“No fear of the new life”

source: AMuS, 17.12.2021

Kimi Räikkönen is ending his long career. Auto Motor und Sport talked to the 2007 world champion about his new life, his unusual career start, his rally adventure and his cars.

You decided to retire last winter. Was it the first time you had thought about quitting?

Räikkönen: No. I’d already been out of Formula 1 for two years, and even before that I asked myself from time to time whether I still needed the traveling and all the fuss, or whether I shouldn’t be doing something else. But that’s life. You have good days and bad days. One day you think enough is enough, and the next day everything is forgotten.

And what was different this time?

The traveling became too much for me. I was away from home too often. This is my place now. I hate schedules. I’ve lived my whole life according to them. Now I’m looking forward to going into the day without any fixed plans.

Whatever you do, it will be a different life. Are you afraid of that?

I don’t see why? No, I’m looking forward to it. Many people have already predicted to me: If you are at home for half a year, the ceiling will fall on your head. If that’s what happened to them or they feel that bad, then maybe they should find a new home or another family. I love being home and look forward to being able to spend time with my family and do normal things much more often now. My free time is more important to me than anything else.

So you’ve been able to practice this life before?

Yes, a little bit. But even in my rally days, I was traveling. There were fewer events, but they lasted longer.

You keep saying that you don’t have any definite plans yet. But basically, can you keep living from day-to-day, or do you need some kind of challenge?

No, I don’t need a challenge. I can be home for a week without stepping outside the door once and still be a happy person. I really have zero plans. Just the feeling that I don’t have to do this or that anymore gives me pleasure. For now, the focus is on family. Then we’ll see what comes up. There’s no reason to be thinking today about what might interest me in the future.

Mika Häkkinen said two years after his retirement that the hardest experience for him was being just average in normal life, while as a race driver he was always fighting for first place.

What’s wrong with being just average? I’m not the type who is always looking for a challenge even in normal life, or who absolutely wants to be the best in every discipline. Not anymore. Maybe it was like that when I was younger. Everything was a game or a competition then. That’s not my thing anymore.

You were never a man of big or many words. Did it surprise you that you were so popular despite that?

Yes, sure it did. I’ve always said that I do things the way they are best for me. You can try to be someone else for a year or two, but then you don’t enjoy your life anymore. For me, it was always important to give myself as I am. I never told people what they wanted to hear just to please them. Some people like that, others don’t. In my case, obviously some people liked that.

So why did you start opening up on social media platforms?

A friend of mine does that. Whatever appears on it is my decision. I also do it quite rarely. In fact, I thought about it for a long time. After all, it does no harm and can be used in many ways.

Is a career like yours still possible today? In your case, it was the stopwatch that decided at Mugello, not some junior program.

I think it’s still possible. Today, there are probably more young drivers trying to get into Formula 1 than back then, and places are still limited. Teams follow talents much more intensively today than they did in my day. If you’re fast in karting, you have a better chance of being discovered and accepted into a program than back then. Today, every team has a development program like that. But it’s still a long way from there. And a lot can still happen before you reach Formula 1.

To this day, you are the driver who entered Formula 1 with the fewest races. Today, you are the driver with the most Formula 1 starts. Would you ever have thought that?

I moved quickly from karting to Formula 1. It took me maybe two years. Of that, one full season. I drove 23 races before my first Grand Prix, so almost nothing. Today you can’t get a license for that. And you have to be at least 18 years old. So it’s impossible to do that again. Today they push you into a path that costs you a lot of money. So I was really lucky. Also that I had people around me who had connections to Formula 1. On top of that, the timing was right. Of course, I also had to perform when it mattered. All in all, a lot of pieces of the puzzle had to be put in place correctly. Without my managers, I would never have had a chance of getting a place.

You almost missed your GP debut in Melbourne. The team had to look for you because you didn’t show up in the garage. Have you always been this cool?

I was just tired. That happens to me often. When I was younger, I could sleep anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t work so well now that I’m older. It’s not that unusual actually. Rally drivers often sleep between stages, too.

Do you have any regrets? Should you have gone to a certain team earlier, later or not at all?

Not really. I wouldn’t change anything about my career, even if it meant winning more races or world championships. When you start thinking like that, it can go the other way. You change one step in your career, and the whole career changes. Maybe I wouldn’t even be sitting here with you anymore. I’m at peace with myself. And if something was bad in hindsight, I can live with it just fine.

Which of your many Formula 1 cars did you enjoy the most?

The good cars. Because you can race for wins in them.

Which one has been the most demanding for you?

No car is good enough that it doesn’t challenge you. If you stay one second under the limit, all the cars are easy to drive. There are no difficult tracks either. The challenge only comes with the limit. No matter in which car, on which track. I find it difficult to define what the word “difficult” means in the context of driving a car. Every car, good or bad, has its downsides.

In terms of fun, perhaps the cars of the mid-2000s were the best. But it may also be that in memory, everything was always better in the past. Sure, today’s cars are bigger, heavier and more cumbersome, but they also have more grip and are faster. To make a fair judgment, I’d have to sit in a car from the past for ten laps and then in one from today for ten laps. Then the choice might be different. Maybe I’d say: Shit, the car from back then isn’t as great as I remember.

Have you collected your race cars?

I only have the Ferrari with which I won my last race in 2018. But it’ s drivable. I would need help to start it, though.

Do you collect your trophies?

Most of them, yes. At the beginning at McLaren, I had to hand in the originals, but I got replicas. They are somewhere in a storage room in boxes. I think one of them is in my office. But now I have time. At some point, maybe I’ll get them out and put them somewhere.

Which teammate was the hardest to beat?

They were all difficult to beat. Each in their own way. I was certainly a bit faster at 20 than I was at 40. I think the overall package plays the decisive role. There were years when my teammate was faster, and then I was quicker. There’s no pattern there. I can’t say that anyone stands out completely.

Would you have competed for the rally championship if you had started your career there?

I’d like to say that’s what would have happened. When I drove my first 1000 Lakes Rally as a rookie in 2009 in a Fiat, I was in third place before I rolled over. I didn’t even do the pacenotes myself. I think experience is even more important in rallying than on the race track. There you know the tracks. In rallying, everything is always new. The track, the grip. You only have the pacenotes.

On a rally test track which you know inside out, you might be as fast as the best. But a real rally is a different story. I was close to the point where I could drive blindly by the notes. That’s the key. As a rookie, I always had to think first after something was read out to me. A mistake is punished very differently than it is here. Then you’re lying on the roof or hit an object. It’s also the case in rallying that there are many very good drivers who never became world champions.

What did you learn for Formula 1 from your rallying intermezzo?

Most of all, concentration. It’ s much more intense in a rally car. Because you’re always confronted with new things. It doesn’t matter what motorsport you do, whether it’s karting or motocross. It always helps and never hurts. Unfortunately, we have so many races, so there’s no time to drive anything else alongside.

When you switched from Ferrari to Sauber, it must have been clear to you that you would no longer be racing for victories. Was that hard to accept?

There were years when I didn’t win anything, even with the top teams. You always have to aim for what’s possible and make sure you have fun racing. When you’re younger, you might think about it a little differently. I had my wins and my world championship. If I had a problem with that, I wouldn’t have signed with Sauber. I’m not doing anything different than before. They give me a car and I drive it as fast as I can. For us, a sixth or seventh place is a victory. As long as you remain a realist, that’s not a problem.

How do you want people to remember you?

However they want. It doesn’t change what happened and what is ahead of me.

Kimi Räikkönen: “With Sebastian it was closer”

20 years after his debut, Kimi Räikkönen is calling it a day in Formula 1. “I’m very happy,” says the Finn in an interview with dpa. Räikkönen also talks about buddy Vettel and duels with Schumacher.

source: welt.de, 09.12.2021

Abu Dhabi (dpa) – Kimi Räikkönen exceeds the time limit. The agreed 15-minute interview with the Finnish Formula 1 driver turns into 16.5 minutes, which is unusual for the idiosyncratic 42-year-old.

But at the end of his career, the Alfa Romeo driver lets his taciturnity be forgotten. “There are people who like me, there are also people who don’t like me, that’s perfectly okay. I’m not here to please people,” says the racing original in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Räikkönen also talks about DIY, the pleasure of not having a plan, and badminton duels with Sebastian Vettel.

Mr. Räikkönen, thank you for your time.

Unfortunately, I have no other choice, don’t take it personally (laughs).

We have 15 minutes for the interview.

Hm.

Apart from Formula 1, I’d like to talk to you about crafts and DIY. Most recently, there was a video of you changing tires on your wife Minttu’s car. When you were still at Ferrari, you once fixed the toilet in the hospitality in 2017.

I don’t see anything abnormal about that. We were able to tinker a lot as kids, tried things out and tried to learn. My brother and I had the freedom to try out a lot of things at home, and by the time we were at school we were also tinkering with cars. For me, it would be even less normal if you couldn’t do something like that. It’s a simple thing, changing tires, for example. I don’t know why it should be so complicated. I understand that many people don’t dare to do it, it’s normal for them. In my case, I don’t understand why I should pay someone to do it (laughs). It’s much faster that way. You don’t have to take the car anywhere and it only takes ten minutes, which is nothing.

Is there anything you can’t fix?

I’m sure there are a lot of things I can’t fix. But at least I try every time.

Is it important to you that your two children Robin and Rianna can also fix things themselves?

I let them enjoy life. It’s important that children can try things out and try to fix things themselves. Let them use their hands, whether they’re writing or painting or whatever. A lot of things in life you only learn by trying them out yourself.

Are there any major DIY projects coming up soon at your home in Finland?

I don’t know yet. In Finland, you have a lot of space, so you can live it out. In a house, there’s always something that needs to be done. I can take care of smaller things myself, but when it comes to bigger things, I can at least keep a close eye out on someone who’s pottering about.

Your former Ferrari teammate and buddy Sebastian Vettel used to love playing badminton against you and praising your skills. Did you ever let him win?

We haven’t played badminton against each other for a few years. I even tried to let him win a few times in the past. Probably his plan is for me to get so old that he can finally beat me (laughs).

Is Vettel one of those people from Formula 1 with whom you will keep in touch even after your career ends?

Definitely. We used to live closer together in Switzerland and also had more time together outside of racing. Today we live a little further apart. I’ll have more time soon, though, so I’m sure we’ll see each other from time to time.

Did you particularly enjoy your time with your buddy Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari?

We had a good time together, we knew each other before, so that makes things easier. I also get on well here with Antonio (Giovinazzi), it was actually okay with everyone, but with Sebastian it was closer.

Do you already know exactly what you want to do after you finish your career in Formula 1?

I don’t have any plans and I’m not making any plans. That’s the way I want it. We’ll see what happens in the future. I’ve always considered my life outside of Formula 1 to be much more important than Formula 1 itself. It demands a lot of your time, but Formula 1 has never been the most important thing in my life. Some people are already starting to tell me that I would be bored at home. I answer: If you have such a bad home and you’re bored yourself, you’d better change the house or the people you live with. I don’t have such problems (laughs). I was never a fan of traveling. I could just spend the week at home without leaving the house.

Are you actually just retiring from Formula 1 or from motorsport at all?

I really don’t know yet, honestly, I really don’t have any plans. If there’s something interesting, I might do something else, but if nothing comes up, I might just look after my son’s go-kart, if that’s what he wants. I’ll definitely keep doing motocross for fun, because I also have my own team.

Could you imagine taking on a role in the management of a Formula 1 team?

No, there’s too much nonsense and politics involved. I think it’s ridiculous. But that’s the way it is, it seems to be getting worse and worse.

Do you feel relieved that you are ending your Formula 1 career?

I’m very happy. Next Sunday, I’ll leave the Abu Dhabi paddock and be gone. I have always enjoyed racing – and only that. I was very open-minded about racing from day one, but there are just a lot of things in Formula 1 that have nothing to do with driving. Maybe I’ll miss the racing, but maybe I won’t.

You used to race against Michael Schumacher, and this season against his son Mick. Did it ever cross your mind that you’ve become old as a racing driver?

I don’t think it’s funny, I like it. After all, I didn’t just race against Mick and his father Michael, but also against Jos (Verstappen) and his son Max. I think that’s pretty nice, I don’t feel old. You only feel old when you’re old in your head. But I don’t feel old. At some point, I’m sure little physical problems will come along. But now? Fortunately, I feel normal, everything is fine.

When you started your career, not everything in Formula 1 was so closely scrutinized. Did you have more freedom as a driver back then?

Were there more freedoms? In any case, there were fewer races, but there was more testing between Grand Prix. Testing was generally always the harder story. We started at nine o’clock and finished at 6 p.m., with an hour’s break in between. A race only lasts about two hours. The types of interviews have certainly changed, too, but the whole world has changed in these 20 years.

You are unique. That’s probably why you’re considered one of the most popular people in the paddock. What’s your secret?

Honestly, I don’t care. I do things the way I think is right. I don’t care about the rest. Everyone lives their own life and shouldn’t worry about what others tell them. Of course you can pretend to be someone else, that goes well for a year, maybe two years. But in the long run it ruins you. People probably like that I behave the way I really am. There are people who like me, there are also people who don’t like me, that’s totally okay. I’m not here to please people. I don’t like all the people I meet either. It’s just a normal story.

The former Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri once praised you for showing as much respect to a toilet attendant as to a business boss. Was that important to you, to treat people equally?

I’m sure I didn’t treat everyone the same, because we all mess up sometimes. But at least I tried, I don’t have anything against most people either. We travel a lot, we meet a lot of people, but in the end we, most of us at least, lead a normal life.

Do you still most likely embody the style of the ’70s, when very special characters who also enjoyed life very much drove Formula One cars?

After all, I was born in the ’70s (laughs). Everybody is different. Today I’m racing against guys half my age. That’s a new generation, they’ll change during their lives, too. If I feel the need to drink a beer or smoke a cigarette, I do it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

“I wouldn’t change anything.”

source: rds.ca

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – A paddock figure known for his nonchalance and his famous lines, 42-year-old Finn Kimi Räikkönen will leave F1 on Sunday after 19 seasons of service since 2001, a world championship title and 21 Grand Prix wins. “I would not change anything” in my career, he assures AFP.

Q: You have driven 92,202 km in Grand Prix, that is to say 2.3 times around the Earth, what memories do you keep?

A: “Of course over the years you do a lot of laps and miles. Obviously, winning the championship… That’s why we’re all here, to try and win the title. That’s maybe the best memory, even if there are others.”

Q: If you could change anything, would you?

A: “No, I wouldn’t change anything.”

Q: What has been your best season?

A: “If you look at the results, 2007. Otherwise, every year there are good times and bad times, just like in normal life. Some days are not as good as others because you didn’t sleep well or because they just suck! If too many years had been more bad than good, I would never have stayed this long. It’s not always fun to leave home for a 10 hour flight. I never look forward to it and think ” oh shit!” every time. But when you actually get to do what you came for on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it’s okay! That said, I’m glad to see the end of it.”

Q: Who has been your most notable opponent?

A: “Michael, I think. I raced against him for many years and we had a lot of good fights.”

Q: Your favorite teammate?

A: “I’ve had a good relationship with everybody, although of course it can get a little heated sometimes for a lot of reasons… (laughs). Maybe Seb because we knew each other better. With Antonio, we also knew each other through Ferrari before we were teammates. That makes a difference.”

Q: What about the team you liked the most?

A: “All my teams were from different countries and it makes a change to work with different nationalities, Swiss, English and Italian. But, in most of the teams, I stayed for quite a long time, it shows that I was having a good time.”

Q: What is the best advice you have received during your career?

A: “I’m sure a lot of people tried to give me advice but I didn’t listen that much! (laughs) I’ve always felt that you should try to live your life in the best way for yourself and not for others. At work, if I had an option, I wouldn’t do most of what is asked of me, but in the way you live your personal life, you live it for yourself. If you try to do what other people want, it may last a year or two but it won’t end well. I’m happy I’ve lived my way. Good or bad, I can live with it because those are my decisions.”

Q: You’re known for giving such terse answers in interviews that they become funny. What is the secret?

A: “I don’t know. That is how it works in my head. I tell it like it is.”

Q: Many drivers are afraid of life after F1. Are you not?

A: “No, I’m looking forward to it. I left F1 for two years (in 2010 and 2011). Okay, I was doing rallies but I’m happy at home doing normal things, so I’m not worried.”

Q: What will be your schedule?

A: “F1 takes up a lot of time but it has never been the main thing for me. My life has always been outside of it. There are other things that are more important. Now my schedule affects my whole family and I look forward to having nothing planned and doing what they want.”

Q: Your son and daughter seem to love engines. Are you going to be one of those dads who hit the track with their kids?

A: “No idea, honestly! Time will tell. Whatever they decide, we’ll try to support them as much as we can.”

Q: Your fans still have “Kimi for president” signs. You’ll have time, what could you become president of?

A: “That would be fun! Not F1. That would be harder than Finland. Not F1, too much politics. Look at what we’re doing here (in Saudi Arabia), it’s the money talking.”

Räikkönen. Everything, and more

A (hopefully) bit different portrait of Kimi who says goodbye to F1

by Alberto Antonini, 2. September 2021, formulapassion.it

“Don’t give me options!”. If there is one phrase that has stuck with me, of the few that Kimi Räikkönen has uttered intelligibly, it is this. Don’t give me options, don’t make me choose. We were at the beginning of our joint adventure in Ferrari and, while preparing an event, I had proposed to him, as a trivial form of courtesy, to choose between different possibilities (I wish I could remember what it was about, but it is not important). He pronounced the phrase – one of his trademarks, along with “more worse” and other very personal interpretations of the English language – in a peremptory, but not annoyed, tone. We were measuring each other and he wanted to make things clear. Choosing never appealed to him when it came to these things. At the launch of the 2018 single-seater, the SF71H which was also his last Ferrari, we had prepared a series of short descriptions to introduce all the circuits of the season. He read his texts like a dyslexic robot and at one point he said to me: this stuff doesn’t make sense. I replied that since I was not a driver, I had asked Marc Genè, who knows a lot about tracks, to collaborate with me; but if he didn’t like what was written, he could improvise on his experience. The answer was obvious and immediate: nah, let’s get on with it. Don’t give me options, indeed.

At some point it’s life that leaves you with only one option. Maybe after twenty years, perhaps, including those spent trying to convince himself that rallying was his way. This is not one of the many goodbyes of Kimi-Matias to Formula One: this is the definitive farewell. And I don’t think it’s by chance that nowhere in the world has anyone said ” thank goodness”. With his way of doing, his askew personality, the absolute idiosyncrasy to accept compromises as well as options, Kimi has managed to be loved by practically everyone. When he left Ferrari, in November three years ago in Abu Dhabi, there was the classic farewell party at the hotel. He, Minttu, Robin, Rianna, the nanny and the whole racing team were there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so serene, a wonderful father affectionate towards his children. His engineers had prepared a surprise for him: crossing the finish line of his last GP in red, a greeting and thank you message should appear on the steering wheel display. For one of those cases in which life really seems to do it on purpose, an electrical blackout knocked him out after just six laps and turned off the entire car, steering wheel included.

The guys in the box felt terrible. And I’m talking about people who didn’t hesitate to tell you how Iceman, in technical briefings, was sometimes grumpy and surly to the point of offense. The fact is that his armor was too transparent not to let you see what was behind it. Namely the desire to close himself off from the complications, the hypocrisies that fill a paddock more than the noise of the engines. Each of us wears an armor, more or less robust, more or less obvious. His was so obvious that you ended up forgiving him for everything. Especially when you found out that far from a circuit (or rather: far from everything that surrounds a circuit) he was, or rather is, a different and definitely interesting person.

Who knows how many times he had already thought about quitting. Even if in the end he didn’t disdain the Alfa Sauber contract, initially worth about ten million a year. Once, back in his Ferrari days, he confided to Stefania, his faithful companion of many years in many paddocks, about the fact that sometimes he didn’t feel as fast as he used to. “Maybe I really should retire,” he grumbled. He didn’t that year or the next. In the summer of 2018, Sergio Marchionne would have liked to sideline him right away to make room for Charles Leclerc. Instead, Kimi stayed for the whole season, won fantastically in Austin, started boozing in the hospitality and continued throughout the evening, deserting the party in his honor for the simple fact that he couldn’t stand on his feet. Perhaps, with the years, he had lost a little speed (or rather consistency), but certainly also the habit of alcohol in industrial quantities. He had changed a lot, compared to the taciturn kid with the bespectacled girlfriend (the one at that time) who told me one day “I did military service, like everyone else, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like people telling me what to do” (if you can find it, though, enjoy the video of Kimi as a soldier teaching recruits). He was also different from the disheveled, listless young man they had dragged out of bed one morning, forced onto a plane, and flown from Switzerland to Woking to meet with a group of journalists. Punctuality has never been his strong point, not even in the days when his boss was Ron Dennis at McLaren. The days when he was a young up-and-comer and ruthlessly fast, able to come back from the bottom at Suzuka 2005 as I’ve seen only few other drivers do. The time when he already had a contract with Maranello in his pocket and, although he couldn’t say it, he couldn’t help but make us understand, one afternoon in Stuttgart.

I remember an interview with Andrea Stella, his race engineer for years. He told me about when he got out of the car at Interlagos 2007, at the end of an incredible race. He started as an outsider and became world champion. When he took off his helmet and balaclava, there was an unmistakable glint in the corner of his ice-coloured eyes. His emotion, the sign that is worth more than a billion words. That’s the way he is, Kimi, with his gestures, his grimaces and his monosyllables. That is his way of communicating. For years I tried in vain to convince the sponsors of the Prancing Horse not to make him speak, and I’m happy that, in the end, Alfa Romeo understood this too. The gesture with which, in the commercial that we have all seen, he signals to the driver in the black coupe to pass is a masterpiece of body language. At times his personality would take on unintentional but still very effective comic turns, as after a victory in Spain: “Yes, I saw your king… He’s a nice king”. Other times he would vent in team radios that aren’t even worth talking about, so iconic have they become. In a few months, Kimi Räikkönen will definitely be exiting the scene as an active driver. I’m sure he’ll still be able to enjoy life. He’ll be with his family, he’ll go around barefoot, maybe with the electric bike that has also conquered him. He will do motocross, see his old friends, and every now and then, after a training session or any race, he will jump into the tub full of ice to regenerate.

Because that, more than anything else, is the habit that has earned him his enduring nickname, Iceman. Did you know?


Ten unforgettable things about Kimi Räikkönen

Leo Turrini’s blog, 1. September 2021

Now that Kimi Räikkönen has formalized his retirement from Formula One at the end of the season, I will mention in no particular order ten things about him that, in twenty years!, have caught my imagination.
The first would be the last. It is the whatsapp text that KR7 sent me last night. Here it is: life is much much more important and has always been for me.
I don’t think a translation is needed.
The second is the 2009 victory at Spa, with a Ferrari whose second car on the track finished in last place. A gigantic feat, carried out knowing that he had already been fired, not for demerits (Maranello had won three world championships with him in two years) but in the name of a business wanted by many and then resolved in an epochal failure.
The third. In a very long career, Kimi has never once been suspected of having voluntarily committed an impropriety on the track. Never once.
The fourth. That day in 2001 at the barriers of the Paddock in Melbourne, he was at his absolute debut, he had forgotten his pass and the staff didn’t want to let him in because they didn’t know him and I was behind the line laughing like crazy.
Fifth. The pole at Monza in 2018, a crazy lap in record time to an unheard of roar from the crowd and it was the final burial of the detractors on permanent duty.
The sixth. 2007 Interlagos. A lot, why am I telling you?
The seventh. Leave me alone, I know what I am doing. His team radios have become a cult, especially when he was in Lotus, because Räikkönen also won with Lotus, eh.
The eighth one. The cell phone thrown into the sea when he finally had the certainty, one summer day in 2013, that Ferrari had realized they were wrong about him.
The ninth. The victory at Spa in 2004 with an unpresentable McLaren. Because on the Ardennes there are also those who have never won.
The tenth. The story of a man who was able to fight his demons, including alcohol. In Hotakainen’s beautiful book, published in Italy by Minerva, he has accepted to tell about his faults, mistakes, existential disasters.
Kimi Räikkönen is my brother.