He is the driver with the most Formula 1 races. But Kimi Räikkönen doesn’t yet know whether he will continue. A conversation about cars, Kimi’s children and Mick Schumacher as a potential successor.
SPORT1: Mr. Räikkönen, we know that you are also interested in road cars. You recently tested an Alfa Giulia GTAm. The car is being released as a special sporty edition to mark Alfa Romeo’s 110th anniversary and has 540 hp.
Kimi Räikkönen (laughs): It wasn’t really a test drive. I drove ten laps. But of course, the car is lighter and has more horsepower. But it’s not a race car, it’s a car for everyday use. You can take it for shopping, but you can also take it to a race track if you feel like it. It’s a very nice car, that’s for sure.
SPORT1: You’re currently also appearing with your wife in TV commercials for Alfa-Romeo, which already have cult status. You seemed very relaxed about it and also seem to be having a lot of fun.
Räikkönen: The shoot lasted about three days, so you need a lot of time for that. Yes, I had fun doing it, even though it’s definitely not going to be my main occupation to be in films.
SPORT1: A juicy question: Do you like Italian cars more or German ones?
Räikkönen: To be honest, I’m not as interested in cars as I was when I was just getting my driver’s license. When I was driving every day in Finland, having fun, especially in winter, on snowy roads. Today I use the car only as a commodity. To get from A to B. But of course I have a special relationship with Italian cars – I drove for Italian manufacturers for most of my career.
Räikkönen sees Vettel’s opinion on the environment positive
SPORT1: Are you also concerned about e-mobility?
Räikkönen: Not so much. It’s not just about cars. We’ll see a lot of things with purely electric drives in the future, including bicycles or motorcycles. The end product is certainly best for the environment, but whether the path to this end product is as well, I’m not so sure yet.
SPORT1: Your friend Sebastian Vettel is committed to a green future. He’s also calling for Formula 1 to set standards there more quickly. He even made it public that he’ll be voting for the Greens in Germany’s federal elections in fall. Do you think it’s good that a racing driver is so open about it?
Räikkönen: Why not? He has a clear opinion and environmental awareness should concern everyone, also because of their children. In racing, you can develop things more quickly so that they will be accessible to everyone later on.
Räikkönen’s children already enthusiastic about engines
SPORT1: We have Max Verstappen, we have Mick Schumacher. When will we see your son Robin Räikkönen in Formula 1?
Räikkönen: I don’t want to go that far yet. At the moment, though, he drives go-karts passionately and loves everything that has an engine. Sometimes he spends a whole afternoon doing laps, sometimes less because he feels like doing something else. The same goes for my younger daughter, by the way, who is also slowly starting to get interested in anything that moves. I will definitely encourage anything they enjoy. No matter what it is. But I won’t force anything.
SPORT1: Can you already tell whether Robin has talent?
Räikkönen: I haven’t looked at that yet. He’s six years old. He has to enjoy what he’s doing first. It could be soccer or another sport. But I think until he’s twelve years old, you shouldn’t think about talent.
Räikkönen on Mick and Michael Schumacher
SPORT1: How do you rate Mick Schumacher’s F1 debut?
Räikkönen: It’s difficult for him to shine because the car isn’t really fast. On the other hand, it’s also good for him. Because people know that the car is not good. If he still drives strong races and shows his speed, that’s positive. With the name, of course, he has a lot of pressure. The worse car gives him an easier start because expectations are low. It gives him more time to learn things.
SPORT1: Do you feel old because you’ve already raced against Max’s and Mick’s fathers?
Räikkönen: No, not at all. I sometimes feel old when I wake up in the morning, but not in a race car on the track.
SPORT1: Was Michael Schumacher as special as many say?
Räikkönen: Yes, of course, because he was fast and successful with every car. I always had good races against him, it was nice. Even later, when I had my comeback and so did he. We always found a good balance.
Räikkönen: Future? Still open
SPORT1: How happy were you for your friend Sebastian Vettel when he finished on the podium again in Baku? After many people were already saying that he had forgotten how to drive.
Räikkönen: Yes, I was happy for him. As far as the criticism is concerned, that’s how Formula 1 works: You’re the hero, you’re the loser, then you’re the hero again. I don’t give anything to that.
SPORT1: You’re the driver with the most races of all time. Do you want to extend this record next year – or will it end in 2021?
Räikkönen: To be honest, I don’t know yet. But it was the same this time last year. We’ll see. In any case, I’m not interested in extending my record. All records are broken at some point. That’s why it doesn’t mean anything to me.
SPORT1: If you retire, would you like to see Mick Schumacher in your car? There is speculation about that.
Räikkönen: If I decide to stop, I really don’t care who drives the car (laughs). That’s no longer my problem then.