The Iceman on the hottest seat of F1
Iceman is a nickname given him by Ron Dennis, patron of the McLaren. Well suited to Kimi Räikkönen, a such cold, icy, essential driver that when he ran for the English team he used to answer to the questions of his engineers moving the head, to agree or say not, while he was passing at the 300km/h in front of the box. No surprise.
The Iceman arrived in F1 from the Finnish birches forests where he played slalom between the trees and on the creaking ice. He was 8 years old and he was a tiny but decided fair haired young man. On a very small car he skidded, he hit trees, he straightened and he started again. When he grew he made the same thing with a Lada, an old and in bad conditions Soviet car, bought with little money. It had a red body that he black painted. In the slalom between the trees it was much damaged. But it was the engine that betrayed him, not the blows. His father Matti put it in order. However his childhood and adolescence were serene lived near Espoo, in an old house builted by his grandparents. Sure, he didn’t have a rich family, but his parents gave him everything also to cost of strange “sacrifices”. His dad asphalted roads with the road roller. Mother Paula worked at the post office. Rami, his brother, who now runs in rally, was the adversary to beat. The house where they lived had an external bathroom and the family was saving money in order to built one inside. But the guys were so passionate for racing that parents thought the toilet could wait for and they bought two karts.
It was not easy for Kimi to go on the top, fighting against more competitive chassis, more powerful engines. A fifth place was a success for him. Kimi also desired a lot playing sport, hockey on ice specially, a real passion, like that one of Michael Schumacher for soccer, but he was not in the mood for studying. When he was 16 years old, in fact, he stopped his course for mechanics at the professional school and as soon as he was 18 he decided to leave the family in order to try his luck in United Kingdom, with the Haywood Racing, that gave him a Ford car to drive. His dad, when he said goodbye, put in Kimi’s jacket pocket 500 dollars and told him in brief: “Nobody of us wants to hamper your career, go and live the life you like, but be careful and don’t get you into troubles. And remember: this money is for your eating.”
Matthew (at the registry office) Räikkönen, Kimi for all, played his cards. After some time, in a cold morning in 2001 he arrived at the Mugello circuit to drive a Sauber F1, with all the expert to look at him, like Schumacher or Piero Ferrari, and they said “oh!”, and they ask from where that splendid rookie came from. Today he is a big of the F1. He will be 28 aged on 17th October, he earns about 30 million euro per year, he has bought a new house with many bathrooms and three years ago he married Jenni Dahlman, ex Miss Scandinavia. There are things to which he couldn’t give up. For example, an evening with his best friends: “During my free time I do what I like”, he says. He likes to have a drop (but the reputation attributed to him born from metropolitan tales). Or going to his gymnasium to lift weights because he says that physical exercise relaxes him.
His style of communication is very original. It could be defined: “Not, I do not know, it does not interest to me”. So, in the age of the drivers who want to attract attention, he is the most nonconformist. And, in fact, he’s the only one who evades from the rules of the image-man driver and great communicative man. He wants to go fast and to remain himself. And if you ask opinions, comments, backstage about his arrival in Ferrari, his relationship with Schumacher, the acclimatization in Italy, he answers frankly, but he doesn’t go over ten words, conjunctions included. Then, it seems Kimi has one extraordinary gift: the awareness of himself. To such a degree that he has been able to erase, since the beginning, the insidious trap of the misunderstanding. Without haughtiness he simply said: “Schumi is incomparable, if we begin to draw parallels between who was and who is here, we don’t go anywhere”. As result, Ferrari and the supporters of the scuderia of Maranello will learn to know a driver who refuses any comparison with the master of Kerpen, one who says calmly: judge me for what I am and for what I am worth.
Q: Who wins the World-Championship?
KR: It’s early to say it. Obvious, I hope to win it.
Q: Are you sure?
KR: Yes, I am, but the things in F.1 can change very fast, even if this year with the same tyres a parameter that made difference has been erased.
Q: What do you think you need to win it: more the car or more luck?
KR: More the car.
Q: More quality/style or charism?
KR: The style is a part of you, the charism can be acquired.
Q: Who has charism?
KR: Who can express some moral qualities and, with these one, he is able to motivate people.
Q: McLaren and Ferrari: which differences?
KR: Technically it is difficult to make comparisons because many things are changed this year. From another point of view I can say that at Maranello there is “a more warm” atmosphere.
Q: How was your first meet with Ferrari?
KR: Very positive: people received me very well, trying to put me in the best conditions to express myself.
Q: Does a Ferrari style exist?
KR: Yes, sure, even if I am discovering day by day.
Q: From what can you recognize it?
KR: By the attention they put into the details, they put the person in the middle of the project.
Q: Someone says that you don’t respect the mechanics of the car, that you are hard and you break a lot. Is it true?
KR: No, it isn’t.
Q: What did your Ferrari engineer ask to you?
KR: Chris (Dyer) is an excellent technician and a nice guy: when we met for the first time he didn’t ask me anything in particular. In the winter test days we have spoken a lot, as it’s normal. We are going to know better, as we will spend much time together on the track.
Q: Have you spoken with Michael Schumacher?
KR: Sure, sometimes.
Q: Has he given you some advices?
KR: No, why should he do?
Q: Press says that the men of the scuderia compare you to Niki Lauda for your character instead of Michael Schumacher…
KR: I had not ever heard it. However I think it’s early to say to who I look like.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from some special driver?
KR: Nobody in particular.
Q: Is it true that your love for the Ferrari comes from far away? That you had a Ferrari in your garage?
KR: Yes, I had and I still have an Enzo, a very beautiful car.
Q: Every kind of motorbikes: for water, ice, cross, road. A passion that cannot be given up?
KR: Absolutely: I like the speed, on every type of surface.
Q: What have you got in your garage? Have you got also some great motorbikes which cost 100.000 euro?
KR: I have a lot of motorbikes and cars, but the most expensive, the most precious is the Enzo.
Q: You live in Switzerland but you are still very affectionate to your home in Porkkala. Is Finland important for you?
KR: Yes, it is my country and I go back as often as I can.
Q: When you come back what do you do?
KR: It will seem boring, but I’m a simple person. I do exactly what boys of my age like to do: to go around with my friends, to listen to music, nothing of “sensational” that can attract the attention of the paparazzi.
Q: When did you feel that your life would have been to be a driver?
KR: It’s what I have always desired to do.
Q: With wine, beer or pineapple juice?
Q: A dinner with Flavio Briatore or Ron Dennis? With Jean Todt or Frank Williams?
KR: Sure with Jean.
Q: Have you more pleasure when you beat Felipe Massa or Fernando Alonso?
KR: I don’t run against someone, I only try to win.
Q: Have you a book in your suitcase or on your bedside table?
KR: I don’t read very much.
Q: Your favourite song?
KR: I don’t have one in particular, but I often love to listen to music, above all the Finnish POP.
Q: London or Helsinki?
Q: Is it true that you are searching a house in Milan?
KR: No, it isn’t.
Q: Your greatest passion?
KR: To be a driver: could I be luckier? I already have this job.
Q: Do you like family?
KR: A lot: I love my family, my parents.
Q: Do you desire to have some children?
KR: Yes, but not now.
Q: The most romantic thing you have made?
KR: I don’t like to speak about these things very much: it’s a part of my private life.
Q: Is it easier to please or to displease all?
KR: Sure to displease: it’s difficult to find something on which everybody agrees.
Q: What don’t you like about what press says about you?
KR: When press writes false things, and unfortunately, it often happens.
Q: Everybody has a dark side. Have you already discovered it?
KR: Honestly I haven’t ever thought about it.
Q: Are you superstitious?
KR: I’m not superstitious.
Q: What do you think before a race?
KR: I try to relax me and to think in a positive way.
Q: And the night before the race what do you do?
KR: I sleep!
Q: How is an engine made?
KR: I know well how an engine is made! Since when I was young I did like to work on my cars, and I still do it when I go in motoslitta; for example in F.1 I prefer to give this work to the technicians and the mechanics, but because there is little time: I like to know the details of what they do on the car.
Q: A surprising gift you have received?
KR: All the gifts made by my wife and my family: they are given with the heart and I feel it.
Q: Travelling around the world, what are you collecting?
Q: Which watch do you prefer?
KR: The Tag-Heuer.
Q: Your clothing?
KR: Casual: jacket, jeans and t-shirt is my uniform.
Q: Your favourite brands?
KR: No brand in particular.
Q: The first time have you wear a smoking?
KR: When I was 14 or 15 years old and I was invited to a prize-giving of a kart championship in Finland.
Q: If a driver overtakes you on road in a wrong way?
KR: I know well that the road is not a race-track where I can run or overtake at the limit, so I think the others should make the same with me but if it happens I certainly don’t react.
Q: Driving style of men and women: Which do you prefer?
KR: For me there is no difference, because when I’m in car I always want to drive.
Q: SUV or wagon?
KR: With two dogs, I prefer the SUV.
Q: The most beautiful moment?
KR: The day of my wedding.
Q: The unhappiest moment?
KR: There have been various bad moments, but I can’t say that there has been a situation worst of all in absolute.
Q: Are you sorry for the losers?
KR: For me winning is all.
Q: What are you afraid of?
KR: I’m afraid of something bad that could happen to my family.
Q: What do you desire to do in your life?
KR: I don’t like thinking too much about future, I try to enjoy the moment.
Q: Why do you desire people will remember you?
KR: Because I have been a winner.