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.”