We join Kimi as he turns on the charm in Turkey for a guest appearance on German television
In 129BC, the Romans took control of Anatolia, a land of several independent kingdoms covering the space we now call Turkey. Evidence of this occupation is still tangible, and it is at one of the more spectacular architectural edifices that Kimi Räikkönen finds himself on this warm, bright day in May. One wonders, then, what the Romans might have made of Wetten, Dass..?, a German television spectacular which has taken over the imposing amphitheater at Aspendos for one night only. The quarterly programme is as popular in German-speaking Europe as it´s possible to be, with some 30,000 people applying for tickets each month. The TV audience is estimated at a massive 50 million people, so Kimi can reasonably expect his appearance to make an impact. We arrive at the venue and it´s hot and dry. The Wetten, Dass..? team have already been there for a fortnight, setting up camp behind old Roman structure. This is no small logistical undertaking, and the number of diesel generators whirring away is testament to the amount of power required to keep the show ticking over – and it hasn´t even started yet!
The thought of guesting on a live show that will be watched by some 50 million Europeans doesn´t seem to be affecting Kimi, though. “I´ve done this type of thing before,” he explains. “So I don´t get too nervous.” Upon arrival, we are shown to the Green Room, which is in fact, a bare white-walled structure inside a cavernous tent. Here, the guests of the show each have enclosed areas in which to chill out before the show. Kimi relaxes: eating a banana while flicking though a batch of motorsport magazines. A number of production staff, clipboards clutched tightly underarm, knock from time to time to check that all is well. After Kimi has been afforded time to settle down, we are offered a tour of the vast and imposing amphitheater. Kimi, like so many here today, is taken aback by the sheer power of the venue. “It´s amazing,” he says, looking up at the ranks of worn-smooth stone seating. “It reminds me of when I visited Athens for the Olympics last year – so much history. Really impressive.”
For now, though, the place is taken over by the tools of 21st century television production, with lights, cables, cameras and monitors competing for space. Kimi is shown his marks´, that is: where he will stand, sit, be introduced and so on. He returns to his dressing room to kill a few hours before the live show gets underway. During this respite, Kimi records an interview for the show´s website before posing for photos with the other stars of the show, who include socialite Paris Hilton, Columbian singer Shakira and the popular classical singing quartet, Il Divo. The master of ceremonies is the energetic Thomas Gottschalk, a man clearly excited about having Formula 1´s latest winner as a guest. “It´s a bonus for Wetten, Dass..? to have Kimi on the show,” he says. “Grand Prix drivers are a special breed and the crowd will be really pleased to see him. Kimi is very popular in Germany, but I know that our audiences all over Europe are keen to hear what he has to say. He is very friendly and open-minded, a pleasure to meet.”
The format for the show itself is simple. Each guest is introduced by Gottschalk before joining him on the sofa for a chat. They are then invited to make a decision on the outcome of a, usually precarious, challenge that will be undertaken live by a member of the public. In Kimi´s case, the scenario concerns a Swiss lorry driver who has set himself the challenge to knocking over carefully balanced eggs with his truck and leaving them unbroken – believe me, it makes sense when you see it. Kimi will have the challenge explained to him by Gottschalk and simply has to use his judgement as to whether it will be completed successfully. Should the contestant fail, the celebrity who backed them will undertake a forfeit of the host´s choosing!
An audience of some 5000 people is expected to arrive, with all roads leading to the event chock-full of coaches carrying excitable groups to this ancient cultural centre. It´s relatively calm backstage, though, giving little impression of the organized chaos that is going on outside as the audience make their way in. With a couple of hours to go until showtime, the noise of the masses becomes audible, ramping up excitement levels by another notch. Dusk falls and the sky is grey-blue. Tension is rising like the bubbles in a local hookah pipe. The time seems to pass more quickly now, and it´s soon time for Kimi to make his entrance. He emerges from the back of a black Mercedes-Benz S-Class to make his way through the front of the venue onto the brightly lit stage. He is welcomed by the host and the crowd applaud wildly. There are even a few “Kimi” banners being waved.
After answering questions from the host, who is keen to hear Kimi assess his chances of winning the 2005 drivers´ title, it´s time for Kimi to place his bet. A live link to Switzerland is established, and the protagonist explains his attempt before climbing aboard his substantial lorry. There is silence in the auditorium as he begins to crawl gingerly between the eggs. The challenge lasts for roughly a minute, but it seems that a few eggs have indeed been smashed by the truck. A final count is needed before Kimi´s fate is known. He loses the bet and has to take the forfeit. As the show winds on, more and more celebrities join Kimi on the large beige sofa. The laughter continues for another two hours before an explosion of light and sound brings the event to a carnivalesque close. The crowd make their way back onto their coaches and the riggers start dismantling their apparatus from the impressive old stone – a job that will last well into the next day. And then? 129BC doesn´t seem that far away at all.
From: RacingLine, July 2005
See here the Video of Kimi at Wetten Dass…? with english subtitels:
And see here the Interview before the show:
Kimi about Jenni, money and children. Seiska asked Kimi Räikkönen 77 questions in his home in Porkkala.
What kind of chances of success do you think Lotus has this season?
It’s difficult to say, nobody knows yet. We will see after the first tests where we are going.
Do you have hunger for another WDC?
Yes. You always have that as a goal. I will try a lot, let´s see if that’s enough or not.
You have said that Lotus has a homey atmosphere compared to your earlier teams, how do you see the difference?
Each team has always been different. Lotus has however a different kind of management. They are younger and racing-spirited and not any uptight people.
Is Sebastian Vettel your best buddy in F1?
Yes, I know him best and have spent most of time with him than with any other drivers.
Do you have any enemy or someone you can’t stand there?
No I haven’t but it’s difficult to say what other people think.
Have you already met your team mate Romain Grosjean? Is he a good guy?
I have met him and he is a nice normal guy.
Where do you see yourself after ten years?
Difficult to say but hopefully everything is still okay.
What plans do you have for your life after F1?
No plans. I have never had any terribly long plans.
In how good physical shape are you?
I guess in the same shape as before. I know pretty well in which shape one has to be.
They operated your wrist after the recent motor sledge-race. Has it healed well?
Yeah. It’s now completely okay.
They often talk about your money in public. You have a fortune of over 100 million euros. What does money mean to you?
I guess it means the same as it means to other people too. I get a certain amount of money for the job that I do. Some think it’s right, some think it’s wrong. I myself have however made all the work so it doesn’t make me ashamed at all. Money makes some things easier but it really doesn’t solve everything in life.
Has the big fortune made you out of touch with reality or do you even think about monetary matters?
*laughing* Definitely not! I’m just the same as I was before. It makes some things easier but it also brings a lot of negative things along.
Do you pay your bills yourself or do you use an internet-bank for example?
No I don’t. My mom takes care of quite many of my things.
How much money will you get for your next season in Lotus?
I get something.
How have you invested your money?
Well I have a few apartments and something like that… You have to live somewhere.
They have thought in public that you are part-owner in Lotus, is that true?
No it’s not.
Would you like to own your own F1-team someday?
I don’t have the passion for it. In the end it’s quite cruel business.
Have you ever donated a lot of money to charity?
I have done that every now and then. At the moment I have this small thing going on with SOS Children’s Village.
Then what is your biggest loss in poker?
I doesn’t come to my mind right now, but usually I lose rather than win.
Do you play other gambling games?
I guess I have sometimes played some pajazzo etc. if they are seen as gambling games, but nothing more.
They say that you are genuinely a laidback guy and don’t look like you would be nervous of any racing situations. What kind of situations make you nervous?
Hard to say. Sometimes normal things can make me nervous. It depends on the place but I am also nervous about races.
What kind of things are you afraid of?
There are no things that I would be afraid of. I don’t have fear for high places or things like that.
You have many houses but how many homes do you have?
This place in Porkkala is one home and I have another home in Switzerland. I don’t think that I have any more homes than anyone else has.
You travel a lot. How many nights per year are you here in Porkkala?
I can’t say at all. I spend more time here in the summer when the weather is good.
Is the place in Kaskisaari more of a partying place than home?
No. I use it when I have for example some job stuff in Helsinki.
How do you decorate your apartment? I doubt you go to IKEA by yourself.
No I don’t go to IKEA. This house has been designed by interior-people.
Is there something in the interior that Jenni likes and that you let her have with long teeth?
Well I don’t have terribly much that I would have objected to. I don’t pay attention to those kind of details. We have a pretty similar taste but interior is more a thing for women. I’m sure it’s more important to them than it is to me for example. We should just let the women take care of these things!
Which room is your favorite room?
I guess I spend most time on the couch in front of the TV.
What do you serve your friends when they come and visit you?
It depends of course on which day it is! *laughing* I don’t usually ask terribly much, they find their way to the fridge themself.
Do you go to the supermarket yourself?
I go there quite often. I like to go there but it also depends upon which time you go there. Sometimes there are many people etc. but I like to circle around there.
Do you clean your home yourself?
Yeah I clean sometimes. I do the normal cleaning myself, like wash my own clothes.
Do you have a housekeeper?
No. A cleaning lady comes twice a month to sweep the biggest thrash.
Do you make food yourself?
I make food if I’m home alone.
What is your speciality?
I guess it’s chicken pasta. It’s the easiest to make. I’m not any passionate cook.
What is your favorite drink?
I drink a lot of milk.
How do you prepare a White Russian the right way?
I don’t know since I haven’t drank White Russians for years. I’m sure I couldn’t make them the right way.
What about cranberry vodka?
I guess you mix vodka with some cranberry.
Is Jenni a good cook?
She is a bit better than me but if we would compete I think it would be quite an even competition.
Does she cook for you often?
Every now and then. We don’t have any rule book about those things, that someone would always have to cook. Often we go out for dinner and sometimes pick up something.
Do you have pets?
We have three dogs. My mom keeps two Jack Russell terriers and the German Shepard is in Switzerland.
What names do they have?
Reiska, Peppi and Ajax.
Is it true that you are allergic to Jenni’s horses?
I’m allergic to quite many things like cats and horses. I get a stuffed up nose if I spend a lot of time with them. I had more allergies during the army-time.
What TV-programs do you watch?
This and that. Mostly sport. Yesterday I was staring at something that my mom watched.
Your favorite movie?
What Finnish icehockey-league do you support?
I don’t personally support anything special. Of course I hope that Espoo’s and Helsinki’s leagues would do well. I don’t follow icehockey with clenched teeth and despite rumors I don’t own anything from Tampere’s Ilves. May the best league win.
How often do you party?
It depends a lot. Now I haven’t had time to party because of having so much to do. Of course if I’m free and want to go, then I go. I don’t have any regulations concerning that. These things are related to normal life just like it is with everybody else too.
How is a good party made, a party where you enjoy yourself?
I guess it’s the good gang. That’s where it usually takes off.
Does it have to be karaoke?
It has been less karaoke although it’s usually been fun there. It’s not necessary but I rather go to a smaller and more quiet place than to some big disco.
How much and what do you drink during a bar-night?
Hmmm… Hard to say what I drink. There is no main drink. I usually order a lot of cranberry vodka because my buddies drink a lot of that. I often drink vodka and vichy if I drink.
Are you a person who likes to be comfortable?
Well not any more than anyone else is. I’m usually fine with everything.
The sea is here beside, do you swim a lot?
I swim in the summer. The last time I took a swim in that sea was just before the ice came.
Cold or hot shower?
It depends a little but I like a really cold shower too. It refreshes quite well.
How much time do you spend in the shower?
Well as long as I get clean I guess. I don’t have any stopwatch there for crying out loud!
Do you sing in the shower?
Do you wear a bathrobe or do you walk around with a towel over your hips?
With a towel.
Your favorite cologne/scent?
I only use the basic deodorant. You get it easy from the gas station!
Do you blowdry your hair?
What is your favorite music?
I usually listen to Finnish music from the radio.
You mean radio Suomi Pop?
I have been less now that people there have changed. It’s not as good in the morning as it used to be.
How many cars do you own?
Five I think. Audi, Fiat, Mercedes and VW. I guess I get some Lotus too soon but any luggage won’t fit into them.
How many tattoos do you have and do they have some meaning?
Two. I don’t think that they have any special meaning.
You have told that you would want to have two children. At which stage do you think starting a family would be actual?
Of course you want family. It doesn’t mean that there should be one or two children. Hopefully I get a family at some point and that all children would be healthy. I think that’s the main thing.
I heard that you are very fond of children. Is it true?
Yes, I like children. I don’t have any of my own but I like spending time with them.
What is the secret of your and Jenni’s lasting marriage?
I don’t think that we have any secret. Of course we have arguments and nagging at times just like in every other relationship but it’s normal life.
How often do you see Jenni?
We are about every day together at home unless we are on some trips. It has been like that ever since we met.
What mutual hobbies do you have?
I guess just being home since we both have our own hobbies. I do my own things and Jenni rides every day.
What is a good relationship like according to you?
I’m sure everyone have a different relationship and you can’t order what is good for anyone. For as long as both have fun and both feel good to be together is what defines it.
Which one of you are more jealous?
Hard to tell.
Are you jealous of each other?
I’m sure eveyone is. Even though you would say that you aren’t jealous I think everyone is.
Are you happy?
Yes. I don’t have anything to complain about.
Do you think that Jenni is also happy with you?
Yes. We wouldn’t be together if we weren’t happy. Like I said there are always arguments every now and then but I think it’s the same for everyone else too.
Do you read Seiska?
I read it every day now and then because we get it in Switzerland! Yeah, the bible comes to our home (laughing).
So you call Seiska jokingly a bible?
It is sometimes like that, yes!
From: Seiska Magazine http://www.seiska.fi/ Translation: Nicole
Seiska’s reporter Panu Hörkkö visited Kimi Räikkönen at his home and he was surprised – positively.
When I drove on Feb 3rd from Helsinki to Kimi Räikkönen’s villa in Porkkala I had butterflies in my stomach. I had actually had them ever since the night before and Kimi even visited in my few hours dream to be honest. So the unconsciousness pulled cruel tricks on me. I was however about to meet Kimi for the first time and I had heard that he hates reporters. I wondered which one of us is more troubled with the meeting – the one who was going to be interviewed or the interviewer?
Kimi’s expression was something completely different from what I had expected!
When the photographer and I arrived to Porkkala we were greeted by Riku Kuvaja. He informed in his kind way that he would go and walk around the villa with the photographer and I could soon interview Kimi in peace. Soon after that the glass door opened and a beanie-headed Kimi came out to shake hands with me. I immediately saw an expression on Kimi’s face that I hadn’t seen in one single magazine or TV-interview earlier. Kimi was unbelievably laidback and frankly put charming, if a man can say so about another man. Kimi’s boyishness and grinning continued all through our 3-hours meeting and the ice broke easily in the Iceman’s cave. Kimi answered my questions in a laidback way and used his witty sense of humour. His laughter was catching and the atmosphere was warm. As an example I could mention my question “How tough steam-man are you?” Kimi replied in his personal way: “I like to go to a sauna but just the normal steams. No Sauna-Timo-business for sure,” Kimi said. It wasn’t pretending from his side, I can say based upon my life experience that Kimi is genuinely a laidback person – and modest too on top of that – unlike many “heroes” I have met.
Lacking speaking skills, they say!
After we left the villa I could only think that dammit, that guy just hates cameras just like probably 99% of Finnish men also hate! Next F1-season I am going to concentrate on following only Kimi and his grips in Lotus. The guy did after all set the fastest laptime in Jerez testing! I will leave in their own league those who nag about Kimi’s poor skills of commenting or posing. Afterall I know myself that we Finns have an exceptionally charming hero in this man. And a man can say this about another man. Good luck to the upcoming season, Kimi!
Kimi Raikkonen is back in Formula 1 again in 2012. At Lotus-Renault he can hardly win, but he brings color back into the championship. SPORT BILD describes the two faces of the Ferrari world champion from 2007.
Suddenly, the “Iceman” became talkative. It was cold in the winter of 2003. Kimi Raikkonen was staying at a Swiss shepherd dog breeder in the vicinity of Lake Constance. He spent hours playing around with the eight-week-old puppies, photographed them, and sent the pictures via cell phone to his wife Jenni. He finally opted for Ajax, who was the first jumped into his arms. On this day, he put the mask of the Iceman Raikkonen off and showed his true colors. After two years of vacation in the World Rally Championship the World Champion of 2007 is back in the next year in Formula 1. He signed for two years at Lotus-Renault team. The Lotus will not be the best car, but Raikkonen (32) does not matter. “I just wanted to go. Money is not important,” he says. On the contrary: the Finn earns no money, he even invested. Two donors from Saudi Arabia finance the deal, along with two private sponsors, who Raikkonen brings. It is led by the American Foster Gillette (35). The heir to the dynasty of razor got to know and appreciate Raikkonen in his NASCAR driving test six months ago in the U.S. The second-patron is said to be Prince Jefri of Brunei, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, who is considered as one of the richest men in the world.
One thing is certain: in particular the tabloid reporters are happy about Raikkonen’s comeback. They hope to see the other face of Räikkönen, the ex-champion had shown only too often in his first F1 career with McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari. Here is a short “best of” his scandals: He fell drunk headlong from the upper deck to lower deck of his yacht in the port of Helsinki. He disguised himself as a gorilla. He rioted in a night club in London, and unsheathed his little Kimi. He slept shitfaced on a sidewalk in Gran Canaria, with a pink rubber elephant as a pillow. Mercedes-employees on vacation found him and called the headquarters in Stuttgart: “I think we’ve just found your Formula 1 pilot.” And still a treat that has not yet penetrated to the public: his compatriot and F1-mate Heikki Kovalainen freethinker Raikkonen is said to demanded on a partner swap. Kovalainen will have to flee in panic seized.
Raikkonen is not interested at about that all. He clarifies: “Everyone has emotions, but each has a different way to deal with. When I am driving, I am highly focused, emotions are out of place, to this that I’m not a guy who likes to show what goes on in myself.” Therefore, he would never tell that his squeaky voice leading from a bicycle accident from his childhood. Kimi was five years old when he slipped from the pedals and slammed with the neck right on the handlebars. From the severe bruising to his vocal cords have never fully recovered. Even as a child Raikkonen spoke so less that his parents brought him anxiously to the therapist. And he sent him back home after half a day. With a letter in his pocket: “Your son is above average intelligence. That could be the reason why he chooses to remain silent…” A difficult task test, on which an adult needed in average three hours, the six year old had solved in 20 minutes. This had convinced the therapist.
Also in the car Raikkonen is always too cold. An experiment confirmed this: doctors wired him during a race with measuring electrodes. Result: In situations where other pilots themselves acknowledge the sweat had driven into the neck, Raikkonen’s pulse not even jumped in the height. For his former team boss Peter Sauber the fin is the pilot with the strongest nerves, he has ever experienced. “He almost slept through his first F1 race in Australien2001,” he recalls. Fitness coach Josef Leberer, then responsible for Raikkonen, said: “Kimi was on a case in the box and slept when I wanted to wake him up 40 minutes before the start so he could prepare for the start, and he turned around and muttered, “Give me five minutes”. He just went back to sleep.” In the race he won his first championship point in sixth. When Peter Sauber wanted to congratulate him, Raikkonen waved: “Have I won? So why the congratulations?” Sauber was completely perplexed.
Besides Sauber, two others are looking forward to the comeback of the”Iceman”. Sebastian Vettel is good friends with Kimi Raikkonen: “I like Kimi very much,” the double world champion said, “and certainly he is still a great racing driver.” The other is Gerhard Berger. The Tyrolean ex-chief of Sebastian Vettel grins: “To Red Bull Kimi would actually fit best, he could celebrate whenever he wants because even with hangover Kimi is still faster than most others…” Nice to see that he is back!
From: SportBild, Translation by Essi
Former F1 world champion Kimi Räikkönen made his WRC debut on Rally Sweden. Ben Barry followed him every step of the way. Literally.
This feels wrong. We´ve only just arrived at Färjestad – venue for the Super Special Stage that kicks off Rally Sweden – yet in a few seconds I´ll be standing next to Kimi Räikkönen, one-time F1 world champion, now full-time rally driver – the only F1 driver ever to make such a full-time switch. We´ve sneaked in to an autograph session and moved quickly up the line by pushing past small children and bypassing other drivers. Any second now I´ll be able to talk to Kimi, maybe even tickle him under the chin, and there´ll be absolutely no security guards or barriers between me and one of the world´s highest paid sports stars, just a flimsy wooden table.
I´m surprised how nervous I am – my heart spikes, my mouth dries and my carotid arteries pound in my neck. What to say to Kimi? What to say? Two girls ahead get a signed picture – no pleasantries exchanged – then walk off upright, breathless, eyes wide, before having an entire conversation of convulsive shrieks. There are male fans too, all dispatched silently. It´s only the youngest kids that Räikkönen goes out of his way for all of whom are too shy to make eye contact. He leans over the table, smiles, speaks briefly and places the signed card in their hand. My turn. Oh god.
“Hello Kimi, we´re from CAR Magazine and we´ve come to…” Räikkönen looks up slowly from under the oversized brim of his Red Bull baseball cap and fixes his wolf-like, ice blue eyes dead on mine. He looks absolutely furious, and I mean absolutely, genuinely ready-to-punch-me angry. “Ach, this is not the time for this”, he drones. “I just wanted to say we´ve come to follow you on the rally”, I stammer. “Look, well, take this,” he says, staring into the distance, handing me two glossy bits of signed card that depict his Citroen C4 jumping through the air. “Are you enjoying rallying?” I ask. “Yes”, comes the reply, one labored with the emphasis a child might use to assure his mother he will tidy his bedroom.
Later his PR will explain that Citroen – our hosts – hold no real sway over Räikkönen because he´s Red Bull´s driver. An interview is impossible; if I´m lucky I´ll get a stalky fan pic. Rallying is very much Plan B for the 2007 F1 world champion. Plan A was to contest the 2010 F1 championships – he was contracted to Ferrari this year, but Maranello pushed him out to make way for Fernando Alonso. Other talked staled, and so Räikkönen´s long held WRC ambitions took over, the Finn hooking up with follow countryman Kaj Lindström, one-time co-driver for multiple WRC champion Tommi Mäkinen.
“We first talked when I worked with Tommi [who retired at the end of 2003!]. Kimi said he´d like to do rally one day, and I said I would be his co-driver”, says Lindström, revealing a more deeply-held desire and sense of loyalty on Räikkönen´s part then his icy, stoic demeanour can suggest. Making – and trusting – pacenotes is something Räikkönen has struggled with after the predictability of F1 circuits. So, how do they build that trust? Through simply driving? “Well, you have to do things to get to know each other outside the car too”, says Lindström. “What like?” “Well…things”. All Räikkönen´s inner circle are desitant when it comes to fleshing out details. The pair has done five rallies so far, this weekend´s 2010 season opener being their sixth, and Räikkönen´s first as a fully fledged WRC driver. He´s driving a Citroen C4 alongside Sebastien Ogier in the Citroen Junior Team, a peg below world champion Sebastien Loeb and Danni Sordo´s factory effort. When you look at the awnings and the slick team transporters, the tow outfits look pretty similar, but where as many as 70 people work at the factory team, just 17 work with Räikkönen and Ogier. Testing is far more limited too, and the car – though similar – is to Loeb´s 2008 spec. Meanwhile, Räikkönen´s engineer, Cedric Mazenq, is a young chap whose motorsport CV dates back to only 2006 and whose WRC career began only in 2009. No red carpet here.
“Kimi rang me personally in October last year to ask if he could do this”, says no-nonsense Citroen Racing boss Olivier Quesnel. “I said he would need to bring the budget. Red Bull paid; we met in January. Does Räikkönen get preferential treatment? “No, he has to go fast first. He is like a young driver, Rallying is very complicated and he has to learn. But I know that he´s doing it very seriously and really wants to succeed. After the first hald of the year we´ll see, but I´m sure he´ll do well.” “He is professional, open-minded and clever”, adds engineer Mazenq, “and his feedback – because of F1 – is very precise; he feels every click on the dampers. But he knows it´s a new challenge, that he can´t yet compete with the top drivers and that he has to lean slowly. We have tried to set up his car so it is easier for him, so that he can concentrate 70% on driving, 30% on pacenotes. He has a slightly softer suspension set-up then the others so he can easily feel the lateral and longitudinal grip and have more confidence. But he is smoother on entry with the steering than normal, so he gets understeer. We have to half-way adapt the car, half-way adapt Kimi.”
Some moen that rallying isn´t as grueling as it was, but they´re still long old days on the WRC. It starts on Thursday at 8pm with the Super Special, two cars racing Scalextric-style in a stadium. The next day starts at 8.18am in the forests, the drivers carely stopping until gone 8pm. Saturday is “just” 4.58am until nearer 6pm; Sunday 7.52am until 3.30pm. During that time the drivers will pound 345km of difficult stages, trusting pacenotes entirely as they commit to blind bends, later navigating a further 445km on public roads as spiked tyres rumble coarsely below them. F1 it ain´t.
At 8am on Friday we drive to the stages with studded winter tyres clawing at icy, snow-dusted roads, grateful for our multiple thermal layers and waterproofs and thick boots as the temperature dips to -21degC. We park and walk into the forests, and the sun spears through evergreens laden with snow, backlighting smoke from fires that fans have lit to keep warm and cook food, a smell of sausages wafting through the sharp, cold air. There´s a lot of beer about, kids roaming, Finnish flags waving and just a handful of marshals who´ll blow a whistle seconds before a rally car roars by at 75mph in a place where you´d barley top 30mph.
Loeb is past first in a blur of guttural induction slurps and thunderclaps, then he´s slightly sideways and airborne over a crest, a snowy mist enveloping us in his wake; Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen is next, clearly faster, absolutely on it. Räikkönen´s seventh – quick, committed, but visibly slower. Later he´ll spin, then compound his error by sinking into the soft snow banks at the side of the road while turning round. Twenty six minutes will tick by.
When he rolls into service after dark, Räikkönen is mobbed by the press as we abandon the leaders for a guy who´s now half an hour down on them, 47th out of 54. Barely able to open his door in the crush, he leans out and pushes gently at a photographer. We all sway backwards, and the driver who´s kneeling behind us trying to fix his car gets crushed and pushes back; nobody´s in control of this tumult of flashbulbs and notepads. Räikkönen talks to no-one, but his co-driver does. “For a guy who´s done five rallies, his driving is absolutely incredible,” says Lindström, buzzing with adrenaline. “You ask Petter Solberg, anyone, it´s incredible. Okay, it´s unfortunate we went off, but these things happen and Kimi Räikkönen himself was digging us out with a shovel! I just hope people focus on his driving, not making some kind of scandal newspaper story.”
With that Lindström´s gone, checking the car into service, tailed by more reporters. Later we´ll eavesdrop on a WRC TV interview, the only media who get access, but Räikkönen says nothing revelatory – “it would be nice to go faster”; “it´s much more challenging then F1” – then, remarkably, pushes past me with what I´m sure is a horrified glimmer of recognition, walks over to the inebriated Finnish fans who´ve been incessantly shouting his name on megaphones, then laughs and signs their crash helmets. Is my approach too subtle? Saturday sees some impressive performances on what even leader Hirvonen describes as very difficult stages: “There are deep ruts; loose snow, ice and gravel. You take chances all the time.” Räikkönen remains consistent, if unspectacular – 54.4sec off the pace on stage nine in 11th; a minute down in 32nd through 10; 22.8sec down but up to sixth on stage 15.
We continue to follow him everywhere. When he gets out of his car to check tyre pressures at a remote refuelling station, we bound out from behind a pile of logs; when he takes the back way into the service area, he doubletakes as I wave from the side of the road; when stake out his motorhome, he slips out of another door and merges between two tents. I stand next to his car for an hour at evening service as my feet freeze, then discover he´s eating in Citroen´s hospitality area. He is as well; Kimi Räikkönen eating his dinner right there. We can just walk in.
I take the horse whisperer´s approach – walk in timidly, look at the floor, take a seat at the opposite end of the marquee, sit there for a few minutes, then approach his PR while WRC TV grabs an interview. One picture with Kimi. One picture. “Kimi. One picture,” says his PR. Kimi Räikkönen rolls his eyes, then walks over and stands next to me. “Thanks Kimi,” I say. There´s no reply. Mark Fagelson takes the snap. Räikkönen immediately retreats to safety. That´s it. We´re dine. Wow. The rally ends the next day after 21 demanding stages. Hirvonen finishes 42.3sec ahead of Loeb who´s 33.1sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. Possibly the world´s best F1 driver finishes in 30th, 37min 47.2sec off the winner and over 30 minutes behind fifth-place teammate Ogier. “In F1 the only big change is when you´re on slicks in the wet,” he tells WRC TV later, “but in rally every corner can be different and usually is. I have a lot of respect for the top-level guys.”
Will he be back for 2011? Team boss Olivier Quesnel hasn´t ruled out promotion to the works team, but I doubt it. Räikkönen says he enjoys the WRC´s no-bullshit ethos, but with that comes an autograph session that anyone can gatecrash; a service park where journalists roam in wild packs; the necessity to drive on roads where the public can simply follow you. The WRC won´t change to accommodate Räikkönen, and you wonder if he might not crave a bit of F1 bullshit – some properly defined barriers between him, the public and the press – from time to time. It´d certainly get me off his back. As we leave to catch our plane I figure his PR is getting me off his back too when he tells me to email some questions and Räikkönen will answer them. It feels like emailing Father Christmas. Then, four days later, a response pings into my inbox. I can´t quite believe it.
“Do you have rally heroes?” I´ve asked. “No, I never had any heroes in F1 and it is the same in rallying,” writes Räikkönen. “But I´ve always been friendly with rally drivers like Tommi Mäkinen, who has run my car for me in the past. He has been a great champion.”
“Is rally scarier than F1?” “I´m never scared in the car so it´s hard to say. It´s true that in rallying you are close to the trees, but the speeds are lower than F1. At the moment it is more difficult than F1, certainly!”
“Will rallying make you a better F1 driver?” “I don´t think so as it´s another style of driving completely. In rallying you are competing on such a huge variety of surfaces and conditions, and technically F1 is very different with all the parameters like aerodynamics that don´t really play a part in rallying.”
“Was Sweden more grueling than an F1 weekend?” “In some ways, yes. We were leaving at 5.30am, then not getting back until after 10pm. You have just half an hour at service halts, then a bit longer in the evening, so there is not much time to do everything. On the other hand, the physical forces on your body are not as big as they are in F1.”
“Everyone says this is a learning year for you in the WRC, but can you really see yourself in the 2011 WRC?” “There´s no point in thinking about that until halfway through this season, but for sure there is a possibility that I might stay in rallying next year.”
All that time stalking, freezing and travelling and a simple email answers more then we´d probably have covered in person. “The trick,” says the PR, “is to get him when he´s bored.”
As we´ve learned, that´s harder than Räikkönen´s apathetic glaze suggests.
Watch here Kimi´s Saturday Interview and Review Interview of Rally Sweden 2010:
Kimi Räikkönen’s mother Paula says his son has changed into more liberated after his switch to Ferrari.
His mother says that the Italian mentality suits Kimi. “The one thing that has been so wonderful to see is how liberated and happy Kimi is. He is full of excitement and highly motivated”, Paula Räikkönen described Kimi’s feeling at Ferrari. According to Paula Kimi didn’t like the mold he was squeezed in at McLaren. “He doesn’t love strong authorities. The mold he had to fit in in his latest team must have been quite stressing.” The publicity around Kimi amazes his mother sometimes. “Sometimes you think that is it true that they are talking about our boy? I just can’t seem to internalize it and maybe it is for the better, not to internalize it so much”, Paula said.
Kimi’s father Matti thinks that it will take some time to get used to finding Kimi from the red car. “It may happen that I look again after three laps and say ‘Shit, that Schumi is again driving in the lead’ until I realise that hey, it’s our Kimppa”, Matti said. Kimi being a superstar hasn’t changed Matti and Paula Räikkönen. “It’s wonderful that Kimi’s dream has come true but it doesn’t make us special in any way”, Paula said.
From: MTV3, January 2007
He is the F1-driver of the new generation. Way too inexperienced. Way too unpolished. Way too stubborn. And way too good, way too soon.
“Say *****!” There’s still time for Monza qualification so a Finnish man has time to keep a language course in a bus that is filled with Italian F1-fans. “P****”, an Italian boy learns. After the important substantive has been learned, it’s time to move to names. “Häkkinen!” “Räikkönen!” “Schumacher”, an Italian tries to say but he is shouted silent. The learning lesson stops for a moment while the Italians can take a picture of the Finns. But repetition is the key to learning. “Then say P*****” Although the Finnish flag is waving in Monza it isn’t the number one destination for Finnish formula-tourists. Budapest, Barcelona and Hockenheim are traditional places. In the plane that took us to Milan – Monza is 20 km from Milan – a rumor was circulating that the Finnish employees of Hewlett Packard had cancelled their trip because of the terror-strikes. But Sonera’s people aren’t afraid like they are. The atmosphere is in the roof and the truth is that other liquids than petrol are used. “This is already my 11th drink”, one Sonera-man who is enthusiastic over the serving during the flight crows behind his gintonic half an hour before we arrive in Milan.
We are experiencing an exceptional motorsport-weekend: the main focus isn’t on Michael Schumacher. The Italian paper Il Gazzetta dello Sport has dedicated almost two pages for flying Finns. Mika Häkkinen has announced that he will take a one year leave. He will be replaced by 21-year old Kimi Räikkönen who cost Ron Dennis 160 million marks to get him out of Sauber. That’s a lot of a driver who nobody knew anything about 13 months ago. One can only guess Räikkönen’s salary at McLaren but without doubt it will be more than the 6 millions Sauber paid him according to Italian sources. Nine points in 15 races with Sauber’s car is a sensation. As is also the fact that Räikkönen has fought with his team mate, the big promise Nick Heidfeld, evenly all through the season. Heidfeld has after all a long career in F3, testing driver for McLaren and races in Prost team. When looking at the amount of hours and the machinery, Räikkönen has made a miracle resulting in Team Clerasil – which has been the nick name on the paddock for the squad group Räikkönen and Heidfeld – breaking up. There have been omens in the air right from the beginning. Räikkönen scored points in his very first race. Mostly people were astonished by the fact that he was the only driver who didn’t drive off the track during the whole weekend.
Who found this boy who had grown fastened into the steering wheel? You have to look for the answer from Norway. A karting-company guy Harald Huismann had a year before seen Räikönen’s driving lines. He contacted manager David Robertson who had only a year ago pushed the teenager Jenson Button into Williams F1-team. “This you have to see”, Huismann had said. Finally the opportunity to test for Sauber came thanks to Steve Robertson. He was immediately convinced of Räikkönen’s skills. In September 12th 2000 Räikkönen sits for the first time in a formula-car. He has under him 800 horsepower which is 600 horsepower more than in Formula Renault, Räikkönen’s current vehicle. Räikkönen decides to drive just like they say. “Don’t push too hard” And Kimi takes it easy. “Now you can squeeze but try and spin in that specific corner.” And Kimi squeezes and spins in the exact corner. On his 3rd testing day Räikkönen is faster than Sauber’s test driver Pedro Diniz. In November Räikkönen makes a 3-year contract with Sauber. Räikkönen’s contract changes at once the F1-recruiting. The teams wake up and start to look for real talents from lower classes which leads to more younger and inexperienced drivers rising up to F1. The hunger for winning, speed on track, and having a brilliant way to take in new things are enough.
“Räikkönen. Bueno!”, a grey-haired taxi driver praises the boy who has just taken the 9th position in qualification. The taxi takes us to the village Il Triuggio. There the biggest heroes in motorsport get peace. There is only one hotel, Hotel Fossati. It’s the safe home for F1-stars. The lobby has hundreds of signed photos of drivers who have spent the night there. JJ Lehto. Carlos Reutemann. Niki Lauda. Michael Schumacher. Ayrton Senna. The elevator door is full of F1-team’s stickers. You notice the difference to a normal middle class hotel when you speak to the manager. There is a helicopter field behind the hotel. The hotel has a Gerhard Berger-suite and two Schumacher-suites of which the bigger one is – of course – for the big brother. The car garage is filled with Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches. The tennis court can in a minute be changed into a football court if some of the drivers, often Michael Schumacher, wants so. There is also a complete gym. The bathroom in the lobby is so clean that you could have a picnic on the floor. There is a guard in front of the hotel 24/7 and he is there for a reason. About 20 f1-groupies hang around the hotel during the whole GP. Just as the sun has set a slim guy walks by in the lobby.
“I’ll go and eat. Let’s talk after that”, Räikkönen says while walking by. Before he has time to run down the stairs to the restaurant, the hotel manager grabs Kimi familiarly from the hand. “Kimi, Kimi.” When his overwhelming attention stops, Räikkönen goes into the night. But you can’t hide from other drivers in a F1-hotel. Olivier Panis hangs in the hotel bar. He is there with a blonde girlfriend who wears a lot of makeup. Panis eats salty biscuits and talks with other employees from BAR. Heinz-Harald Frenzen carries a brown brief case and looks small.
9.30 pm Räikkönen comes from his dinner. He has had a salami pizza. And maybe a beer? “Nooo, no alcohol before the race” Räikkönen wears jeans and a loose sweater with the number 43. He sits on the sofa chair and doesn’t correct his position. When touching his 8000 marks Nokia Zippo he looks like a boardskater who couldn’t be less interested. They tell that Peter Sauber got upset because Räikkönen’s team-shirt always hangs outside his loose jeans. Finally Kimi agreed to let go of his jeans but the shirt never disappeared inside the trousers. They say that Räikkönen is a boy who asks too often why? And if the answer isn’t well enough justified, he doesn’t take the advice or order. Mother Paula sees Kimi getting through the army as a bigger miracle than his victory in Britain’s Formula Renault last year. When manager Steve Robertson called Räikkönen and told him that he is now a McLaren-man, Räikkönen commented it by saying “aha.” The coolness of Räikkönen is sometimes almost autistic, on the other hand it’s the acting like a machine and the ability to shut out everything that’s irrelevant from his mind that is one of his greatest strengths. When Räikkönen’s water bottle broke in the middle of the race in Hungaroring, a liter and half-filled his helmet. Räikkönen didn’t see much, drove a couple of times to the lawn, but couldn’t make himself go to the pit stop even though his visor was sticky and his face was covered with sugary liquid. Whereas Häkkinen has been criticized of having no fighting spirit when he meets small setbacks Räikkönen again, can change his driving style and drive flat out with even three tyres.
One story. Summer 1988. It rains in Pori so that it’s like standing in a shower. Matti, Paula and Rami Räikkönen are in the trailer. Big brother Rami, a skillful karting driver himself, has said to his parents that he doesn’t dare to drive in that weather. The family is watching with their hearts in their throats how the self-made karting car drives around and around on an empty track. The driver is 8-year old Kimi. The mother hopes that the boy would already come back. Finally the car stops in the furthest corner. Kimi waves wildly to his parents and father Matti rushes out in the pouring raining. “I’m out of gas, bring more.” A year earlier Matti Räikkönen have made it. The brothers Kimi and Rami drove endlessly their ‘Päijänne-race’ on the lawn outside their house in Espoo. If the lawn was dry it was watered with a hose so that they could get their mopeds sliding and so that mud would fly all over. The father decided to buy the boys a karting car and move the sound problem to asphalt tracks. He probably didn’t guess where his decision would finally lead to. Matti Räikkönen did when things were at worst four jobs so that he could fund Kimi’s hobby and later on Rami’s rallying. Mother Paula worked as a clerk. “Now I have a chance to pay back to mom and dad. Things were many times put on ice because of money”, Kimi says and you can’t fail to see how satisfied the look on his face is. All of a sudden the interview is stopped because the hotel manager’s son comes with a chocolate cake. The star has to taste this magnificent cake, he simply has to. “No thanks. No sweet”, Kimi rejects. Räikkönen’s trainer, Jukka Viitasaari, says that Kimi has left almost all fat, red meat and sugar out of his food. “He eats healthier than many top sportsmen.” The driver takes care of his body with the right nutrition – the salami pizza was an exception.
Viitasaari says that Kimi runs 10 km in under 40 minutes and 3500 meters in Cooper-test. Although the F1-drivers are these days in top form, those results are exceptional. “Mika Salo ran 3200 meters”, Viitasaari knows. When Räikkönen is in Finland he runs in the surroundings of his childhood home in Espoon Keskus or in Helsinki central park usually over 10 km at a time. In GP’s Kimi has a habit of jogging around the track a couple of times. Viitasaari thinks that Räikkönen’s ability to control his body is phenomenal. “Kimi could have become a gymnast. He learned to stand on his hands in four days. He immediately succeeded on the sleigh.” Räikkönen’s co-ordination skills are developed in many ways. In one practice they put a one meter board on a football where Räikkönen has to balance. “Häkkinen was is his youth in a circus school”, Viitasaari reminds. Viitasaari has trained many top sportsmen. According to him he has only met one sportsman who has had as strong will to win as Räikkönen has, Arto Bryggare.
“When they fail they don’t explain. In fact they aren’t even able to talk because they are so disappointed in themselves because they couldn’t win.” Anecdot: In the army that Kimi hated he was the 2nd best orienteer. The best one was an orienteer in the national team. Respecting team mates too much is without doubt a hinder for winning. But there has to be drivers who Kimi adores, some driver’s clean driving lines or something. “I don’t have any idols”, Räikkönen says. Only barely does he agree to admit that Schumi and Häkkinen has to be good drivers because they have won WDC’s. Snap. Snap. Snap. Kimi stares at his Zippo, writes a text-message, answers shortly and rubs his neck. If there is one thing where Kimi’s professionalism is still questioned, it’s dealing with the media. According to an experienced sport reporter Kimi is in fact a warm person but his shyness makes his behavior clumsy and the answers are often very short.
Finns are used to that but abroad his behavior is seen as impoliteness. Räikkönen’s withdrawal is also seen by the fact that he hasn’t much become friends with other drivers. “I went out with Heidfeld a couple of times in the beginning of the season. Now that has stopped too. I don’t really have any mates among the drivers with whom I could spend time with.” Earlier the same day the F1-circles have been shocked when the Italian Alex Zanardi had an accident in Cart-Series. Zanardi is put in coma and they had to amputate his both legs. Isn’t Kimi afraid? Isn’t his mother afraid? “I don’t think about fear. If I would I would be in the wrong profession but mothers are always afraid. Women are like that.” Kikka Kuosmanen who co-ordinates Räikkönen’s press contacts in Finland says that Kimi is a guy who simply thinks it’s ‘cool’ to cruise 360 km/h. Cool, that’s it. “Yeah, I usually take a nap half an hour before the race”, Räikkönen tells. If Häkkinen is an Iceman then Räikkönen is a carbonic acid Iceman. And a man like that always means troubles for his team mate. The most cynical British reporters have claimed that David Coulthard is afraid of Räikkönen’s performance. If Räikkönen can win Coulthard several times next season, there might well be two Finns in McLaren in 2003. Although they doubt that Mika Häkkinen will ever come back. “If Häkkinen starts to feel anxiety over changing diapers and home life, he will come back, otherwise he won’t”, a British reporter said.
It’s 10 pm, Kimi has to go to sleep because he has a race tomorrow – an important race, Steve Robertson hints. But the wonder boy doesn’t get to sleep that easily. The fans stalk everywhere. Two 20-year old girls grab him. The camera takes photos but Kimi doesn’t smile. It’s not his way. He grins. Kimi Räikkönen drove in 7th in Monza. What is the magic drink then made of? F1-commentators say that the formula of the magic drink is a top secret. BS! F1-drivers drink a 15 % energy drink, trainer Jukka Viitasaari tells. It’s a malt dextrin drink based on carbohydrates with added B-vitamin and salt. You get it in different flavors, berry or fruit. Mostly the drivers drink the same liquids that bikers and runners drink.
From: City-Lehti 2001
Another ex-world champion returns to Formula 1. After 2 years of hobbying in the WRC, Kimi realized he missed wheel-to wheel racing, and so Kimi’s sacred fire came back.
When Kimi Räikkönen closed the Formula 1 door after 2009, it didn’t seem for any moment he would ever come back to the top class of circuit racing. His third season with Ferrari went laborious. The Flying Finn only scored 1 victory, 4 podium places, an anonymous 12th position in his last race and an even so laborious 6th place in the world championship. The only victory in Spa was certainly a good one. For Ferrari, apparently it wasn’t enough. They hired Fernando Alonso. Not Felipe Massa, but Kimi Raikkonen had to give room to Alonso. ‘’Only when I get a top seat, I’ll stay in F1’’, that’s what Kimi said, realizing that all of those places were occupied. However, he was already done with all the obligations of being a F1 driver. Raikkonen obviously has never been a lover of press conferences, interviews with journalists, sponsor activities and all the other things he had to do.
This writer knows it. In 2004 I got the rare chance to talk to this guy who’s called ‘’The Iceman’’ after many requests. The man with almost the childish voice… His nickname doesn’t only fit his coolness behind the wheel, but also on the icy silence in his conversations. A British colleague wished me luck. ‘’Do you know Chief, the Indian from the movie One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest?’’, he asked. ‘’He talks more than Kimi, and he couldn’t even talk.’’ Räikkönen was at that time doing his 4th season of his career, the third with McLaren, and in that year, the Mercedes engines died in droves. At the moment of the interview his 4th engine just broke down. Add to this that an Italian journalist in our company, who bragged about the reliability of the Ferrari and Michael Schumacher’s winning streak, spiced up things. As you’ll understand, this would become a laborious interview.
First question: How would you describe you season so far, Kimi?
Kimi’s answer: ’’difficult’’.
That’s the way it went for at least 10 minutes. 10 minutes, wherein the McLaren driver looked a few times just a little too emphatically on his watch. McLaren’s PR-lady saved us from our suffering. Räikkönen was in a hurry to get to his fiancee Jenni Dahlman, a former Miss Scandinavia with who he’s still been married these days, and his managers David and Steve Robertson. The Finn nodded with a villainous smile in our direction. Yet again 2 journalists with an illusion less.
As cool and unfathomable as he seems to be in public, as passionated the Iceman becomes behind the wheel from a proper racing car. He becomes another human. It was so already when he was driving the Formula Renault in England. In the winter-series of that class he won in 1999 the first four races in a row and in 2000 he captured his first championship title in the British Formula Renault championship, by winning 7 of the 10 races. In total he grabbed thirteen wins in 23 races, a winning percentage of 56%!
In that period the talented Finn was accompanied by the Dutch ex-driver Gerrit van Kouwen, who was one of the first persons who could be planning the rough diamond. In 2004 Van Kouwen told before a reportage in this magazine this about Raikkonen: ‘’Brands hatch was Kimi’s first time in a semi-factory Formula Renault car which was prepared for him. On my question to Kimi, if we should change something between the distance to the wheel and the pedals, Kimi only said: ‘’It’s okay’’. In his first run his best lap he was only 2 seconds off the pace from a real factory car from Van Diemen. Unbelievable!
In his first test at Mugello we had to be on the track at half past 8 in the morning. I wanted to leave early but Kimi said to me: ‘’Wake me up at 10 past 8’’. Everybody was fussing about his first Formula 1 test, except Kimi himself. He jumped in the car and immediately drove a world class time. The second test day Peter Sauber came to the track, to watch Kimi. Peter first tough about a testing contract, but the Robertsons said: ‘’No, no testing contract. Give him a seat. He’s ready for it.’’ Before that conscious article I spoke to Kimi’s manager Steve Robertson. He described Kimi’s talent this way: ‘’My reason to work with Kimi is his unbelievable judgment that he has already since the start of his career, and his flair in the car. There’s a difference between good and really good, but where I was at the first category, Kimi was a class of his own, another league.’’
The rest is history. With a preliminary super-license to drive a F1 car (Max Mosley first wanted to see it before he wanted to believe in Kimi) Kimi scored as 21 year old rookie in his first ever GP a point scoring 6th place and immediately a WDC point. Formula 1 was introduced to an amazing talent. McLaren thanked Sauber warmly for his talent spotting and took the young Finn at the end of the 2001 season. Raikkonen drove 5 seasons for McLaren wherein he scored 9 GP wins, and the vice championship behind Schumacher in 2003 and 2005.
Schumacher´s temporary retirement made room at Ferrari for Kimi to go there. Ron Dennis probably did not shed a tear because of it. Kimi became a party animal from the purest type. As big earner he didn’t have to watch his money. Legendary was his visit to the London’s strip-club, wherein Kimi probably thought the ladies were still dressed too much. Raikkonen decided to make a strip-act himself, but the bouncers didn’t feel much for it and did their jobs. A nice set-off that Steve Robertson wanted to sketch. ‘’Kimi is a quiet boy, who likes to sit on the sofa and watch a DVD with Jenni. He doesn’t like to go out, he prefers something which will be delivered instead of going to an expensive restaurant. Actually, Kimi is a homester.’’
Kimi’s transition to Ferrari was a golden move. In his first season was an immediate hit, ironically enough because of his successors at McLaren didn’t want to give each other anything, creaming off points from each other which were much needed. By winning 2007’s last GP in Sao Paulo, Kimi captured the world championship, just 1 point in front of Alonso and Hamilton, mission accomplished.
The following 2 years were laborious, Raikkonen was a worldchampion, he had nothing to prove. At Ferrari they were flirting with Alonso, back then, a Renault driver again. The Finn however sometimes won a race (Malaysia and Spain) in 2008 and (Spa) in 2009, but the secret fire was gone, Ferrari’s non winning cars were part of it.
When the Scuderia, as expected, presented Fernando Alonso before the 2010 season, there was no room for the world champion from 2007 left. Kimi didn’t seem to have much desire to race against the Spaniard. He had already shown what he was capable of. Just like Felipe Massa, Kimi had a continuous contract with Ferrari, but Massa could stay and Kimi was ‘’kindly thanked’’ for his services. After this happened, Kimi became the best paid driver without F1 seat. Ferrari had an annual salary for him to leave. ‘’Thanks for all the support for 3 years at SF,’’ he tweeted at the 1st October of 2009, thereafter it became quiet around the Finn.
Away from the press, in the rest of his pre-retirement, Kimi chose to do things which he liked. He did 2 seasons in the WRC. 2 seasons with a Citroen, 1 season with his own team. With his point scoring 8th place in Jordan, Kimi became the first driver after Carlos Reutemann who scored points in both F1 and WRC. Obviously fun in the rallying world, grabbed some points, but never got exceptional results. His last WRC outing ended with a 3rd consecutive retirement. Thereafter, Kimi probably thought, I’m done. His NASCAR outing in the States can’t be seen as a serious career step as well. In his last NASCAR race at 28/05/2011 Kimi finished in 27th, with parts from others underneath his car and a fine for speeding in the pit-lane in his pocket. His NASCAR adventure didn’t give him any prize money, but gave him one important insight. ‘’I missed the wheel-to-wheel racing on track, which is actually more fun than driving against a ticking clock, as in the WRC.’’ Kimi just wanted relax and have wheel-to-wheel fights.
And so ended a tweet silence of 2 years on Tuesday the 29th November of 2011: ‘’Hello everybody, it has been some time, but I am back! Expect more from here in the future. He just signed a two-year deal with Lotus-Renault, which will be called Lotus next year and he handled the news as the typical Raikkonen: ‘’I got a telephone call from certain people in the F1. We got a deal, and I’m very happy with it. In a press release of Lotus-Renault, Kimi said he is more motivated than ever. It won’t be a problem according to Kimi. ‘’Otherwise, I wouldn’t have come back. Everybody always talk about my motivation, but apart from myself I know what I do and I don’t care what others think of my way of doing this. I wouldn’t have signed a contract if I wouldn’t enjoy those years. I never lost passion for F1, but I never had passion from all the things around F1’’. Oh yeah, still just as talkative.
Gerrit van Kouwen (accompanied Kimi in his Formula Ford years)
‘’I like Kimi’s comeback, because I haven’t seen many races the past few years. With the announcement of Kimi’s comeback, I’ll go and visit a race every now and then, I think. Whether it’s wise to come back? What’s wise? It’s just like Schumacher, if Kimi will enjoy himself, why not? After two years of rallying it probably became itchy again for Kimi. I also think that Kimi found out you have to work very very hard to get in the top at the WRC. I don’t know if he was committed enough. It’s not just driving a stage with a few pace-notes: there’s a hell of a lot more to do. Don’t forget you’ll drive against guys who’ve done this all their life. When you look at pure talent, Kimi is unbeatable. He is ‘’naturally gifted’’, as the English people would say. You’ll notice it when you’re sitting next to him in a car on a public road. As smooth as he drives, his assessment skills. Much will depend on his car, and if Lotus is developing well. How he gets along with the tyres. Kimi likes an oversteering car, a car which is pointy, which turns in aggressively. Actually when you turn in, the turn has been made already. Schumacher likes that too, but had troubles with those tyres.’’
Olav Mol (saw as F1 commentator all 157 races from Räikkönen)
‘’I’d like to see the racer Kimi Räikkönen back. He is one of the guys we’re watching F1 for, if only because we are freed from the Senna’s and Petrov’s in this world. If it’s gonna be a success? Well, when he gets fun doing it, it can become pretty good fun. The question is what Lotus told him. They say they know in 2 years where they are, and Renault isn’t the winning Renault anymore. There are rumors Kimi has purchased something with Raikkonen-Robertson racing, maybe to give young talents the opportunity to drive. That sounds logic to me. At least Lotus has got a driver who can develop a car, because Heidfeld, Petrov and Senna couldn’t. There are in the recent past some guys who made a comeback in different racing classes. There was 10 years between his last race and his comeback in Jan Lammers case, the biggest gap ever. While Jacques Villeneuve’s comeback wasn’t a success, Nigel Mansell found out his fat ass didn’t fit in the car anymore. In Michael Schumacher’s case, there’s not much to cheer for. But Kimi is one of the top class drivers, just like Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton. They’ve got the word racing in their pants tattooed. He misses the F1, he says. He hasn’t got anything to prove anymore. The expectations are not too high and maybe because of that, it’s the perfect moment to come back. Financially he’s completely independent, that’s why you can do crazy things on that age, you’ll get drunk in strip clubs. But he’s older now and has left those things behind him. Boys like Kimi and Schumacher think F1 is the best, something faster on 4 wheels, you can’t find in this world.’’
From: Formule1.nl Magazine, January 2012
For almost a decade, the name “Kimi” has been shorthand for outrageous F1 speed and car control. This year, with a switch to the Red Bull Junior World Rally Team, he reckons he´s taken on the biggest challenge of his career.
The carbon fibre disc brakes on his Formula-One Ferrari have barely cooled down, but already Kimi Räikkönen has moved on to something new: a drive for the very same Red Bull Citroen World Rally team that has just taken Sebastien Loeb to his sixth consecutive world title. The arrival of Räikkönen is a huge coup for the World Rally Championship: for all his occasionally mute press conference performances, the guy´s a superstar. And while some might question the move from the “pinnacle of motorsport” into a parallel universe of mud and trees and ice and snow rather than lap upon lap of pristine tarmac, the man himself has no doubts: this is a hugely serious attempt On an equally prestigious world series, one which he´ll attack with all the commitment for which he became famed in F1.
So, Kimi, let’s talk dirty. What’s the earliest rally car you can remember?
My brother’s Ford Escort. Of course, as a good Finn, I saw rally cars on TV from an early age. I liked Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen’s Peugeot 205 T16s the best. The first rally I actually went to must have been the 1991 1000 Lakes Rally, which Kankkunen won in a Lancia Delta Integrale.
Were rally drivers your childhood heroes?
I didn’t have any childhood heroes, I was a fan of the sport, not individual drivers. During my childhood, Kankkunen, for example, was a world- class driver so he could have been an idol. I’ve met him since then. He’s still got a Peugeot 205 at home and a Group B Audi Quattro from the 1980s. He might even lend it to me if I asked nicely.
Was it inevitable that you would end up on the racetrack?
I always wanted to give rallying a shot, but I did get into F1 very quickly [Räikkönen was only 21 when he made his F1 debut, for the Red Bull Sauber team at the Australian GP, scoring a point for sixth place]. So it became difficult to move sideways into rallying, which meant I just had to lump it. I didn’t get the chance until very late – I was almost 30 [Räikkönen competed in the 2009 Rally Finland, in a Fiat Grande Punto Abarth]. I also think F1 helps you as a rally driver and vice versa.
But it would be a bit ungrateful to say that you were biding your time for nine years in F1 and had to become World Champion so that you could ultimately become a rally driver?
That’s just how my career has worked out. Now it’s the right time to go for it with the right people and the right car for however long. I did negotiate with another F1 team for next season, but we couldn’t agree 100 per cent. Then Red Bull came and made me an offer to drive in the WRC for a season. It felt like the right thing to do straight away.
A lot of racing drivers in your position would have just bought themselves a world rally car and had some fun in it. But you’ve joined the Citroen Junior Team for a whole season where you’ll be up against Sébastien Loeb, the best rally driver in the history of the sport. Haven’t you made things difficult for yourself?
It’s definitely the biggest challenge yet. I’ve got to learn everything from scratch. But I want the challenge. I have to get to know the car, the rallies, how to work with my co-driver [Kai Lindström], everything. I’m looking forward to it. And you’ve got to set yourself some competition if you really want to know how good you are. I’ll still be able to drive around the forest in a private rally car.
But when you entered the WRC last year, at the Rally Finland, it was a much more professional effort compared with other well-known converts.
If you’re going to do something, do it with the best team. My car’s been prepared by Tommi Mäkinen’s team; these guys are super professional. Of course it’s a smaller operation than an F1 team, but they’re professionals. Even though the driver plays a bigger overall role in rallying than in F1, the best driver won’t win in a bad car. That’s why I wanted an experienced co-driver so at least one of us would know what he was doing. I met Kai Lindström through Tommi and we were ice spies for Chris Atkinson during the 2006 Monte Carlo rally. Kai is outstanding; he and Tommi were World Champions together. Kai was also the one to make first contact with Citroën Sport.
Does entering the World Rally Championship feel a bit like it felt when you first test-drove for Sauber F1 in 2000?
Yes, I’m finding a bit of the young Kimi in me again. A world rally car is quicker and tougher than the S2000 car I drove last year on the Rally Finland; it’s 10 times better to drive and has more power. It’s why you can still come out of critical situations. If the Fiat ever went sideways with its non-turbo engine, it was game over.
So what about rolling the car in Finland last year?
It wasn’t because I was going too fast! It was the opposite. The car had already begun falling apart, so I just wanted to get it to the service park. The Fiat definitely wasn’t the quickest car in the S2000 class, nor the most stable. My line going into the left-hand turn was maybe 2m off and we turned over.
Why was your line bad?
I was driving with my eyes and not my ears. But in rallying you’ve got to pay 100 per cent attention to what your co-driver says.
Is that something you still have to learn to do?
It is. The driving itself shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If you know the special stage, there’ll hardly be any difference usually. What makes the difference is the pacenotes [the co-driver’s notes on the road conditions for each stage of the rally] and your trust. That’s my main disadvantage starting out – I only know the Arctic Rally and Rally Finland. I’ve got to work the rest of the events out for myself.
Can you use other crews’ pacenotes?
It’s always better to have your own. If you want to be really fast, you’ve got to have trust. And you’ll never have complete trust in someone else’s notes. Does it help to follow other drivers’ tracks to get your bearings? No. There’s no way of knowing what the car in front of you might have done. You’ve got to do what the co-driver tells you.
When was your first roll?
I was 14. I rolled my brother’s Lada. We had a 3km track close to home. Marcus Grönholm [Finland’s two-time world rally champion] also trained there. I over-braked the rear axle and rolled twice. The roll-bar [the car’s internal safety cage] also broke.
Your brother Rami was seen as a great rallying talent. Does he still drive?
No, he’s a family man now. One year he was runner- up to Mikko Hirvonen [runner-up in the 2008 and 2009 World Rally Championships].
Have your nephews caught the motorsport bug?
Absolutely! They’re only three and four and they already go karting. I’ve bought them a quad bike.
Are you a good co-driver?
No. I’ve been co-driver to Tommi Mäkinen [four- time World Rally Champion] once. I have complete confidence in him, but I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience. Maybe I’ll sit alongside Loeb during a test. I don’t think he’d do the same for me.
Are you expecting a couple of rolls next year?
Of course. Over the course of the WRC there are bound to be a couple of shunts. Everyone makes mistakes in this sport and, as a rule, a mistake usually means you wreck the car. How many cars must Jari-Matti Latvala [WRC winner] and Hirvonen have destroyed before they won their first World Championship rally? The only driver who hasn’t rolled is Loeb. He’s an exception.
Do you think you’ll be more intuitive on tarmac or gravel surfaces?
We’ve been amazingly fast on gravel, but tarmac will probably be more my thing. Snow will be the hardest. Your lines have got to be spot-on in the snow, whereas on tarmac it’s no big deal if you brake a meter too late and have to turn more sharply. You have to be able to read the gravel. On some types of gravel you’ve got incredible grip with rally tyres and on others you haven’t.
What sort of results are you expecting?
The first few rallies are bound to be tough. Until I know how fast the other drivers are, I’m holding back on any personal expectations. I’m sure I won’t manage to keep up with the top four (Loeb, Dani Sordo, Hirvonen, Latvala).
When you look back on your F1 career, is there a single moment you value above all others?
In F1, every lap is more or less the same. It’s more difficult if it rains, but otherwise it soon becomes routine. In rallying, every corner or hill might be different from what you expected. The most fun I’ve had in recent years was fooling around with friends on snow-scooters, for example. I’d find it difficult to pick a single moment from the last nine years.
How about this as a moment to go down in history? Kimi Räikkönen overtaking Giancarlo Fisichella on the outside at Suzuka on the last lap of the 2005 Japanese GP, to win the race?
Yeah, that was really good.
The 2009 Ferrari must have been really difficult to drive when we see how badly Giancarlo Fisichella struggled when he stepped in for the injured Felipe Massa. Not to mention [Ferrari test driver] Luca Badoer.
The car wasn’t bad. It just didn’t have enough grip. It was hard to drive but I liked the 09 Ferrari more than the 08. I didn’t cope too badly [Räikkönen won the 2009 Belgian GP]. But it made Fisichella age 10 years in two races!
If you couldn’t get a neutrally balanced car, would you prefer oversteer or understeer [a car that has more or less front/rear grip]?
I’ve never liked understeer. How can you push the car if you don’t know whether it’s going to steer? You lose time on a circuit but in rallying, you end up in the trees because you run out of space.
How much communication does motorsport need?
As a driver, there are some things you just can’t communicate. No F1 driver in the world can talk to an aerodynamics engineer on an equal footing because they have completely different levels of understanding. All you can do is tell your race engineer what you’d ideally like. Mechanics are important too but they do what the engineers tell them to. So your communication is limited to two or, at most three, people in the team. And then what’s made of your input depends on the team.
In rallying, you’ll sometimes have to work on the car yourself. Do you know how to?
I enjoy it. In Finland, I’ve always repaired my own cars. I tweak my bikes too. There’s nothing wrong with getting your fingers dirty.
Did you foster the ‘Iceman’ image to survive in F1?
No. ‘Iceman’ goes back a long way. In F1, politics gets in the way of the exciting side of things. The atmosphere in rallying is much nicer and there’s a lot less politics involved. It’s much more about how the driver performs.
You’re a celebrity, especially in Finland. Now that you’re moving over into Finland’s national sport – rallying – you probably won’t dare to go out on the streets of Helsinki at all.
I don’t care about that. It can’t be any worse than it already is. I’ve learned to deal with it.
You did military service. What did you find most difficult about it?
The first couple of months were stressful. We were constantly roared at. By the end we were bored and messed around. Apart from military films where everyone’s roaring, getting up early was the worst.
What’s your favourite toy during the off-season?
A snowmobile. It’s huge fun tearing around Lapland with friends on one. But Motocross comes close.
What makes a good road car?
What’s the last sport you’ve tried?
I started climbing last year on the recommendation of my fitness trainer, and it’s fun.
Who’s going to win ice hockey’s Stanley Cup?
The San Jose Sharks.
Who’s going to win snowboarding Olympic gold in the half-pipe?
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the Finns, but it’ll probably be hard to beat Shaun White.
Who’s going to be the next World Rally Champion?
Loeb or Hirvonen. Loeb.
Hard to say. I don’t know what Ferrari’s plans are. Mercedes will probably have a good car, so will McLaren. Red Bull Racing probably will too. So I’m going to have to award the title based on who I like: Sebastian Vettel. He’s so down-to-earth.
Do you have much contact with him?
I know Heikki Kovalainen [a fellow Finn] better. As a rule, I don’t have that much contact with people from F1. Sometimes I play badminton with Vettel. He’s moving to my part of Switzerland so we’ll probably see more of each other.
How interested will you be in F1 if you’re not in an F1 car yourself?
I’ll watch a race on TV every now and then. Maybe I’ll go to the Monaco Grand Prix. I could get an F1 drive again any time, but lots of bad things are happening in F1. Manufacturers are pulling out. Let’s have the same conversation in a year’s time. Let’s look way into the future.
What would a WRC title mean to you?
More than my F1 World Championship title. I’m just starting out and I can sense what a long journey it would be to get to that point. No one’s done it before. That’s another thing that makes it interesting.
From: Red Bulletin January 2010, Text: Werner Jessner
“I don´t know…”. Kimi Räikkönen starts the interview in his usual way. When asked how serious his relationship with Hanna Raivisto is, he goes all quiet.
“There hasn’t been any need to talk about cheating and stuff, because we just have to trust each other” says Hanna when Kimi remains quiet. The beautiful girl from Helsinki takes the situation under control, even though she said in the beginning she won’t say a thing. When you walk on the pit-lane during a GP weekend you see a lot of “PitBabes”, and the drivers can’t avoid seeing them. For the younger drivers, these girls can be quite a tease. The quiet, gentleman like, Kimi doesn’t care about these ladies.
“There aren’t as many girls as you think” he says. “Yeah. And don’t they paid for just walking around?” says Hanna. Sitting in the VIP- area of Talma GolfCenter the couple says there aren’t any jealous feelings between them. But sometimes they too feel some jealousy.-“I guess everyone feel that way sometimes”, Kimi admits. Hanna and Kimi have been going out for a couple of years. Everything started on a blind date arranged by Kimi’s cousin and his girlfriend. The message board on Kimi’s official site is full of rumors about Kimi and Hanna getting married.
“Nice to hear about such things!” Hanna says with a little laugh. “We haven’t planned anything like that”, Kimi convinces in his usual, calm way. Hanna travels with Kimi as much as possible. As she graduated from High School last spring, and takes a year off from her studies, she’s now able to travel more than usual. For the time being, the couple can’t see each other in a week because Hanna is on vacation with her friends. Kimi enjoys staying at his relatives’ summer cottage near Lahti, now when the F1-circus takes a summer break. He likes fishing very much.
“I went fishing with Mika (Häkkinen). I got a really big fish!”, he says with his eyes full of excitement. Soon after his first season in F1 started, he moved to Switzerland with Hanna. The tight schedule doesn’t really leave much time to stay at home though. In the small town of Hinwil (near Zürich) in their luxury house, they get a taste of what family-life is like. “We do equal amounts of chores”, Hanna says.
“Yeah, and the one who has time takes out the garbage” Kimi continues. The great income of a F1-driver makes living together easier, but doesn’t change it radically. “Of course it’s nice to have enough money, but on the other hand it would be nice to walk on the streets without being recognized”, Kimi says. The couple says they spend their free-time “just like everyone else”. Kimi doesn’t spend a lot of money, but awaits his new black BMW he just ordered with excitement. And does the young, soon-to-be-a millionaire buy loads of presents to his girlfriend? “Well, actually I haven’t” he says, and sounds a bit shocked. Kimi eats his kebab, and tries to tear apart the cap of a soda bottle. He avoids eye-contact, and doesn’t speak very much.
Dark-haired Hanna seems to be a bit annoyed by this. Most people are well aware of the fact that Kimi isn’t very talkative. His comments are a bit weird sometimes, and he’s shy in front of the camera. But people who know him better, say Kimi is fun to hang around with, and that he loves joking.
“I haven’t been told how to act in interviews”, Kimi says. “I actually don’t like it when people tell me ‘Do this, do that’. But if someone gives me good pieces of advice, it’s ok” he says and displays a shy smile. Kimi has driven 620 laps, 3000 kilometers, picked up nine points and a lot of experience during his first season in F1. Kimi is a real sensation, and nobody expected him to do this well. If he now starts driving worse and making mistakes, people might say negative things about him.
“If someone criticizes you, you just have to tolerate it. But of course it wouldn’t be nice” he sighs. If he fails in anything he does, he doesn’t think about it anymore the next day. Kimi doesn’t take too seriously everything blabbermouth Eddie Irvine says. “He can say whatever he likes. I’ve been talking to him a couple of times, and he seems like a funny dude.”
“Iltasanomat” met Kimi and Hanna on Friday (August 3rd 2001) in Talma GolfCenter when there was a press conference where Kimi told about his partnership with “Finnair”. Kimi and Hanna didn’t want to pose for a pic together, even though they got interviewed together. They avoided getting in front of the camera together as Kimi always walked meters in front of Hanna. There are loads of things going on in places like Monaco, Canada and Hungary. The shy Finn believes he’ll manage in the world of F1-glamour. He admits though that he sometimes gets confused about different things. “But I’m not totally out of it.”