in the national character, “sisu” – and Kimi has sisu more than the most. He always gives everything and he never gives up. That tells his father, who, when his son became world champion last October, shaved off the silver-gray hairs. For the third time he ran around with a bald head, he does it with every important career move by Kimi. Meanwhile, the hair grew back, the hair cut now reminds to Playmobil-Men. From Dad, the boys have the gap between the incisors. He has terminated his job, he now manages Kimi’s homes in Finland. Matti Räikkönen is a man like a bear, he chain-smokes and wears sneakers, rough corduroy trousers, a plaid flannel shirt. But in Finland professors are clothed like this too. Paula, the mother, blonde highlights in her hair, shows her Diamond Rolex: “A gift from Kimi!” She, the former employee of a pension fund, is employed by her son as well for a long time, “he touchingly takes care of us, he always says he wants to give us back what we have done for him.”
He Announce the resignation? Two more years is running his contract yet, Ferrari was shocked. Managing Director Jean Todt was quick to say: “I’m sure – so far I can be sure at this point – that Kimi is happy at Ferrari.” A strange relationship this North-South alliance. The Ferraristi worship Räikkönen, they try with all sincerity, to break him, but he cannot be cracked is what impresses them. His confidants say that he actually doesn´t care what the world thinks of him. And he behaves like this as well. Like an apathetic world-champion. This image is a disaster for a Formula 1 boss. And Räikkönen’s best weapon. He is not irritable pride in the way as the Spaniard Alonso, Renault, he has not the inner compulsion to want to make it all quite like the smooth Briton Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes.
His self-image corresponds to the usual modesty in Finland. “Punainen tupa ja perunamaa” – a red cottage and a potato field, that is what one wishes there for a wedding, a symbol for small happiness. To want to be something special is considered unseemly. Räikkönen lives in Switzerland, in a house with a garden, not in glittering Monaco as many competitors do, there all would be too small for him. He cooks by himself, says his mother. It is a family that early lived for racing, similar to the Schumachers. On the weekends they traveled in their old motor home and trailer around the country, the karts of the boys back inside the trailer. “This has welded us,” says the mother. The hobby of the boys was extremely expensive. Therefore, the father repaired cars by illegal employment, worked nights as a bouncer. Every penny Paula and Matti Räikkönen invested in their sons – even when at last the money was saved up for an indoor toilet, one of the karts was broken. No question, what was bought: “What is a toilet compared to two happy boys?” says Matti Räikkönen. “Years ago,” recalls his mother, “Kimi was about eight, he has snuggled up to me one evening and said, “Mom, I’ll be a world champion one day. But I do not know in what sport.” That he became now in Formula 1, he triumphed in a season in which the ideal line seemed to be a snake. 26 points deficit Räikkönen had in the summer because his Ferrari was bitchy too often. Still 7 points before the final race against Lewis Hamilton, and 3 points against Fernando Alonso. In the end he kept his nerve, came to 110 points, the two rivals on 109. The fans are already talking about the World-Championship final of the century.
The “couldn’t be buggered” champion
If, the new season starts on 16 March in Melbourne, Räikkönen will have to show if he keeps the format of a world champion and lives up to the expectations. His wife, Jenni, a former model, is rarely with him at the race – an affront. The World Cup trophy, that was presented to him in December, dusty for weeks in the Ferrari factory in Maranello. And after the final sprint of 2007, he said: “I have achieved everything, everything else is just a bonus.”
Racer, nothing else
As simple as he is ticking on the slopes: You just have to give him a fast car, then he goes fast. At Ferrari Michael Schumacher is responsible for it, the seven-time world champion. He once loved shoptalk for hours with the engineers, each time his successor is the first one who leaves the track. At the beginning Räikkönen asked astonished from the cockpit, “What’s button is that for?” The technician replied, “Michael wanted that one.” Would Räikkönen be better if he would care more for technology, strategy? Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug saw him for five futile attempted titles. “Kimi is like a hard disk that is not even half full,” he says. “Many drivers are already overloaded with the things they have to provide. He is not.” But until today the Ferrari engineers ask veteran Schumacher, if they want to know in which direction they should further develop the car. Räikkönen doesn´t care about that. After he won a year ago right at his first race, the inspired Jean Todt handed him a mobile phone the victory podium. An animated Michael Schumacher was on, but Räikkönen gave the phone back quickly: “I was not able to understand him.” Unmoved to apathy – that one should not take personally, “says Rami Räikkönen. “It’s not that he only speaks not much in interviews. With him there are long moments of silence.” If Kimi is guest in the house of his brother, and it was a fun evening, Rami often find an empty bed on the next morning. No note, nothing. “If he is bored, he simply disappears. Kimi cannot sit still well, he always needs a plan.” The eternal fight forward. What else should someone like him become than a racer?
The fact that Kimi Räikkönen really has a heart for racing, he only shows at home – in the garage. On the ceiling, lit up by spotlights, is a silver arrow, which he drove himself before. The best view of the McLaren-Mercedes you have from the top floor. Here waits a bar made of glass and chrome, including pinball, pool table and an old kicker. A couch group surrounds the glass table on which all Formula 1 circuits are engraved. Above hangs a flat screen, three meters wide, nearly two meters high. You can turn it in the direction of the sauna, which is next door and has a large window. The entire room: the fulfillment of a boy’s dream. Räikkönen’s friends tell that Kimi love to eat at the Burger Shop at the gas station around the corner. At parties he is following the men-advice: “Work hard and drink hard.” Many Finns find that it’s not worth, if they drink to drink only a little. Alcohol is expensive – so why to pay it, when you do not want an intoxication? So it is in principle no shame when their master drinks on evening a whole bottle of vodka. And when he is drunk he falls from the upper deck of a yacht, this is the same. “My God, it was summer, the boys celebrated a little bit,” his father says, smiling. “What do you think, where I fell down drunk everywhere when I was young?”
Source: Stern.de (21.03.2008), Translation by Essi
Question from Joonas :
Is “firstname.lastname@example.org” your e-mail address? Do you have one?
Answer: Hi there – First of all sorry that I’m a bit late but I have been testing all day in Jerez in Spain and have only just got back to my hotel……Joonas – this is not my email address – sorry…
Question from Joonas :
How often do your friends visit you on a Grand Prix weekend?
Answer: It’s not often but last year I think I had friends with me at about four races. However I don’t get to spend so much time with them at the races as I’m always very busy
Question from gav:
Kimi, what is your favourite aspect of F1 racing?
Answer: Easy – it’s being in the car going flat out
Question from Barrichello:
What do you think about pilots’ Brazilian ?
Answer: They are quick but not quick enough!
Question from Marius Israel:
I think you will also brake with the left foot. Is it difficult for you to change again, when using a road car with standard clutch? b.t.w.: Did Kikka already told you about my Fanpage project? http://www.raikkonenkimi.com & http://www.kimppa.de
Answer: Hi Marius – I do brake with my left foot and it´s not too big a problem to change as my car is an automatic…I haven’t seen your websites but I will have a look later
Question from Milivoje Kovacevic:
What can you say about your ambitions for next season? Could you be in better then David? Would Michael be champion again? Are you ready to continue there were Mika Hakkinen stopped? Best Regards, Milivoje Kovacevic, Journalist from Montenegro
Answer: The aim as always is to win as many races as we can…I can’t predict what will happen but I know that the team and myself will do the best we can = keep your fingers crossed
Question from Emzi:
What is your favorite Finnish band?
Answer: BOMFUNK MC
Question from Mari:
Hy Kimi, I`m a big Fan of you! Wanna ask, if u come sometimes on your Official Website? lg mari
Answer: Yes for sure.
Question from Andrew D’Hooge:
Where do you see yourself and the McLaren team in five years?
Question from Jayne:
What would you like for Christmas?
Answer: Just to spend some time with my girlfriend and my family relaxing and eating too much – like everybody else I guess
Question from Henry Hutahayan:
Hello, my name Henry Hutahayan. I’m from Indonesia. Kimi you’re my favorite driver and I’m happy because you join in Mclaren in this year because Mclaren is the only one my favorite team. I just want your promise to win the race in 2003 (maybe in France or anywhere) and I’ll pray for that. Would you keep your promise…???? Thank you.
Answer: I’ll do my best!
Question from Marcin Makowski:
Kimi, how did you feel when you drove F1 car for the first time?
Answer: I remember it clearly – it was at Mugello and It was very nice indeed and so different than anything else I have ever driven before…FANTASTIC!!!
Question from Olli:
Kimi, miten meni testit tänään? Kuinka usein sä käyt Suomessa? Onks Sveitsi kiva paikka? Hyvää onnea kaudelle 2003….
Answer: testit meni aika huonosti kun oli ongelmia koko paivan…sveitsi on tosi jees!!!! kiitti
Question from Rand Miller:
In your opinion, how much of your great ability is natural and not learned? What details have you observed about Schumacher that show he can be beaten? I know for certain you can do it!!!!! Go for it!!!
Answer: For sure you can learn always, but the main thing is to bring quite a lot of natural talent with you, otherwise it is difficult. And about Schumacher, I’ll better keep that for myself as he might be in the chat.
Question from TheKanisteri:
Have you tried karting on snow?
Answer: Easy answer no but I would like to try it
Question from claudiii:
How many languages do you speak and which??
Answer: Two – Finnish and English
Question from hakki:
What do you think about your first year with McLaren and do you still have contacts with Mika Häkkinen?
Answer: Yes I am still in touch with Mika, I just met him last week. Well the season was quite difficult as I had a few problems.
Question from claudiii:
What will you do on new year´s eve??
Answer: I’m not going to tell…but it will fun
Question from claudiii:
What was your favourite subject in school??
Answer: I liked sports….particulary when we did icehockey in wintertime
Question from Hinesh:
Hi Kimi! What was your best lap time in testing today?
Answer: 1:22:49 – something like that –
Question from Kylie:
Whose idea was the diamond-like motif on your helmet and does it have any meaning?
Answer: I only had it on my helmet from last year I think…it was done by the Finnish guy Uffe who paints my helmet
Question from Ammika:
Have you still a residence in Finland?
Question from Raikkie:
Do you watch other motorsports, like DTM ?
Answer: I pretty much watch all motorsports on TV…
Question from claudiii:
Whats your favourite food and drink??
Answer: I really like chicken pasta…….and enjoy a cola or two
Question from powered_by_M-B:
Hi! What car do you drive? Is it still your dream to drive for Ferrari? As they are a BUNCH OF CHEATS!!
Answer: Mercedes-Benz CLK. Ferrari? No, not really.
Question from VICTOR BORG:
I am Victor from Malta and as a supporter of McLaren I want to ask you, may be is too early, how do you think of 2003 new car especially about its reability and speed.
Answer: It´s too early to say anything -at the moment I’m driving the MP4-17 and I will not be using the MP4-18 until the start of the 2003 European season
Question from claudiii:
What is your favorite country??
Question from Mari:
What is your favourite movie?
Answer: I really liked “Gone in 60 seconds”
Question from Jani:
Käyttääkö mclaren ens vuonna tallimääräyksiä?
Answer: ei käytä!!!!
Question from Joonas:
How much does it mean to you having many loyal fans?
Answer: It´s nice to have fans and I really like all the support I get!!!
Question from Sue Hopgood:
Dear Kimi, Congratulations to you on your stunning start to your Formula-One career. As “The Iceman” you always seem so cool and unfazed by everything. Is there ever a time when you are nervous about anything?? Race day, waiting for the lights to go green? Visiting the dentist? Flying? Anything??? Thanks for answering this question (if you do!!!) Sending you every good wish for your F1 career Kimi, you’ve got a fan for life, take care, love from Sue.
Answer: I always get a little nervous before the race but it´s pretty normal I guess…once you start you forget all about it
Question from Steve Cooper:
Apart from Ferrari, which teams and drivers will be your principal opposition in 2003?
Answer: Hi Steve – Williams no doubt
Question from infosztrada.com_ChiefEditor:
Have you got friend from the other drivers?
Answer: I’m good friends with Mika but really don’t have friends as such among the other drivers..
Question from Finn75:
Best overtaking manouver in the history of Formula1?
Answer: Mika Häkkinen overtaking M Schumacher in Spa 2000
Question from Saartje:
Who is your favorite rally-driver?
Answer: Tommi Mäkkinen & Markus Grönholm…both Finnish of course
Question from vera:
Do you know Apulanta?
Answer: yes i know!
Question from tim drummond:
What do you do to keep fit?
Answer: All kinds of different sports – gym, running, cycling….
Question from Suvi:
Will you and Jenni spend new year with us in secret location at northern finland?
Answer: eipä taida onnata kun on muita suunnitelmia 🙂
Question from Joonas:
You have a tattoo on your wrist – it pictures a green sun; how old were you when you took it?
Answer: Joonas – lots of questions from you -sorry I can’t answer them all……It´s actually black and I had it done during the 2001 summer
Question from Lauren:
Do you have your own motorhome?
Question from Mari:
Do you like Joonas and Clauiii?
Answer: Well, they have asked a lot of questions Mari!
Question from Jayne:
If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you take with you?
Answer: Lots of food, girlfriend and a helicopter
Question from saz:
2 years ago Mika Hakkinan drove through Woking, England.to see his fans. If the option arose would you accept and do the same?
Answer: Yes – I like driving on the streets.
Question from Mari:
Answer: You better are.
Question from Melvin:
Hi Kimi,what is the best race you have last year?
Answer: Magny Cours
Question from _PRC_Michelin:
Will you visit Russia someday??And what do you think about Russia?
Answer: I have been there already three times for winter carting – ups I have done already carting on snow
Question from Mihajlo_Zahorodni_Kimi_Raikkonen:
Kimi, what does your girlfriend says about your driving in F1?
Answer: She is happy, she can cope with it.
Question from hello_kimi:
Do you like german people??
Answer: Yes they’re ok.
Question from Varun:
Kimi, please answere at least one question of mine… do you feel that Mclaren have chances of beating Ferrari in 2003? Best of luck in your endeavour, Varun.
Answer: Yes – I know that we are all working very very very hard to do this..
Question from teppo:
Do you think you will do well in the new qualifying system with only one fast lap?
Answer: I do not think it does a big difference
Question from infosztrada.com_ChiefEditor:
What do you think about the Hunagroring and the Hungarian Grand Prix? Have you got a message for hungarian fans?
Answer: It is quite nice – I like it and obviously there are a lot of Finnish fans. Just a bit difficult for overtaking. Hi to all hungarians in the chat
Question from infosztrada.com_ChiefEditor:
Have you got good relationship with West McLaren Mercedes’s leaders?
Answer: Sorry – I can’t answer all the questions as there are so many…..I have a good relationship with all of them and we get on really well.
Question from f1sl:
Do you pee standing up or sitting down?
Question from Karen:
Will you be visiting the Paragon when it´s finished? And what do you think of the new regulations?
Answer: I have already been to Paragon but that was a year ago and I think a lot has happened since then so I look forward to going soon….I think that qualifying will become a lot more interesting for the fans
Question from renich:
Hej Kimi, did you enjoy your visit in Poland??
Answer: yes I did, was quite good.
Question from teppo:
Which circuit do you like best now that Spa is no longer in the calendar?
Answer: Probably Monaco to be honest – great challenge and atmosphere
Question from Mihajlo_Zahorodni_Kimi_Raikkonen:
Kimi, thank you for the answer, it really ment a lot to me, you know I hope mercedes’s engine will be much competitive and stronger next year so you could finally show everyone who is Kimi Raikkonen!!!
Question from John A:
Is there any track that you have driven on that you would like to see added to the season?
Answer: Donington Park
Question from tadiohead:
What was your greatest and worst moment in F1 so far?
Answer: Best was first podium in Australia and worst was Magny Cours
Question from vera:
Have you ever been in Disneyland?
Answer: No – but I would like to go one day
Question from infosztrada.com_ChiefEditor:
Kimi! We wish you all the bests for season 2003!
Question from Risto:
Are you faster than Michael Shumacher?
Question from Risto:
Who is your favourite nascar driver?
Answer: I don’t watch it as much as I would like as it´s hard to find it on TV in Europe but I like Jeff Gordon
Question from Varun:
Have you been 2 India?
Answer: No, never.
Question from Maria14Hungary:
Are you bought some christmas gifts till this time?
Answer: No not yet……….I have to go shopping now…..Seriously I have to leave now as its been a long day. I’m going to have something to eat and then bed as its an early start tomorrow here in Jerez. I’m sorry that I have not been able to answer all your questions but there have been so many…thanks for your support. I have tried to keep the answers short to get through as many questions as possible. Thanks for attending the chat and I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Question from markus sytelä:
Was it really only because of oil, that you slipped out of the track in Magny-Cours?
Answer: joo muuten oli tilanne hallussa koko ajan mutta joskus voi käydä noinkin!! / and in english YES!
Question from Chatmaster:
Thanks a lot folks for sending all the questions, we had really much more than we expected (almost 2000). Just for your information – Kimi will be testing in Jerez until Saturday together with Alex Wurz. Afterwards he will be “released” for his X-mas holiday. See you next time at the West Web Chat 😉
Answer: Bye Bye
The “Iceman” is melting. Kimi Räikkönen is unveiling his home in Finland. Here, he spends his time when he’s not driving around the circle – relaxed, self-sufficient, and yes: Now and then he laughs. A visit at the boss-pilot of McLaren-Mercedes, in 2006 he can push his market value into astronomical heights.
In the middle of nowhere behind Helsinki: The wind whips fine snow on the highway. It’s freezing cold. Children, who are packed like polar explorers exit the school buses. A few mailboxes lean on the wayside, like lost. Kimi Räikkönen’s management had transmitted us the address and asked for utmost discretion. As if someone would get lost here, an hour away from the Finnish capital. At last we are at the gates of the property. The 3D display of the navigation system displays about 300 meters of land, then begins pixelated blue, the Baltic Sea. No bell. Only fence. Jenni Dahlman-Räikkönen, Kimi’s wife calls and says her husband is coming soon. In that moment a gigantic black Jeep turn onto the dirt road. The two-time vice world-champion gets out. His 1.75-meter height disappears in front of the giant car. “Hi, I’m Kimi. Come in.” Between spruce trees that provide the wind the cortex, is his winter home. The house is divided into two parts, connected by a glazed central section. The Räikkönen´s had spent the night in their apartment in Helsinki. Kimi is throwing a few logs in the fireplace and fuels the fire. The 1999 built house he bought just before Christmas 2003. “Here I spend most of the winter-time.” Most of the drivers, David Coulthard and Nick Heidfeld for example, overwinter in the warm Monte Carlo. “I do not know what to do there. Here are my friends, my family and I can do what I enjoy. Here I can gather strength.”
Strength, that the 26-year-old McLaren Mercedes driver will need. Team boss Ron Dennis had stunned the industry – and committed to the new world champion Fernando Alonso in 2007. The Renault team, Flavio Briatore and foremost, was livid. Kimi and Juan Pablo Montoya so are standing in front of a fight for the free McLaren cockpit. “That’s a very normal situation. You want to beat a team-mate anyway,” he says. And he always has, except his first Formula 1 season, 2001 with the Sauber team. Here he lost the final statement against Nick Heidfeld, who drives BMW today. But since switching to McLaren-Mercedes in 2002 no companion was able to keep up with him. In 2003, he had lost the World Championship with only three points to Michael Schumacher, last season he won seven races, but clearly failed at the end of Alonso and reliability of the Renaults. Kimi was clearly the fastest driver, but too often the car kicked the bucket. Approximately € 14 million Räikkönen earns per season. That lets look the villa modest. No maids here attend on the couple. At the entrance of the room hangs a wooden sign: “Tervetuola”. Welcome! Kitchen and living room are housed in a large, high room. In the fridge is a little salami and toast. A door leads into the bedroom, the purple bedding is crumpled.
“Let’s go down to the sea, while it is still light,” says Kimi and throw on a leather jacket. Halfway down the slope is the guest house. From the sauna you can look down to the Baltic Sea. “My father likes to come here at the summer to fish here. We also have a small boat and two jet-skis. We are in half an hour in Helsinki.” The small boat, that he emphasizes, is strong enough to be able to pull him for wake-boarding. You can imagine, how life comes into the beach. Now it is still covered with a layer of ice. The reed is waiting, frozen stiff, for the spring. Peace. Kimi shows the sea and is one with the silence. Among Formula 1 journalist his nickname “Iceman” arose, less out of admiration, but rather from anger about his inaccessibility. But what he should tell all the people? He only wants to drive because that is what he does best. And Sunday night, when the engines fall silent, he would have liked to beam home. To the beach and the pines. Money? Is a motive for him, but no passion. Fame? Seems he could not care. Peace! It is the most valuable for him. Because of this, a visit at his home was an absolute taboo so far. Back at the house, we gather around the stove. Hamish, the photographer warms his bright red hands. Jenni is in her stables. The 24-year-old Miss Scandinavia from 2000 now has several horses to take care of them. “She is in the stable most of the time. In a few weeks she will even attend on show-jumping competition in Spain. I hope I can visit her.” Kimi himself is not so familiar with horses. “Twice I’ve tried it with the riding. But then I realized that I am allergic to horse hairs. But I support Jenni and I am glad she has found something that makes her fun.” On the kitchen floor are feeding dishes for sheep dog Ajax and Peppy, a female Jack Russell puppy. “Peppy makes everything easier because Ajax now has a buddy to play with. We had a dog when I was little. I wanted to have that again. My parents usually take care of the two.”
It is now pitch dark and the cold paralyzes the country. For affusion, on the flat screen TV the Discovery Channel is on. Just now a giant cobra has bitten a breeder in the stomach. The man writhes in pain. Kimi turns away from terror. “Do you want coffee?” But you need to do that on your own. I have no idea how the machine works. “On the track he has mastered a technique monster worth many millions of euros and is responsible for dozens of race engineers. But at home the science is over. Kimi takes advantage of the solitude to breathe before the most important season of his career starts. Experts call him unanimously as title favorite. But he would never forget that there is still a Michael Schumacher is with the party. “He had a lousy season last year. But Ferrari is back. I hear that the tests run very well and the Bridgestone tires seem to work better.” But if in fact he, Räikkönen, we become world champion, he can tighten his market value to astronomical heights. Almost every team constellation for 2007 would offer a place for him then. Perhaps two world champions are in the same car, Alonso and Kimi. Or, Räikkönen will replace Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, if the veteran really ends his career. It´s said that a preliminary contract with the team from Maranello exists. Toyota wants Räikkönen anyway. There are beckon 100 million € for four years. The concerned person himself does not seem to be affected by that. It is also these nonchalance that has earned him the nickname “Iceman.” But it is the biggest misconception of Formula 1, Kimi is not cool, Kimi is especially not unfriendly, Kimi is a Stoic. And as such one it is quite clear for him that he has the best cards. “But 2007 I do not care at the moment. My job is to win races and hopefully to become world champion with McLaren-Mercedes. The car was fast last season, but we have to finish more races. That was sometimes frustrating for me and the team last season. But hey, that’s racing. I’m really looking forward to the new season. “
At rest, he tells how he has digested his frustration about the coup of the team boss. He was in Dubai vacation when he came to know of Alonso’s commitment just short before the press: “I thought it would have been better if I had known earlier of the decision. But it was like this. I do not mind” Does the Partiarch try to get the smallest grain out from his drivers? “I do not know if that was his plan. It’s not my job to judge that. I want to give all in 2006.” Outside it’s snowing harder and harder. Since Kimi let fit a fitness room into the former double garage, he has to dig out his car regularly. But that does not bother him. He is used to it. He lives with the weather, he draws strength from the cold that keeps his home in the winter. But it is also threatening depression and loneliness. In the huge refrigerator in his Gym just lies a lonely bottle of Sprite and some gin long drink cans. There are circulating hard stories about alcohol and throw-outs from nightclubs. “I don´t give a fuck of that. It was just now at New Year’s Eve where a newspaper wrote that a club wouldn´t let me in. But I was not even in Helsinki. That´s killingly funny.” He laughs, actually. And he regularly sets out the best lap times on such stories. Everything else is nothing to others, he thinks, and he is undoubtedly right with that. When he shall live, if not now? The only one who really has a problem with these stories seems to be Ron Dennis. In 2004 he had written a warning to Steve Robertson, Kimi’s manager. A “wake-up call,” as Dennis called it then.
If these tabloid called 7päivää would not be there, then Finland would mean total freedom for Räikkönen. Freedom of the hype. Freedom for his head, that simply does not want to arrive in F1 Glamour. As a friend he does not refer anyone in the business. Not Mika Häkkinen, the Finn, whose cockpit he took over. “I hardly know him. I don´t have friends in the sense in Formula 1, it’s a hectic life, and I’m always happy when I come back home.” Then he plays hockey with friends and throws, like a teenager, bat and jersey in a corner of the gym where they still are now. Because of the injury he is not worried – in high contrast to the people in his racing team. “If I read my contract closely, I am even not allowed to do cross-country skiing,” he says, grinning and pointing to the skis, leaning against the stone wall. While we pack up, he rolls a suitcase into the living room and throws some clothes into it. It goes to Switzerland, to the second home in Wollerau. When I am grateful for the day, he just says “No problem”. Shortly after that we sit back in a taxi to Helsinki, as the forest begins to glow. As a UFO flies past the brightly lit SUV and disappears into the night. In life, Kimi the stoic Finn, sometimes might stand in one´s own light, but on the road nobody keeps him up. Nowhere else he is so much himself as on the asphalt. Nowhere, except at home.
Source: GQ Magazine March 2006, Text: Dominik Schuette, Translation by Essi, Photo: Hamish Brown
What happens when a normal family’s boy proves to be special and gets into the 22 best? Kimi Räikkönen got a F1-seat and a licence but mother and father, Paula and Matti Räikkönen hope that life would stay as it was. Their wish is fulfilled if they have as much love in the family as they have had up till now.
The feeling is the same as it usually is after a big moment of happiness. The dream becomes true, the joy is enormous and yet there is sorrowness in the air: what was is left behind, a lot changes, maybe everything. It’s been a few days since Kimi Räikkönen, 21, came out with the historical news: he got the superlicense to F1 although he didn´t drive one meter in F3. “We have done our part, Kimi and Steve Robertson will take care of the rest. We only give emotional support now,” Matti Räikkönen, Kimi’s father says. “It is painful to let him go. It will take a few weeks until we get ourselves psyched into thinking that this really is true.” Kimi’s mother Paula Räikkönen continues: “This came with such a bang. Kimi called Matti’s cellphone on August 15th when we were in Tuupovaara where Rami was rallying telling that he will go and test F1 within a month. I thought then that I am going to faint. Fortunately Matti caught me when my feet just went under, really.” “I prepared her and told her to sit down, that I have an incredible thing to tell,” Matti tells. “Fortunately we have this older son Rami, who is one year and 10 months older than Kimi and who drives rally. I have enough to do with Rami,” Matti says and grins somewhat sadly. He is a big, stable, bearlike 46-year old man. Paula, 47, is smaller, blond, fast and clear in her talks, bubblier.
It took time, money and strength
Here we have a fresh Finnish heroic story where Sisu, toughness, trial and companionship is combined. This story has four heroes, Kimi, Matti, Paula and Rami. “Everything happened like in secret. I mean we started this only so we could give the boys a good and a healthy hobby. And then the hobby has grown into bigger and bigger circles”, father Räikkönen explains. Matti Räikkönen is a machine man who is a mechanic with skillful fingers. Paula is a secretary, a woman of action. “All hobbies are good but driving is tricky because the small boys don’t get with their machinery from track to track. If a boy plays ice-hockey you can take turns with other parents, in this hobby it doesn’t work. We travelled with these two sometimes even 17 races in one summer and when the distances are what they are it doesn’t mean from Friday evening to Sunday, it often means from Wednesday to Sunday”, Matti tells. “When the boys started to drive national races – Kimi was eight – we had to get a van and a trailer so that we could get to the races”, Paula continues. “It took all the time, money and strength”, she calmly says. Matti worked two or three jobs, drove taxi and was a doorman. Sometimes they had to decide whether to continue the boy’s driving business or make an indoor toilet. They didn’t and the boys got to continue. “Once we came all the way from Belgium to Finland with only a Shell credit card. Fortunately the family stuck together!” Matti tells. “Sometimes we had moments of doubts but aren’t bad times meant to be won”, he challenges. “We never had the feeling that we should quit. Sometimes we just realized that we don’t have enough money. We cried in the telephone to one way and another so that we could continue”, Paula talks. “The family has all the time been very closely together, we have shared both the joy and the sorrow. Because of course there has been sorrow and disappointments too. Winning is a rare treat”, Matti defines.
The family’s inside joke is what Kimi said when they were going home through Italy that “I will get you a castle from here one day”. “It came so sincerely from Kimi. And when we came from another race that went bad, Kimi pointed at a castle that was in really bad shape that “I’ll buy you a castle like that mom, I don’t have enough money to buy another one”, Matti laughs.
There are wild rumours about Kimi’s salary at Sauber, but it’s clear that it’s seven- or eight-numbered figures and you could even build a toilet of marble with golden handles with that money. “We don’t have to support Kimi anymore. In that way things got easier about a year ago. Kimi is living on his own earnings and we have definitely noticed that!” Räikkönens say. “I don’t want life to change, I want it to stay as it was before”, Matti says. “This has been Kimi’s dream but it was never our dream. We have just lived and helped him the best we could to get forward. In this genre the hunger gets bigger and bigger when you realize that you have talent, you have to take it to the end and see where it takes you”, Paula says.
“Many can say that I live through my children. It’s not true. We just got a hobby that combined the whole family and it started growing bigger”, Matti says. They both thank their employers who have been flexible and understanding. That has been essential to the whole business, it wouldn’t have worked out if we couldn’t hold our vacations in parts, they say.
Brothers are like night and day
So what is this Kimi Raikkonen like – according to his parents? “He is gutsy and terribly stubborn but also very sensitive”, mother says. “I think that Kimi has grown all the time along with his career. Of course he has taken damn big steps during the last days but I have never been worried about the boy’s head”, father says. “Kimi isn’t more mature than others his age. When he has time his friends come over and they go to sauna according to the long schedule and go to a disco after that. He has a girlfriend and things like that, he is an ordinary boy”, mother says. The girlfriend is cute and wonderful but she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. “Kimi has lived in Holland and England, of course that helps to grow up and become independent”, father thinks.
The brothers are like night and day.” Rami was something like seven when we said that he is the smartest person in our family. Rami always thinks first before acting, Kimi is the complete opposite, does first and figures out afterwards what he went and did”, father laughs. Mother calls the firstborn a diplomat. “Rami started driving a motorbike when he was 3,5 years old. You couldn’t give Kimi one until he was 5. Kimi’s nature is of the kind that you go always flat out”, Matti describes. “They drove karting together. Rami was softer, you can see his goodness best when you drive against time or against your own best performance. He is much softer than Kimi as a driver. You have to be more aggressive and rude on the track. It was clear ever since they were small that they both drive in their own style. They didn’t want to learn from each other – not even if we tried. They both thought that the other one had no hands – therefore you can’t learn anything from him”, father tells. He regrets a little of his sketching and says that you can’t compare your two boys, both are equally dear. But you can read between the lines that Rami is better off in rally where he can drive alone, Kimi again is better on a track where he can squeeze in, ambush, overtake, go flat out, put others in line without endangering anyone.
“The boys were always together ever since they were small. I almost cried when I looked at albums and saw that in every picture there were two boys. The other one was alone in only a few pictures, they were always together and did everything together”, Paula says. “Of course they had fights, you polish one another through them. But the relationship and the foundation is there even though they wouldn’t see each other that often”, she continues.
Many take part in a lottery, only one wins
They´re talking about an eye for the game. Should you also talk about an eye for driving, a natural ability to find the best driving line and realize what braking causes in different situations? “Absolutly. Everybody develops if they repeat enough but I also believe that there is talent. Someone can learn to reach a certain level and some other can already be there when he starts and continue somewhere else where the other one never will reach”, Matti describes. Kimi Räikkönen is a driver talent, everybody has agreed upon that, even those who have been doubtful about his quick progress to F1. Physiotherapist Jukka Viitasaari who has tuned the slim Kimi during last months into a young man who is tougher than an arrow goes totally reckless. Viitasaari has worked a lot with drivers but he compares Kimi to Mozart, a genious in his own profession who can play any instrument: cello, violin, piano – everything goes and everything plays. Without even coughing Kimi jumped from a 185-horsepowered Formula Renault into an 800-horsepowered F1-car. “Kimi has always stood out somehow and he has been picked and taken forward because of his driving skills and showings, we really didn’t have the money and we haven’t bought Kimi one single seat”, Paula Räikkönen says realistically. It was a surprise for those in the Sauber-team how efficiently and analytically Kimi is able to tell what kind of setups he wants to the car and why. “Ever since Kimi learned to walk he has fumbled with all kinds of gadgets. I don’t think that anybody can make a fast car for anyone. Everybody wants a bit different setups and you have to be able to tell what it feels like and what might cause it”, Matti explains.
Kimi was in technical school’s car-department for 1,5 year until he had to leave school for other engagements. Many of his class mates didn’t even know what the guy was doing – which tells a lot about the young man’s character. Concentration and self-confidence are in the right place in Kimi. He often says: you should not bow in front of pictures, “we all eat the same oatmeal”.
Eddie Irvine wished Kimi welcome as his collegue, Ralf Schumacher again gave doubtful statements. Kimi thinks that everybody can think what they want, it isn’t his business. Matti says diplomatically like this: “Very few gets into F1, someone’s success is always taken away from someone else. Kimi has taken someone’s job who has been driving for a long time and dreamt of the same thing. Tens of thousands wishful boys race all over the world in different races and they all have the same dream burning in their veins: The Royal Class. 22 gets in there. Many take part in lotteries and somebody always wins it”, Matti says.
Are you scared? “Everything is always possible. Anything can happen in normal traffic. In Europe we are more afraid of the journeys there than we are of the tracks”, Räikkönens answer. Paula tells that the bigger classes that look so daring when watching from the television always made her think with pleasure that fortunately our boys never get that far but when getting there they have proved to be okay. The boy has learned and matured during the journey. But as a mother she can’t watch the races, it’s too exciting. “Sometimes we have said when dreaming that if Kimi ever gets to F1 we will go to the first race! It’s just a shame that it’s so far away in Melbourne!” Paula sighs – so far they have seen only one GP.
You can always come home
Many families have some kind of advice they say to their kids when they walk out the door. Behave, drive carefully, remember to call. “Our boys haven’t had time to circulate in any gangs but I always tell them when they are going somewhere that “keep your sense in your hand”. If someone jumps into a well then you don’t have to jump after. Think before you do something”, Paula says. “And you can always come home. No matter what happens you can always come home, the door is open”, Kimi’s father continues. Kimi comes from F1-Racing-magazine’s photo shooting, the Swiss filming teams is buzzing around him – they are making a portrait of Kimi to a German channel’s sport news. Kimi is quiet, careful, a man of few words. He grins if the other one really makes an effort to entertain him – his dad says that he has always strived to pull tricks and fool his boys so that they wouldn’t become too serious. The hero gets to come home for Christmas from Barcelona’s testing. He has already got his parents christmas-presents – although he already gave the best around the Independence Day.
When the news about Kimi’s F1-seat spread, Matti Räikkönen’s 4 cellphones got swamped with congratulations. Even Mika Salo’s father called to congratulate. Someone brought a beautiful rosebush and two bottles of champagne to their yard, otherwise life has gone on like before.
But it’s just calm before the tornado.
Source: From Matti and Paula Räikkönen, Text: Raila Kinnunen and Vesa Eskola
From Finland, Dad Matti, Mom Paula, and friend and rival Toni Vilander speak about the (eventful) childhood of the Ferrari driver. “In everything he has done, he has always shown his true nature. Overtaking.
”The symbol feature of Kimi Räikkönen is not his typically Finnish nature, neither his silent attitude, nor his affectionate attachment to the family. Rather, in everything he does, the driver of Espoo puts his inexhaustible agonistic energy. All funny things this Finnish 27 years-old guy does with his friends, he makes it to a personal challenge. “It’s difficult to play with Kimi, for example at ping pong. If I play well, Kimi always must try to prevail, however”, explains his bigger brother Rami Räikkönen. “Sometimes you have to let him win, because he does not stop until he has won.” “This is at everything you make, both for a bicycle trip and for a tennis match”, confirms Toni Vilander, a race rival who now is Kimi’s bosom friend. Like every Finn, Räikkönen loves the cross country skiing. The skating step, according the trainer Mark Arnall, is perfect to reinforce the legs of a driver: “But absolutely I don’t think to go skiing with Kimi”, smiles Arnall, who is in perfect form but he has already tried to fight with Kimi in various other sports… Kimi in fact is interested in all that is only similar to a sport. When he presented a racing horse to his wife Jenni and he tried for the first time in his life to ride it, he immediately tried to go the animal as fast as possible on track. At the end he began to scream how to stop the horse. Fortunately the crazy run finished in a high front flip, but since that day Jenni Dahlman-Räikkönen never has given his husband the permission to ride her horses. The Räikkönens love animals: in addition to the horses they have two dogs, a German shepherd named Ajax and a Jack Russell Terrier, Peppi. But Kimi is allergic to horses and cats: “And also to the journalists”, he adds smiling. Well, he also has the sense of the humor.
A REAL ICEMAN
In addition to his competing-affectation, courage and self-control are innate features of Räikkönen. Kimi is a real man of ice and really justifies with his behavior the nickname given by McLaren. The mother Paula Räikkönen remembers she has seen her son irritable only once. Kimi was six years old and he went to a normal visit to the doctor’s office. While the mother and the doctor were speaking, Kimi, in a games corner, began to distress himself and to get nervous. Immediately the doctor thought the child could be affected by disturbs of concentration, even if it was only about toys. Instead Kimi, who loved riddles very much at those times, had found a puzzle, suited to his age that seemed him much too easy, so he wanted another one- for children 10-15 aged – that the nurse did not want to give him. At the end Kimi obtained what he wanted and quickly put all pieces in right place with a happy smile. So the doctor laughing said: “For sure this boy doesn’t have any concentration problems”.
FIRST, THAT WAS A BICYCLE
The Räikkönen family is from the Carelia: they come from the country of Raikkola, near Sakkijarvi, a city of ex URSS after the Second World War, while Kimi’s family house is sited in Karhusuo (Espoo). “Over there, among forests”, Kimi’s father Matti tells. The house had been built by Kimi’s great-grandfather. His parents Paula and Matti have lived there for twenty years. The house courtyard was the first track for Rami and Kimi. The story began with a mini-cross, a bicycle for children marked Italietti. “Kimi was three years old and he wasn’t able to drive a pedal car, but he could ride that Italietti very well”, the father remembers. “Then when the boys grew, the bicycles would have had to be changed, but they were too much expensive”. Meanwhile, Kimi and his brother Rami were competing in everything, sometimes they came to blows, sometimes they rode their little bicycles raising powder clouds, all the day.
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE POTATOES FIELD
Instead of two new bicycles the Räikkönens acquired two Lada, very old Russian cars, models 1200 and 1600. One red, the other green. “Since that moment our garden has been similar to a potato field. There was a deep furrow surrounded by a gravel wall, that did not allow to arrive to the house directly from the road”, remembers the dad. Then the Lada cars were sold and they acquired a go-kart. The two boys moved some kilometers from the house courtyard to the famous track of Bemböle, threatened of closing for ten years, where Kimi and Keke Rosberg, JJ Lehto, Mika Salo, Mika Häkkinen began their own career. At Bemböle the amateurs could run three days a week, time that the Räikkönen brothers spent integrally. But two racing love brothers could not resist over a long time with only one go-kart: “Rami was too much higher than Kimi and he had to regulate the pedals at every change of driver”, dad Matti continues. “As result, boys didn’t drive their lap-times, but spent the time in the box waiting for their own turn… So we also had to buy another car”. The family house badly a renovation, there wasn’t even a bathroom, but because of the boys’ cars, they had to be contented with an outside toilet.
MINI RAKET, THE CAREER BEGINS
Kimi’s first contest category was the Mini Raket Karting, in which Kimi began to run when he was 10 years old, in 1989. In 1991 he was 2nd in the general Class of the Mini Raket Goblet, while first classified was Toni Vilander. After this contest Räikkönen jumped in the Formula A 100 cc, where he won his debut race. “In the lower classes Kimi was not with the best ones, because there was not money for new chassis. We only could run. In my opinion a young talented driver grows better if he has not immediately the best cars. In those days fifth place was already a success for us”, emphasizes Matti Räikkönen. In those years Toni Vilander was a hard rival for Räikkönen, but quickly the two boys learned to appreciate themselves, becoming friends. “Kimi always has been a positive companion, with a terrible longing for winning. We left the fights on the tracks and we spent nice times together. We became friends. Then we made a promise: if one of us would be arrived in F1, the other one would have followed him to spur him”, tells Vilander. “Also the military service we made together: Kimi postponed for a year his coming in the Armed Forces to wait for me”. Vilander and Räikkönen, together with Oskari Heikkinen, were the National team of karting.
SCHOOL, WHAT A BORING THING!
Studies have never been a challenge for Räikkönen: he didn’t like studying on the books. Best day for Kimi was on Thursday because the scholastic program planned two hours of physical activity, two hours of unskilled labors, pea soup and crêpes for lunch. “Every winter Kimi wore out two schoolbags, not because of the books inside, but because he handled them as a sledge when he went home”, the Dad jokes. He was 16 years old when he stopped the professional school, course for mechanics, and he went away…
HOCKEY, WHAT A PASSION!
Räikkönen always has been fascinated from all types of sport. He played hockey on ice in the Espoo Team, the Jupperin Urheilijat. The Matinkylä stadium was at the opposite side of Espoo and as training for the juniors began at 7 o’clock in the morning, Kimi, who certainly is not an early riser, had to clench his teeth for being of the match. “Once, while I was taking Kimi to the training, in the rear seat he always repeated that maybe it would be better to change sport and playing fencing. For sure fencers have not to play in the middle of the night. I so brought out into laughter that I was going off the road”, Mom Paula tells. “Kimi was the smallest boy of the team and he was a defending player. If he was not able to block adversaries with other ways, he threw to their feet to trouble the action with obstinacy and toughness. Sometimes the coach worried about him and didn’t let Kimi play when the adversaries were too dangerously sturdy”. Now Räikkönen loves hockey on ice: Teemu Selanne, one of best producers of the NHL and player of the Anaheim Ducks, is his friend and at the same time his neighbor at Porkkala. Every time he can Räikkönen goes to the training and to the contest of the Finnish VIP-Team of the Oilers of Pietarinkatu, and also to Kirkkonummi to see amateurs teams. One thing is clear: his taste of the competition is the same one of when he was a child.
Source: SportWeek 24.02.2007
Kimi Räikkönen proved to the whole F1-world that he is worth the superlicense. He didn’t do one single mistake and was the fastest of all rookies. “He did a fantastic job”, said Peter Sauber. Steve Robertson: “I can already see from the way Kimi moves that he is satisfied even though he is the last person to start bragging about it. Kimi proved that he is worth his seat and got through the first international press conference with honor. It was obvious that the public appearance troubled him more than going out on the track.”
“I announced many times during the winter my opinion that if somebody who sits into these cars and proves immediately to be fast and doesn’t make mistakes, to a guy like this you have to give the right to drive in F1”, Schumacher reminded. “I would say that Kimi proved this weekend all my estimations to be right. I can only congratulate him and tell him to keep going on the same way.”
Technical manager Willy Rampf praised Kimi’s ability to keep the laptimes at a hard level. “We talked in the radio during the end of the race and Kimi told us that he won’t push hard anymore. Yet we saw by looking at his laptimes that at that point he was one second faster than Nick Heidfeld.”
Max Mosley owes Kimi an apology. He did his everything to prevent this biggest promise’s rocketlike rise into F1. “I’m sure I proved everyone that I belong here”, Kimi said. Peter Sauber hinted that perhaps Mosley should consider calling Kimi and apologise for the negative image he created of Kimi. “My own impression of Kimi wasn’t changed at all after this race because I already saw what he is capable of when he tested our car for the first time in Mugello. Ever since that moment I have known that there is something absolutely exceptional in this boy and he proved it to all F1-fans around the world”, Sauber said proudly. “It was stunning, almost unbelievable when Kimi came out of the car after the race as fresh and vigurous as Michael Schumacher and he would have been ready to drive another race right after that. Peter Sauber lost Red Bull’s support in millions to Arrows because they didn’t want to take Red Bull’s favorite driver Enrique Bernold as their driver. “Bernoldi crashed now too, Räikkönen didn’t”, Sauber pointed out.
Manager Steve Robertson moved into tears of Räikkönen’s brilliant debut. “Our fairy tale story culminated to the 6th position. Now everybody believes what I have known for some years already: Kimi is a phenomenal talent.” Robertson grinned and said that he would in the future wait for a call from either Ron Dennis or Jean Todt. “We have a long contract with Sauber but it’s very possible that the team won’t be able to keep Kimi for long”, Robertson said. “Kimi is an extremely strong person. I’m sure that it was much more difficult for me to sleep the night before than it was for him. Kimi can’t stress about anything.” “Kimi did not do one single mistake”, his race engineer Jacky Eeckelaart said. “My first GP was pretty much what I expected it to be. At least it wasn’t tougher than I thought”, Kimi said.
Kimi’s performance assured all experts. Even the experienced reporters nodded in an accepting way and said they had met a future WDC although they went hard on him for his laid-back clothing. Räikkönen charmed them especially with his flawlessness and superb physical condition. They haven’t seen since Michael Schumacher another driver who isn’t drenched in sweat after a hot race and looks like he can do the same race again. Räikkönen was the most flawless driver of the Australian Grand Prix. He paid a part of his one million dollar salary at -once because every point is worth 100 000 dollars to the team. Next week Räikkönen will face his next big challenge – public appearances in Petronas events. He isn’t skilled for those. But the best is that you can always develop public performance and verbal talent unlike the skill to drive which has to be something you are born with.
Sauber’s physical trainer Josep Leberer has had a 5-day training camp for the young drivers in Thailand. According to Leberer both Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Räikkönen came out of the camp half dead but completely adjusted to Malaysia’s burning heat. “We trained in a 40 degree temperature. At times the boys nearly dropped dead of the strain even though we made sure they got enough to drink. The people living in the hotel must have thought we were some idiotic sporting-idiots”, Leberer told.
Peter Sauber brags and says he has already won two bets when the young drivers immediately scored points and the team proved they built a better car than Prost who was left behind them with the same engine. ”The real revolution is our young drivers. The reality is that F1 needs to be shaken up. Heidfeld is more experienced, in that sense Räikkönen starts from zero, but Räikkönen is intelligent and he has his unique charisma. Kimi puts the foot on the pedal and drives fast”, Sauber says.
Button’s manager David Robertson has had to answer to questions why the British driver wasn’t placed to Sauber where his son’s, Steve Robertson’s, protegé Kimi Räikkönen is. Button earns three times more at Benetton than Räikkönen at Sauber. But the Finn is doing much better.
“I learn more all the time. I find something new every lap. I’m satisfied with the setup of the car, now we found a slightly different setup for me than to my team mate. It’s going to a better direction all the time”, Kimi said. Steve Robertson was shining from happiness when his protegé left the BAR-stars behind him and could challenge Jordan. Kimi is now looking for the first time for his own setups that suit his driving style. So far his car has been setup based on Heidfeld’s experience. “Kimi has a lot to try out in the next test. He is now starting to build up his car so that it suits his own driving style. Even though they say that Nick and Kimi are similar, there are changes. Where Nick takes the corners later, Kimi takes them sooner. Because of this Kimi is eagerly waiting for the next test and maybe the car is even better in the next race in Imola”, Robertson said.
Kimi could have been 3rd in Brazil GP. Afterwards we found out that due to a confusion he lost 15 seconds during one lap and while trying to catch up, he drove off the track. He was finally out when his tyre broke. Kimi didn’t completely understand when they warned drivers of the race possibly being stopped during rain in the Drivers meeting. When the hard rain began, Kimi was thinking what happens when he saw so many drive to the pits. At that point all he heard was noise from the radio. For a while Kimi thought that the race was stopped but then on the other hand he subconsciously obeyed the order to ‘stop racing’ and drove very slowly because of that. Only after he heard the order from the radio to come in and change tyres he realised that the race had been going on all the time and he started to go flat out. “Kimi was really disappointed after stopping the race but after seeing the laptimes and seeing that he was with slicks in the rain even three seconds faster than Heidfeld, the smile returned on his face. He felt better and took the attitude that that’s racing”, Robertson said.
“I have learned all tracks after three laps”, Kimi says. In Magny-Cours testing last week Räikkönen learned the track in rainy weather after 3 laps after which he started to be a couple of tenths from BMW-William’s laptimes. In Imola Kimi walked around the track on Thursday and looked carefully how to use the borders to his advantage. On Friday Kimi was 7th and in the afternoon even 4th for a while. 6th position made all the people at Sauber smile big time. “Jenson Button had some difficulties last year in learning the Imola track, just like so many other rookies have. That’s why I was a little concerned how Kimi will do. But Kimi is Kimi. He learned it really fast and was fast in both dry and wet weather”, Robertson said.
“Everyday Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Räikkönen blow more fresh air into the staff. Their example rubs off at everyone. I have never experienced an atmosphere like this in my team before”, Peter Sauber said. “I know that many teams are keeping their eyes closely on Kimi”, Robertson said. “It’s fantastic to get praise from Häkkinen. Kimi is happy for the help Mika has offered but maybe he learns too fast and doesn’t need Mika’s advice”, the manager smiles. “I help myself best by learning everything myself”, Räikkönen says.
Kimi Räikkönen beat on his 4th attempt his team mate Nick Heidfeld. The German reacted very strongly to the competition within the team and the communication between the drivers stopped. Some experts were comparing Räikkönen’s performance in Imola to Senna’s first visit in San Marino.
Steve Robertson is already used to telling what his supersilent superprotegé Kimi thinks and feels. “When Kimi gets to develop the car the way he wants, there is a huge difference to what was before. He really can build the car better. Now he has got the permission to go with his own engineers in his own direction and is now satisfied with the car. Kimi is Kimi. He is very competitive and is always looking for something better. It’s only a good sign. He has been faster than Heidfeld and is because of this a controlling figure in the team this weekend. I believe that it was a big step forward for Kim to beat his team mate and believe in the development of his car.”
“FIA doesn’t have to discuss Räikkönen’s superlicense anymore. If someone comes to us complaining about it, we will advice that person to shut his mouth and drive the same way Räikkönen drivers”, Gutjahr said. Kimi’s superlicense raised quite a storm when Max Mosley was in the head of the people opposing to letting the Finn into F1.
One critisising Räikkönen’s supelicense has been Jacques Villeneuve. Kimi was faster than him in Interlagos and Imola qualification. “Kimi has all the good qualities other driver have but on top of that he has something exceptional. Kimi showed during the first testing day in Mugello – and many times after that – that he can control an oversteering car in the corners better than any other driver at Sauber has. The telemetry shows without doubt that when going into a superfast corner and the car oversteers, other drivers always lift the foot of the pedal but Kimi again strives to take it through the corner with the same speed he goes into it. By studying telemetry Kimi learnes faster more all the time”, Sauber praises.
“Räikkönen is a sensation. There is no other word to describe him. Not just because he is fast – Kimi is really fast. Heidfeld won’t probably see Kimi anymore after a couple of GP’s. So many know Heidfeld and have worked with him and know what he is capable of. When Räikkönen is in front of him it’s a clear accomplishment and cannot be underestimated by anyone”, Keke Rosberg praises.
Räikkönen’s performances patched up the relationship between Sauber and the main sponsor. Kimi Räikkönen beat for the 2nd time his team mate Nick Heidfeld in quali. “It doesn’t matter at all if my team mate has problems or not, I’ll still be faster”, Kimi smiled. For Sauber Räikkönen’s speed and performances mean also financial success. On Saturday after quali the Austrian Red Bull’s manager Dietrich Mateschitz marched to Peter Sauber, congratulated and said that he did the right choice when hiring Räikkönen. According to information we have, Mateschitz promised to help Sauber until the end of the current contract and invest more money into car development. In practice Sauber can hire 30-40 people more to Hinwil factories. When Sauber decided to hire Räikkönen instead of Enrique Bernoldi who Red Bull supported, Mateschitz got angry and decided to cut all relations to Sauber after the contract expired. When Bernoldi went to Arrows, Red Bull went with him as a sponsor for the Arrows team.
At Sauber you can’t work just for one driver, you have to treat them equally, says JJ Lehto. “Especially to Kimi an equal treatment is important because he has no experience and it would be so easy to stab him in the back”, JJ thinks.
Kimi Räikkönen started on Tuesday his testing period with all the fancy new technology the car got (start system and traction control). “There is a lot of work when the driver has to help the engineers more than before to find the best setups for the car from several options. There’s now so much new technology that offers many new solutions”, Kimi said.
Haug praises Räikkönen and says he is the joy of F1-world. Norbert Haug praises and says that Räikkönen is like fireworks to F1. “It’s findings like Kimi who cheer up this sport tremendeously. The way both Heidfeld and Räikkönen do their job is an honor to Sauber and F1. It warms my heart to see two this young drive in a positive way like this against each other. They represent the new generation in F1”, Haug said.
Manager Steve Robertson says that Kimi has grown and developed a lot when working with mechanics and engineers. “Kimi feels now that he belongs to F1 and doesn’t have to be ashamed anymore. You can see and hear it when he sits in the car and talks with the engineers. Kimi can specify what he wants and should be done. It’s a great change compared to his first 2 races”, Robertson says.
Race engineer Jacky Eeckelaert:
“I have never worked with a more quiet driver than Kimi but our co-operation has worked effectively ever since the start. I ask and he answers with an answer that doesn’t leave room for any questions. The feedback is exactly what we need. Kimi is a big talent, learns amazingly fast and gets better race by race.
Schumacher certain of Räikkönen becoming a star: “Räikkönen is very, very talented. He might become a very big star because otherwise he wouldn’t be driving this close to the top in such a short time. I’m waiting with interest to see if Kimi can develop his supertalent even more than Jenson Button.”
Every point is extremely valuable for Kimi Räikkönen and also every employee in Sauber. Räikkönen was like melted honey after his brilliant drive. Peter Sauber’s thick cigar was burning and champagne flooded. Räikkönen showed that he has the eye for the game by letting Michael Schumacher pass him the moment the German attacked. Schumi thanked Kimi by waving his hand as soon as he goes by Kimi. “It wouldn’t have made any sense to keep Schumacher behind me. It would only had cost him time. Now nobody said anything against me and it’s more sensible to let him go and then try to keep up with him and also escape from the rest”, Kimi said.
“When we remember from where we started from, when Kimi’s superlicense was doubted and then he scores in his very first race and now we got a great racing perfomance again. Kimi is a phenomenal driver. You can’t escape facts. Kimi will make whole Finland very proud. When you come right after McLaren and Ferrari you can’t wish for a better position.”
Robertson reminded that Kimi could have got the same position in Imola if his steering wheel wouldn’t have come off in the middle of the race.
“I’m very exited about the upcoming Monaco GP. That circuit is like it’s made for my small boys”, Peter Sauber smiled.
Red Bull – boss Dietrich Mateschitz cut his relationship with Peter Sauber when he chose Räikkönen instead of his protegé Enrique Bernoldi. He admits Kimi’s merits but doesn’t stop praising his crash-sensitive Brazilian. “Räikkönen has done a brilliant job and showed he has a big talent. The youngster has proved that he is a real professional. Yet it’s wrong to claim that Bernoldi wouldn’t be as tough as he is. I’m sure that he would have achieved the same results in Sauber as Kimi”, Mateschitz insists.
Kimi Räikkönen’s heroic deed in midsummer was him tricking the old fox Jean Alesi when fighting for the 10th position. Kimi tricked Alesi with a trick he was known of in karting-days. He fooled Alesi, kept up a hard speed until giving room for the French to try overtaking making it look like a mistake. Alesi speeded by him with too much speed but ended up driving off the track when Kimi calmly took another driving line. Alesi was angry because he drove right into an ‘old mine’ since it meant his first retirement this season. Sauber-people’s verdict of the fight Räikkönen-Alesi was that the Finn proved to be two levels better driver than Alesi.
57-year old Peter Sauber says that he has announced directly that it’s useless to try and ask for a price to release Kimi from his contract. “If I would sell Kimi I might aswell go on pension straight away”, he said. He is especially happy over Räikkönen’s breakthrough. “I gambled and wasn’t sure myself if Kimi would get the superlicense. I couldn’t even have dreamed what I have won this far by choosing Kimi.”
Ferrari follows Räikkönen’s development really carefully. The Italian engineers can read from their own telemetry how amazingly this young Finn can take the maximum out of his Sauber car and Ferrari engine. “Kimi is worth gold to us!” Peter Sauber says. “I trusted my instinct and was right. Kimi is a natural talent and he has genuinelly speed in his blood. It’s no joke to suddenly get 600 horsepowers to control like happened with Kimi. He managed to get the car into his hands from the beginning. And it’s not just about his speed. He has been able to direct us in the car development work”, Sauber says.
Toyota’s technical manager, F1-expert Gustav Brunner classifies Kimi as the best young promise at the moment. “The three best rising starts in order are Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso and Nick Heidfeld”, Brunner estimates. According to him the difference between Räikkönen and Heidfeld is the following: “Heidfeld may win GP’s but Räikkönen will also win the championship.”
Formula 1-rookie Kimi Räikkönen speeded on Monza track the fastest laptime of all times at the end of this week’s testing session, 1.23,532. His speed on straights was 357 km/h. He was over two tenth faster than Michael Schumacher’s last year’s laptime for pole.
Peter Sauber says he saves at least 100 million FIM thanks to his two drivers. “Usually it takes 10-20 million USD or Michael Schumacher to develop the car half a second faster. My team gets this benefit for free thanks to Räikkönen and Heidfeld”, Sauber said. One cannot envy Heidfeld’s position. He said in public before the season that he will look like an idiot if he would happen to lose to Räikkönen. Now Räikkönen has passed Heidfeld when it comes to performance ability and respect, which has made Heidfeld’s manager to rage that Kimi is deliberately promoted more than Heidfeld.
When Ferrari bought in 1995 Eddie Irvine from Jordan, the transfer was 5 million USD. Sauber smiles when Irvine’s deal is compared to Ferrari’s interest for Räikkönen. “I wouldn’t even discuss about releasing Kimi of his contract for 5 million USD”, he said.
How was Kimi released of his contract with Sauber that was supposed to expire in the end of 2004? “There was a lot of interest. It wasn’t just the McLaren-management that asked about Kimi”, Steve Robertson says. “In June Ron Dennis contacted me and asked about Kimi’s contract. He wanted to meet us. We went to Woking and were taken by a complete surprise. Dennis asked if Kimi would be interested to drive at McLaren next year already in case Sauber would release him of his contract. Racing contract? We assumed that Dennis would offer us somekind of option to McLaren after the Sauber-contract would expire”, Robertson sighs. “As a manager I take care of Kimi’s contract matters but he makes the decisions himself. Kimi didn’t hesitate. He wanted at that minute to become McLaren’s driver. We weren’t told who Kimi would replace, Mika or David. We got the answer only two days before McLaren published the contract. When Räikkönen had made his decision the focus was on Peter Sauber. He heard what had happened behind his back 10 days before Hockenheim in the end of July. When we met with Sauber and told about McLaren’s offer, his reaction didn’t come as a surprise to us. Peter Sauber has done a lot for Kimi’s F1-career. Without him Kimi wouldn’t have necessarily got the superlicense. Literally Peter Sauber make Kimi a F1-driver”, Robertson praised. “Kimi is without doubt this moment’s sensation in the F1-world and Peter Sauber knew he had a real jewel in his hand that he himself would have wanted to polish even brighter. It was obvious that Sauber would have wanted to keep Kimi in the team for a long time. Sauber understoot that the top teams search after a talent like Kimi. When he realised that Kimi really wanted to go and had his mind elsewhere, he didn’t want to keep Kimi against his will in the team. We really didn’t come up to this solution in a moment. It took it’s own time but now I think that everybody is happy. I have to admit that behind the scenes happened a very emotional decision and the reactions were fierce at times.”
Kimi Räikkönen has felt in his skin that he is playing the second violin at Sauber after he started to negotiate with McLaren in summer. In Indianapolis GP Räikkönen heard that he had been driving a broken car in Monza. His suspension broke in Monza practice and it wasn’t fixed for the race. He learned in US that to this GP he didn’t get his own car, instead he got someone else’s car. Räikkönen didn’t enjoy one moment in Indianapolis on the track. Even though they made changes to the car, it doesn’t improve the car’s behaviour. For the first time in the whole season Räikkönen wasn’t able to find any balance in his car although they worked on changing it all the time. Naturally the atmosphere between the driver and the mechanics have cooled. Räikkönen has given his critics about the car and the mechanics try to stand up to him. “I don’t blame anyone if at some stage there has born some doubts of equal treatment. The important thing would still be that the fault would be found from the car because this isn’t working in any way now”, Räikkönen said.
Over a year ago when Kimi Räikkönen prepared for his first F1-test in Sauber his manager wanted to arrange his Formula Renault -driver a bit of a touch with a slightly more powerful car. Robertson arranged a three day test in Carlin Motorsport-team with a Formula 3-car on Pembrey track in Britain for Räikkönen. Räikkönen’s testing partner was the team’s standard driver Takuma Sato. During the first day Sato was half a second faster than Räikkönen when the track was dry. It rained the second day and Sato didn’t get anywhere near the Finnish junior’s laptimes. It was close that he didn’t start to cry out of dissapointment. Räikkönen stopped the F3-tests after a day and a half when there was no more speed to find and nothing to prove with the car anymore.
Next year: 6.11.2002
Peter Sauber played down Kimi’s skills in car development in a recent interview. “The truth is that during the last two years Nick Heidfeld was in charge of developing the car while Kimi and Massa both sat into a ready car”, Sauber claims. Even though the team manager doesn’t admit Kimi’s contribution to the car development, Sauber’s engineers can’t stop praising his accomplishments. Some Sauber engineers sat with me on a plane back to Europe from Japan and they started to talk about Räikkönen’s exceptional touch for the car and also how skilled he was when he played it all home. “We tested several new parts in tests Kimi drove. When some new part worked, Kimi described it as good and never using another word for it. The car became better and better every time some new part was good according to Kimi. In the end of the season while Kimi was already going to McLaren we asked why he never classified any new parts as brilliant as they proved to be brilliant steps forward. Kimi just answered that if he had revealed exactly how good the new part would be, it would have been put into Heidfeld’s car, not his, the engineers told. And they claimed that Räikkönen worked in the same way at McLaren too for sure.