Peter Sauber: “Kimi is very serious about it, he wants to make a difference.”

Peter Sauber gave ‘Auto Motor und Sport’ a long interview, talking about his beginnings in motorsport and his years in Formula 1.

video in German: Auto Motor und Sport

excerpts of him talking about Kimi Räikkönen:

“Even today I still don’t know why I did it, why I gave him a test at all. His manager back then, Robertson, came to us, I later called him a carpet dealer because he sold Kimi so well to me that I said, “Ok, I’ll give Kimi a car for a day to test”. And then Robertson said, “3 days!” Impossible, on 3 days you can test 6 drivers! But somehow he could persuade me and then Kimi drove 3 days.

On the 2nd day I drove to Mugello with Willi Rampf, our technical director at that time, and we watched Kimi. Kimi fascinated me. Not necessarily the driving. Of course, he only drove a few formula races, had no experience, but everything went well. He didn’t talk much, he didn’t know much English. But he had a body language that fascinated me. And I think it was Kimi’s body language that convinced me. Not the fast lap times, he was simply fast, but he wasn’t so excessive. Just fast right away and if you gave him fresh tyres then he got as much faster as he needed to get. And when you took the fuel out, he got as much faster as he needed. It all went very professionally.

In the beginning he always came in after about 6 or 7 laps although he would have had to drive longer. He couldn’t hold his head any longer, he had no experience with g-forces. And when they told him you had to stay out longer, he still came back in after his laps. Stubborn. And if you have seen him in the pit lane, if he has walked towards you, then you have had the feeling, if you do not go to the side now, he runs through you. That was just… – I have to convey my impressions like this – Kimi was just fascinating. Willi and I agreed. He gets a contract.

Q: But then he was gone after one year. That was also a somewhat hairy story…

“That was the same stubbornness. But in the end it was a thing that was absolutely okay for us. We always needed money and finally there was a good deal with McLaren-Mercedes.

Q: What do you expect for this season? Now with your old driver Kimi Räikkönen..

“I’m glad, of course. It’s almost like a childlike joy for me that he comes back. And he also comes back and wants to make a difference. He is very serious about it. By the way, that’s of course Beat Zehnder, who made sure that the contact to Kimi always existed over the years.”

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Kimi Räikkönen “Also Vasseur is just a racer!”

source: Blick

Do you think that Alfa-Sauber can be one of the surprises of the 2019 season?

The feeling is pretty good. We tested almost everything, always got new parts – now we just have to evaluate things properly. You don’t have much time for that on the race weekends.

Your former Ferrari team-mate Vettel puts your new team at the top of the field. What do you say?

I don’t know where we stand exactly. It’s impossible to say. We only know our strengths, judging the competition is just a guessing game. I can only hope that we are fully there in the midfield. In a few weeks’ time we will certainly know more …

You’re the team leader now. Does that change anything for you?

No. We are two drivers and a lot of people preparing the car. They are all just as important. There is not only one key role.

And your new team mate Antonio Giovinazzi …

I’m sure we’ll get along fine. We are already exchanging ideas and have the same goal.

The new life with Alfa-Sauber has hardly surprised you?

No, I know Hinwil and the factory. I also didn’t have any big ideas about what it would be like in the next two years. All I know is that politics is certainly no longer in the focus. And that’s why I signed without hesitation. I’ll also be in the factory straightaway. And when I first met with Frédéric Vasseur, I immediately noticed: that is also just a racer full of passion.

So no more bullshit, no more negative stories and no more unnecessary stress…

That’s it. I only care about racing. I feel comfortable in the cockpit. That’s how it should be and will remain.

So only a happy Kimi is a fast Kimi…

I am happy when I can be with my family when I am away from the race tracks. Family is the most important point in life. There is nothing more valuable than children.

What is the difference between Kimi 2001 and Kimi 2019?

(laughs) I got older. But I have hardly changed much, even though I have seen and experienced a lot in the meantime. Inside I have remained the same.

And then there is also your year-long favorite club, the EV Zug…

Yes, it’s already set for the playoff since weeks. Unfortunately, the crucial phase begins when we are in Melbourne. But I’m certainly going to watch a game still. Or even more …

Kimi Räikkönen: “Antonio once raced for me!”

source: Autosprint No.8, 19 Feb 2019

One thing is certain: Alfa Romeo has given Räikkönen back the smile and the mood to joke that Ferrari’s last five years had taken away from him. Kimi and Giovinazzi, a few days before starting the test in Barcelona with the new Alfa Romeo F1 powered by Ferrari, allowed themselves a “day of nostalgia”, immersing themselves at Balocco in the history and culture of Alfa Romeo. Discovering how great the tradition and history of the Milanese brand is, the first constructor to win a Formula One world championship back in 1950. Enzo Ferrari called Alfa Romeo “la mamma”, precisely because it was Alfa that gave the young Drake almost a hundred years ago the chance to start his career, first as a driver and then as a team principal, to use modern terminology. The plunge into the Alfa Romeo history for Räikkönen and Giovinazzi took place at Balocco, the historic Alfa circuit that now belongs to the FCA group. Balocco, to put it simply, is to Alfa Romeo like the Fiorano track is to Ferrari. But Balocco is less well known among enthusiasts than Fiorano because it is hyper-secret and off-limits for everyone because here are tested all the prototypes under development of the Fiat group, and also those of Ferrari. The Balocco area, which lies between the Piedmontese rice fields between Novara and Vercelli, is enormous: it contains a total of 26 tracks, including off-road tracks, and a high-speed ring with raised bends, 7.8 km long, longer than Indianapolis.

But the original Balocco track, and the most important one, is the track known as the “Misto Alfa”. A 5.6 km circuit made up of 19 corners and two very long straights. According to the habits of the time, all the most famous and demanding curves of the European tracks were reproduced on the Balocco track. There is a turn that copies the mythical Lesmo of Monza and a twisty path that reproduces a part of the Zandvoort circuit, including the famous Tarzan hairpin.

Balocco has weaned all of the most famous Alfa Romeo racing cars of the last fifty years. The Alfa Romeo Formula 1 of the late 70’s took its first steps with drivers like Brambilla and Giacomelli at the wheel. In Balocco the legendary Alfa Turismo of the 60s and 70s, such as the Giulia T2 and GTA driven by De Adamich, Giunti, Nanni and Zeccoli, were launched. And Balocco was also the home of the Alfa Romeo 33 TT12, the “barchetta” that gave Alfa the World Championship for Makes title in 1975. The latest Alfa Romeo World Title. It was the same car that Kimi Räikkönen found surprisingly on display in front of the Balocco farmhouse, where the Autodelta racing department also used to be located and where the engineer Carlo Chiti had his own office.

When Räikkönen saw the car, his eyes lit up. “Did it really have a 12-cylinder engine?” he asked. Then he approached the Alfa 33, opened the door and climbed on board to the driver’s seat. Nodding to Giovinazzi to join him. He tinkered for a while in the cockpit looking for the start button but was then told that the 33 had no fuel in the tank and therefore he had to give up turning it on. “I wanted to hear the rumble of the 12-cylinder engine, it’s an exciting sound. When I started in F1 there were still the V10 engines and I remember well the scream they made!” Kimi Räikkönen, despite being the oldest and most experienced driver on the F1 grid, knows little or nothing about Alfa Romeo’s history. And a visit to Balocco helped him to immerse himself in Alfa’s glorious past and understand how prestigious this brand was in the past. “I never owned an Alfa Romeo: my first car, when I was young, was a Lada; but I have driven one because one of my cousins had an Alfa Romeo. My most vivid memory of the Alfa brand is linked to the car in the DTM: the mid-1990s four-wheel drive 155. I was a teenager, I saw them running on TV. They were impressive.”

Räikkönen’s competitive past, on the other hand, is linked to the Sauber brand. It was with the Swiss single-seater that Kimi made his debut in F1. In a private test at Mugello in 2001 when he was just 21 years old. It is said that he went so fast that even Schumacher, engaged on the track with Ferrari that same day, asked around who was that boy in the Sauber that had impressed him. Räikkönen, however, puts away that episode. “I heard this story but I wasn’t aware of it. I was much more worried because that year they didn’t want to grant me the F1 superlicence because they said that I didn’t have enough experience (Kimi had only 23 races to his credit in Formula Ford and Formula Renault before the jump in F1). It annoyed me a lot. Luckily after the good result of the first race in Australia (6th place) I got the final one”.

In October Räikkönen will become the third driver of the modern era to race in F1 at the age of 40 after Schumacher and Mansell. 40 years old, but he doesn’t show it at all. Neither physically nor characterically. You can see that the distance from the stressful Ferrari environment made him reborn. It gave him a new serenity that made him rejuvenate mentally.

“Here at Alfa Romeo the environment is certainly more relaxed, we are focused on the racing aspect and not on the collateral things. I still enjoy racing and that’s the important thing.” Räikkönen also discovered a curious detail that links him to Giovinazzi, his new teammate: “Antonio once raced in Formula 3 for me. I was the owner of the team that gave him a car! We are talking about five or six years ago, when among my various activities I owned a team in English F3 called ‘Double R’ which were the initials of my name and my manager, Robertson. For some races an Italian driver ran for us: Giovinazzi. But I didn’t really know him and in the following years I had never noticed this coincidence: it was him who reminded me of that when we met in Ferrari. And now we find ourselves in this Alfa Romeo F1”. Already grandfather and grandson…

With the help of “grandfather” Räikkönen, Antonio Giovinazzi will try to hurry up his apprenticeship in Formula One. At Balocco, Antonio was certainly more at home than Kimi; yet he seemed less relaxed than his team-mate because he knows he’s up for a big career chance in 2019. Giovinazzi owes everything to Marchionne who wanted him in Ferrari as third driver two years ago and to Arrivabene who last October took advantage of the Ferrari option which, as engine supplier, had the right to choose one of the two drivers of the Sauber team who became Alfa Romeo. Now Antonio will have to deserve the trust and the weight of the responsibility to represent the return of an Italian driver in F1 eight years after Trulli and Liuzzi, “It will be a great responsibility for me to debut in F1 with a name as important as Alfa Romeo but there is also the pride of representing after many years an all-Italian pair in F1. Really a lot of stuff. ”

Giovinazzi knows that the team behind him is strong, solid, ambitious and growing. “If we look at the previous season we have to realize that in the end Sauber-Alfa really did a top championship: it had started the season in the back of the field and instead ended 2018 constantly finishing in the top ten. So we expect to start this year at the point where we were at the end of 2018, already being in the top ten. And then improve during the season.”

Giovinazzi trusts in the help that Räikkönen will give him: “He is a very strong driver and it gives me confidence to see him charged and enthusiastic about this adventure. He is much more relaxed: I talked to Kimi more in these two months in Alfa Romeo than in two years in Ferrari. I well know he’s an Iceman, but in reality he’s not closed as they say: he’s a guy you can talk to and compare yourself with. In the end I’m really happy to have him on the team for the first year because he’s the most experienced driver there is. From whom could I ever learn more about F1 than from him? Kimi is a very generous guy: he is not one of those drivers who keeps things to himself, who is reluctant to reveal his information. He’s one of those drivers who if you ask him for something, he’ll help you without any problems.

One of the few advantages that Giovinazzi will have in a 2019 all to discover is to debut in a track like Melbourne. The only circuit of the world championship where he has already competed in a GP bringing the Sauber to 12th place in 2017. “Yes, but everything will be different this year. It’s true that it’s an advantage to start from a circuit where I’ve already raced, and I really like it, but the conditions are very different. In 2017 I was practically prefixed on Saturday morning for the GP because of Wehrlein’s injury: I had to jump into the car blindly, I didn’t know Sauber or even the track, I was responsible for starting in F1 in a car that wasn’t mine. The most stressful situation that there can be for a newcomer. This time it will be different: I will finally have time to get ready and discover the car in the winter tests, I will do free practice, I will have my qualifying, I will not be on loan but my car will be customized in every detail for me. And above all, when I get on it in Melbourne, I will already know it well from the kilometres covered in the winter tests. I can’t wait!”

Räikkönen says that he is not a rookie because he already raced two GPs but Antonio instead feels like a pure rookie. What will be the biggest difficulty? “I know almost all the tracks having done here and there free practices, tests and GP2 races. But the stress of the race weekend is completely different from the tests and it is still unknown to me: there is the tension of qualifying, the race and the 70 laps to drive 100%, and then the strategies to follow, the pit stops. These are all experiences that I miss and with which I will have to gradually become familiar. The stress of the race generates tension but it is one of the most beautiful emotions that an F1 driver can experience.” Giovinazzi hasn’t set himself any targets yet: “I don’t set myself a specific position as the minimum result: I want to start calmly and learn from Kimi in the first races, then improve race by race. And maybe take advantage of unforeseen opportunities like those crazy races where anything can happen.”

KR7 – The Last Emperor

At the Abu Dhabi GP, Sky Sport Italia did their last interview with Kimi Räikkönen as Ferrari driver.

video: KR7 L’ultimo imperatore

translation:

Q: Kimi, in your life you have taken many challenges. Today I will take a challenge in this interview. I will try to make you emotional. Is it going to be difficult?

Kimi: Good luck then!

Q: Was your team able to make you emotional with this t-shirt and the party?

Yeah it was a nice surprise. I knew just a bit earlier because we didn’t go directly from the airport to the hotel. But it was nice. I don’t think it’s sad that I go to another team. Obviously it will be different but there is nothing sad, we have had good times and that is why no one should be sad. I’m excited where I’m going and they are excited what they are getting. So I think it’s for both of us new challenges. And this is nice. And I was bit surprised to get such t-shirts.

Q: You were speaking of Sauber. Thinking about it, is it not like leaving a long-time girlfriend for a young one?

No, no. And I’m not planning to do that. Obviously I left Ferrari once before so it isn’t a new thing for me. Obviously it was different circumstances at that time, now it’s a different story. It’s time to do something else and I’m very excited. It’s part of life, go for new challenges. We have all got good memories, I won the championship with Ferrari, that doesn’t happen often. So I’m in a special group of people. We also won two times the team championship. I think we have great memories, also some not that great but that’s part of the game. I think after those [bad moments are gone], being there is even better. We will see what happens in the future.

Q: Thinking of that red shirt, what does it mean to you? Because more than once you told us what responsibility it is wearing it.

Yeah, I think it is. It’s obvious that Ferrari is different than any other team, people are very passionate about it, especially Italians. Wherever you go in the world, they know Ferrari. There is also a more political, more Italian way of seeing things.

Q: Are you saying that there is too much passion?

Not too much but a lot sometimes. Sometimes it could be a little bit less, sometimes it’s perfect. In a weird way we fit well together. I’m different than Italians but it seemed to work pretty ok. Obviously, the next years will be different but we all stay friends. I think this is more important than simply working together. We will still see each other in the paddock every race weekend so there won’t be much difference.

Q: Thinking about that special passion at Ferrari, do you think there is a negative point?

I don’t know. Like I said it’s different. Each team is different than the others. I have been lucky because I drove for Swiss, English and Italian teams. Each team represents a different culture, a different nation and a different way of living everyday life. Some are more passionate, Italians are more on that side. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, just different. I think all of those teams where I have been, tried to achieve the same result in different ways because they have different nationality. Maybe sometimes there is a bit too much fuss around this team, but I don’t think if you try to run an Italian team like Ferrari in English way it would work. There are always good things and bad things, in everything in life. What’s different with Ferrari is the attention of the people, fans and the media, they are very critical. If we do well, it’s a great thing and everybody is a hero. But then if we don’t win, media can be very hard with Ferrari and I think that’s what creates the biggest pressure for Ferrari, more than any other team. For us winning is great and if we don’t win we are not happy but it doesn’t change the way we work just because we are in Ferrari. When other teams do bad they don’t get such a hard time from the media. But that is also special thing. It’s not something that happens to most people, it can be but you get used to it and that’s how it goes.

Q: Nobody else after you has won the driver championship with Ferrari. Are you proud about that?

For sure I’m proud about winning the championship and also being part of two constructors titles.  I would have wanted to win more but it didn’t happen. I wish them all the best and I’m sure somebody will win at some point, maybe in the near future. I think any result or record that you achieve is not made to last, there will always be someone who can beat it. That’s how life goes. I’m proud to be part of the Ferrari history and of what I have done in my career, it’s something I will always carry with me, also now I’m getting a bit older. It’s nice thing to look at but right now I’m not really thinking of those.

Q: You have experienced two different eras in Ferrari, Montezemolo, Todt and Domenicali and then Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne. Were there differences?

Yeah for sure there is always something. The team has changed, the way of doing things has changed but that’s normal. Looking back 15 years ago it was a different sport in many ways, not just racing and how to try to achieve the result but how it’s been evolving, we have to put more effort into small things. I really enjoyed obviously with Jean Todt, he was team principal when I came, it was great. He is a great guy and remains a friend. He is doing a different job now but luckily we see each other quite often during race weekends. That was great. Then I don’t know how many team principals I had, many you know (laughs).

Q: Maybe too many.

Yeah but that’s how it went through and I think right now with Maurizio it’s great. I think he is absolutely the right person to bring Ferrari where it deserves and the people that are involved. Without the changes I wouldn’t be here. When I came back in 2014 Ferrari wasn’t the strongest place to be, I knew that when I signed. I expected that it’s going to be hard times. I knew what I would get myself into and it didn’t bother me at all. If you look from then to today, the team has come a long way. It was hard, not always the happiest times. It’s definitely going in the right direction. All the people in the team from Maurizio down have worked hard for this improvement. I’m happy to see, for sure it’s going the right way and better results are coming. It’s different every year.

Q: And thinking about your different team mates..

Yeah obviously I had. I had Fisichella, Badoer, many guys.

Q: Who was the most difficult?

They are all different. Taking one out of all of them is impossible. Sometimes they do better than you, sometimes you do better than them. They are all good drivers, there is no doubt, some are better than others but in the end the championship will tell where everybody fits in. If right or not, who knows? Everybody has their own opinion. I think in many ways I’m happy that I had so many different team mates, they all have been great people and I have no bad feelings about any of them.

Q: Do your kids already have shirt and cap from Alfa Romeo Sauber?

No, but I bought a suit, only one for now.

Q: Maybe you are not the right person to ask. But do you have an advice for a young driver like Charles who is about to wear that shirt and feel that pressure?

Obviously it will be different from Sauber but he knows the people already. When I came to Ferrari I had no idea on many things. He has been part of Ferrari for a long time so it will be much easier for him. Of course it’s a different team, more people but he knows what to expect and I have no doubt that he will do well. How well the future will show.

Q: If you had to choose one memory, one photo of your Ferrari career to show to Robin, which would it be?

I don’t know. There are a lot of pictures. I’m sure he will find out when he gets older.

Q: Maybe the photo of your title?

I don’t know, honestly. You can’t pick, there are a lot of pictures. Luckily he will remember a lot of things when he gets older. And he has watched me racing at the track and that’s the best part of it. There is also Rianna, we will see if she will also remember.

Q: Thank you for everything!

No worries.

 

Beat Zehnder: “It was sympathy at first sight!”

Beat Zehnder and Kimi Räikkönen 2001 in Montreal.

Beat Zehnder (52), the long-serving Sauber team manager, spoke with SonntagsBlick about his Finnish buddy.

8860703-v2-26-f1-kimi-zehnder
Beat Zehnder and Kimi Räikkönen 2001 in Montreal. (© Antti Puskala)

When did you meet Kimi Räikkönen for the first time?
In September 2000 at his first test for us. In Mugello, on probably the most difficult test track in the world.

Your first impression?
Honestly, I can’t really remember. There was just a slim boy standing there and he was quick right away. That surprised everyone – and is very rare in Formula 1.

So it was sympathy at first sight with the racing driver Räikkönen?
You could call it that. We knew immediately that we had a great driver in the team. I had to talk to him a lot because he had no idea and the Formula 1 regulations are almost as thick as the Bible.

That was all?
No. Our physio Josef Leberer had to get him fit first. I mean really fit.

Kimi scored nine World Championship points in the first year, which would correspond to 52 points in today’s standings …
Yeah, that was sensational. And our relationship got better and better. Kimi could always trust me – until today. That’s why we are perhaps the best Formula 1 buddies.

So one reason why Kimi now wants to get rid of the Ferrari pain at Sauber …
Because of me, Kimi certainly doesn’t extend his career. He just wants to race and have fun. He believes in the team, sees that it’s going up, and an important point is technical director Simone Resta, whom he knows from Ferrari.

Where and when did the decisive talks take place?
I don’t like to talk about these things. But team boss Frédéric Vasseur and I went to Kimi’s house in Baar twice after Monza. Later, Fred made the contract with him.

Your sympathy for Kimi will last forever …
I hope so. We are often together privately, have a chat and we have never lied to each other. That is very rare in our sport.

How many Sauber people from 2001 are still at the race track?
Three. Physio Josef Leberer, the brake specialist Bruno Rohr and me.

Bruno Rohr and Jo Leberer
Bruno Rohr and Jo Leberer (© Lukas Gorys)

Your shock moments with Kimi in the Sauber 2001?
There was Imola, when he suddenly only held the steering wheel in his hands at full speed. Kimi didn’t brake, but tried to re-engage the steering wheel with the quick lock. And in Suzuka he had the worst accident when the rear suspension broke and he crashed into Alesi’s Jordan. Fortunately, he remained uninjured.

«I’M PROUD OF MY YEARS AT FERRARI, BUT I ONLY LOVE DRIVING»

Gazzetta dello Sport, 10.11.2018Kimi interview Gazzetta dello Sport 11.10.2018

Kimi, eight seasons and a world championship in Maranello: “It doesn’t matter to me how I will be remembered, in life I have done what I wanted, that counts. And in Sauber I will have fun.

A victory and another ten podiums, “just” 48 points gap to Sebastian Vettel whom Ferrari has elected since his engagement in 2015 as top driver.
At the age of 39, 2018 proved to be Kimi Räikkönen’s best season since he agreed to return to Maranello five years ago, where he had been removed to make way for Alonso. So why not confirm him? Because Ferrari has exercised the right/duty to think about the future which certainly cannot be represented by a driver born in 1979. And they (rightly) preferred Charles Leclerc, 10 years younger than Vettel.

But Ferrari has had for Kimi, who in recent years was asked for sacrifices (remember Monaco 2017?), a soft spot, favoring the agreement with Sauber, that for Maranello is in fact a satellite team.
It will be because of the victory in the US, the first after 5 years, or because Räikkönen is made this way, but we meet him in the paddock of Interlagos, in good mood, smiling, sometimes lively, talking about the past, present and future, of racing and also a bit of private Kimi.

Let’s start from the success in Texas: that victory has changed the perspective on your second adventure with Ferrari?

Winning is always a pleasure but it does not change my life or the perception how my time was here. I proved to still be able to win and it’s enough for me.

But you lost the title: there was talk of errors of the driver, the fault of the car and the team. What idea did you make?

Hamilton has got more points than us and therefore deserved the success. If you ask around here, everyone has their own recipe of what would have done differently, it would spring an endless discussion. I think the team understood how it should have acted, even if there is no certainty that the result would have been different.

How could you sum up your second experience with Ferrari?

Difficult. There have been a lot of changes in these five years and I think the right path has been taken in the last three. But now Ferrari is in good hands.

Are you referring to Arrivabene?

He’s the best boss I’ve ever had. He is the right man for this job and he is doing it well.

Certainly when you returned to Maranello, in 2014 you were perhaps the protagonist of your worst season in Formula 1.

I knew I would find an environment neither easy nor nice. And that it would be tough. So for me it was not a surprise.

Do you have something to suggest to Leclerc that will happen?

No, because I am convinced that there are already so many people doing it. I hope he can enjoy and get good results. Obviously he arrives in a different place but he will soon get used to it.

After Schumacher, you are the driver who has raced for the longest time in Ferrari, eight seasons in total (2007-09, 2014-18). You won only one title, but it’s still a great achievement.

It’s certainly a privilege because in any corner of the world they know what Ferrari is, they know its history, its tradition. Being part of it has made me proud.

Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus. You have driven for these teams.

And it was a great enrichment because I got to know closely the way of work of Swiss, English and Italians. The target to be reached is the same, but the way to get there is different.

Now at age 40 you return to Sauber in a midfield team. It takes a lot of courage.

Why? I wouldn’t bet now on who will be first or second next year. Why should I be afraid to go to Sauber? My intention is to try to help them do well and have fun. When I returned to F1 with Lotus, people said that I had made a mistake, that I would not gain anything, and instead things went differently. It could happen again, right?

So you are still not tired of traveling the world?

In fact I would be happier staying at home rather than locked in a plane. But I continue to like racing and it’s the only reason why I will do it again next year. And then at Sauber I will be able to concentrate more on what I really love: driving.

You are very active on social media, love posting family images. What kind of father are you?

Well you should ask my children! Certainly they are not happy when I leave for the races. Robin is used to it now, he knows that I’ll be back, little Rianna still not. But she will understand. I am happy to be with them when I can and they are in a very carefree phase of life.”

At the track you always look rather phlegmatic, at home you never lose patience?

For sure, it’s normal. Even here, not everything is as I would like it. But I see no reason to get angry at small things, it would just be a waste of time.

Your radio messages are often funny, “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” made you even more popular.
“Let’s clarify one thing: sometimes we seem angry when we talk to the team because we raise our voices, but in reality we do it only because we fear we are not being heard. Communicating by radio is not an exercise as easy as one can believe from the outside. Here, even in that case many saw something negative, while the team had understood well the meaning of those words (such as to make a t-shirt, ed.) and had acted accordingly.

How would you like to be remembered in F.1?

I don’t care at all to be remembered or not. I realized what I wanted to do in life and it’s the thing that matters, I don’t care what others think.

Is it true that you are fond of sweets?

Yes, in Finland we make very good ones.

Tell us what attracted you to your wife?

I met her for the first time on one occasion where there were several people, we started to joke, I made her laugh. We started talking and from there everything was born.

Are you jealous?

Who? Me? I would not say I am, why should I be? If those who are with you want something else in life, you can have it.

You have a motocross team: when you stop, will you take care of it yourself?

Ah, but that is already happening, I’m involved six days a week. I divide the tasks with some friends but I know everything and I take most of the decisions. For sure when I will stop, I will go more often to the races but I won’t fly everywhere. I will want to stay more with my family, even if my son really likes motocross, to the point that he is already driving.

You have a lot of cars and motorbikes at home. Which one you love more?

It’s not like I have so many. In Finland I have a few old ones that I have restored. I own a Ferrari but I do not use it very often, I usually use the Jeep. But I use the car basically to go to the airport and to go to the supermarket. But if I have to go for a walk in the city, I use the bike which is faster. I’m no longer interested in cars like I once was.

“I, Vettel and Ferrari, their World Championship does not concern me anymore”

Kimi Räikkönen turned 39 yesterday. The Finn, the last world champion for Ferrari (2007), will leave the Scuderia next year to return where he started in 2001, at Sauber. Laconic, ironic, icy as his nickname: Iceman. At Suzuka, where he talks to us, the new sponsor of the Cavallino Mission Winnow (initiative of Philip Morris) has published a booklet turning his sentences into verses of Japanese haiku style poems.

Were you surprised by the announcement in Monza that Ferrari would not renew the contract?
Frankly, no. Also because I’ve been in Formula 1 for so long, I’ve learned that nothing is certain. As it’s not in life. It was not my decision to leave Ferrari. But things go like that, they happen, period. And this is something that happened, that’s all, it does not change my life, my life goes on. And I’m not so sad.

Also in Monza: you finished second after pole. Do you have any regrets for your race or for not helping your team-mate Sebastian Vettel win?
“None, if not that neither I nor he have won. Going back, I would not do anything different. I ran my race, then what people say and think about what I should do is not my concern.

Then in Suzuka the incident with Verstappen. The situation for Ferrari has become very complicated.
After the contact with Max, my car suffered a lot of damage and from that moment it was all pretty difficult. It’s impossible to know what our performance would have been without the accident. A difficult and disappointing weekend. We hope to face Austin in a more normal condition to fight.

You are known for not loving the obligations that you have in F1: press conferences, interviews, the chatter.
I confirm. Always same faces, always same questions: you change country continuously, arrive in a place and it is as if you didn’t move, they ask you the same things from the previous week: the reasons why a race went as it went seven days before and expectations for what you have to do. Boring and tough after twenty years. I just want to race.

You who are so reluctant to talk about yourself, why did you write an autobiography?
The book was written by a very good author, Kari Hotakainen, not by me. In fact, to be honest, I have not even read it. I helped him for two reasons: the first is that it is a story that has nothing to do with racing, it’s about my life in general. The second is that however, even if it had not been written, people write things about me and believe it anyway, if they are right or wrong, they talk about how I live or how I should live my life, so might as well do it ourselves.

To tell the whole truth?
You know, the truth is another: I don’t care if people will appreciate the book and the things written there.

You never deny your proverbial dryness of words, is that why you are one of the most loved?
For me, I would talk even less than I do now.

Iceman, you are really that icy?
Probably not. But people like to have an opinion about everything. I don’t.

You are the last world champion for Ferrari, in 2007, who will be next?
I think Vettel will have his chances, even though now it has become very hard. But this does not concern me anymore, I will be a driver of another team.

Antonio Giovinazzi as team mate while at Ferrari Charles Leclerc will replace you.
I know little both of them, they’re young and good guys. I spoke with Charles a couple of times, I hope he does well.

What did you love and hate the most about being in an Italian team like Ferrari?
Hard to say, because I’ve been there for most of my career, eight world championships all in red, and for me it has become a normal world even if it’s a special place. Above all for the passion you feel, inside and around, for better or for worse. Probably when I’m older and I’ll look back, I’ll understand how special it was.

You will advise your children Robin and Rianna to be drivers?
My wife Minttu says we have to take Robin to karts. Let’s see, he’s only three years old and the baby girl one. My parents did not have so much money, my children have it definitely better than me and my brother. But I want them to grow up with simple and normal things. The thing that scares me is that if they want to be drivers, I would one day return to the circuits. I would avoid it.

What will you do when you retire?
I have no idea. F1 forces you too many hours on a plane, too many flights and for me for many years. Always the same story, so I think I will spend time with my family, I will travel, without schedules, calendars, appointments. I will wake up in the morning without having to rush to leave. I’ll do anything, except going back to the paddock and on the tracks.