Kimi Raikkonen: Laidback Lada driver to reluctant Ferrari star
“What do you call a Lada driver with a speeding ticket? A liar.”
Kimi Raikkonen might not have heard that old joke about the much-maligned car, an icon of the Soviet era, but it might give him a chuckle.
“I had a Russian Lada,” the Formula One star revealed as he took CNN’s The Circuit for a spin in a flashy sports car provided by his team Ferrari.
“I got it from a friend of ours. We changed the engine. It was perfect for us — free of charge and a very robust car.
“It was red but we painted it black. It never broke down.”
The Finn now drives one of the world’s fastest vehicles on the F1 racetrack — which he definitely wouldn’t be allowed to paint black — but the down-to-earth approach of his first car beautifully sums up his underlying normality.
The man they call the “Iceman” is Formula One’s most reluctant star.
The 34-year-old is known for his succinct, cool answers when facing the media. And while he doesn’t say much, he often says what he thinks.
Perhaps his most famous admission came in 2006 when he explained he missed the presentation for the retiring Michael Schumacher, the man he was going to replace at Ferrari the following year, because he was in the bathroom — or words to that effect.
Then there are the off-track headlines, like the time he was filmed falling off a boat during a party.
Raikkonen’s pithy comments and antics have made him a cult icon among F1 fans but he insists he would rather stay out of the spotlight.
“It’d be perfect to lead a normal life where nobody notices you,” he tells CNN. “But obviously you cannot have both.
“Racing and driving is the main thing but there’s a lot of other stuff that comes with it.
“I’ve been long enough in the business to know that it’s a big part of it. For me, it’s not much fun.
“I’m not a big fan of going places and showing off, I’d rather do my own things. I never try to hide it because it is how it is.”
Unlike many other drivers on the grid, Raikkonen is also refreshingly honest about his childhood ambitions while growing up in the city of Espoo.
“I wouldn’t say I wanted to become a Formula One driver straight away,” he explains.
“I actually started out with motocross when I was a small boy and then go-karts. It was good fun and you start wanting more.
“But I still didn’t believe that I would even make it to F1 because we didn’t have the money.
“I just thought I’d do karts for as long as possible and then do something else.”
That something else was two titles in the British Formula Renault Championship.
After just 23 races, Raikkonen was signed up by Sauber and fast-tracked into F1 for the 2001 season.
He won his first grand prix with McLaren in 2003 and his first and only world title with Ferrari in 2007 before the Italian team effectively paid up the rest of his salary to bring in Fernando Alonso for the 2010 season.
Officially retired from F1, Raikkonen flexed his driving muscles in the World Rally Championships and got behind the wheel for two NASCAR races.
His team radio in the U.S. series endeared him to new fans with such quotable outbursts as: “I don’t understand how this car can be so hot. My ass is even burning in here.”
“I really enjoy the whole NASCAR thing,” Raikkonen recalls. “It’s just completely different and fun. It was a good experience.
“Hopefully I can do more (races) some day. I’ve said I’d like to do some more rallies in the future.”
For now, F1’s reluctant star is focused on finishing his second spell in the sport with Ferrari, having returned to Maranello after two seasons with Lotus in which he re-established himself on the grid despite the team’s financial problems.
With two wins and 15 podiums he became hot property, and replaced Felipe Massa at the home of the “Prancing Horse.”
The 34-year-old, who has struggled with an under-performing car this season, says he plans to finish his career with the Italian marque but is giving nothing away on when exactly that might be.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is expected to sign for Ferrari next year, with Alonso tipped to return to McLaren.
“I have a contract for next year and probably for one more year,” Raikkonen says. “But I’m not a young guy anymore.
“I want to do something more with my life than just Formula One. I will finish my career in Ferrari.
“I never lost the passion. I will stop the day when I feel I don’t enjoy it anymore.”
A new chapter is about to begin for Raikkonen in the near future when his girlfriend Minttu Virtanen gives birth to their first child.
“The biggest challenge will be with a family,” he says. “That will take a lot of time and effort.”
Asked if he would encourage his child to follow him into motor racing, he gives a typically direct and definitive “No!”
Raikkonen might not be keen on small talk but he is looking forward to discussing fatherhood with Vettel, his closest friend in F1, who became a father to a baby daughter earlier this year.
“The guy I have most to do with outside of racing is Vettel,” he says. “The rest I don’t really see as friends, I race against them.
“He’s just a normal guy and it’s an easy relationship.”
On the subject of sharing baby tips with the German, Raikkonen adds: “Yes, he has more experience…”
He might be one of F1’s most-enigmatic and best-loved stars, and still among the highest earners, but in many ways he has stayed true to his roots.
“I have normal cars,” he explains. “Maybe when I was young I was a bit more like, ‘This nice car, I want to have this and drive this.’
“Not anymore. I drive normal cars without people noticing me, so it makes my life easy.”
Dare we suggest, Raikkonen might have rewound time by swapping a Ferrari for a beat-up Lada?
Kimi Raikkonen thinks the current period of change at Ferrari will need to be given time to achieve results but already expects to see a much-improved on track performance in 2015.
Luca di Montezemolo was officially replaced as Ferrari president by Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat, on Monday. It marks a period of big change at Maranello, with team principal Marco Mattiacci announcing in June his desire to create a “different team for 2015″ – with engine boss Luca Marmorini a high-profile casualty this summer.
While Raikkonen does not think the period of change has made an impact on Ferrari’s current fortunes he is confident it will have the desired affect from 2015 onwards.
“I don’t think it has changed an awful lot now,” Raikkonen said. “As for the future I think it will be a bit different and, at least from what I’ve heard, we’re going in the right direction. But there’s a lot of work to do to get where we should be in the front.
“There’s some new people coming and Marco has done a very good job, done the right things with changes, and I’m sure in the future or even next year we will be in a much stronger position – if it’s enough – already. I have 100% belief in the team we can get where we should be. It might take a bit of time but I’m sure it’s [going to be] a much better position.”
One of the biggest changes at Ferrari is yet to happen, with Sebastian Vettel widely believed to be joining the Italian outfit after announcing his split with Red Bull. He is expected to replace Fernando Alonso in the seat alongside Raikkonen but the Finn is refusing to be drawn on what impact a driver change will have.
“The time will tell, really. I have no idea what they are going to do. I have a contract so I’m pretty sure I will be there. The changes will be done for certain reasons, for sure, but it’s hard to say what will happen in the future. On the car side I’m sure we will have a much better package for next year. The rest you will have to ask the team.”
[ Source: espn.co.uk ]
Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci says the team is seeing Kimi Raikkonen’s pace improving even if the results are yet to follow.
Since Raikkonen finished fourth in the Belgian Grand Prix he has appeared more competitive at most races but is only able to boast a best finish since then of eighth place. While the results have not been impressive, Mattiacci says Ferrari can see the reasons that have prevented Raikkonen from scoring more points but has noted the step up in pace.
“There have been a series of events,” Mattiacci said. “[In Sochi] Kimi had good pace but unfortunately the start was not a happy start. [Daniil] Kvyat pushed him backwards, so he had a different race to catch up but definitely we see the pace of Kimi improving.
“So does it translate immediately to more points during the race? It’s evident it does not. But there are a series of events that didn’t allow this. But he’s keeping the pace and increasing the speed.”
Raikkonen himself said he has been learning from his tough season and has felt the difference in competitiveness in recent races.
“For sure you learn things but obviously I learned a lot of things in the past and I learned also that sometimes we have difficult times,” Raikkonen said. “The key is to keep working and trying to improve things and get things sorted out. There has been many, many small things that have cost us a lot of points and made our life very difficult.
“Lately we have had some success at improving things and for sure the car has improved a lot since the beginning of the year. The direction is right but obviously it doesn’t help much right now. The season has been disappointing overall but I have full belief in all the people and I’m sure we can be much, much better and where we should be next year.”
[ Source: crash.net ]
Report – Sixth and ninth places for the Scuderia Ferrari drivers in the inaugural Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso got a great start, while Kimi Raikkonen fought tooth and nail to defend a points place finish to the very end.
Fernando got away perfectly, making up two places, while Kimi, who also got off the line well, then saw his efforts thwarted as he was squeezed against the wall.
Fernando was a front runner in the early stages even fighting for a podium place, but the switch to the Medium tyre meant he was unable to match the pace of the five Mercedes powered cars that would finish ahead of him. A bit further back, after his pit stop, Kimi fought off Sergio Perez in the Force India and Felipe Massa in the Williams, to successfully hang on to ninth place, these two also Mercedes-powered.
Lewis Hamilton won the race thus equaling Nigel Mansell’s total of 31 victories, while his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was second ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. Next up were the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen and then behind Alonso came the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel. Sergio Perez took the last point on offer behind Raikkonen. The next round is the United States Grand Prix on 2 November.
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||-||23h28m09.s|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||-||23h28m09.s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||-||23h28m09.s|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||-||23h28m09.s|
|13||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||-||23h28m09.s|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||-||1 Lap|
|15||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber/Ferrari||-||1 Lap|
|16||Adrian Sutil||Sauber/Ferrari||-||1 Lap|
|17||Romain Grosjean||Lotus/Renault||-||1 Lap|
|18||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus/Renault||-||1 Lap|
|19||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham/Renault||-||2 Laps|
Kimi: start compromised race – “It was a pretty normal race. Obviously it was pretty difficult to overtake for us and after the start I got a pretty good jump off the line. But then I had to back off because of a Toro Rosso coming left more and more. I had nowhere to go and lost a lot of places. After that it was just following people and not really having a chance on a straight line. But the car felt okay. It was just slow. In the end I had to fuel save for most of the race and a lot more near the finish. The car felt good, but when you fuel save you cannot push a lot. I thought that the car was behaving pretty well since Saturday. [But] it is the lack of speed that we have on a straight line, I think, that cost us a lot of lap time. In the end though this is the result and hopefully the next race suits us a little bit better.”
Kimi Raikkonen – “We knew we could expect a very demanding race and that starting from far back it would not be easy to move up the order, but at the start we did very well. Unfortunately a Toro Rosso squeezed me towards the wall once we were on the straight. Because I had to brake hard, various cars passed me and I lost any chance of having a good race, because from then on I was always stuck behind other cars. The car handled well and with a clear track I had a good pace, but we lacked top speed with which to try and overtake on the straight and having to save fuel meant I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. We are aware that this year it’s hard to fight for the top places, but all the same, we will continue to try our best, starting with the very next race in Austin. That track is very demanding and interesting and I hope I don’t have the same problems I had here, so that I can aim for a good result. However, what I wish for most is that all our prayers help Jules at this difficult time.”
Marco Mattiacci: “Once again, we find ourselves confronting a result that is a long way off our goals, but today, we must congratulate Mercedes who, after five years of hard work, have taken a well deserved Constructors’ title. The back-to-back Japan-Russia trip has been a difficult one for our team, both on and off the track. In both races, we have learned a lot that will be useful for the future, in terms of how to improve on a technical level, but also when it comes to safety. I’m sure the final three races will provide an opportunity to try and get the most out of the team and the car, in order to end the season achieving better results. While my thoughts and those of everyone are still with Jules, today I would like to thank Luca di Montezemolo, at what has been the final Grand Prix under his Presidency at Ferrari. I think we have been fortunate to work with a great manager like him and it will be exactly the same with a successor of the calibre of Sergio Marchionne.”