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.
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.