At the Abu Dhabi GP, Sky Sport Italia did their last interview with Kimi Räikkönen as Ferrari driver.
video: KR7 L’ultimo imperatore
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!