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.

Kimi Räikkönen: “No longer my problem”

source: SPORT1

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.

“The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen”: the man beyond the legend

Kimi Räikkönen’s biography “The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen”, written by Finnish writer Kari Hotakainen, will finally be released in Italian in May and it will be an encounter with the true essence of the “Iceman”.

source: ilmattinodelladomenica, by Silvia Giorgi

It’s 1981 in Karhusuo, Espoo. It’s night time; the boy is restless, he can’t get to sleep. His mother is trying to soothe him, picks him up again; the boy has always liked being held. He’s very different from her other son, who is two years older; he’s more sensitive, with his feelers out. At last the boy falls asleep in the early hours of the morning.

The next day, on her way to work, the exhausted mother thinks of what she and her husband have already been concerned about for a long time: the boy doesn’t speak, not a word, even though he’s nearly three.

The parents take the boy to be examined. There’s nothing wrong with him; he performs all the tasks quickly, actually more quickly than is average for his age. He just doesn’t speak. 

So begins the biography of Kimi Räikkönen, the last World Champion with Ferrari, a driver known for his few words and many deeds, so composed that he is called “Iceman”. Yet, there is no ice in the man depicted by Finnish writer Kari Hotakainen in 2018 and finally available in Italian thanks to Minerva Edizioni (with a foreword by Leo Turrini) this May. This book is an intimate and pure narrative of Kimi’s life, it contains his true essence and allows you to discover who Kimi is, the man beyond the legend: a direct, shy and outspoken person who does extraordinary things. The Finn talks about racing, determination and the difficulties he has faced but also about his loved ones so that the reader passes through his icy gaze and meets a genuine man, fascinating in his humanity and always true to himself.

Kimi, you are known as “Iceman” but here you have melted away: how did the idea of a biography come about, what prompted you to do it?

I had this idea in mind for a while and talked to several people. Then I met this writer, Kari Hotakainen (he’s a writer, not a reporter as many people say) and we started to collaborate.

Between F1, your family and various commitments, where did you find the time to talk to Kari Hoitakainen?

Actually it wasn’t difficult: we met in Finland, he came to Switzerland to see me and we met several times, so it was quite easy to find the time.

What was the most difficult part to write? Is there anything looking back you wouldn’t do again or would do differently?

No, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do. I think everything happens for reasons and if I had changed something I wouldn’t be here today. The hardest part was talking about my father’s death but these things happen, unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do.

What was it like retracing all the steps of your life? What emotion did it give you to see your book finally finished, full of your story?

I didn’t think too much about it, I mostly talked about races, then you can like the book or not, you can choose to buy it or not.

And writing about your loved ones, like your wife Minttu, your mother and your friends?

I don’t like to think much: I like to live in the moment and enjoy life, watch my children grow up, I try to spend as much time as I can with my family.

Who is the book dedicated to?

It’s not dedicated to anyone. It’s my life, it’s what happens and I’ve focused particularly on racing.

From Finland to the roof of the world, with the title you won with Ferrari in 2007: what emotions did it give you to think back to those moments, did you always think you would make it?

I had already come close a couple of times and I drove for Ferrari for many years. I love Italy and I often go back there on holiday with my family. Ferrari is a special team for the whole world, not just F1, and I’m very happy to have won with them.

Reading through the pages of your biography, a very interesting point becomes clear: self-confidence. How did you develop it and what advice would you give to young boys and girls who say ‘I want to be like Kimi’?

Honestly, I can’t understand why anyone would want to be like someone else, it doesn’t help, it’s not good for you. It’s normal for kids to look up to someone but I focused on myself. You just have to be yourself, don’t try to be like someone else. Improve for you, you have to learn from experiences what is good for you and what makes you happy.

What is the most important lesson you have learned that has helped you through difficult times?

The hardest part of my life was losing my dad, it’s not easy for anyone. It sucks in the beginning and it will suck for a long time but you have to learn to accept it and move on. Also in racing, some races go well and some go badly but as you get older you learn to value what is most important. It depends on the situations but I can tell you to always go forward.

You’ve lived in Switzerland for a long time and you drive for a team with a strong Swiss component, Alfa Romeo has the Sauber heritage: What made you decide to live here, what do you like most about Switzerland and its people?

For me it’s home, I’ve lived here since 2001. I have always loved Switzerland, it reminds me of Finland because of the countryside, even though we don’t have mountains in Finland. I love to visit the wonderful places Switzerland has to offer. I would like to send my children to school here, we come from Finland but our home is Switzerland.

Marathon man

source: Autozeitung, Nr 25, 11. Nov. 2020

At the Formula 1 race at the Nürburgring, Alfa Romeo star Kimi Räikkönen equalled the record for the most GP entries. Reason enough for us to take him for a befitting spin through the region.

by Gregor Messner

Actually not a good idea from the boss: “Mr Messer, on Thursday you have an appointment with Kimi Räikkönen at the Nürburgring. Make a nice story out of it.” Interviews with Formula 1 drivers are challenges, they can be real divas, but Räikkönen is feared. Listless, taciturn, monosyllabic, annoyed – these are the characteristics attributed to him. Make a nice story out of this meeting? Let’s see. The prerequisites for a cool story are basically given: I’ll travel to the Eifel in the befitting Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio. He will come with a Stelvio Quadrifoglio, they say. Sporty high-performance limousine and its counterpart as a noble SUV, both driven by the same power source: pleasantly grumbling six-cylinder technology with biturbo, plus a smooth eight-speed automatic, which together provide outrageous acceleration and a great top speed.

But the cold steady rain is lousy, plus Räikkönen’s press adjutant immediately blocks off: “Kimi will stay in the car. And he won’t take off his mask either. He’s serious about the corona virus.” Ten minutes later, the Finn arrives at the car park on Ring Boulevard. No sooner has he parked his Stelvio than he gets out of the red luxury SUV. Without a mask! That’s how Räikkönen is, that’s how he’s always been: the cult driver has never seemed really predictable.

Without having talked, we get back into our cars, take the usual car-to-car shots, stream along the small country road next to the Döttinger Höhe, his Stelvio on the right, my Giulia on the left, then venture down the steep serpentines to Breidscheid and up again until we park at the Brünnchen.

After the distant greeting – “Hi, Kimi” – and some small talk from the long ago early days of his career, we immediately go in medias res: “A mega car, the Stelvio, isn’t it?”, I ask, and he nods silently.  Great conversation, I think, but then his always unagitated, rasping voice kicks in – and the otherwise reserved Finn reveals himself to be an easy conversationalist: “I like the Stelvio, it’s a very nice car. I always have one available at the races, and I also have one privately.” Besides the SUV, fast up to 283 km/h, Räikkönen has parked three Formula 1 cars from his long career in his garage, a McLaren and two Ferraris: “It was very nice of Ferrari to give me my last winning car from 2018.” Speeding, however, is not possible for him in Switzerland – because of the strict speed limit. “Never mind,” he says, grinning mischievously, “I don’t drive the car much at home anyway. To the airport and back, sometimes to Hinwil to the team. Often I take the bike.”

It’s the shape, the design and the lines of the two Quadrifoglio that excite him: “Very nice,” Räikkönen says, “the design makes the biggest difference to other manufacturers. Alfa Romeo has always made beautiful cars, hasn’t it?” Räikkönen even falls slightly into the philosophical in his praise: “I have been travelling around the world for over 20 years now. And I always have the impression that the cars that come onto the market look more and more alike. You can hardly tell them apart. But Alfa Romeos have a clear design language.” And what about the power in the 510-hp macchina? “It’s good,” he says, a typically reduced-to-the-point Räikkönen response. The 41-year-old is one of the great characters of Formula 1, so cool and hard-boiled that he has taken such a liking to his nickname “Iceman” that he has had it tattooed as a word mark on his left forearm.

On the track, the 21-time GP winner is one of the hard workers. His contract with Alfa Romeo was extended for another year. At the Ring, he equalled Rubens Barrichello’s record of 323 Grand Prix starts to date. Räikkönen only says: “So what? All records are broken at some point.” The age of 35 is considered the sound barrier for Formula 1 drivers. Now he is 41, but his fire is still burning. Wasn’t the one title in 2007 with Ferrari too little? “No,” he insists, “I’m happy.” Räikkönen wouldn’t be the “cool sock” that he is if he didn’t look back with Finnish equanimity: “That it was only one title didn’t change my life.” Maybe his kids could. Son Robin, 5, is already practising karting. “Today it’s karting, tomorrow he likes motocross. It changes every day,” says Räikkönen and chats on and on: about Formula 1, career and future. Maybe it was a good idea to meet the great silent man at the Ring after all …

The entire interview was published on autozeitung.de :

“Mostly I cycle”

In this Formula 1 season with 15 races, you complete around 12,000 kilometres on the race track. How much do you drive on public roads in your private life?

Significantly less, that’s for sure. I do most of the driving to and from the airport. When I’m at home in Switzerland, I don’t use the car that much. Well, when the races are in Italy, like three times this year, I drive these distances by car. It’s shorter for me to get to Hinwil, where the Alfa Romeo team is based, than to the airport in Zurich. In my normal life, most things happen within a radius of two kilometres. In other words, short distances. I cycle most of them.

In Switzerland, but also in your home country Finland, there are strict speed limits. How do you cope with that?

It’s no problem for me to keep to the limits. I’ve lived in Switzerland for a long time, I’m rarely in Finland. Of course, there are lots of cameras here, too. But in the past, sure, we all drove faster, we were younger, we drove with a heavy right foot. Today it’s different. 

What is your favourite car at the moment?

I also drive an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio privately. I also have a van, which I love to drive. At the race tracks, Alfa Romeo always gives me a Stelvio. It’s a mega car.

How many cars do you have in your garage?

There aren’t that many any more. We had more, but I hardly used them. When I was younger and had just got my driving licence, I drove a lot more. We drove around at night, small, narrow roads, there was a lot of fun going on. But that hasn’t been the case anymore for years. Someday you get over that point. Today, if I have to go somewhere further away, I quickly take the car.

For many years you drove for Ferrari, now for Alfa Romeo. You know the road versions, of course. What makes Italian cars special?

I think, above all, the design. That makes the biggest difference. For years, I’ve been travelling to countries for the races. The cars I see on the roads there are becoming more and more similar. That may have its reasons. The Italians, on the other hand, you recognise immediately.

Some racing drivers collect their racing cars. What about you?

I own three cars from my Formula 1 career. Two are not ready to drive. They are just show cars: a McLaren from 2002 and a Ferrari from my world championship year 2007. They look nice. But earlier this year, Ferrari gave me the car with which I won my last Grand Prix in Texas in 2018. The SF71H is fully functional. At some point I will bring the car to the track. But I will have to call in the mechanics from Italy to start it. I have never been one to care about my former cars. But I felt it was very nice of Ferrari to give me my last winning car.

Another topic: How do you see the mobility of the future?

Electric mobility is the direction everything is going in at the moment. But it won’t happen as fast as the electric people imagine. It’s more likely to be a mix of everything. Who knows where we’ll be in 20 years. If it were that easy, everyone would switch to e-mobility. And on the other hand, electric cars are not as clean as they appear. Okay, these cars drive green. But what about the batteries when they have to be recycled? And where do you charge these cars, how often, are there enough charging stations?

Finns are known for their driving talent. You have a five-year-old son, Robin, who has already done his first kilometres in a kart. Will he continue the tradition of the fast Finns?

To be honest, I have no idea. If you ask him today, he wants to drive a kart, if you ask him tomorrow, it’s something else he wants. That’s just the way it is. He enjoys it. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time together. When we ride motocross, he says he enjoys it more. So far, it’s all just a hobby. If it stays a hobby, it’s okay. Time will tell. Let’s see how it is in two years.

You broke Rubens Barrichello’s race start record and have now competed in 325 Grands Prix. Does this record mean anything to you?

Actually, it’s just a number. Here at the Ring, it’s just a normal race weekend for me. I’m sure all records will be broken at some point. It doesn’t matter to me. Maybe one day I will be happy about such records when I have finished my Formula 1 and professional career.

Your contract was recently extended. You will continue to drive for Alfa Romeo for at least another year. You enjoy driving in Formula One.

Yes, I still have great fun and enjoy racing. It’s like in every sport, every hobby, every job: some days are better than others. Just like in normal life. I like the challenge, I always want to improve. If I didn’t enjoy racing anymore, or if it was a nightmare every day, I wouldn’t be here at the track today.

In the current field of drivers, you are the only one – and currently last one – who made it into Formula 1 without big sponsorship and junior programmes, but with pure talent. How do you see this development with drivers from academies or even those who bought their cockpits with large sums of money from their family businesses?

Motorsport has always been a very expensive sport, even when I was young. But now I hear that professional karting is about as expensive as Formula Renault was 20 years ago when I raced in that category. That’s crazy. It makes it all much harder to get into motorsport as a young person. The good junior teams today all have support from big manufacturers, teams or sponsors. On the other hand, even in professional football, the clubs have junior teams and junior academies. But that’s just the way it is in professional sport, and actually it doesn’t matter if that’ s now good or bad.

Between 2011 and 2012, you interrupted your Formula 1 career for two seasons to compete in the World Rally Championship and even in the US Nascar series. What is still on your list after your Formula 1 career?

I don’t have any plans yet. Let’s see what happens in the foreseeable future. Maybe there are some rallies I could do, maybe not. Maybe I won’t do anything, maybe I’ll look after my son in karting. At Peugeot, I once tried out the Le Mans prototype years ago. A nice car, but that wasn’t for me. I was very interested in the Dakar Rally. But this competition is no longer the same. It has changed a lot.

Kimi Räikkönen: senior and recordman of modern F1

source: automoto.it, 16. November 2020

The Alfa Romeo driver, former world champion with Ferrari, talks about his life outside the circus and the future: still on the track.

328 times Kimi Räikkönen and he doesn’t show it. The senior driver and recordman of F1 seems to be living a second youth with Alfa Romeo, which has extended his contract also for next season, bringing his presence with the Biscione team made in Switzerland to three years. Yet another year and the attendance record is set to lengthen, perhaps to become something unique on the world scene. Kimi is a very particular character: he is the most social among the unsociable. He speaks in monosyllables, but one is enough to make a complete speech. Kimi Räikkönen is the paradox of modern F1.

Nevertheless, he has the spirit of the drivers of old times, of those who speak little but communicate a lot. The track record is remarkable: an F1 world title with Ferrari in 2007, 21 GPs won, 103 times on the podium, 46 fastest laps, 18 pole positions. And the desire to try again. Married since 2016 to Minttu Virtanen, two kids, Robin (5 years old) and Rianna (3 years old), the unscrupulous F1 “playboy”, the one who presented himself at the official FIA awards ceremony completely drunk, put his head in place. It’s enough to watch a video on social media, put on by his wife, of when he came back from a Grand Prix and his two children met him. As often happens in normal families, with normal lives and not with a job at 300 per hour.

Since you became a father, has anything changed in your life, in the way you do and in your work? “Yes, as I think it is normal for everyone who becomes a parent, even if you don’t expect it. It happens. Others may change the lifestyle thinking about taking care of their children, worrying about them, changing something in their lives, but I haven’t changed anything as far as my attitude on the track is concerned. What I did before I still do. Then, in everyday life, it’s another story, something different happens for sure in the handling of the family, of the children. In this I am very normal.”

We meant to say that before becoming a father, F1 was the most important thing in his life, now maybe it is subordinate to other interests… “Actually F1 has never been the most important thing in my life. Certainly it was the activity that took up most of the time of my day, for the travels, the tests, the commitment it takes to race in F1, but it was never the priority of my life, it took me a lot of time without a doubt, but it was never the most important thing of my life. I repeat, even though it took up most of the time in my life it was not my priority. I never thought and believed that if I couldn’t race, everything else would be meaningless or that it would be shit, I never lived it this way. Obviously I always tried to give my best and do the best when I was on the track, obviously I was disappointed when things went wrong, or when I did something wrong. Then, as soon as I got home, I had a normal life, followed my passions, my family, the things I like and feel good about. With this I am not saying that F1 is more or less important than in the past, certainly now in my everyday life, the normal one let’s say, I certainly have something more important like my children and my family.”

Once you fought for victory and world titles, now the situation is different: how do you find the motivation to do your best with such different goals? “I honestly can’t see the difference, every race I go out on track to fight. I have won 21 Grand Prix and I don’t see any reason for not winning any more in the future. In addition, I would have won more if I hadn’t had mechanical failures and cars that were not always competitive. When I debuted in F1, Ferrari dominated, not as they do now at Mercedes, and I was in another team. Winning at the time was not easy. Now it’s Mercedes that dominates in an impressive way and surely you could have a better chance of winning without this dominance. In 2005 and 2007 I fought to win the world championship, but it’s not that in the other years, when I was at McLaren, I had the chance to do it often, so from a certain point of view I don’t see the difference with today.”

Your son Robin, five years old, has started trying out karts and is racing them, so much that you even joked saying that he’s faster than you are with rented karts: would you be happy if he became a professional driver? “Actually, I’ve never asked myself the question, but if he should, why not? If he wants to… We usually practice when I come back from the GPs, but now the weather is bad in Switzerland, where I live, and in Finland it’s even colder, so we’ve suspended kart practice. I’d say that in a couple of years we’ll have clear ideas about what he wants to do when he grows up and which way to go. If it will remain a hobby or if he wants to do it as a professional and in that case I will give him the support I can offer. Then maybe he will want to play football or tennis, the most important thing is that he does something he likes, without constraints, if he wants to race on tracks, on the road or do motocross. He has to be free and do what he feels.”

If it were up to you, would you prefer to point him to rallies, where you raced in the World Championship, or to the track? “It’s not a problem, he has to decide what he wants to do. I will give him all the help I can. Whether he wants to do motocross, or dedicate himself to dance instead of racing, or if he just wants to have fun with karting. Maybe he could learn to play ping pong, he would have a simpler and less complicated start! For me the most important thing is that my children are happy.”

But of course we remember his beginnings, he was not very talkative with the press, and he remained so for decades: at Monza during private tests, he answered to a precise question: yes I know and he left us with the notebook in our hands. It’s rather difficult to have a chat with him, he seems to enjoy avoiding the press or he doesn’t like it at all… “Ah ah, I remember well, but I can guarantee that I have improved in the meantime. After all, we’re here to talk about it. Also because I can’t do without it today…”

Joking aside, surprised by Ferrari’s current situation? “Well, I really don’t know what to say. I’ve been a Ferrari driver for many years, it’s not the first time that one year they’re very strong and the following season they’re not competitive. Let me take 2008 as an example: we were fighting for the world title and in 2009 we were behind and not at all competitive. I seem to see similarities with the current situation after Ferrari had a winning 2019. This also happened in my time at McLaren, one year you’re competitive and the following year you’re out of the game. These things happen very often in F1. There are things that impact and annoy and some problems they have also affected us in Alfa Romeo with the engine, for example, but I’m sure they will improve. There’s no reason not to do it.”

A zoom call with Kimi Räikkönen

by Umberto Zapelloni, source: Il Giornale & topspeedblog.it

The champion recounts twenty years of his career on the day of his renewal.

“Formula 1 has never been the most important thing in my life”. It is a good starting point to chat with the man who has just signed the renewal of his contract with Alfa Romeo Sauber, which will keep him on the track until he is 42 years old.

But Kimi Räikkönen is like that. He still doesn’t have enough of the 324 Grand Prix races he’s already raced in his 18-year career. Covid’s cursed season, with few contacts and very few interviews, probably helped to extend his sporting life.

But what made you do it?

I have fun.

Will it be your last year?

I don’t know. Who can say. Even when this season started, I didn’t know if I would keep going. If I’m still having fun I might as well continue.

What do you like about F1?

Driving, racing.

What else?

Enough. Nothing else. But who would like all the rest.

When you debuted in 2001 in Australia, did you ever think you would still be here twenty years later?

At first I didn’t even know if I was going to finish the season, I had a temporary super licence… then at McLaren a three-year contract… I was planning it case by case.. I never thought I could still be here now.

What’s different between then and now’s F1?

I always do the same things. There’s not much difference. The cars, engines, tyres, tracks, team mates are changing. But then when you get behind the wheel you always have to try to go as fast as possible.

Which you did very well on the first lap at Portimao. From sixteenth to sixth. Excited?

It was great to overtake so many people in one lap, but I’m not excited about just one lap. It’s fun to pass so many people because in Formula 1 it’s not that easy to overtake. But more than getting excited about what I had done, I was worried because I knew they would then overtake me again. It would have been better to pass them all on the last lap and not on the first one. In Portugal the magic moment lasted three laps, then I couldn’t do anything against the others. Our performance improved, but we still lack some speed and in races like those, where there are no retirements, it’s difficult to finish in points. I managed to take the chance, to take advantage of the slippery track conditions, but it was slippery for everyone. I don’t know if there were others with soft tyres or if they were all struggling with the medium. Sometimes the situation turns in your favour, sometimes it doesn’t. It also depends a lot on how you can warm up the tyres during the formation lap… if you find the right feeling in the first few corners you are able to push…

What convinced you to stay at Alfa Romeo Sauber?

Simple: because this team is more than a team to me, it’s almost a second family. Don’t get me wrong, my family is at home waiting for me and it’s irreplaceable, but here I look around and I still find many of the people I met when I made my F1 debut with them in 2001.

Speaking of family, did you have fun shooting Alfa commercials with your wife?

Do you think I can have fun being an actor? It’s not really for me. But I liked doing it with my wife, we had a good time and a lot of good people worked around us.

And your son Robin is going to be a driver? What do you advise him?

I don’t push him. If he likes it, I’ll help him. Sometimes we go karting. Some days after 5 laps he gets fed up and wants to go home, others after 50 laps he wouldn’t want to stop.

Who knows where he gets it from… It seems to me that you are doing with Antonio Giovinazzi what Ibrahimovic is doing with the young people of Milan. And so the Italian is improving race after race.

I know Ibra, but football is different, it’s a real team game. I don’t hide anything from Antonio and if he learns by watching me I am happy, but when we get in the car everyone thinks about himself. But if a young guy asks me to help him, I am not jealous of my data, I am happy to help.

You said that Antonio and Seb are your only friends in Formula 1. Did you have fun with Antonio on the Nürburgring with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, a video not to be missed?

Did you see how scared I made him? He got really afraid, I didn’t expect. I had fun. But I understand him, I do this too when my wife drives..

Speaking of Seb, surprised how things are going in Ferrari this year?

I don’t think he’s very happy about what’s happening to him. But in Formula 1 nothing really surprises you. For everything to go well, a lot of little things have to work and it doesn’t always happen.

It sounds like a story he’s already lived through. Even though at his last chance in Austin in 2018, he managed to do it.

New book tells the story of Kimi Räikkönen’s special night in São Paulo: The party ended in the back seat of an ancient Lada

a collection of articles with stories from Heikki Kulta’s new book about Kimi Räikkönen:

A new book tells the story of Kimi Räikkönen’s special night in São Paulo: The championship party ended in the back seat of ancient Lada, “Elvis” was taken onboard

hs.fi and is.fi

In his book Iceman – Kimin matkassa, Heikki Kulta tells how the 2007 championship was celebrated in Brazil.

When Kimi Räikkönen won the 2007 F1 championship, Ferrari held a private celebration on October 21 in São Paulo. Heikki Kulta was the only Finnish journalist to be invited to the party.

Now Kulta tells in his book how the championship party went. He writes that team-mate Felipe Massa tried to teach Räikkönen the basics of samba at the party, but with very poor results.

“It would be hard to imagine the driver taking part in the TV hit Dancing with the Stars..”, Kulta states in the book.

According to Kulta, Räikkönen wanted to go elsewhere before midnight. In addition to Kulta, Räikkönen’s race engineer Chris Dyer joined. They ended up at the closing party of the F1 season hosted by the Redbull team.

“From five in the morning, the place started to close. I found Kimi’s in the middle of a cloud of smoke on the corner table where he and Vitantonio Liuzzi talked loudly. I was waiting for my time and I rushed that now we should leave when the place is closed, ”Kulta writes.

Eventually, Räikkönen and Kulta moved to queue for a taxi at the “backyard that seemed like a scrap yard”.

“Kimi didn’t have the patience at that point and he suggested that we take a rusty moped or a light motorcycle that looked abandoned in that yard. However, I advised that we better wait. A free car would still come, Kulta writes in his book.

In the end, it was their turn.

“To our luck, it was an ancient Lada. In it, Kimi saw a McLaren-era mechanic he introduced as Elvis. And of course he called his friend in our taxi. So the three of us crammed into Lada’s back seat. ”

On top of all that, the Lada’s back seat wasn’t completely intact.

“The mechanic sat on the left, Kimi in the middle and I on the right. “The spring sticking out of the worn bench was visible through the fabric in the middle and I guess it pressed straight into Kimi’s bottom. It was the actual championship ride to the hotel. Normally, the world’s mega stars move in limousines. We drove to the hotel on the championship night in a probably equally old car with which Kimi started his car hobby in Espoo as a little boy.”

According to Kulta, the trio arrived at the hotel just before seven in the morning. Kulta still congratulated Räikkönen for the championship win, after which a surprising thing happened.

“On a spur of the moment, we almost hugged what had never happened before and has never happened since. But it hasn’t come to those championships either ever since…”


The ride in Kimi Räikkönen’s helicopter got a bloody turn – “Someone will think Kimi hit me on the head with a mallet”

mtvuutiset.fi

Kimi Räikkönen’s kind gesture was turning into a special catastrophe a decade ago in Japan, recalls Heikki Kulta in his book Iceman – Kimi’s journey.

In the book, Kulta recalls the 2006 Japanese GP in Suzuka.

Kulta, who was on the spot in Japan, was wrestling with bad logistical problems at the time. He was supposed to return to Finland after the race on Monday morning, but the move from Suzuka to Osaka was painful.

– Especially after the race on Sunday night, the roads are crowded and it takes hours.

– Then I came to the paddock, where I went for coffee at McLaren. Kimi just happened to be free and I told him about my problems getting to Osaka. He suggested bluntly that why I wouldn’t go with him, Kulta writes.

Räikkönen had ordered a helicopter transport for the evening, which still had room.

However, the friendly gesture meant to turn into a disaster.

– We left the paddock pretty briskly. Kimi warned that the actual climb to the helicopter was fast. There was no stopping because the place was teeming with fans waiting for their idol.

– Through the people, I pressed after Kim. To the helicopter we had to climb steep stairs and then enter a dim space. Kimi went ahead and I followed until I banged my head painfully on some sharp ceiling. I sat down next to Kimi in the back seat and I felt the hair on my head was quite wet. When I cursed, Kimi asked how I am. I said I hit my head and Kimi asked the pilot to turn on the light.

A wound on Kulta’s head, which was full of blood. The helicopter pilot offered Kulta a scarf which he pressed on his head.

– We took to the air, and in just over half an hour the Osaka lights were already visible. We continued on to the airport to a five star hotel on the roof of which we landed. We hopped down from the helicopter, and in that light I saw that the white silk scarf had turned red from the blood.

The little accident made Kulta wonder what would happen if he stepped bloodily out of the helicopter.

– I joked that if someone sees us, will probably think we are fighting in blood with each other. Maybe someone thinks Kimi hit me on the head with a mallet.


An outrageous news story was published about Kimi Räikkönen: “Next time we meet in court”

mtvuutiset.fi

The German magazine AutoBild Motorsport once published an outrageous news story about Kimi Räikkönen, which is why the Finnish star was ready to sue the magazine.

During the 2005 Italian race weekend, the German AutoBild Motorsport published a violent story about Räikkönen, according to which the Finnish star would have been totally smashed the week before at the Monza tests.

However, the rumor was not true. According to Heikki Kulta, Räikkönen spent a total of 30 hours in Italy. The Finnish star, who arrived on the test track by helicopter, did laps on the test track for two days until he left home by helicopter.

According to Kulta, the sensationalist story was written by a journalist who was reportedly angry that a promised interview with Räikkönen had not been carried out on schedule. Because of this, the reporter would have written a false story to criticize the Finn.

Räikkönen even considered suing the magazine. However, the German newspaper apologized for the false story.

– I thought I’d take them to court, but I will probably not bother anymore. Next time, if they write something similar, we will meet in court. There are those stupid people, Räikkönen says according to the book.

– I guess everything has to be taken into account. If someone writes some shit, then we turn to the court. I will not let them ruin my days.


The hockey star turned into Kimi Räikkönen when Ferrari fans wanted to see their hero – “I went to scribble the autographs”

mtvuutiset.fi

Former Leijonat defender Tom Koivisto held out his helping hand to Kimi Räikkönen with Ferrari fans, according to Heikki Kulta’s new book Iceman – Kimi’s Journey.

Räikkönen, who lives in Switzerland, became friends with Tom Koivisto and Mikko Eloranta, who played for the Rapperswil hockey team in the 2006-07 season, when one night he had been watching the duo in the Swiss league.

After the match, Räikkönen had gone to greet the Finnish duo and later in the evening the Finnish star invited Koivisto and Eloranta to the sauna.

– After the game, Kimi just showed up to greet us. We talked for a moment and we complained with Mikko that we only lacked a Finnish sauna. Kimi went home, but it only took a couple of hours for the cell phone to say that the sauna is warm – welcome! Since then, we went there to Wollerau and took a sauna until the morning, when there was a suitable holiday, Koivisto says in the book.

The trio quickly became friends and more often spent time together in Switzerland. Koivisto, who also played in the NHL and in the Lions’ shirt at the World Championships, also helped Räikkönen with enthusiastic supporters.

– There were enough Ferrari fans out there. Once, I put on a Ferrari sweatshirt, Kimi’s cap, sunglasses, and went scribbling the autographs which were wanted there. I calmed Kimi, that there is no worry because I’ve seen how he did it, Koivisto smiles.

20 years onboard Räikkönen’s ride

source: HS.fi

F1 journalist Heikki Kulta has interviewed Kimi Räikkönen hundreds of times over the past 20 years and many people who are important for Räikkönen’s career. Now Kulta has compiled the material accumulated over the years into a book, which he calls his own memoirs.

“Has it ever happened before that a sports reporter writes his own memoirs of his dealings with an athlete? Has that been the case?”
This is reflected by Heikki Kulta in the café of the Paimiola gas station, where we arrived from a nearby karting track, a photography place suitable for the theme.

Kulta’s new book Iceman – Kimin matkassa (Kimi’s Journey) tells all about Formula One driver Kimi Räikkönen’s racing career, as Kulta has watched him in numerous races and other F1 events over 20 years. In addition, the book lists all of Räikkönen’s F1 and World Rally Championships with their standings.

Over the years, Kulta has interviewed several formula drivers and, of course, also Räikkönen. “It’s certain that no one else has interviewed Räikkönen more often than I have.” No one has been interviewed separately for the new book, not even Räikkönen, but Kulta has mentioned his book project to the F1 star.

“Räikkönen’s comment was ‘Do it, as long as you don’t slag too much’. I said back that I wouldn’t do that because I’m pretty kind reporter”, Kulta says, laughing.
“With a good conscience, I can say that the book has the best pieces of Kimi’s career. I made the book strongly about sports. I bet a lot of Kimi’s comments in the book he doesn’t even remember saying.”

The idea of the book had been on Kulta’s mind for a long time. Years ago, Kulta discussed with Räikkönen’s managers that a book should be made about Räikkönen’s career.
“It moved and moved, and the career went on and on.”

In addition, the Unknown Kimi Räikkönen, written by Kari Hotakainen, which became a big hit two years ago, told about what kind of person Räikkönen is.
“Hotakainen also asked me about Kimi. I told him why you don’t ask Kimi directly. Hotakainen told that Kimi said: “Heikki is the only one who knows every single race, which I have been driving.”

This year, Kulta had a good time writing the book. The coronavirus delayed the start of the season and also meant that Kulta will not be traveling to Formula One races this year. He started the book in January during the F1 winter break.
“There would have been more than double the amount of material.”

Kulta’s first encounter with Räikkönen was in October 2000, when he interviewed the future F1 driver by phone. At that time, it became clear that Räikkönen would move from the British Formula Renault series to F1 in the Sauber team.

The first face-to-face meeting was in the winter tests in Jerez in December 2000. At that time, one could not have imagined that a chain of events would begin, leading to hundreds of Räikkönen interviews.

“He had been told that when he moves to F1, every sentence is grabbed. Kimi was so scared of all of us, including me, that he always ran away. When he was caught and asked about something, he always replied ‘I don’t know’,” Kulta recalls and laughs again.

Kulta soon got a new source for Räikkönen’s practice news: he met Räikkönen’s parents Matti and Paula Räikkönen, who were involved in the testing days at that time. Kulta says he didn’t need Kimi so much when he got information from his parents.

“My own job was made much easier when Kimi started to trust me. Winning that trust was one of the sweetest accomplishments of my entire journalism career. ” [Excerpt from the book Iceman – Kimi’s journey]

When Räikkönen moved to McLaren, Kulta was able to take advantage of his old relationships, as the media people there were the same as in Mika Häkkinen’s career.

“I heard from them what Kimi did in his spare time, and I knew he wasn’t as stiff as many think. Admittedly, he is still much the same. ‘Normal Friday’ is already a classic answer after practice.”

Kulta also developed his own approach to Räikkönen’s interviews.
“If he has been angry about something, I have started some joke. He answers me back with some Turku joke. I know that he has a very sharp sense of humor. It just doesn’t accidentally come up in official interviews.”

What is Räikkönen then like in Kulta’s view?
“Many say he is unpredictable. But I don’t think so. When he has a good day, he is the world easiest to interview. When it’s a bad day, he mostly growls. When it is said that Kimi is an iceman, no he can’t completely hide his feelings.”

Kulta emphasizes that Räikkönen has a really good resistance to pressure.
“With a little weaker pressure tolerance, he wouldn’t have won the championship in 2007.”

A big change in Räikkönen happened when he got children, Kulta points out.
“He became more outgoing. It just doesn’t show up after practices or races.”

Although the book focuses on the stages of Räikkönen’s career, there are also special incidents related to Kulta.
For example, after the 2006 Suzuka F1 race, Räikkönen offered Kulta a helicopter ride from the race track to the hotel. When Kulta got on the helicopter, he hit his head badly.

“I stuck my head straight into the radar. When the lights were put on, the hand was all in blood. The pilot wore a white scarf, and it went all red. ”
“I joked that if someone sees us, probably we’ll be believed to be fighting in blood towards each other and maybe someone will think Kim hit me in the head with a mallet.”

French photographer Jean-François Galeron, on the other hand, asked Kulta at the 2012 Malaysian race if he needed photos of him. Kulta tried to say that pictures of Romain Grosjean, the Lotus teammate of Räikkönen at the time, would be of use.

“There is no croissant, do cookies work?” Galeron replied.

Kulta also reveals that he wrote Räikkönen’s race diary for Ferrari’s website in 2007 and many years after.

According to Kulta, his writings suited Räikkönen so well that the F1 driver started using them himself.
“When he came to a press conference, he used the same words I had written. Damn, he had read them”, Kulta rejoices.

Kulta has seen 260 F1 races of Räikkönen at the track but which one is best remembered?
This is the only question that Kulta has to think about for a long time.

“The most tense was the Nürburgring race at the beginning of 2005. At the beginning of the last lap in the lead the suspension failed and the race was over. That same year, Suzuka Kimi won when he started 17th and overtook [Giancarlo] Fisichella in the final lap. What has been the weakest feeling and the most comfortable feeling fit into this 2005 championship.”

“Now let’s take it easy. But there will be no rioting, Kimi promised. ” [Räikkönen after winning the 2005 Suzuka F1 race]

Finally, the obligatory question: will Räikkönen’s career end this season?

“I said in 2016, 2017 and 2018 that this is Kimi’s last year. Last year, I decided that I would never say again that this is the last year. It is clear that he will no longer win championships, races or pole positions.”

Räikkönen previously emphasized the importance of winning for his motivation. Now he’s struggling for points at the Alfa Romeo team. What has changed?

“Now it has to be that he’s not interested in anything other than driving.”

All quotes in italics are from Heikki Kulta’s book Iceman – Kimin matkassa (Readme)

Fred Vasseur about Shwartzman, Schumacher and Kimi: “Possibly Robert is one of the future stars”

Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur believes in the revival of the Ferrari engine and comments on all rumours of driver contracts.

source: championat.com

The lack of journalists who write in the Sochi Autodrome is not an excuse to do without an exclusive. During the Russian Grand Prix days we had a more than detailed talk with Frederic Vasseur, the head of Alfa Romeo, discussing the difficult current season and the team’s plans for 2021. So far, Alfa Romeo has both driver vacancies open, and the fate of one of the seats is determined by the Ferrari – Mick Schumacher is expected to take over. Who will be his partner depends on Kimi Räikkönen’s decision about his own career and, of course, on Vasseur himself. We have also talked about this.

Frederic, how would you rate the first half of this challenging Alfa Romeo season?

The season has begun hard for us, especially the beginning. I don’t want to go back to the engine situation, but it is as it is. The engine is not our area of responsibility anyway, so we have to work on the rest of the technical package, particularly the chassis.

The first races were quite difficult, but we expected that. We were able to respond well to the situation and take a pretty good step forward. Yes, it does not always reflect on the results – for various reasons – but this step is undoubted. In racing, we can now fight Ferrari. I can’t say that’s what we want, it’s not the goal at all, but it’s good for the team to show that we’re working in the right direction. We kept our motivation and were pleased with our speed at Mugello. Let’s see what the finish of the season will bring and see if we can add a little more.

How did you maintain your team’s motivation after the starting failures and especially the motivation of Kimi Räikkönen, who is hardly interested in fighting for Q2?

Yes, yes, motivation is a key factor when you find yourself in the wrong place before the start of the season. It is always difficult in such a situation. So I have to pay tribute to the way the team reacted. Everyone continued to work at their best, even in a difficult financial situation due to the coronavirus. We got together and managed to make a step forward.

As for Kimi, when he signed the contract, he knew that he would not be a world champion with us. Everything was transparent, we were discussing the project, and he knew that we would have ups and downs. Kimi remained motivated, he reacted well – just like the whole team. There is no doubt that a strong driver’s performance is a key factor in the overall performance of the team.

Do you agree that in the first Grand Prix Giovinazzi looked a little better, and now Kimi is ahead?

If we sum up the intermediate results, the drivers are about equal, including when we look at the number of points scored. The fact that they are close to each other motivates both drivers, and their rivalry motivates the whole team. Of course, I would prefer it if Antonio and Kimi fought for fifth or sixth places, but the situation is as it is.

Do you have some kind of deadline to sign contracts for the next season?

There are no deadlines. We will talk to Kimi in the next few weeks to see what the next step may be like together. As for second seat, we will have discussions with Ferrari and we will make a decision in the next few months.

But have you probably heard rumours that Kimi has already signed a new contract with you?

Of course I have! But that’s what they wrote a fortnight ago about Hülkenberg, three weeks ago about Perez, and last week about Vettel. Well, journalists can write whatever they want, but this will not affect my decision! (Laughs)

At the same time, you have a very advantageous position – you can choose from several experienced Ferrari drivers and promising youngsters.

I don’t know if it’s possible to talk about a privileged position. Still, top teams always come first, and since we still have vacancies left, what should we call it? But we do have a lot of good drivers available for us, but first of all I have to discuss everything with the guys who are in the team now. Despite the difficult first half of the season, they did a good job, we had teamwork, which is very important for me. Let’s move step by step, we take our time. We really do have a lot of options.

Günther Steiner said that there are about ten candidates on his list. Do you have more, less?

I’m not sure that there are ten drivers with super-licences on the market right now. For example, a couple of young drivers still need to earn points for the license – so you have to wait until the end of the season to understand their situation. Well, everyone knows the experienced drivers on the market. Don’t worry, everything will be fine!

Can Alfa Romeo, in theory, form a team of two rookies?

I do not have a clear answer. You can say yes, because we’ll be using almost the same car as this season, and it’s much easier to perform with rookies when you already know the car well.

On the other hand, look at the 2021 calendar: there will only be three days of tests, and then Melbourne, China, some third race – Vietnam or something else – is waiting for us. These are new tracks for F1 debutantes. I am not sure that will be easy. For rookies, it is always good to have an experienced team mate around – that’s what happened when Charles drove for us and his team mate was Ericsson. You might have noticed that in the first four or five races, Markus beat Charles, and then further, Leclerc was more likely to have the advantage. You have to keep that in mind. But in theory, you can start the season with two rookies.

I cannot but ask about Robert Shwartzman…

Ha, you have waited ten minutes since the start of the interview before talking about Shwartzman, congratulations, you are my idol! (Laughs) But I only had ten minutes for the interview, thank you! I’m joking, of course, you should ask!

Do you think it’s better for Robert to try and get into Formula 1 right now or spend another year in F2?

First of all, the championship in Formula 2 is not over yet. The final result always influences your impression – what if he wins all four final races? Then if I say now that he better stays, I will look stupid. Plus, a rookie always has a bonus in the form of an opportunity to progress during the season.

Robert had a very good time last season in Formula 3, just as he did at the start of this season. Yes, he has the space to progress in qualifying or, for example, at the start, but he performs very well anyway. Let’s see what Ferrari decides, if they want to give him a chance. There is no doubt that he is very, very talented. Robert is probably one of the future stars of the paddock.

And a question about Mick Schumacher. We can assume that he will be an F1 driver in 2021 – without specifying whether he is in your team or not. How much time do you think he needs to be given to adapt before we can demand good results from him?

Of course, you have to remain calm at the beginning of the season. If you compare it with Formula 1 ten years ago, then before the start of the season the drivers had, say, 19 days of tests, and in 2021 it will be one and a half days. This is a very different story. Plus, as I said before, we will start the season on tracks where young drivers did not drive. We already remembered Charles – it takes time for a rookie to understand Formula 1, tyres and so on.

I would give the beginners five or six races. Then they already know the tracks, have their first experience in Formula 1, have some kind of base. But it’s important not to be too impatient. When we start working with a newcomer, we understand that some races can be difficult. But this is a normal challenge, and if you look at our team, we have been quite successful in dealing with such challenges recently.

A logical final question – what can we expect from Alfa Romeo next season? Are you expecting serious help from the renewed Ferrari engine?

Yes, we hope that next season we will be able to take a step forward with the engine and return to the group where we used to be. Ferrari is sure of that. In terms of the chassis, we can’t expect a huge step forward because it is roughly frozen except for the details. But once we get back to a more normal financial situation, we can restart the normal development process and move forward together.

Even though I was talking about the final question, I can’t help but clarify – what exactly are the financial difficulties? Don’t you, as Haas, prepare new parts?

The financial impact of the pandemic was huge, and Formula 1 revenues fell, so we had to cut back significantly on expenditure. And the first thing you can reduce is the cost of developing the car, because we have already built four monocoque cars for Melbourne anyway, got the engine and gearbox and prepared the aerodynamic body kit – there is nothing to save on. It remains to reduce development costs. And we have cut them sharply! I hope that in 2021 we will get out of this situation with COVID-19.

Kimi Räikkönen “I like racing, the fun now is to try to improve”

source: Gazzetta dello Sport, 05.09.2020

Eighteenth time in Monza. Only Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello drove more than him (19). Forty years, zero points in the standings and a face to make us go to hell. But not in the sense that he doesn’t care any more, quite the contrary. If Kimi Räikkönen is still here it’s because he loves racing more than anything else. It’s the other side of Formula 1, more relaxed, without obsessions. He never gave the idea that he was ever particularly stressed when he was fighting for the title, let alone that his only goal is to get his Alfa Romeo back a little bit further from the rear where it crashed.

Happy to be in Monza?
Very. It’s close to home and I’m always happy to come to Italy.

Seven GPs without points. You never had seven races without points, not even in your debut season, even then at Sauber, when the scoring system rewarded the first six. Is it frustrating?
How could it not be? Obviously we’d like to go better, but we’re not giving up. Lately, in the last two races, we’ve improved a bit, so at least we’re going in the right direction. We keep working to improve and we will find the top ten…

Are you still having fun?
Of course if the results were a bit better we would all be happier. Sometimes it’s more difficult, sometimes less so. But that’s how races are, and you have to accept it: you can’t think there are only good times. I like racing, the fun now is to try to improve.

In three races, in Sochi, you will equal Rubens Barrichello as a driver with more GPs. You have always said you are not interested in records, but here we are talking about the history of F1…
I don’t even know if he will be in Sochi or the Nurburgring… If no one had said anything, I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea of this record. I have never looked at the numbers and honestly at the moment it really doesn’t mean anything to me. Now I’m just focused on improving. But it’s true that maybe one day, when I am old and look back, I will think differently. But it will take a long time…

Speaking of Monza. It is one of the very few circuits where you have never won. Is there a particular reason?
No, I wouldn’t say. I tried many times, but something always went wrong. And I know how good it would be for Ferrari. Still in 2018 I came very close, but I had a lot of blistering on the rear tyres and I didn’t make it (he was 2nd behind Hamilton, ed). But there are other circuits like this: in Germany it has always been the same story. And also in Imola…

Imola, this year we’re back and you’re the only one who’s already raced there…
Yes, but I don’t have very good memories. Nice stuff going back to…
(In 2003 he was second, in 2005 he retired when he was in the lead.)

After more than a year together, how do you judge your team mate, Antonio Giovinazzi?
He’s very fast. He’s a good boy, and he’s a quick learner. I think last year it was hard for him to come in after so much inactivity, but you can see improvements.

On Instagram you posted photos of your son Robin in the kart, does he want to be a driver?
I don’t know. It’s not what we’re thinking about now, I just want him to have fun.

But if he does, will you be like Jos Verstappen, always present, or like Keke Rosberg, very detached?
I don’t know. I must say that I was already quite nervous when I saw him starting. And also when he tried motocross. We will see.

What was it like doing the Stelvio commercial? Do you see yourself as an actor?
No, no. And they also asked me. But no, it was fun because everyone put me at ease, even if it was about driving it was something completely different from what I do.

What will Kimi do when he leaves the racing?
I haven’t thought about it, and I don’t even know when I’m going to leave. I’ll be with my family and I don’t know if I’ll do any other kind of competition. Definitely some kart racing with my son. And I’m going to take my wife on honeymoon, I always told her that I would do it after I quit. And she’s still waiting…

Kimi Räikkönen “First sort out the mistakes, then look at the speed”

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Räikkönen in an interview with SRF about his role in the team, his karting enthusiastic kids and future plans.

source: srf.ch – 07.08.2020

SRF Sport: Good to see you, Kimi. How did you spend the last three days after the race on Sunday?

Kimi Räikkönen: I went home, spent time with my family. Then I had to do the Corona test and now I’m already back in Silverstone. It was a pretty short time.

Did it help to see your family after the disappointing British GP?

Of course, it is always nice. I don’t see them too often. The children are always unhappy when I have to leave again. But that’s the way it is.

The mechanics of Alfa admire how much you push the team forward. Now that the car is not as fast as you would like, do you feel all the more obliged to push, to encourage?

We are always trying to go faster. I can’t feel any difference, it’s the same every year. With the speed we are not yet where we want to be this year. But we have to drive clean races as well. In the first race we lost a wheel, in the second the collision of the Ferraris slowed us down and in Hungary I got a time penalty because I took the wrong starting position. We must first eliminate these mistakes, then we can look at the speed.

Is the blame mainly on the engine?

Certainly not. Maybe we don’t have the strongest engine, but that’s not the only reason. Otherwise we would at least be on a par with Ferrari. The engine is not the whole story, we have to do better as well. The car is the way it is and we drivers have to make the best of it.

Your contract expires at the end of the year. But in Hungary one could see at the start that the fire is still burning inside you…

Yes, that’s the way it is with all of us – no matter what team we’re on. The better you do it, the more fun it is for everyone. That’s normal. Of course we suffer if we’re not as fast as we want. Nevertheless, the goal is always to get the maximum out of the car. It is part of the game, we always try to improve ourselves. The results alone do not dictate what happens. I haven’t discussed the future with the team yet.

At the Russian GP you will break Rubens Barrichello’s record of 323 races. Would you have believed it in Australia in 2001 if I had told you then: you will still be driving in 19 years?

Certainly not. I’ve dropped out of Formula One once before. I never had long-term plans for the future, I always looked from year to year.

Speaking of the future, your wife Minttu posted on social media that Robin was already faster than you in karting. Is that true?

Well, in my defense: I had a rental kart (laughs). I’m not the coach, I’m the father first. I don’t try to coach really, I want him to have fun. If he wants my help, he will ask. He drives his own line so he drives the right line, for me it makes no difference. Maybe in some years time, if he still wants to race when he’s older, we can work on certain things. Right now, fun is what counts.

And what about your little daughter, Rianna? Has she shown any interest in karting yet? We need more women in motorsports!

She can drive on my lap. She enjoys it very much. When she grows up, she can drive Robin’s old kart. I’m sure she’ll like it a lot. She also has a lot of fun on the motocross bike.

Beat Zehnder: “Results unacceptable”

source: Blick

Beat Zehnder (54) has been working for Sauber as a Formula 1 team manager for 26 years. But the Zurich native has never experienced a year like this with an existence-threatening crisis and an immense amount of work for ghost races.

Mandatory masks, no fans, a bunch of corona tests, locked up in a hotel and slow Sauber cars on the track: is Formula 1 still fun for you?
Beat Zehnder: You can complain for a long time. But above all it was important that Formula 1 could set an example. Including Formula 2, Formula 3 and the Porsche Supercup, there are several thousand people on site. But so far there hasn’t been a single case of Corona, everything is running smoothly. You can be proud that we even managed to get it up and running.

Now all that remains is for the Sauber cars to perform …
We realized early this year that our overall package did not meet our expectations. We now have to work better than the competition. Our performance so far, especially in Budapest, is unacceptable.

Kimi Räikkönen started from last place in Hungary for the first time in his career. Will Formula One put him off like this?
Kimi is a racer. He works just as hard as always. Of course, he has no pleasure in starting last. But nobody on the team does. We all want to improve as quickly as possible.

Is it the weak Ferrari engine?
It’s the whole package. What we don’t quite understand yet is the difference between qualifying and the race. We can’t get the car ready for one lap, but in the fastest race laps in Hungary Giovinazzi is eleventh and Kimi twelfth. We are capable of setting good midfield times even on old tyres. It was similar in Spielberg. We are intensively analysing why this is the case.

Because 2021 will also be driven with the 2020 cars, the next season threatens to go downhill as well, with the C39.
We have to stay positive. Of course we’re aware that there may be two difficult years now. But some development is possible. You have a certain number of tokens (a kind of voucher, i.e. editor) available for the different technical areas. You use them when you want to change something. The wind tunnel hours have also been greatly reduced. But I’m very happy that all teams have agreed to postpone the introduction of the new car generation until 2022.

Why?
Because there is no other area of a team where more savings are possible. Fortunately, even the big racing teams have realized how badly the Corona crisis is hitting us all financially. We are losing a lot of revenue. The GP promoters don’t earn anything without spectators, so we get less too. In addition, television and sponsors also want to talk about reductions because the season only started in July.

Is the crisis threatening Sauber’s existence?
The owner (the investment company Longbow Finance, the editor) signalled very early on that he wants to manage the crisis together with us. This was important and gave the staff a lot of assurance that their jobs were not threatened.

Otherwise there would have been redundancies?
One should have been more worried, but that is the same in countless SMBs in other sports and many other sectors of the economy.

The Federal Council put together a million-euro rescue package for professional sport. Is Sauber making use of it?
Among us only the two drivers are professional sportsmen and one of them lives abroad… (laughs). We are an SMB with around 500 employees, and we have gradually applied for short-time work for all companies in the Sauber Group. That was an extreme financial relief. We were on short-time work from the end of March to 25 May and have been gradually ramping up again since then.

Then the new racing calendar appeared and you had more work than ever before.
The administrative workload is insanely high. There are many regulations, not only from F1 and the FIA. But also from the respective national health authorities.

How big is the fear that a forgotten detail could have a major impact?
It’s always present with so many lists and forms. And every new piece of information brings with it a rat tail of changes. If you forget something, it may result in being refused entry to the country or banned from the race track.

An example, please!
At the first race in Spielberg, some of our people were at the track on Wednesday, on Thursday they were suddenly banned. It was said that they had not been tested. It then took me a few hours to prove the opposite. But I understand that there can be problems when information about thousands of people is merged and Excel lists are sometimes typed in manually.

You had to replan the many trips for the whole team. Did you have to pay a fortune for the cancellations and postponements of hotels and flights?
The cancellation fees amount to a few thousand francs.

That little? No wonder BLICK Formula 1 legend Roger Benoit would like to award you the Nobel Prize in Logistics.
(laughs) That’s my life, I’ve been doing this job for 25 years. Over time, you get to know a few tricks. Without decades of relationships with hotels and airlines, where we have large order volumes, that’s obviously not possible. But since 2002 I have had pandemics as force majeure in my hotel contracts anyway.

You also organize the corona testing in the team. How often is the testing done?
On Wednesday and Sunday. I have set up Wednesday to have enough time for follow-up tests. Because about 5% end up in the lab without a conclusive result, neither negative nor positive. The effort is massive. But it is worth it. Because we can race.

In addition to the many tests, there is also the strict life in the bubble.
That is a huge challenge. To work for three weeks in a row and only travel back and forth between the hotel and the track was something we had never done before. Against the cabin fever, we organized a day in Spielberg with activities like karting, badminton or Segway tours. All in small groups, who are also otherwise together.

What if someone gets infected with Covid-19 though?
Sooner or later we will have a positive case in Formula 1. Not among us, I hope. This is pure probability calculation, because we have contacts, especially at the airports, where we have made a mask mandatory for us. We now fly with our own charter planes. This costs more money, but we want to minimize the contacts to the outside world.

But now the mechanics and engineers were at home for a week. Were they subject to a curfew?
I cannot and will not control everything like in a school camp. It would be negligent if someone didn’t play by the rules and therefore tested positive. But I have full confidence in our people, we have sensitized strongly for the topic.