Interviews

Kimi: “I never lost the passion”

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Kimi Raikkonen: Laidback Lada driver to reluctant Ferrari star

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“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?

[ Source: cnn.com | Interview by Sarah Holt and Amanda Davies ]

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Raikkonen: Is it ever safe?

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Kimi Raikkonen says conditions are never likely to be 100% safe but believes the Japanese Grand Prix was not run dangerously.

Jules Bianchi suffered a severe head injury after he spun off track and hit a recovery vehicle in increasingly wet conditions at Suzuka, with the FIA’s decision not to stop the race earlier being questioned. However, Raikkonen believes the track was good enough to race on and says it’s impossible to have a definitive point when conditions stop being safe.

“I didn’t think that [conditions] were so bad,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously it had started to rain a bit more on intermediates but it was still OK. It didn’t look so bad, obviously some places got a little bit more wet but it depends on how old your tyres are what your car is doing.

“Obviously it started to rain a bit more and it gets wet there. If you stay on line it’s a bit better but I can only speak for myself. For sure it was close to having to change the tyres, we changed the tyres but I don’t know because obviously there was a safety car and yellow flags there.

“Was it safe? Is it safe ever? You cannot say that now it’s safe and one lap later it’s not safe. We knew the conditions were tricky and getting a bit more rain with the used tyres is a bit more tricky always.”

And Raikkonen said a driver can still go off in certain conditions regardless of the speed he is doing, with Bianchi having crashed under yellow flags while Adrian Sutil’s Sauber was removed after having an accident at the same corner.

“It was yellow flags which means slow down but sometimes it doesn’t matter. At the beginning of the race we had the safety car, we drove at 100kph and we had aquaplaning. So even if you slow down you might get in to trouble, even if you slow down a lot you can still go off if there’s water. It’s as simple as that.”

[ Source: crash.net ]


Kimi likes… ice. Unsurprisingly.

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Tom Clarkson of BBC F1 interviewed Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. Quite chatty yet straight to the point, Kimi reveals some intriguing and some obvious answers!


Kimi: I’ll finish my F1 career at Ferrari

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There’s a reason they call Kimi Raikkonen the ‘Iceman’ so it’s no surprise the Ferrari driver isn’t allowing rumors surrounding his retirement to get him hot and bothered.

Raikkonen’s future has been the subject of much speculation with talk of him leaving the sport sweeping through the paddock over the past few weeks.

But the 34-year-old Finn, who sits 10th in the drivers’ championship, says he is only concentrating on finishing his career with Ferrari.

“I’m not a young guy anymore so obviously I want to do something more in my life than just Formula One,” Raikkonen, who is set to become a father early next year, told CNN’s The Circuit.

“But I have no plans, I will finish my career at Ferrari, we’ll see in the future.”

Ferrari is enduring a difficult time with the team having failed to win a drivers’ title since Raikkonen triumphed in 2007, while it currently trails Mercedes by 292 points in the constructors’ championship.

On Wednesday the Scuderia announced changes to its management structure, with Luca di Montezemolo, the man who presided over two decades of great success since taking up the role of chairman in 1991, to step down on October 13.

Two years after becoming world champion, Raikkonen quit the sport after being pushed out of the team following Fernando Alonso’s arrival.

He spent two years trying his hand at rallying before returning to the sport with Lotus in 2011.

It was during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July that rumors of Raikkonen’s impending retirement began to surface.

But Raikkonen, who began his F1 career with Sauber in 2001, says suggestions he is planning to leave the sport before his deal expires in 2015 are wide of the mark.

“No I never said that,” responded Raikkonen after being asked if he had said he was ready to quit the sport.

“The only thing that I said was that I will finish my career in Ferrari, F1 career in Ferrari, then people came up with ‘it’s end of this year, it’s now, it’s then’.

“With newspapers they just try to make rumors, wanting to be the guy that writes something up, it’s just rumors.”

[ Source: cnn.com ]