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.

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.

Kimi Räikkönen about quarantine days, his Lada and his only victory in Hungary

Currently, the children and his training are filling Kimi Räikkönen’s everyday life, but in the meantime, the Finn is also fully prepared for the start of the F1 season: if it starts in July, he will be ready, but if it doesn’t, it’s still fine for him. Räikkönen gave an exclusive interview to F1Világ.hu!

Interview from 26th May 2020

During the forced rest period, Räikkönen and his wife, Minttu, also frequently post on Instagram so fans can keep track of how this non-competitive period is going for them.

The family is not bored at all, Räikkönen himself confirmed this: they go karting, they jump trampoline, but they often go on trips, in fact, the Finn even gives his daughter ballet lessons.

“We are fine, we enjoy the time we spend together – this is something we did not expect to such an extent before the start of the season,” Räikkönen told F1Világ.hu. “But still, the days are pretty packed, we do many things together, we’re out with the kids, I train and we just try to recharge.”

It is especially important for F1 drivers to be in continuous training during the rest period so their physical condition doesn’t deteriorate. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is also paying close attention to staying fit during the coronavirus epidemic, and Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo believes he has been able to develop a much more intense and meaningful training program in recent months than ever before.

Räikkönen said he also trains continuously, but unlike Ricciardo – who quarantines with his personal trainer – he doesn’t need to have a regular, daily relationship with his coach, Mark Arnall.

“I’m lucky to have a place here where I can be safely out,” the Finn said. “I can do sports and we have a gym in our house, so staying in shape is pretty easy. I talked to Mark before the start of the epidemic, but my current training program is no different to what I do during the off-season.”

On the other hand, he talks more to his team boss as well as his race engineer: but the 40-year-old driver revealed that there is little talk about work at such times.

“Sometimes I get in touch with the team, most notably Fred Vasseur and my engineer, Julien. Rather, to know that everyone is fine – not to talk about work. Everything is going smoothly, so I’m ready for it whenever we get back to racing.”

According to current news, the 2020 F1 season could start with the Austrian Grand Prix in July, but there is no official information on this yet. Räikkönen said he didn’t really care when they start – if the situation was safe enough, he would be ready.

“It depends, ultimately it doesn’t matter,” Räikkönen replied to the question of whether he thought there could be competition in July. “There are a lot of factors involved and we need to be prepared so that if the situation gets safe, we can go. If it happens in Austria in July, okay, if later, it doesn’t matter either.”

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, rule changes scheduled for 2021 have been postponed to 2022, so drivers and teams will have to wait another season to start with a clean sheet.

However, Räikkönen’s contract expires at the end of the year, and although the new rules could have given him further motivation to stay, the Alfa Romeo driver said his decision was not affected by the postponement of the introduction of the rules.

“Postponing the rules doesn’t change how I feel. I’ve always said we’ll see how this season turns out, and then I’m planning for the future, and that’s what’s going on now. There’s still plenty of time, ” the Finn said.

Changing the rules doesn’t guarantee that the errors in Formula 1 will disappear and we can see exciting races – Raikkonen thinks, which is why he believes that the rule change doesn’t have to determine whether to remain in Formula One or not.

“It’s hard to say [whether F1 would become more exciting due to rule changes – ed.] until we see the cars on track. It doesn’t matter what the data says, because it only becomes clear at the moment that this will change.”

In the meantime, they need to focus on Alfa Romeo to get the most out of the car and themselves this year. However, the team also has a more specific goal for this year: they want to finish higher in the midfield.

Last year, Alfa Romeo finished in 8th place in the championship with 57 points, while McLaren, which finished in the middle, scored a total of 145 points.

“As always, the goal for the season now is to do the best job possible and fight at the top of the midfield,” Räikkönen said. “We need to stay on the ground of reality, we know the order won’t change significantly compared to last season, but we’ve made some progress. We will only know what this means when we go out on track.”

During the conversation, we also went from the present a bit to the past: Räikkönen recalled some memories, such as his first car, which was a Lada.

“It was a perfect first car,” the Finn said. “There wasn’t enough power in it to drift, but there were a lot of problems to solve!”

His first street car was a Lada, and his first F1 car was a Sauber back in 2000, when Peter Sauber noticed his talent, invited him to his team for a three-day test, and was quickly convinced by the performance that he was facing a talented driver.

Räikkönen was still quite unexperienced with his only 23 formula car races at the time, so we wondered if he had any concerns about the first test, such as his fitness.

“No, I wasn’t worried about that, but I was excited to drive for the first time, and the test went pretty well.”

Then soon the news came that he would get a racing contract for the 2001 season…

“Of course I was happy about that. I targeted a seat in F1 and it worked, ” said the Finn.

As far as memories are concerned, Räikkönen is fond of recalling the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix, when he got his first and so far only victory at the Hungaroring.

“That 2005 race was good. We had a good strategy, we knew that if we stick to our plan, we would have the performance of the car to be ahead,” said the Finn about the race, which he started from 4th place. “It was key to have a good start and I managed that, and then we stayed out of trouble and did our job. It was a good team result.”

In the 2005 season, Räikkönen won a total of 7 races, but fell short of Fernando Alonso in the championship, finishing only in 2nd place at the end of the year.

“The season could have turned out a little differently, but in the end we have no reason to regret anything – we can’t change the past.”

Kimi Räikkönen: “If I don’t keep enjoying racing this year, I’ll retire”

source: infobae

One on one with the last Ferrari champion in Formula 1. His way of being, which colleagues he would invite to a party and why he’s still around at 40.

Far from the young man who had some excesses and even admitted in his biography that he had problems with alcohol that he managed to overcome, today Kimi-Matias Räikkönen enjoys his family life with his wife and two children (the boy, Robin, has already started go-karting). He is one of the Formula 1 drivers who has the best time during this break because of the coronavirus pandemic. He looks relaxed and very happy on social media, tools that he started using a couple of years ago. Before starting the action that will return on July 5th with the Austrian Grand Prix, the current Alfa Romeo driver and last champion with Ferrari accepted to talk to Infobae. He made an exception because he does not usually give interviews.

Iceman, as the Finn is known, is 40 years old (born on 17/10/1979) and in 2020 will start his third decade in Formula One where he started in 2001. He surprised in that season with the humble Sauber team and in 2002 McLaren signed him. He was a winner with the English team and fought in the 2003 and 2005 championships where he was runner-up. In 2007 he moved to Maranello and won the title with the Scuderia. It was then that he beat the drivers of his former team, the Briton Lewis Hamilton and the Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who were ahaid of him in the championship before the final race.

He then had two years of absence in 2010 and 2011 when he competed unsuccessfully in the World Rally Championship and tried his luck in the American NASCAR. In 2012 he returned to F1 with Lotus, which was not one of the best teams. However, it did not cost him his return, he came to win and even finished 3rd in the championship. Along with the late Niki Lauda, they are the only champions who were out for two years, came back and were winners. Although the Austrian had the added bonus of having been inactive during that period, he returned and won his third title in 1984.

Kimi, for his good performance with Lotus in 2012 and 2013, returned to Ferrari in 2014 where he was until 2018. In 2019 he moved to Alfa Romeo, which is the Scuderia’s satellite team. The link with his current team expires at the end of the year. In order to have a reference of his extensive career in the category, in his beginnings he raced against the Dutchman Jos Verstappen and today he has in front of him his son, Max Verstappen. For his almost two decades in the category, he has a lot to tell.

Is this your last year in Formula 1?

I’ve always said I’ll do this season and then decide. If I still enjoy racing this year, I will continue, if not, I will retire.

Besides your two-year absence, how did you manage to get 18 seasons in F1?

It’s very simple, I love racing. I don’t really care about all the rest, the interviews and all that, but I really like the feeling of racing wheel to wheel. I missed that feeling and that’s why I came back.

What was the most difficult thing for you when you went to the rally? What did you think of motor racing in the United States?

In the rally, maybe adapting to driving with the pace notes. As for the United States, I liked the competition, it was a lot of fun.

At Monza 2018, Kimi took pole position and broke the record of Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004 with a time of 1m19s119. The Scandinavian was 406/1000 faster than the Colombian, who 14 years earlier had achieved it with a V10 combustion engine of over 900 hp, similar to the power of current V6 hybrids. Räikkönen, on that lap, on the straights comfortably surpassed 300 km/h and reached the fastest average lap time in the history of Formula One with 263.587 km/h.

How does it feel to drive an F-1 car at over 300 km/h?

It’s a pretty normal feeling, I’ve done it most of my life. It’s fun, especially when you’re pushing the limits.

The final of the 2007 championship was dramatic. -How do you remember that race in Brazil?

The race itself was not so remarkable for me. I didn’t feel much pressure, as I wasn’t very likely to win the title without first winning the race (he did). I had a good start, a fairly quiet race and everyone in the team did a great job. We did what we had to do. Of course it was a great joy. We raced to win the title and we did it.

The Finn is also the only one of all the current F1 drivers to have raced with three types of engines: V10 (2001 to 2005), V8 (2006 to 2013) and V6 hybrid (2014 to present). As a result, he was familiar with various types of technologies and developments.

You raced with V10, V8 and V6 engines. What is your favorite period?

I don’t really care. Each engine formula has its own characteristics and it’s up to the drivers to make the most of it.

He has a particular personality, with few words, but concrete when answering, many times he broke the schemes in the F1 environment. For example, on the day of his debut in Australia in 2001 he was woken up to go to the circuit and without being anxious about that instance he asked to sleep a little longer. Or he even revealed in his biography (“The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen”) that in 2012 he spent 16 consecutive days celebrating before the race in Spain, something that did not prevent him from being third.

On some podiums you were seen to be very serious, like at Brazil 2018. Is that part of your personality?

It’s hard to say, it’s just me and I react the way I feel at the time. There’s no point in pretending or being fake.

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If you were throwing a party, which current F1 drivers would you invite?

I don’t think I’d invite many! I’d probably just invite my friends.

Iceman is very popular in F1. In 2017 his retirement in Spain brought a little fan of him to tears in the stands. He was caught by the TV cameras and then invited to the Ferrari pits. The boy met his idol and could not believe it. Today Kimi is still one of the most wanted people when it comes to a photo or autograph. After four decades, he is still in force and did not disappoint in his first year in Alfa Romeo, a not very competitive team, where in 2019 he finished 12th in the championship among 20 competitors.

In Formula One he achieved a total of 21 victories, 103 podiums, 18 pole positions and 46 fastest laps. He competed in a total of 312 Grand Prixs and is 10 behind Rubens Barrichello, the one who started the most races in the 70 years of Formula One. Eight races have been confirmed so far in the reduced 2020 season. If races are added, it is possible that the Nordic will surpass the Brazilian.

This year you could be the driver with the most races in history. Are you aware of this statistic or don’t you think it’s important?

I really don’t care much about them. In the end it’s not what will make me happy or not about my years in Formula One. I think there are many more things I will remember about my career than the number of races I have done.

What would you change about this Formula One?

It doesn’t really matter, since it’s not up to us, the drivers, to change the rules. In the end, we are able to drive any car that has been built for us and we have to adapt to it and try to go as fast as possible.

The day you stop racing, do you think you’ll miss F1?

I don’t think I will. There are good people in the sport and I’ll keep in touch with them, but that’s it. I have spent many years in this environment and when I choose to stop, I am sure I will find many things to keep me busy.

There is no doubt about that. Kimi Räikkönen looks very entertained and happy with his own. He made it clear that his family is the most important thing and that there is life after F1.

Räikkönen: “In isolation I never get bored. I don’t think about stopping racing.”

The Finn and his days with the family: “Virtual races? I’d rather wait to get back on the real track. Vettel and Giovinazzi two real friends.”

Corriere by Daniele Sparisci

Kimi Räikkönen has always thought about keeping some distance with the world. Especially towards that part of Formula 1 that never went down well with him: interviews, appearances, press conferences. The days of wild parties are far away, the latest Ferrari world champion is a role model dad. His wife Minttu, little Robin and Rianna who are racing on tricycles, lockdown in the family. In the Finnish woods, on his estate, where he also had a motocross track built. Mud and jumps, he shows no cracks after weeks of isolation. On the contrary, he says he can enjoy the children more and that little has changed since before. At the age of forty he is the oldest driver in F1, the forced stop has interrupted the hunt for the race record: he is at 313, Rubens Barrichello is at +10, the pass may be completed if the season starts on July 5 in Austria. But he doesn’t give importance to numbers.

Kimi, how are you spending this period? Are you bored?
Pretty normal, pretty much the same as before. I spend all my time with the kids, we are lucky enough to be outdoors most of the time. We do a lot of hand work and a lot of activities. My days pass very quickly.

Let’s go back to two months ago, to the chaos of the Australian GP. You were on the plane back before the race was officially cancelled. Did you really not know if you were going to race?
Maybe I did or maybe I didn’t. But what does it matter now? It’s gone now. I just think canceling the race was the right thing to do. And so it was.

How do you feel about racing on circuits without spectators?
We will resume when the F1 and the FIA decide that it is possible to do it safely. It’s not our decision, I’m sure they will evaluate the picture very carefully. We will race at the right time, even without an audience.

Can this situation change your plans for the future?
No. Let’s wait until we find a way to start the season and finish it. At some point, I’ll see what’s going on and I’ll sum it up. Nothing changes for me at the moment.

How long do you want to continue in Formula 1?
As long as I have fun and motivation. Now I feel more motivated than ever.

You returned to the team with which you started in 2001 (Sauber, now partnered with Alfa), how is the atmosphere?
Good. In the second year we know each other better: they know what I want and I know what I want from them.

What do you think about online racing? A lot of drivers take part.
I don’t care, I’d rather wait until I can get back to a real track.

Neither did you like to drive the Ferrari simulator.
It’s not that I didn’t love it. Let’s say that flying to Italy to get in front of the simulator wasn’t exactly why I chose this job. It’s a different thing to drive around the track. And anyway, those simulators are completely different and extremely more complex than the online racing ones.

For a driver it must be strange to think of a season without the Monte Carlo GP, isn’t it?
It’s not up to us, and it’s not just that race that’s cancelled. We won’t be racing in Australia or anywhere else we would have liked. Unfortunately, that’s the situation.

With such a long break you don’t risk getting rusty in your body and mind?
I don’t think it’s much different from the traditional winter breaks since we’ve been back at the tests in Barcelona. This time I think we’ll go straight to the first race, I don’t see any particular problems.

Is it possible to make friends among the other drivers?
For me Sebastian and Antonio (Vettel and Giovinazzi) are friends. Apart from them I don’t have many.

You have been a protagonist of the last twenty years of F1. If you could travel back in time, in what era would you compete?
You can’t go back. I’m happy with where I am, when I started and what I achieved. But if you could, I would take a look at the F1 of the 70s and 80s.