source: Elle magazine, April 2017
preface by editor in chief, Taru Marjamaa:
REISSUMIES* AND HERMES
* Finnish rye bread
A sportive blond man opens the kitchen’s fridge door and looks at what to eat. Attention is drawn to the man’s left arm, where his son’s face is tattooed. There are also several magnets with the same little blond head on the door of the fridge. The man spreads butter on his rye bread and eats the bread quietly standing, looking pensive on the sea.
It’s hard to believe that this tender Finnish man is Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen. Kimi is not known to be needlessly gentle; he is the Iceman, who behaves indifferently towards the media and answers the journalists’ questions sharply. The Iceman, however, seems to be the opposite of the man I got to talk to in Porkkalanniemi. He speaks beautifully of his wife and family and appears humble.
The life of family Räikkönen is surprisingly normal. Kimi seeks out his rye bread himself from the store and does not wait for someone to butter his bread.
Beside the rye bread plate on the kitchen table, lies a coveted Hermes Birkin bag. It belongs to Minttu Räikkönen, a determined woman who calmed Kimi.
Räikkönen’s doors open here:
MINTTU TAMED KIMI
Minttu and Kimi Räikkönen gave Elle a rare joint interview at their home in Porkkalanniemi. It turned out that the couple, traveling by private jet, still goes shopping at one of the nearby markets.
Twisting like a serpentine. Such is the dirt road, which runs along the route to Porkkalanniemi. And what would be more appropriate; namely located on the peninsula is Kimi and Minttu Räikkönen’s villa, Villa Diva. Despite its name, the villa fits into the natural landscape.
Minttu and Kimi’s own road to a married couple was much more straightforward. Right here, on the rocky peninsula of Kirkkonummi, they met for the first time about four years ago. Working as a flight attendant, Minttu’s curiosity and friendship led her to a Formula One driver’s party.
“We had mutual friends but I did not know Kimi before. And I never would have guessed that we become a couple. However, I noticed quickly that we have fun in each other’s company.”
At that time Kimi had a party reputation, and the party was in accordance with it. Minttu felt very comfortable and in the end she stayed in the villa for the night like the rest of the entourage.
“I have also been partying in my life but between us Kimi has been party animal. But it’s maybe part of growing up and young man’s desire to show off.”
At the end of the party, Minttu – then still with her surname Virtanen – returned to her apartment in Mannerheimintie. Minttu was spending her summer holiday at home when the phone rang the next day – and changed her life completely.
“To my surprise, Kimi asked me again to his house. I asked him who else was coming. Kimi replied: only you.”
Luxury hotel atmosphere
We trundle along the complicated road with the shooting crew. The journey from Porkkala motorway to the holiday home takes about half an hour, Kimi reportedly fifteen minutes.
The atmosphere in Porkkalanniemi now is much more serene than in summer 2013. Opposite a couple, married last summer in Tuscany and a two year old Robin. Minttu glows with peaceful charisma of pregnancy.
As usual, Minttu has woken up with the cockcrow while Kimi and Robin have slept longer. It is the end of January and Kimi is spending his last holidays.
Minttu tells that she finally feels at home at the cottage in Porkkala because she managed to complete the interior to her own taste.
“Kimi has given me free rein in terms of interior design but of course I ask for his opinion. Luckily our tastes fall in line so that my ideas have gone through,” says Minttu.
The interior of the cottage became lighter and the murals of the bedrooms have been completed the previous day. The former gym has been transformed into Robin’s large play room with a slide. From the living room and kitchen you can enjoy a spectacular view of Porkkala’s back. It is less than 40 kilometres to Estonia.
Nevertheless, the family spent most of their time in their modern Swiss home.
“It’s spacious and the house has a lot of window surfaces. Very different to our Finnish home,” Kimi describes.
He refers to a 500-square-meter house in Kaskisaari, Helsinki. There is a strong reflection of Minttu’s touch: the interior design is minimalistic and the color choice is calm like a luxury hotel.
“When Kimi is away, I’m usually at Kaskisaari because I want to be close to my friends.” Minttu says.
Dreaming of fashion industry
On the kitchen table there is a brand new Hermes bag that Minttu bought for the sports gala in January. There, Kimi was awarded with the prize for ambassador of sports. The bag is leaning against her “big sister”, coveted Hermes Birkin bag which Minttu bought the year before last. Minttu does not have to wait in line like ordinary shoppers for their luxury bags because she has her own prime supplier.
On her wrist Minttu has another desirable object: The white gold Cartier Love bracelet, worth thousands of Euros, which she received from Kimi as a Christmas present – the gold bracelet of the same set Minttu received as morning gift. Minttu follows fashion closely and reveals her dream of the future: when the kids are a bit bigger, she wants to work in the fashion world.
“It may be an own brand of clothing or something else related to fashion. On the other hand, the field of sports is also interesting,” says Minttu, formerly a personal trainer. “When Kimi will stop driving, it is my turn. I’m not going to remain a housewife.”
When Minttu met Kimi, she served as flight attendant for airline Fly Be. She flew her last work flight in spring 2014 and has since focused on traveling with Kimi and supporting him.
The husband’s exceptional profession inevitably affects the lives of both. For example, Minttu would like the family to go for a holiday in the warmth but Kimi enjoys being at home after traveling.
When traveling with Kimi, it is also important to note that someone is always asking for an autograph or taking a picture of one of the most famous drivers in Formula One. That’s why Kimi travels with private jet. But even more important reason, is that Ferrari might call him at only a day’s notice to Maranello.
Family trips are also flown on a private plane. On the plane it’s easy for Robin to sleep and play and they are often accompanied by a babysitter who speaks English to the boy.
“However, if I fly with Robin to Finland, we will be on a normal scheduled flight from Finnair,” says Minttu.
Speed loving family
When your husband is a Formula One driver, your wedding gift can’t be quite traditional. Minttu received her own motocross bike from Kimi’s team last summer. It was also the team’s way of welcoming Minttu to Kimi’s test track in Belgium.
“When the baby is born I dare to try the bike,” Minttu promises. Minttu has never yet had time to sit in a Formula One car either. “Because you’re always pregnant,” Kimi cuts in between.
Still Minttu is nervous when Robin is sitting on his father’s motocross bike with helmet on his head. “The boy enjoys speed incredibly and says ‘broom broom’. I just have to trust that Kimi is such a good driver.”
For Kimi however, Minttu is not afraid, for such thoughts a racing driver’s wife cannot give space. Driving in Formula One is unimaginably heavy physically and most of us would not be able to sit behind the wheel: an untrained neck would not last long.
Kimi’s body has become accustomed to exertion and g-forces since childhood. Yet even he has not been able to escape back and neck pain. Kimi keeps himself in top condition with his training program and works out for several hours a day.
“In the morning I like to go swimming in the pool, for example yesterday I started the day in the pool in Kirkkonummi,” Kimi says.
Minttu and Kimi do not meet in the gym because they train at different times of the day. Kimi works out in the afternoon and early riser Minttu in the early morning while listening to music. Often while in Finland Minttu goes to the gym with her best friend, who is a qualified fitness instructor.
“When you have those headphones, it would be hard to talk in the gym,” says Kimi to Minttu teasingly.
“I fell in love with Kimi’s thoughtfulness”
During the interview Robin pats his mother’s belly.
“Where’s your sister?” Kimi asks with a gentle voice from Robin and points to Minttu’s stomach.
The Räikkönens are waiting for the birth of a baby girl in spring. The first letter of her name is clear: it will match with the name of her brother.
What kind of dad does Kimi think he is? The man’s forehead wrinkles slightly. He says that it is not easy to move from hectic work to play with a child with little cars.
“I’m away from home pretty much and when I return I would like a moment of peace.”
When I ask Kimi why he is such a good team with Minttu, the man laughs. The word team is reminiscent of his work.
“This is my family,” Kimi says. You can hear how valuable it is for him.
By observing Kimi with his family, his own assessment of his father role sounds harsh. Rather a picture of a caring, dedicated family man is drawn.
Minttu confirms that impression. “I fell in love with Kimi because he is so thoughtful and caring regarding his loved ones. That is completely different than the public image.”
The Räikkönens are also very family-oriented. The close bond between them is seen also in contact, as during the interview Minttu gets a call from her father.
Kimi’s older brother Rami in turn, is working for a company called Kimi Räikkönen: he takes care of the practical things of his brother. The brothers’ homes are located close to each other and also Kimi’s mother has a cottage at Porkkalanniemi. Robin has a close relationship with all his cousins: the child of Minttu’s sister and Kimi’s brother’s children.
Minttu has gone through difficult time in her life when her mother died of a disease at the time when Minttu became adult. The mother, a CEO of a logistics company, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of only 45. The loss has contributed to the fact that Minttu is very careful of whom to entrust with Robin. That is why a good nanny has been hunted with devotion.
Kimi’s father also died suddenly a few years ago. His picture with that of Minttu’s mother, take pride of place next to the family portraits.
Champagne and celebrities
The villa’s wall is dominated by a huge wedding picture made in Italy, in the old monastery of San Galgano. The picture does not tell us what kind of party the Räikkönen wedding was. In addition to Pete Parkkonen, also JVG’s Jare and VilleGalle celebrated there.
Räikkönen will not himself drop the celebrity names he knows. It may be unnecessary, when you constantly run into royal families, business leaders and the stars of the show world. Minttu is watching races at the Ferrari VIP areas where champagne flows and Michelin chefs cook.
The Formula One circus is a huge PR show. Kimi knows exactly where the photographers are waiting with their cameras ready when he walks past with Minttu hand in hand.
“The same photographers are traveling with the circus year after year. I recognize their faces”, Kimi says.
These are the moments when Minttu is experiencing a life that many people imagine to be her everyday life. However it is far from reality because for example children are not welcome at the race venue.
“It’s an adult world because of the noise and fuss but also the formula world of alcohol and tobacco advertising,” Minttu and Kimi say together – often when Kimi starts a sentence, Minttu ends it.
Minttu is happy to invite her friends to the F1 races and Minttu’s father also has visited many times. “My father has always been a quite frantic fan of Formula One. It was a big surprise for him when I started dating Kimi.”
When Minttu visited F1 for the first time at Hungaroring, she was nervous about the much talked-about Formula One circus. The biggest surprise, however, was Kimi’s behavior. Kimi was just like another man, in accordance with his name Iceman.
“I was like, what is going on. Kimi seemed to be distant and just said hi quickly.”
With experience, Minttu has learned to be further away during the races. When Kimi is in work mode, he has to concentrate on his performance 100%.
“I’m just waving quickly so that Kimi sees I’m there.”
But after race day, Kimi is again a relaxed family man.
Home-Kimi runs around in boxers, plays floorball with Robin and cooks porridge. Minttu tells me that she is really not any housewife but Kimi does not expect it from her. At home, the star driver butters his own bread – usually normal rye bread.
“But when we go to a restaurant in Finland or abroad, Kimi demands service. The difference between us is that I still would not return a cool dish to the kitchen.”
Kimi says he really enjoys Minttu’s company and trusts her completely. It shows in many everyday matters. For the Elle cover photoshoot Kimi wears the cloths which Minttu suggested without a murmur. They both hate shopping but they can often be spotted together in Kirkkonummi supermarket.
“We go shopping together because for us it’s a moment of time we share,” Minttu says.
When we meet Minttu the following week, one day before Barcelona’s test, Minttu’s phone rings. On request, Minttu reads the message aloud even though the content could have been guessed from her mere appearance.
“I love you my wife.”
No doubt, the Iceman has melted into a loving family man.