Kimi Räikkönen was ordered to a workshop in Helsinki – Robin, 4, got his own car: “Like the good old days”

Kimi Räikkönen assembled Robin’s first kart in Helsinki with a person of trust. Daughter Rianna is probably the next customer.

source: Ilta-Sanomat

Kimi Räikkönen is fully immersed in the karting hobby with his four-year-old son Robin. And as it’s customary with karting, parents need to help their children set up their cars.

Räikkönen is not afraid of handcraft. It was a good example of this when he arrived at Racing Service Jaatinen’s premises in Helsinki in the early autumn.

Alone with a van the world star came to pick up his son’s go-kart from his old creditor, 66-year-old Lasse Jaatinen.

Räikkönen’s visit was extremely strong nostalgia. Namely, Lasse Jaatinen was once a strong supporter of the karting hobby of the Räikkönen family, when Kimi was still dreaming of F1.

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Kimi Räikkönen, father Matti and brother Rami.      photo: PETER JANSSON

Jaatinen had not met Räikkonen for years. In fact, Jaatinen had last seen Kimi in Helsinki in 2007 at a private World Championship celebration, so 12 years ago. In the autumn, the old acquaintances met for a long time. The reunion was warm.

“It was great to see for a long time! It felt really nice. It was like the good old times when Kimi came here as a little boy”, Lasse Jaatinen tells Ilta-Sanomat.

Jaatinen supported the Räikkösten family during Kimi’s childhood in many ways, and the family even got into debt for goods and services.

“Today, Kimi is a world star but he hasn’t changed at all. He was just the same like the little boy”, says Jaatinen.

Encouraged by Räikkönen’s approach, Jaatinen and his colleague Toni Saarinen dared to put the F1 star to work.

“Robin’s car wasn’t quite ready when Kimi came. So we let Kimi do some installation work on his son’s car”, Jaatinen smiles. “The tools were still in Kimi’s hands,” he says.

Based on what you saw, would you hire Räikkönen?

“Of course! We just don’t have the money to hire him. Not as a mechanic, and especially not as a test driver”, Jaatinen chuckled.

During the installation work, people started talking nicely and roasted coffee in the traditional Finnish way.

At the workshop Räikkönen revealed that the youngest in the family, two year old Rianna, may also need the services of Racing Service Jaatinen .

“Kimi told me that Rianna is a daredevil and also very interested in racing. It may well be, that also Kimi’s girl will sit in a kart.”

Robin Räikkönen’s first contact with karting took place in the summer through Jaatinen. Kimi Räikkönen called his old creditor, who had a kart suitable for Robin at the Bemböle track.

Robin was fond of karting, so he had to get his own kart. At this stage, a sponsor also came in, even though the boy is only four years old. Karting manufacturer CRG noticed that Robin used their karts in his trial run. Jaatinen has a CRG import in Finland and things were moving fast. So soon Kimi Räikkönen arrived to pick up Robin’s first kart from Jaatinen.

“Robin’s kart is Puffo-kart, which is intended for 4-6-year-olds. It has a 35 cc four-stroke engine. Its top speed is just under 40 kilometers per hour”, Jaatinen reports.

Following the nostalgic installation routines described above, Robin’s kart was towed to Kimi’s van. According to Jaatinen, the car ended up in the Räikkönen home in Switzerland.

“Kimi said that they might go karting with Robin in Holland, for example, and then come back to Finland next summer. It may be that next summer, Robin will need a more efficient kart and this first kart will remain with Rianna,” long-time motorsportman Lasse Jaatinen speculated.

“When I’m 50, I hope I won’t be there anymore.”

Kimi Räikkönen was the last Ferrari World Champion. Although things aren’t going well in his new team Alfa Romeo Racing, he still doesn’t want to stop at the age of 40. And he definitely wants to stay in Switzerland.

source: NZZ, 9.10.2019

You’ve been living in Baar for ten years. How often do you drive to the factory in Hinwil?

That depends very much on what you have to do at the moment. It can be several times a week or only once a month.

And then you are standing with your car in a traffic jam on the Seedamm towards Rapperswil-Jona?

No, I try to avoid rush hours.

You have been living in Switzerland for a long time. Why actually?

Before my time in Formula 1 I lived in England for a few years, then I did military service in Finland. And at the age of 21 I signed the contract with Sauber and moved straight to Hinwil because it was practical. Shortly afterwards I moved to Wollerau, and for ten years now I have been living in Baar, at Lake Zug.

Do you also feel a little Swiss in the meantime?

Yes, because this is my home, this is where I feel well. In Finland, on the other hand, I am only two or three times a year.

What do you appreciate most about Switzerland?

With its forests, fields and lakes, Switzerland reminds me a lot of Finland. There I grew up near Helsinki, in the countryside. Today I also live in the countryside, not far from the big city.

Don’t you miss your home?

Yes, from time to time. I used to travel to Finland more often, for example to ride motocross. Now that happens a lot less, also because I don’t have much time. I can no longer imagine living in Finland all the time. When I quit Formula 1, I will stay with my family in Switzerland.

You obviously also love local ice hockey: you are a shareholder in EV Zug.

I love ice hockey in general, not just the EV Zug. I played it myself in my youth, outside, on big fields. And before I became a fan of the EV Zug, I often attended games of the ZSC Lions. Back when my fellow countryman Ari Sulander was a goalie there.

Then you would have to support the HC Davos now, because Waltteri Immonen is working there as an assistant coach. He is a friend of yours and previously worked on the EV Zug.

No, no, I don’t change my preference. I remain loyal to the EV Zug.

Peter Sauber helped you to enter Formula 1 in 2001. Do you still have contact with him, the former team owner?

I see him quite frequently, twice this season alone in races. My relationship with him is still special, because without him I wouldn’t be in the same place in Formula 1. My life would have been completely different.

Now you’re back – not with Peter Sauber, but with the team he built.

That’s a good feeling.

But with Alfa Romeo Racing you’re no longer competing for victories, instead you’re behind in the midfield. That must be difficult.

No, because we know our natural limits. There are only a few teams that have a car to win. We don’t belong to them, not yet.

That must annoy a sportsman with your ambition.

Of course I want to win, but many things have to be right for that. And at Alfa Romeo there are certain limits.

What is the team missing?

We have good people, but we’re not as big as Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull or McLaren. With a smaller budget many things are more difficult. For example, we have to wait much longer until new parts are produced for the cars. And in our business you simply can’t afford the extra time.

What do you miss as a racing driver compared to your job at your previous employer Ferrari?

Nothing at all because things went up and down at Ferrari too. Of course, I was often positioned further ahead there – but since I always want to win, a third place didn’t satisfy me either.

Does the smaller Alfa Romeo Racing team offer you any advantages?

Yes, more freedom outside the races.

More freedom?

Yes, I have to make fewer public appearances, give fewer interviews. This means: I can spend more time with my family, I have more quality of life. I can’t give it enough weight.

You often emphasize the importance of the family.

It was always important to me, now it is even more important. Because the children are only young once, I want to enjoy this time with them.

What does a Formula 1 racer actually do between races? There has to be a lot of free time.

I have a very normal life, almost like my neighbours. I go shopping, cycle, play outside with the two kids.

And what about fitness?

Of course I go to the gym, not every day, but often. In any case, my days at home are well filled, often even fuller than days at races.

How do you get along with Alfa Romeo Racing team boss Frédéric Vasseur?

Our mentality is very similar, we’re both racers, and then you understand each other almost blindly. I noticed that immediately when we first met about a year ago. I also like the fact that he has a very direct, clear speech. You know where you stand.

Why are you actually still in Formula 1?

I don’t know. Well, I just love racing – at least as long as driving remains the most important thing and the other activities don’t get out of hand.

So you still have the same fun out on track as you used to.

Sure, if it runs smoothly. But if the results are as they were recently, it’s rather painful.

In a few days you will be 40. Years ago you claimed in an interview that at this age you are no longer in Formula 1.

Yes, that was actually my intention. But when I’m 50, I hope I won’t be there anymore.

Is racing an addiction for you?

No, racing takes the most time in my life, but it’s not the most important thing – and it never has been. Everyday life is worth much more to me, beyond victories or seventh places.

But it could be that you will stay in Formula 1 beyond the two-year contract.

Anything is possible. I have no plan beyond the duration of the contract.

With 308 Formula 1 races you are the third driver on the record list, just behind Rubens Barrichello and Fernando Alonso. Do you still want to break this record?

No, that doesn’t interest me at all.

Last year you published the autobiography “The unknown Kimi Räikkönen”. The book made headlines because you also talked about alcoholic excesses. Would you reveal so much of yourself again?

I could decide for myself what my autobiographer wrote and what not. There was nothing in it that I didn’t want.

But the book also triggered negative reactions.

That was not expected differently. But the autobiography only reveals a small part of me, it doesn’t show the whole Kimi.

So you keep your little secrets.

I have no secrets. But I don’t have to reveal everything to the public.

When you entered Formula 1 in 2001, you were the wild newcomer. How different is your generation from today’s boys like Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc?

I don’t think that the young generation of drivers has any special characteristics. The difference to us older drivers is primarily that we have more experience.

Did you never have problems meeting the ever-changing technical demands of racing?

The technical gadgets, such as steering, were already demanding when I started in Formula 1. But of course, the technological difference between then and now is huge. But if you always stayed like me, it was easy to adapt to progress.

Do you give your young teammate Antonio Giovinazzi tips for successful driving?

If he comes up to me, I’ll give him tips. But we have different engineers working for us and I’m not his teacher. We look at each other’s data, and here we can learn the most – he from me, I from him. That helps to balance the cars.

But you are the leader.

No, I’m not more important than the guy next to me. My job is racing.

KimFloyd-The Wall

Forty years ago a memorable album and driver were born. With one thing in common: the wall

by Alberto Antonini

source: FormulaPassion.it

 

“No.”

The audience of journalists remained frozen for a moment, then they all applauded. With the exception of that colleague who had studied and formulated a half-minute question to be answered with a syllable. From that blond who looked like he just woke up (badly) and instead came from a day on the track.

Kimi Räikkönen turns forty: and in the game of “remember where you were when…?” I wanted to look around the events of that autumn 1979 (yes, of course I was there, and also quite big; so big that I don’t remember it anymore). Well, when Kimi-Matias was a month old, in the famous house with the toilet in the yard, Pink Floyd released one of their most iconic albums. A concept based on the story of a man who builds a (virtual) wall around himself to protect himself from the world. And so far, it seems to me that the comparison with the character Räikkönen may fit well. Then came the film, with the role of the protagonist, Pink, played by Bob Geldof, at the time another beautiful sociopathic temper. So much that during the filming, Alan Parker, the director, went so far as to tell him that yes, it’s okay to internalize, but it may be better to reveal a feeling or two…

Is it just me who sees the similarities? I met Kimi when he was a rookie in 2001. He talked so softly (it’s interesting to hear me say it) that you had to lean forward. And it was of little use because, rather than expressing concepts, he threw words into the mixer. But I remember a sentence from the first interview, when I asked him about his military service. “I didn’t like it so much. I don’t like having people tell me what to do.”

Well, welcome to Formula 1, the planet where everyone thinks they always have something to tell you (however, if you find it, enjoy the video of Kimi as a recruit instructor). That first year in Sauber, a young Räikkönen discovered at his own expense that isolating himself from the world has a price. They realized that he didn’t pay attention during the briefings, he was reprimanded and had to apologize to everyone. I imagine that from there he learned to listen without giving satisfaction. I had several meetings with him at Ferrari. He mostly played with his mobile phone or with what was in front of him. But then when he went to the media he would repeat perfectly the instructions he had in the briefing. (The other driver had done it too…).

Not that it was always easy. Once we had a discussion during a winter test. During the long run there was a failure of the MGU-K. At the time, however, due to instructions from the top – indeed from the very top – one should not talk about problems with the power unit. He grumbled: “I don’t feel like telling people bullshit”. I told him it wasn’t bullshit at all: it was enough to talk about an electrical problem, after all what is the “K” if not an electric motor? He looked at me strangely, and went in front of the press. And he didn’t disappoint me.

Another time, however, still in a briefing, he humiliated a marketing manager who had shown him a request sheet, by scrunching it up in front of his face. “This stuff is useless.” And I also remember that debriefing (listened to through headphones) at the end of a race in which he felt penalized by his strategy. You’ll excuse me if I don’t say which one, but Kimi was silent or almost for the whole meeting, and at the time of the comments he started in a low voice: “Well, I don’t understand why you keep me here and you pay me what you pay me if then I can’t do my race…”. I don’t add anything else, except that that meeting didn’t end in a low voice. And we had also won…

Of all the nicknames, Iceman always seemed the least appropriate to me. I don’t pretend to judge people, but maybe I have a minimum capacity to describe them, having worked with them. Kimi is not a cold man; he is a shy man, with some communication difficulties, who has built his own wall, made of simulated indifference and sometimes even aggressiveness, to defend the thing he cares most about: his privacy. He has always privileged the essential. Although he drove for many years in a British team, unlike Vettel who uses fluent and refined English, he developed a primordial language; with his own concept of the comparative of majority (“more worse”) and a series of made phrases, such as “it is what it is”, which he uses to flavor public statements. Except then to amaze you with ironic and sharp phrases that show how attentive it really is to the world around him. I once accompanied him to Taiwan for a Ferrari promotion day. He quietly endured the press ritual and the adoration of the fans. Then, in a reserved room, in front of a chicken salad, he murmured with a half smile: “Does the California sell so badly that it is necessary to do all these events?…”.

He hates wasting time, especially on planes, he hates disorganization, but it only takes a moment to ignite his enthusiasm. Sponsorship day, on the outskirts of Shanghai, a horrendous dusty shed. He arrives and starts to protest: “There’s too much dust here, I have asthma, I can’t stay here…”. The program includes a meeting with a Chinese football star. And immediately afterwards, Kimi has to get into a road Ferrari and, controlling the drift, try to hit a ball and send it into the net. That’s like threading a needle on a horse. Well, can you believe that an hour later, when the cameras were off, he was still trying, tyre squeaking and laughing, and he kept going until he managed to hit at least the post?

The Kimi at the tracks and the private Kimi are two totally different people. Once we were guests of a mutual friend during a Grand Prix weekend. The first two days I saw the best Kimi, smiling and relaxed. He would go into the house, change immediately into his resting uniform – black clothing and white socks – and go about his business. I saw him with my own eyes, armed with a screwdriver, installing the wi-fi at our guest’s house. He arrives Saturday, bad qualification, he enters without talking, takes his share of pepperoni pizza and sits alone on the couch. The only time he opens his mouth is when a suspicious crackle rises from the sofa: “Hey, it’s the leather that makes the noise, not me!”

Sunday arrives, the tension of the race subsides and the only ice left is that in our glasses of vodka and sparkling water. Sitting in the garden, he starts to tell me in detail how he and his friends, in Finland, have fun with jet skis, so much that by now those from the water police have become friends… A river of words, but without protagonism. That evening I was reminded of another evening (or rather, late night) in Monaco, when I had met his father Matti. In an unpretentious bar above the Tabac, as unpretentious (always relatively, you understand) was the boat that housed Räikkönen sr. He had a black shirt, a bit of belly like an old rocker and an innate sympathy. I think his son looks more like him than he imagines. And I know he suffered so much when Matti left, too soon.

At this point, I know that someone will object: and about Räikkönen the driver, about his contract, about how the story with Ferrari ended, don’t you tell us anything? The fact is, I wanted to tell you about this, about Kimi. Trying to make it clear how and why, no matter how apparently abulic, grumpy, even unpleasant he can be, the instinctive sympathy he arouses in so many people is not misplaced. Of the driver I would like to mention two memories: one is the last (for now!) victory in F1, which in these days also turns one year. That evening in Austin I was working in the office and I could hear that in the big room, equipped with several bottles of champagne, the tone of voice of Kimi rose more and more. At the end he didn’t attend the party that was organized in the hotel. The few who saw him had to go up to the room…

And then there’s a second-hand story, told to me at Maranello. Also at the end of October, but twelve years ago. You know well what I’m talking about. Late at night, a group of Ferrari engineers appear in a bar. With them is a guy wrapped in a sweatshirt, the hood is pulled over his eyes. As soon as he enters the counter, his face is revealed and he screams: “I AM KIMI RRRÄIKKKKÖNEN… FORRRMULA ONE WORRRLD CHAMPIONNNN”…

Happy birthday, Pinki.

Kimi Räikkönen answering fan questions

Before the Russian Grand Prix, f1news.ru invited readers to ask questions to Kimi Räikkönen. They were sent several hundred questions – and selected the most interesting, unusual and popular, and in Sochi, the Alfa Romeo driver answered them.

Question (Natalya, Zhukovsky): Kimi, you give the impression of a calm, mature and strong-willed person who is not afraid of anything. However, was there a case in your racing career or everyday life that really scared you and made you rethink your values?
Kimi Räikkönen: It’s not about fear. You do what you have to do, try to avoid stupid things – so far I have succeeded. Of course, there are dangerous moments in our sport, but they are part of the game, and you don’t think too much about them.

Question: (Victor, Surgut): Has your attitude to life changed after you became the father of two children?
Kimi Räikkönen: I don’t think so. Of course, with the arrival of children, you have new priorities and responsibilities, but, in my opinion, life has not changed compared to the one I had before the birth of the kids.

Question: (Aleksey, Gomel): Most children aged 4-5 years old only master the bike, while your son Robin is already learning to ride a motorcycle. Is this the result of your special approach to education or just heredity?
Kimi Räikkönen: I would not say that this is due to a special approach or heredity. I am sure that if the children wanted to play football or the piano, they would ask me about it.

Question (Andrei, Petrozavodsk): Do you plan to take on the role of coach for Robin in the future, similar to that played by Jos Verstappen with Max?
Kimi Räikkönen: If the children ask for help, then I will give them advice. However, I do not think that I will continue to appear in the paddock after the end of my racing career.

Question (Timofey, Minsk): What is your advise to young racers?
Kimi Räikkönen: Be patient, fast and work hard to fulfill your dream! However, keep in mind that everyone is different, and if a certain approach worked for one person, not necessarily it will work for another.

Question (Sergey, Krasnodar): Is modern Formula 1 different from what it was 10-15 years ago? What major changes have occurred? A different atmosphere, new rules?
Kimi Räikkönen: Sport has changed. Now there is more work with the press and sponsors compared to when I started my career. Racing has become more “sterile”, but in the end it all comes down to the fact that twenty guys in fast cars are chasing along a track. The concept has remained the same.

Question (Alexei, Moscow): Can you describe in three words the teams for which you competed in Formula 1?
Kimi Räikkönen: I can characterize Alfa Romeo – my team.

Question (Anatoly, Simferopol): If you had to fly to the moon with three Formula 1 drivers, who would you choose?
Kimi Räikkönen I am not sure that I want to spend so much time with Formula 1 drivers!

Question (Oleg, Kursk): As a racer, you have visited many countries. Is there any special place where you like the most?
Kimi Räikkönen It would be great if a Formula 1 race was held in Finland. Many Finnish fans come to each race, and I would be pleased if my home race were part of the championship.

Kimi Räikkönen: “Now I have other things to do than just drinking.”

At the age of 40 Kimi Räikkönen dared a new start with the Swiss Alfa Romeo team – he has no regrets.

original article

A conversation with someone who prefers not to say anything. That’s how it is with Kimi Räikkönen, the Iceman of Formula 1, who stoically built this image by keeping silent.

But now it begins to crumble. Since this season, the almost 40-year-old Finn has been back with the Swiss Sauber team, where he launched his career in 2001. In eight out of twelve races he scored points for the racing team now called Alfa Romeo. Far from the immense pressure from Ferrari, he seems to feel comfortable. The fact that he won’t go into more detail on this afternoon before the Belgian Grand Prix is due to the narrow time window. Räikkönen talks for 10 minutes, then he has to go elsewhere.

It is the day on which he causes stir. Reserve driver Marcus Ericsson is in the paddock. Reason: Räikkönen suffered a muscle strain in his left leg. What happened? “Sport. Injury. Getting old,” says Räikkönen in staccato. “I’ve always said: sport is more dangerous than drinking. When you drink, you only get a hangover.”

 

Your biography says that you drank through 16 days in 2012 and then finished on the podium in Spain. What was your condition like?

That was normal for me.

16 days drunk was normal?

Well, I lived my life the way I wanted to for years. It may be difficult for some people to imagine something like that, but for me it wasn’t a problem.

Alcohol as an integral part of life?

Meanwhile I have other things to do than just drinking. Of course I still go out, but I have another task in life, I have a family. But the memories of the past are really good, I wouldn’t want to give them away.

You shy away from the public. Nevertheless, there is this book about you with such stories. Why?

It’s just a book that’s standing on a shelf in a bookshop. So it doesn’t bother me.

Do you like it?

I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t like it. For many years I had doubts as to whether I should do it, and I wasn’t convinced during its creation either. But looking back, it’s okay for me.

At almost 40, you are still in Formula 1. What do you appreciate about your profession, what not?

I like racing. The rest is there, too. (laughs)

The stuff around it still bothers you?

I’m only here to race. The other thing unfortunately belongs to Formula 1 and unfortunately it always will. But when I started the commitments were much less. Now there is more money in the game, more sponsors are involved, so I have to show my face there too. I can’t just take the money and do nothing for it.

Nobody forced you to continue driving in Formula 1.

No, it was my decision. And I don’t regret it.

Were your expectations fulfilled at Alfa Romeo?

I had none. Will I be in the top 10 or will I be last? I didn’t know. All I knew was that there were limits compared to the big teams: less money, less people. But what we have is pretty good. We are slowly improving. Of course I would like to fight for the podium, but I know where Sauber comes from. Three years ago the end was imminent.

Why didn’t you look for another racing series with less attention?

Because in Formula 1 the level is the highest. And the team is great, I’m trying to help them.

How much did your decision to start your career with Sauber contribute?

Not at all, not even that the team is based not far from my home in Baar. I just wanted to see what was possible. There are great people behind the project and we have a chance to do something good.

You seem fresher and happier than before at Ferrari. Is the impression deceptive?

I don’t think that’s the case. In many areas my job is still the same. The schedule on a weekend is 95 percent identical: meeting, practice, session, race.

And apart from that?

Besides racing, it’s more pleasant, that’ true. I have more freedom – also because the team is so close. I don’t have to spend the whole day in a plane to do anything in the factory. Many things have become much easier for me.

You are now also significantly involved in the development of the car. Do you like the role?

That was also the case with Ferrari: driving and improving the car. But: Here they listen more to me. It’s not as difficult like at Ferrari to get people to trust me.

Are you re-experiencing Formula 1?

Not really. I’ve been in different positions and teams during my career. Now it’s a bit more difficult for me at the start of a race because the chances of an accident are greater. I drive against more people, it’s closer. But the story remains: I try to overtake and not be overtaken.

How much have you changed since 2001?

I have changed like everyone else in 20 years. My life is different now, I have a family.

Two weeks ago your four-year-old son Robin did his first laps in a kart, your two-year-old daughter Rianna was already sitting in one. Are there any career plans?

No, no. Robin drove already motocross and quads. Now it was fun to see him in a kart.

Do you fear for him?

I was worried about motocross. It took me a long time to really like that. Again and again I told him to start slowly because he could get hurt very badly. After his first laps in the kart, I asked him if it was easier than on the bike. He said yes. He enjoyed it. Who knows what will come out of it.

Kimi Räikkönen: “I’m here to try to improve things.”

Icon (El pais) July 2019, translation by Whatever

 

Two days prior to our encounter at the Montmeló Circuit, Kimi Räikkönen, the most veteran driver of the actual F1 grid, finished 14th at the Spanish GP.  A step back on a season that started very hopeful.  After his second stint at Ferrari, the 39 year-old Finn has landed at Alfa Romeo – the team that has the Carrera glasses brand as one of their main sponsors – conscious that he was facing a totally different challenge.  The Italian company returns this year to the big competition.  In the season’s first race, in Australia, Kimi gained the first points for Alfa Romeo in 35 years.  “Coming here was my decision, it’s a nice challenge.  I’m here to try to improve things. I like that. If I don’t achieve the goals I want, it’s OK, there’s nothing more I can do”, says the driver in Alfa Romeo’s hospitality on Circuit de Catalunya, where the team, as the others, has stayed a few days longer to do some testing prior to leaving for the next race.  “We have to keep improving.  Last race wasn’t a good one, we were too slow.  I’m still trying to figure out what happened.  But if I don’t find out, it’s ok”, he says.  “We’re going to keep trying to improve and enjoy at the same time.”

There’s something disconcerting and at the same time refreshing about Kimi Räikkönen.  In one universe, the sporting side, marked by efficiency obsessed athletes, sacrifice and messages that seem taken out of self-help books, or by school text books, his relaxed ways in which the Finn lives his profession is totally countercultural.  But Kimi has always been like this.  During a GP, he cut off the radio with his team because he was fed up of being given instructions.  “Just leave me alone, I know what to do”, he told his team members.  Another time, he said that partying actually made him a better driver.  And only a few days after our encounter, he’ll make the news again for cancelling all the celebrations that have been prepared prior to his participation on the Monaco GP, for being his 300th race on Formula 1.  “There’s nothing to celebrate.  Besides, I don’t like Monaco.  It’s not a good GP.  It’s terrible for the mechanics.”

Icon July 19-004

Kimi has come wearing his driving suit and for a second there, he gave us a smile.  Then he put on his Carrera glasses. And that was it.  After that moment all communication with him has been reduced to indicate, from everything that was being asked of him, what things he wasn’t going to do. “I take races as a challenge.  All the other things that surround this business, I don’t care at all”, informing us what we had already sensed.  “There’s nonsense around all this that bothers me, but at this point, I know I can’t eliminate them so I have to live with them.”  And after 5 minutes sitting down barely moving, he waves his arms like a helicopter, giving us a big scare.  His PR guy, sitting across the room, doesn’t even flinch.  It seems as he can predict when the Iceman will show some humanity.  “Nothing you can do but to learn to live with it.  It always repeats itself:  the same duties, the same people.  I know it by heart.  If you had a good day, it doesn’t bother you too much.  If not, it annoys you and it doesn´t improve your opinions on the things that you already know you don´t like.”

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Räikkönen has this strange ability of being interesting when he talks about the things he doesn’t like.  On the contrary, if you ask him about something he should remember fondly, he sinks even further in his chair and he doesn`t even snuffle because it must make him lazy to exercise expressions.  This is what happened when we asked him about that last race in Brazil, 2007.  When he became World Champion against all odds.  The war between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in McLaren led to an unexpected finish in which the least expected driver ended up winning the title.  “People still ask me about that race… and I like it a bit.  I don’t know what to tell you.  It was very odd. Situation was strange. We knew the car was fast at the end of that season.  We needed a win, or at least a second place.  The rest we couldn’t control.  During the race, a lot happened, but it all turned out fine.  Almost nobody believed it.  Not before, not after.  I think they didn’t even give us a 20% chance of being champions.  In any moment of the GP we talked about this.  When the race ended, we were still making calculations to see if we were champions or not.  Once we knew, it was wonderful, the year ended very well”, he remembers in a monotonous way.  Anyone could think it doesn’t make a difference to him.  We mentioned this to him. “People who say this about me, are the ones who spend their days watching their computers and analyzing God knows what”, he says.  We’re about to laugh, but with Räikkönen it’s a little bit like in The office: you never know if it’s a joke or not.  We shut up.  “Things don’t work like that.  What works for me doesn’t work for another and vice-versa.  If I see a driver does certain things and I want to copy them, it won’t work, we’re different.  You should be happy with yourself.  If someone tells you what to do every day, you’ll end up hating it and the other person too.  I think I’ve always been demanding with myself.  The rest can say whatever they want, but this I know.  Look, I can’t judge if you’re good or bad based on this talk.  Races are important because I dedicate a lot of time to them, but, luckily, I have other things in my life”.

In 2009 Kimi ended his first stint with Ferrari.  The Finn, who had landed in Formula 1 8 years before, skipping most formulae a driver must go through before getting into the mother of all competitions, had announced that the following year he’d be participating in the World Rally Championship.  With Citroën’s backup, he raced for two seasons in that discipline.  “Rallying is complicated”, he explains with a mix of excitement and laziness, a recipe of emotions we believed impossible before meeting him.  “But I needed to try it.  On TV it looks easy, but it turns out being complicated.  You learn a lot.  You can’t put all your focus on driving because you have to listen to the co-driver. In Formula 1, you know where every corner is.  If you get a corner a little bit wrong in one lap, you can get it better next lap.  In rally, if you miss a breaking point, it’s very likely you hit a tree.”  Räikkönen has also tried NASCAR.  And he liked it too.  “I hope to come back someday.  It’s very exciting.  There are cars everywhere.  There is only work on the weekends and there are parties.  I don’t know, I like it.  It was a shame my team had trouble with the payments, I would have liked to stay longer.”

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Days after our encounter, Kimi ended 17th at the Monaco GP.  He had already warned, he didn´t like it.  But in the next races he recovered, even reaching a very good 7th place at the French GP.  There, in the ending stages of the race, he did something that must give him immense satisfaction: to overtake a McLaren.  On that occasion, it was the rookie Lando Norris.  The next day, Kimi participated in a homage to Jackie Stewart and posted on his Instagram a pic of the event, sitting on a low chair almost like in a squat, wearing an old hat like the ones the mythical British driver used to wear all the time.  Norris commented on his post: “For a minute I thought you were driving a tiny car”.  “I thought the same thing about you yesterday…”, responded the Finn.

Kimi Räikkönen: “So many things have pissed me off!”

source: motorsport-total.com

Kimi Räikkönen in an interview about his ambivalent relationship to racing, alcohol and smoking.

My first 1:1 interview with Kimi Räikkönen was a few years ago. Räikkönen was currently driving for Lotus and had one of those phases in his career when his desire for media appointments and interviews was particularly limited. 15 minutes of conversation were arranged with Lotus press officer Andy Stobart, but already after five minutes the Iceman got up, grumbled a purely rhetorical “Are we done?” and left me quite surprised and disappointed at the table.

Stobart looked at me shrugging his shoulders: “What should I do?”. Kimi Räikkönen, that was my lesson from that encounter, can’t be controlled. He only does what he likes, and he only does it on his own terms. Media work is still an aversion to him today. But since then six years have passed, a marriage and two children have happened – and certain things have changed.

Our interview about “Kimi’s life and Kimi’s book”, the definition of my request to the Alfa Romeo PR team, should have taken place in Baku. But because I had cleverly saved the appointment in my mobile phone in Austria and saved it bound to time zones, I came too late there. I was told it didn’t bother Kimi. He is said to have enjoyed his additional free time very much!

But of course that doesn’t happen a second time. So next try. From an Alfa spokeswoman I get the tip not to start directly into the interview. Kimi doesn’t like that, I get briefed. But I don’t care about that now. Our conversation begins by telling Kimi about our experience back then. Not reproachful, but still quite direct, exactly the way I felt it.

Ice blue eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses …

He has to smile. I’m pretty sure he can’t remember it. Like he generally can’t remember too much from his wild Lotus years. But more about that later. My lead-in breaks the ice a bit. Kimi looks a bit like he’s already had two or three glasses of wine. Which is certainly not the case on media Thursday. He is simply relaxed. Just Iceman.

While I ask my first questions, he lets himself slip casually back into the chair on the upper floor of the Alfa Romeo hospitality. Unfortunately, I can’t see his cool nordic eyes, they are covered by black sunglasses. His arms are crossed behind the chair. The body language signals a little indifference. That’s the way he is, Kimi: He simply doesn’t care. You can like him for it or not.

I wouldn’t want my children to become like him. But apart from that he is one of my favourite persons in the Formula 1 paddock. Kimi is honest, doesn’t play games – and you know where you are with him.

That’s a quality that not many people have in a money-infested sport …

Q: “Kimi, you seem to have become more relaxed with the media lately. One could almost get the impression that you enjoy it more than before.”

Kimi Räikkönen: “Not really. But I have no choice. That’s the problem! I don’t have much to say. But it’s part of my job.”

Q: “Has your approach to interviews like this changed?

Räikkönen: “I see it more or less the same way as before. It’s still the same people who work as journalists in Formula 1 and mostly ask the same questions. That hasn’t changed much over the years. There are so many stories that you are asked about. The journalists write these stories themselves and then ask our opinion.”

Kimi & rallying: Why did he leave?

Q: “You always say that you enjoy driving, but not the PR and media work. You had that when you drove rallies…”

Räikkönen: “Right. Especially in the second year, when it was clear what I’d do – whether I’d keep driving rally or do nothing. I was very happy in many ways!”

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When “or do nothing” comes over his lips Kimi has to grin broadly for the first time. The atmosphere is good in the first minutes of our interview, the chemistry fits, the ice is broken. And the 39-year-old lets me feel that interviews are actually an unbearable thing for him, but that he finds this somewhat bearable. This is probably due to the fact that I don’t formulate my questions conventionally, but try to make a conversation between two people.

One thing I have always asked myself: when Kimi drove rally in 2010 and 2011, he actually had a good life. Although he was the superstar of the scene in the WRC, after the initial hype had subsided he was largely left alone by the journalists and camera teams. And although he claimed not to be interested in all this crap, he returned to Lotus in Formula 1 in 2012 …

Q: “Then why did you decide to leave rallying and return to Formula 1? You had what you wanted.”

Räikkönen: “I tried a bit of NASCAR. What I liked about it was the racing. Rally is not racing in the classic sense. In rallying you don’t have a direct opponent, you drive against the stopwatch. When I drove the Nationwide and Truck races in NASCAR, I noticed how much I enjoy the direct duel against other drivers. I thought to myself: ‘Maybe it’d be nice to have that again more often’. And Formula 1 is the top class in the eyes of most racing drivers. So I wanted to know if it would work out again.”

Kimi: Nothing good comes without something bad

Q: “But you could have driven EuroNASCAR, or in another racing series with less media coverage, if you were only interested in racing itself. Or was the challenge of Formula 1 so important to you?”

Räikkönen: “Yes. Racing, driving in Formula 1, that’s fun for me. No matter what you do, there will always be something positive and something negative. You can’t just have the positive, no matter what racing series you’re in. And elsewhere it’s not the interviews, but other things that you don’t like. This probably applies to all areas of life, that there is always something positive and something negative. It’s difficult to find something perfect that has nothing wrong with it. Let’s take the next holiday, for example: once you’re there, it might be beautiful. But the journey is annoying.”

Q: “Let’s talk about your book. Have you read it?”

Räikkönen: “Yes. Normally I don’t read books. It’s too much like school for me. At school I had to read a few books, but I don’t think I finished reading a single one! That was too boring for me. Not necessarily because of the books themselves – but I couldn’t be bothered to read. On the day of publication there was a small lounge event, and the evening before I read it. I roughly knew what it would contain because I had printed and read individual sections. But that was the first time I had the whole book in front of me, the way it was supposed to look. Then I read it.”

Kimi’s Book: No taboos for the author

Q: “Was there also a topic that you discussed with the author, where you said to him: ‘But we’re not going to publish that!’ Or was there no such thing?
Räikkönen: “Not really. Maybe a little thing, but not really. It wasn’t like I was trying to hide anything. Of course, there would have been lots of stories that could have been written in. But a book like that has X pages. You can’t put everything in there, or it’ll get too thick. And I never wanted to have a scandal book in which it was told that this and that happened so and so. There wasn’t actually any topic on which I said: ‘This can’t go in like that’. There was no such thing. I was very open.”

Q: “There was one chapter that I found very entertaining – and to be honest it reminded me a bit of my own wilder days. It is the chapter ‘Sixteen Days’. It describes how you were drunk non-stop between Bahrain and Barcelona in 2013. How could you even remember it?”

Räikkönen: “I couldn’t even. Half of it other people had to tell me. We just toured across Europe and had a bit of fun. It wasn’t the first time. And it was quite normal for us.”

Q: “I think that’s what people love about you: that you just don’t give a shit! Maybe someone else would have said: ‘We’re not putting that in the book.'”

Räikkönen: “But there’s nothing wrong with that. Where is that a bad story? There’s nothing bad in it. That was quite normal, and it happened many times. The chapter in the book is not the only time I’ve done something like this. I had fun”.

Q: “You are married now and you have two children. I guess that kind of fun has changed in your life.”

Räikkönen: “Sure. Now there are other priorities. At that time I had my work, but otherwise … If I wanted to fly somewhere, I just flew there. I didn’t have to ask anyone. I was old enough to do what I wanted.”

Family and children today more important than any parties

“When you have a family, it changes. I want to be with my children. I’m already away from home a lot with racing anyway. I enjoy the time with my family. Sometimes I still go out with my wife. But that’s something completely different. We’re all getting older, aren’t we? And after 16 drunken days I don’t feel as good today as I used to. There are other things in life that are important to me today. That doesn’t mean that I can’t go out anymore. Of course I can! But my time with the children and the family is more important to me”.

Q: “When you say that you still sometimes have a blast today: One such evening must have been the FIA Gala 2018 in Saint Petersburg. I must say, this was the most entertaining FIA gala in years!”

Räikkönen: “You see! It’s so damn boring, it’s better to get drunk. Maybe they invited me especially to provide the entertainment!”

Q: “It was really funny to watch. And I have to say I’m impressed by how relaxed your wife put it away. If I staggered on a stage like that, my girlfriend would be pissed off…”

Räikkönen: “Yes, all easy. She has already experienced a lot with me!”

Q: “Did you have any calls from angry FIA officials after that?”

Räikköenen: “Nothing. Not one call. Why even? Why should they be angry? The bottom line is: They invited me. So it’s not my fault! And nothing bad happened.”

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I would also like to address another issue that is unfortunately ignored in the Kimi book: Kimi and the cigarette smoke. Someone who should know told me that Kimi drank and smoked in many Lotus meetings in summer 2013. The team owed him money, and so he didn’t take his exemplary behaviour too seriously …

Open secret: Kimi and the cigarette smoke

Q: “There is a paddock legend from the time when you drank even more. It is said that you smoked in Lotus meetings back then. Is that true?”

Räikkönen: “I don’t know if that was really in meetings. I wouldn’t say meetings to that. I’m not quite sure – maybe so. I smoked when I was younger. It’s been a long time ago.”

Q: “Did you quit completely?

Räikkönen: “I don’t even remember the last time I smoked. In the book I also think it says that I smoked and then quit. But to come back to the question: As I said, I’m not sure. But I don’t think I smoked in meetings. In the motorhome, however, I’m quite sure, on the terrace. Sometimes with my boss!

Q: “That didn’t bother him?”

Räikkönen: “Obviously not. I think once was after Abu Dhabi – I remember that. That was absolutely never a problem. At least he never said anything to me!

Q: “There’s a lot of talk about Lewis Hamilton’s lifestyle. Didn’t you ever feel that stopping drinking and smoking could improve your performance?”

Räikkönen: “No, not really. Maybe it even made me better to live the way I wanted to. If you’re the type to read books, you should read books. Whatever suits you. The most important thing is that you know for yourself what is best for you. If you are urged to do something that any other driver is doing for whom things are going well, it won’t work. You know best what’s good for you. Everyone has their own methods. That’s the most important thing. No matter what it is. I’m sure everyone lives their lives a little differently. I think the older you get, the better you get to know yourself and find out what is good for you and what is not. And then it has to be fun. If someone tells you all the time to do this and that which you don’t enjoy, it won’t do you any good in the long run”.

Q: “Would you say you’re a more balanced character today than you were ten years ago?

Räikkönen: “Hm. In many ways yes. But my life has also changed a lot. I have a family now. Nothing stresses me so easily anymore. My life is certainly more fulfilled today than it used to be. There are other things that are important now. More important things.

Ferrari & McLaren: Two things that are missing in the book

Q: “There are a few things I missed badly in the book. For example the return to Ferrari. They had paid you a pile of money at the end of 2009 to stop you driving for Ferrari. And then you come back. It was difficult to understand from the outside because we assumed that relationships were broken. What was it like to return to Ferrari and who was the first to approach you?”

Räikkönen: ” They approached me. That was when I was driving for Lotus. I never had a problem with Ferrari. I still had a contract in 2009, but so many things just pissed me off, also in Formula 1 as a whole. So we ended it. They wanted something different in the team. We found a solution – but I never had a problem with anyone from Ferrari. We had, admittedly, discussions with one or two people there. But we spoke that out. I never had the feeling that I had been treated unfairly. People write something all the time. The truth is: I didn’t even care much about all the contract stories back then. I just wanted to do something other than Formula 1. I still had friends at Ferrari and we started talking at some point. So one thing came after another.”

 

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Even before the interview it was clear to me that the 15 agreed minutes would not be enough to work through my questions completely. We’re just one-third through when the Alfa press officer taps his wristwatch for the first time. Secretly I had hoped to stretch the time a bit, because Kimi seems to have taken a liking to our conversation. But unfortunately a TV team is already waiting behind us. So we have to at least touch on the very last important topic …

Q: “The other thing I missed in the book is your relationship with Ron Dennis. He invented the nickname Iceman. But over the years your relationship has cooled down, hasn’t it?”

Räikkönen: “I wouldn’t say it like that. Our relationship didn’t break down. I still talk to him today when I see him. I never had a personal problem with him. It’s true that we argued about certain things. What to do, what not to do, and so on. But that never affected our personal relationship. Sure, he was angry sometimes, and I was angry sometimes because I should have accepted this and that.”

Q: “You’ve managed to separate the professional from the personal.”

Räikkönen: “Yes. There was never a problem between us. We were just arguing about something, and next time we talked normally again. It never became personal. Surely he didn’t agree with how I lived my life. But it didn’t suit me either that he wanted to interfere in my life. I have no problem talking to Ron. A few years ago we met and talked a bit. I think he’s a good guy. It was really all about interfering. But it was never personal. I had a great time with McLaren. There were discussions from time to time that made me angry. But that’s normal.”

 

For Kimi’s analysis of his past in Formula 1, his team changes, his personal relationships with bosses and team mates, there is unfortunately no time left. We shake hands at the end of the interview, I thank him and assure him that his honest answers will not be used for a moral condemnation. Kimi smiles. I have the impression that it was also one of the less bad interviews for him.