2014 has been a year of firsts for Kimi Raikkonen, and not all of them wanted – his return to Ferrari marked his first winless Formula One season since 2006, and his first without a podium since his maiden year in 2001.
As the Finn refocuses for 2015, determined to help the Scuderia become a front-running force once more, we asked him about some of the other firsts in his life – including why he never bothered with childhood heroes, how his first big crash came in one of his first F1 tests, and why he quickly established as a child that ice hockey wasn’t for him…
Who was your first hero when you were a child?
Kimi Raikkonen: I never had any heroes. That’s not for me.
What was the first Grand Prix you can remember watching?
KR: I don’t know the year, but it was in the times when Keke Rosberg was driving – and then when [Mika] Hakkinen was racing. Of course you are interested when you see that some of your compatriots are racing.
How old were you when you first decided you wanted to be an F1 driver?
KR: I wanted to do many things when I was a kid. And making it into Formula One – I didn’t really believe it was possible until I was 17 and had won some races.
When was your first big accident in a race car?
KR: It was with Sauber at a test. One of my first outings in a Formula One Car!
What colour was your first helmet?
KR: White – and off the shelf.
When did you win your first trophy in racing and what did it look like?
KR: No idea, but for sure it was small. And if I dug deep enough in my house I would probably find it.
What was the first road car you drove?
KR: It was a Lada – the family car.
Where was the first house you lived in?
KR: Of course, the family house in Espoo.
How nervous were you on your first day of school?
KR: I cannot remember. But for sure I have been nervous many times – also at school.
What was the first meal you ever cooked?
KR: I guess some pasta. For sure nothing complicated. (laughs)
What was the first thing you did this morning?
KR: Wake up!
What was the first thing you did after getting your first F1 seat?
KR: I was happy about it. I had done a test beforehand and was not sure if I had the seat – so I was just happy.
What was the first record you bought?
KR: It was a Guns N’ Roses cassette.
What was the first sport you participated in as a kid?
KR: Very likely ice hockey. I think all boys in Finland play hockey at one point in their childhood. I stopped because I had to wake up so early in the morning for the training – that was not for me.
When was your first romantic kiss?
KR: Hah! I don’t know. It must have been in school. That is way over 20 years ago…
When was the first time you were asked to sign an autograph for a fan?
KR: Maybe it was in Formula Renault.
When did you first taste champagne?
KR: When I raced in Europe and won – whatever race.
Which would you eat first – a piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate?
KR: I am not into chocolate so much so very likely fruit. Candy would be a different matter… (laughs)
What was the first word you said as a baby?
KR: My parents have told me, but I don’t remember. I am no good at remembering.
[ Source: formula1.com ]
J: 17 october 1979: the man in front of me was born. 35 years of what?
K: Just life. Of course races have taken most of the part since i was a kid, but since 2001 F1 has become my job and it’s what i want to do. But at first, it was some kind of hobby, but it’s still a big part of my life.
J: You come from Espoo, a town near to Helsinki. What kind of city is Espoo?
K: It was a nice place to live. We could do a lot of stuff, because it was not a big city. I liked and i still like to live there instead of Helsinki, which is a big city, chaotic.
J: Is it true that in you first house, the bathroom was placed outside the house?
K: Yes, yes it’s true. We had the bathroom outside the house, but now we have it inside. Since i started to race in F1 we could restructure the house, and now we have the toilette, the shower and also the Sauna inside, downstairs. But until 2000 the toilette was still outside.
J: How were those days? I mean, going outside to go to the toilette, in Finland??
K: For me it was normal, because it was what we were used to to do since ever. For other people was not normal in the winter, but was only 15 metres, short way to go, really. Do it in the winter, with so much snow, helped you to wake up (laugh). For me was not a problem, because it was normal for us.
J: I know your family was not wealthy, a lot of sacrifices from your father to make you racing. He also had to take 4 jobs at the same time.
K: My father spent a lot of nights not sleeping, he worked a lot and he managed to get a loan from the banks. For sure, there has been some critical moments for my family, it was hard for them. When you’re young you don’t really understand how things are going on, how to find the money to buy food, or try to make us racing. I am really grateful to my parents for this, and also the people that helped us when we were kids. Luckily everything was okay.
J. Are you happy to build your own family, too?
K: Yeah, I’ve always dreamt about this, like my brother. I’ve always wanted a son, but of course I’d like to stay at home as much as possible once he’s born. Because when you’re travelling and he’s so young, you don’t see him, you cannot spent some time with him. If you travel a lot in his first 10 years, i don’t think it’s the best thing for him. In my family, the one i have now, i hope everything is going to be okay, and of course the most important thing is that the child is well.
J: Do you know that the first one you impressed was Michael Schumacher at Mugello? He asked “Who’s that guy running in Mugello?” and they told him Kimi Raikkonen and he said “He will become someone important in F1”.
K: Was obviously a big thing doing a F1 test, and it was good there were some other cars, to have comparison of the time on the track. It was also good to see Schumacher on the track in that occasion.
J: You did only 23 official races before coming in F1. Did you feel ready?
K: We did quite a bit testing both with old and new car before the start of the season. So, i was not really worried, i was not thinking if i was ready or not, i did so many days of test, that i knew it wouldn’t be a problem. It was different from now, and it was really easier to test the cars in those days.
J: What did it mean for you winning the championship in 2007?
K: Drive the Ferrari and win the title in the first year was something special. We will remember this forever, and we know that we will be in history. I would have liked to win more championships in the past, or maybe in the future. It was something that i wanted to do, at least one always aiming. I was very close to win others against Schumacher and then Alonso, and finally got it was a great feeling. Was a difficult season, not easy at all but we suprised everyone and we did it.
J: Few year later you decide to leave F1. Were you really that bored? You’re a driver, you love racing. Was there something you didn’t like anymore at that time?
K: Obviously in 2009 there was something happened. I thought that i was driving worse than in the past. We got some results, but we didn’t have a good car in that season. Things that happened put me out from F1, but i didn’t wanna go to another team, in that moment was not the right thing to do, and i was also a bit tired of all the politics and all…don’t know how to say, but there are a lot of bullshits in F1, you know. It’s difficult to get some honesty from people, and this is something that i really don’t like. I wanted to do something else, i was happy to leave to try new experiences. I tried with rally and also with Nascar.
J: Do you think you can go for other seasons, or in you mind there is already something that says to you that you will retire soon?
K: I have a contract for next year, and an option for 2016, but this depends from a lot of circumstances. My aim is to try to fix things, and i am sure that next year we will back where we are supposed to stay and we will fight to win. Hopefully i can make other seasons, but if it’s not happening we will see. It’s not the end of my life, i’ve never thought that my life was only F1, there are a lot of more things in my life.
J: We had this interview with the 5 world Champions. We called the FIVE CLUB: Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Button and you. Who you think is the toughest of these guys?
K: If you look every year, there was a different one more or less. These drivers are always there, to fight, depends a lot from the car you have and a lot of more situations.
J: I know that you have a good relationship with Sebastian Vettel, something different from what it’s usual between drivers. Why is so easy, it’s something regarding his personality? You think good about him? Or you two get along….?
K: I don’t know, I met him when he was very young and when he arrived in F1. I talked with him in some occasions, and i thought he was a good and honest guy. Unfortunately honesty is something very difficult to find in F1, you know, and i’ve always get along with him, in the track, sometimes i gave him some lifts, at the beginning of his career, because we lived close to each other. He’s just a normal guy, we always find each other like this, easily, easy to talk, no stupid things, no not necessary things. There isn’t really any reason, it’s just that our relationship is easier compared to relationships with others.
J: Are you happy that he’s coming in Ferrari?
K: I mean, it will be fun, we will have a good relationship and try to do our best, to push the team forward, to put the team in the place where it should be.
J: It seems, from this interview, that one of the most important value for you is honesty, is it?
K: Unfortunately sometimes there are people that don’t say the truth, and you know they are lying and in your face say exactly the opposite. I don’t have respect for this kind of things. For sure everything can be more easy and more nice in F1, but of course it’s a part of the sport, because there are lot of money going around, and will always bring this kind of things into the place, so…
J: I give you the chance to ride on a time machine. The first question is: in which era you would like to live and who, if you have any idea?
K: Talking about the world race, I would like to be in the 70’s or about. There were real races, cars funny to drive, was more nice, less politics. Was a F1 more open, more relaxed, everybody were focused on pushing at 100%.
J: Only one more question: Kimi Raikkonen today is?
K: The same guy.
Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari for 2014 was meant to be his ticket back to the bigtime. It hasn’t quite panned out that way. Raikkonen has yet to see the podium, has been out-scored by his team mate three to one, and languishes a lowly 12th in the driver standings. Surely things can only get better for the Finnish former champion? We spoke to Raikkonen in Brazil to find out…
Q: Kimi, can you sum up your 2014 season with Ferrari, the team with whom you previously won the world title? Was it the homecoming you had hoped for?
Kimi Raikkonen: Obviously – and everybody can see this – it hasn’t been an all too good season for me – and not for the team either. As Ferrari you expect to be at the front – and it hasn’t been the case. It’s been hard – but that’s the way it sometimes goes.
Q: But at least you like the colour red?
KR: Ha, yes, I’ve made the right choice to come here if that is what you mean. Sometimes you have a difficult year, but I am sure that Ferrari can turn it around next season.
Q: Are you surprised that after so many years with Fernando Alonso at the team, you are still the last champion that Ferrari had. That was 2007…
KR: Obviously we did things right back then…
Q: But then things didn’t go right for many years…
KR: …I wasn’t here so you’d have to ask somebody who was here to get an answer as to why. I am here this year – and it didn’t go well – but for the future we do have the right people and a good team, so things will turn around.
Q: So is it still a good feeling having your name in the Ferrari history books as their last world champion?
KR: Yes, sure. It is better [to have] one here than five with another team. It is the right place to be and even if 2014 was not so good, it is still Ferrari!
Q: There has been a lot of talk about Felipe Massa’s quote that Fernando has ‘out-psyched’ you. Is it possible to out-psyche Kimi Raikkonen?
KR: Everybody has his opinion and Felipe can say what he wants. It’s just been a bad season. That’s it. No ‘psyching’ or whatever… just a bad season.
Q: Right now Ferrari reportedly have three drivers with valid contracts for 2015 – three heavyweight drivers. Does this mean Ferrari will be the first team to do car sharing?
KR: Ask Ferrari what is going to happen. I won’t say anything about the situation.
Q: Are you sure that you will be racing next season? One hundred percent sure?
KR: Yes, I am sure. And what is one hundred percent sure here? Nothing.
Q: The 2014 changes had quite an impact on the drivers. Everyone remembers your famous words of ‘leave me alone’ on the team radio at Lotus. Is such an approach still possible today when the pit wall is an integral part of the cockpit?
KR: Ah, in reality it is not so much different than before 2014. Yes, the cars are different and my guess is that it was pretty difficult for teams to build these new cars – and here things didn’t quite go as well as we had hoped. That is the main difference.
Q: But could you utter those words this season and still have a good race, given all the information you need from the pit wall?
KR: The tyres are pretty much the same issue they’ve always been, but yes, it’s been trickier this year. We’ve always talked on the radio, so there is not too much difference.
Q: So do you like the 2014 changes?
KR: It is different, yes – and whether you like them or not doesn’t make any difference. These are the rules and you have to swallow it. Racing hasn’t changed much – the sound is different.
Q: What do you Ferrari have up their sleeves in order to do better in 2015?
KR: They have hired new people. Maybe they made some mistakes when they started to design the 2014 car and maybe they haven’t got the best out of the rules, but we have plenty of good people who are able to turn things around. We will get there again. Unfortunately not in 2014.
Q: Believe all the media reports and you will be racing alongside Sebastian Vettel next season. The two of you get along pretty well…
KR: Until something is announced I am not interesting in talking about possible team mates. He is a good, straightforward guy.
Q: But it is fact that you and Sebastian get along very well – privately…
KR: He is the best out of any of the drivers. I know him the most. But as to what is happening in terms of driver line-up, you won’t get any answers from me.
Q: There are still two races to go. Can these races reconcile you with 2014?
KR: For sure not. It’s been a difficult year – but I will do my best in the last two races.
Q: What would make you happy on Sunday?
KR: A reasonably good race would be nice. If we get a podium it would be nice.
Q: So are you expecting your first podium of 2014 at one of the last two races?
KR: Not expecting, but it would be nice!
| Source: formula1.com |
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?