“I have never thought about the time passing!

350 GP, 1 world title and a well-deserved retirement

source: AutoHebdo Magazine, 22. December 2021

A bit misanthropic, 100% natural, the Finnish hero takes a bow after 19 seasons with a world title in 2007.

They say you’re an ace at DIY, that you even fixed the toilets at the Scuderia. Do you have a lot of work to do at home?

You seem to be surprised. Do you call the plumber every time you have a little problem with the toilet? No. Well, neither do I! There is nothing unusual about it. I’ve always been able to do a lot of things with my hands and when I don’t know how to do it, I learn. At home, I do a little bit of everything, including the car. Besides, you’re right, I have a lot of things to do. I’m going to be very busy in the next few weeks. (Laughs) Really, what’s not normal is not doing all these little every day things. I don’t see why I should pay someone to unclog a sink, change a wheel, etc. A lot of things resist me, but I’m stubborn. I try, and I try again!

Is Robin, your six-year-old son, like you?

I let him try. It’s the normal process of learning. You learn a lot in school, but you also learn a lot on your own by trying and trying again.

Your school of life was the paddock. Is ending your career a leap into the unknown?

I don’t have a plan. I didn’t want to have one. I will see what the future holds for me… I have always given much more importance to my life outside the paddock than inside. F1 has never been the most important part of my life. Everyone is very sympathetic to me. They ask me what I’m going to do. I’m just going to live. I’m not going to miss traveling…

Are you quitting F1 or motorsport? Could we see you again in the cockpit of a prototype sports car or in the WRC car?

I don’t know! If something interesting comes up, why not. I’m going to do motocross, for sure. Maybe Robin will want to race, in which case I’ll be there to help him. Now he likes these things, but he’s young and at that age you change your mind a lot. I don’t mind if it becomes his passion, it will be easier for me to manage. With my wife Minttu, we will support our two children (Robin and Rianna, 6 and 4 years old) in all their projects. If they want to be dancers, I don’t mind at all, as long as they enjoy what they do. Whatever they choose will always be better than hanging out in the corner, or sitting at home playing video games.

Is it a relief that it’s ending?

I’m very happy. I enjoyed the racing, I still enjoy it, but the rest of it became too much. I’ll miss the race, but I won’t miss the other stuff. My thing was to jump in the car and have fun. As time went on, it became less fun! Everything else took over eventually.

You have lived most of your career without the social networks and netflix that have revolutionized the paddock. Is that a relief or regret?

I don’t know. The world has changed a lot in twenty years, and F1 has just followed the trend. We were much less present in the media but much more on the track. The race weekends were exciting, but the tests between each Grand Prix were much less so. Doing laps from 9am to 6pm with an hour break… It wasn’t like a factory, but it wasn’t fun either. We had less time for ourselves, but the feeling of freedom was actually perhaps more important… I say that, but maybe it’s age that makes me talk.

With whom will you stay in touch?

With Antonio and Sebastian of course! Seb and I won’t be seeing each other as much, but I have no doubt that we’ll see each other from time to time. It’s been a while since we played badminton against each other, and it would be nice to do it again. And since I’ll have time to train, it will be even harder for him to beat me.

Did you enjoy your time at Ferrari with him (2015-2018)?

Yes, it was fun. We knew each other from before, which made things easier. It’s the same with Antonio who became a close friend. In fact, I never had any problems with my teammates. It has always gone pretty well.

You never tried to be particularly friendly with the fans. Yet your popularity has never dropped. Is indifference the secret to being popular?

I wouldn’t say I’m indifferent, just that I am who I am, with my faults and qualities. I didn’t try to be someone else. Some people do, but it never lasts very long. After two or three years, their true nature returns. I simply live my life. Maybe that’s where it comes from. I’ve always said I don’t care what people think. I’ve always been straightforward. I was never there to please. Some people like you, some people don’t. You like some people and not others. Having raced in F1 doesn’t make you any different from anyone else.

In the 70’s or 80’s, F1 drivers didn’t say no to a cigarette or a good beer after a qualifying or a race… During your career, did you feel closer to them than to the “Netflix generation” you are leaving behind? Is it a certain idea of F1 that leaves with you?

I don’t know, and I don’t really care to be honest. I’ve never been shy about a beer, I haven’t always refused a cigarette, but I don’t feel any pride or embarrassment about it. I didn’t grow up in the same world as this young generation coming into F1. I think it must be the same for you, whom I have often crossed paths with since my debut in 2001 at Sauber. (Laughs)

Like you, I have known the fathers and I see the sons arriving… Have you suddenly felt the weight of the years on your shoulders?

It’s true, I raced against Michael and was there when Mick started. I raced against Jos and saw Max become world champion, but I never thought about the time passing. I don’t stop because I feel old, but because I’m fed up!

Did you test the 2022 single-seater in the simulator, just to see how it would look like?

Yes, but it’s impossible to draw any conclusions. As long as these cars are not on the track, we can say anything and its opposite. I just hope that they will be a good thing for F1. I will see it in front of my TV!


Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo Team Principal

Kimi’s arrival at Alfa Romeo (2019) was an opportunity for us, which we fully exploited in the first season, less so in the following two, which were made more complicated for reasons specific to the team. This never stopped him from fighting, with the deep-rooted racer’s soul that he has always had. I will always remember Kimi as an exceptional driver. His behaviour was different in the over-policed world of the paddock. This is probably what the fans perceived and liked, especially in Asia where he has an exceptional aura. He is one of the most recognized sportsmen there. He owes it to the vintage image he has of himself, far from the right-thinking and political correctness of the sport. He has never shied away from making a few deviations, without affecting his lifestyle and his thirst for performance. He knows how to let go, and that is part of his balance. He will have to create a new one from now on. For the moment, he is looking for a break. The transition between the status of F1 driver highly mediatized and retired will not be easy. Not easy for him and Minttu, his wife. I think he will soon have to do something. (Laughs) What remains is a career of almost twenty years, which will be difficult to match in terms of richness and longevity!


ODE TO KIMI

Kimi, as you finish your last season in Formula 1, I must say how important you have been to me. If I became passionate about this sport, it is because of you. I was not even born when you became world champion in 2007, but my mother told me about your achievements in the 2000s. She also explained to me that the blue helmet in Abu Dhabi was the one you wore at your first Grand Prix in 2001 in Melbourne, where there was less safety I guess, and yet you had a long career. To drive a F1 car at more than 40 years old, that requires a lot of courage. To find out more about you, I watch a lot of YouTube videos on my phone. The first memory I have of you is when you came back to Ferrari in 2014. I loved the way you drove, you were very clean in the corners and I thought you were respectful to the other drivers. I attended my first Grand Prix in Barcelona in 2017 I was all excited about you getting on the podium, but at the first corner Valtteri Bottas clipped you. So I cried and cried. I didn’t know about it, but a cameraman had filmed me and my face was shown on TV. Then some people from the Scuderia came up to the grandstand and took my parents and me into the paddock. I turned around and saw you, you were tall. “Are you Kimi?”, I asked you as if I didn’t understand that you were there, in front of me! That’s when you went from being an “Iceman” to a normal driver. You had a big smile on your face. It was the best moment of my life. You gave me your hat, and even though it’s a little too big for me, it became the treasure of my room, among t-shirts, posters, cards, toys, puzzles with your image. We even named a cat after you. Thanks to you, I’m learning English through your exchanges on the radio, where you made me laugh a lot. Especially one time when you kept asking for your steering wheel! I would have liked to see you again this year in Barcelona, but with the Covid, it was not possible. And I consider myself lucky, because I have already met you twice; there are worse things in life. The last time I saw you, you told me not to cry even if something happened to you during a race. I’m sorry, when I saw you idling back to your pit in Abu Dhabi, I couldn’t hold back the tears once again. As I do some karting for fun, I chose number 7, so that you are always with me on the track. I’m happy for you, because you’re going to enjoy your family from now on, and that’s the most important thing. And then, taking the plane, it gives you a headache, it must be tiring to travel all the time.

Thank you for everything Kimi, I love you very much.

THOMAS PIETERS
11 years old, student in 6th grade and absolute fan of Kimi Räikkönen

“I know who I am. I am Kimi.”

source: Sport Bild Magazine Nr. 1; 5. January 2022

SPORT BILD: Mr. Räikkönen, when did you last pee in your garden?

I don’t know the exact day, but it wasn’t long ago.

You revealed in your biography that you like to pee in the garden. As a retiree, will you be doing that more often again?

Sure, it’s normal for me. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a toilet in my parents’ house. Where else would you pee? Of course I’ll continue to do it. I have no problem with it. If I have to, I have to.

With 350 races under your belt, you’re the record holder in Formula 1. How much will you miss the pinnacle of racing?

Only time will tell. What I already know is that driving is the only thing I liked about it! I may never set foot in the paddock again. Formula 1 was never my life. There were always things that were more important to me. Nothing will change that. I didn’t quit because I lack the energy, but because I have better things to do than sit in airplanes and stay in hotels.

Do you already have plans for your retirement?

No, and I don’t want to make any. My children want a dog, but we haven’t decided on that yet. Maybe it’s enough for them for now that I’ll be spending more time at home again.

What are you most looking forward to?

That a vacation is once again a vacation. Otherwise, we only had the summer break. That was two and a half weeks in which you had to keep training and always had in the back of your mind that afterwards it would be back to normal madness.

What things will you take with you from Formula 1 into real life?
(thinks for a long time – and remains silent)
You are said to lie as if you were in a Formula 1 car when you’re driving in private, too.

That’s right. But it’s like peeing in the garden: It’s normal for me. I’ve gotten used to this position over the years.

Do you also adopt the driving style, or does that cause trouble with your wife Minttu?

She never complains, but I also drive very slowly and always stick to the speed limit.

You never get caught by speed cameras?

Now and then, yes. But in Switzerland you’re only allowed to drive six km/h too fast. That happens quickly. That’s why I drive very concentrated, so I can see the speed cameras and slow down beforehand. But I only drive rarely and when I absolutely have to.

You drove your first and last lap in Formula 1 in a Sauber. Was that the perfect farewell? Or are you frustrated because you only drove at the back of the field in your final season?

What is perfect? I’m just glad it’s over. Even the fact that I couldn’t finish the last race doesn’t matter.

What was your career highlight: the 2007 world championship title with Ferrari?

I don’t know. A victory is always a victory. You get 25 points for that. A few were very easy to win, a few were more difficult. Maybe the ones from 2007 are a bit more important.

What was the best advice you received?

A lot of people tried to give me advice, but I didn’t listen to any of them. I’ve always done my thing and have no regrets. I would do everything the same way again. Everyone has to know for themselves what is best for their life. The boss can’t tell you what to do.

Are you a legend?

People say that.

And what is your opinion?

I’m not interested. I know who I am. I am Kimi.

You said that it used to be normal to do everything on the car yourself. And about the new generation of drivers, that there are “assholes” who “sit down at the prepared table thanks to their fathers’ millions.” How much does Formula 1 today remind you still of your early days?

Today the cars are much more reliable. In my early years, every race was like gambling in a casino. You never knew what you were going to get that day and whether you would even get to the finish line. But it doesn’t matter if you like the development or not. We drivers don’t decide the rules or where we race. We’re just employees of the teams, just like mechanics. Formula 1 is not interested in our opinion.

Is it still the same sport?

Since it’s still about driving the car in circles as fast as possible: yes. We now race a few more times a year and also in new countries, but in the end it’s not about the stuff around it, but about 20 drivers in 20 cars.

Critics see it differently.

A lot has changed in the past 20 years. Especially because of social media. But that’s the case all over the world and not just in Formula 1. Fans can see virtually everything now. Tendentially too much. I can only repeat myself: The drivers are also just employees.

Are you the last Räikkönen we’ll see in Formula 1?

I don’t know. My son or daughter don’t need to be in racing. They should just do what they feel like doing. Just like I did.

“No fear of the new life”

source: AMuS, 17.12.2021

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

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

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

And what was different this time?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which one has been the most demanding for you?

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

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

Have you collected your race cars?

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

Do you collect your trophies?

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

Which teammate was the hardest to beat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you want people to remember you?

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

Kimi Räikkönen: “With Sebastian it was closer”

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

source: welt.de, 09.12.2021

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

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

Mr. Räikkönen, thank you for your time.

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

We have 15 minutes for the interview.

Hm.

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

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

Is there anything you can’t fix?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I wouldn’t change anything.”

source: rds.ca

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

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

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

Q: If you could change anything, would you?

A: “No, I wouldn’t change anything.”

Q: What has been your best season?

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

Q: Who has been your most notable opponent?

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

Q: Your favorite teammate?

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

Q: What about the team you liked the most?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What will be your schedule?

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

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

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

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

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

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…