English and Finnish Papa
Räikkönen’s weren’t robbed by thief-managers. Manager Steve Robertson approached them and they call him ‘English Papa’ in the family while Matti is ‘Finnish Papa’. “We were lucky because we couldn’t even imagine a better manager. How could ordinary people like us have been able to tell if someone was a cheater when even top professionals can’t?” Matti said.
Kalle Jokinen talks about Räikkönen´s early years
When Kimi was 16, he and Kalle Jokinen (his mechanic) started to conquer Europe. Others came with huge trucks and flew to the races. “We did the rougher version”, Jokinen laughs. “Kimi was an excellent guy to travel with. While the rich people’s boys polished their nails after the races, Kimi treated us as equals and helped us put the tents and cars to the van after the race. Kimi never complained about anything. When Kimi raced for DeBruijin he got some small pocket money after he was found sleeping in some card-box.” DeBruijin used to give some money for hotels and food but the duo Jokinen/Räikkönen spent everything the first night they got to the destination. One night of fun meant sleeping in the van. It was a great season, Kimi was always on the podium, usually as the winner. In Norway 1998 Kimi’s cell phone rang. “Kalle, take this, somebody speaks English”, Kimi said and gave the phone to Jokinen. It was Harald Huisman who had been ordered by Robertson to contact the sensational Finn. They went to Oslo to a karting-track. Kimi stood there with his hands in his pocket while Jokinen tried to describe what a great driver Kimi is. The absent-looking youngster most certainly didn’t look like the next Ayrton Senna. “I asked Huisman if he wants a new track record”, Jokinen remembers. “Kimi made a new track record which still hasn’t been broken. In Monza Räikkönen drove with de Bruijin’s Corsa in the city. Every driver knows that you can’t burn tyres in the summer. And then this dude goes into a slide in a traffic circle – and laughs. “
Kimi’s first test at Sauber
Peter Sauber flew in with a helicopter to look at this mysterious Finn. On the paddock he asked Räikkönen’s opinion of the car. “It’s not really good”, Räikkönen said. Peter Sauber was irritated. “You should make some changes into it”, Kimi said. The engineers were commanded to work, Räikkönen flew off to the track and did a one second better laptime. In the end the Finn lost only 0.7 seconds to Schumacher.
First meet between Kimi and Ron Dennis
At the start of the 2001 season Mika Hakkinen invited Kimi to a party of the Mclaren-Mercedes team, where also Norbert Haug and Ron Dennis were present. On that occasion, Ron Dennis asked Kimi, probably more out of courtesy, if he wants to drive for his team one day. His response has surprised him and made him curious at the same time. Kimi said: “No thanks, I prefer to drive in a red or blue car. At least I am able to become worldchampion with them!” With this statement he immediately had squandered many others. As we know, however, not with Ron Dennis. At the announcement of his Mclaren-Mercedes contract Kimi was ask after this response, he said: “It was just a joke. It was my greatest desire at all to drive for this team, because when I was younger I’ve always followed on television as they have won always. “
Remember, mom loves you
The sweet Paula Räikkönen was so emotional that she revealed that she has a habit of sending encouraging text-messages to Kimi. Especially if the races have been bad or the boy has had some troubles. “That’s when I send him a message with the text: Remember, mom loves you.”