In F1 Racing magazine’s September 2014 issue is a feature on Kimi Raikkonen and John Surtees appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in late June this year. It was a historic meeting of two Ferrari legends and their championship winning masterpieces. In this interview, Kimi talks about meeting Surtees, the cars, being at Goodwood for the first time and his current season. I’ve taken pictures of the article, enjoy :)
When Kimi Met John
Hi everyone, here is a cool feature on Kimi Raikkonen’s personal helmet artist and designer Uffe Tagstrom from the latest April issue of F1Racing magazine. A nice insight into the helmet evolution of one of the most iconic racing drivers in the world.
The season preview issue of F1Racing magazine arrived yesterday and it’s a good read. Here’s a feature on the Raikkonen vs Alonso battle in Ferrari; predictions and opinion from former Ferrari F1 champion Jody Scheckter. Note – he is quite pro-Alonso on his judgement but all the more for Kimi to prove him and other critics wrong – and we love an underdog right!? Will 2014 echo the 2005 season perhaps?
F1Racing magazine have chosen Kimi as their Personality of the Year 2013, here is a snippet of his accolade:
In the January issue there is also a feature on the financial situation at Lotus and how their relationship with Kimi fell apart over it:
Scanned in the article about Kimi’s influence in the 2014 partnership at Ferrari, enjoy!
Hey guys, I received my August issue of F1Racing today and it features the ‘You Ask The Questions’ with Kimi Raikkonen! My question wasn’t included but Shane Wood’s was more or less the same thing, so I’m thrilled to know Kimi mostly drives and prefers a Volkswagen Multivan! Hahahahaha! Great questions and answers so I couldn’t help but share these scans. Enjoy!
| Source: gpinternational |
Race engineer Mark Slade and Lotus Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane speak to Tony Dodgins about Kimi Raikkonen, in this nice feature from GP International’s April issue. Click here to read the preview in high-res. Enjoy!
The March 2013 issue of F1Racing arrived in my post yesterday – it includes a great feature on Kimi! It’s the season preview issue, packed with lots of fab stuff including a ‘Champions of F1′ poster displaying all the winning cars in side-profile view and it’s a brilliant way of looking at how the cars’ design sometimes return back to their previous ancestors. I recommend you to buy a copy once it is out a week’s time. Enjoy!
“One of very few journalists to un-riddle F1’s great enigma is Anthony Peacock, who spent a year as the reticent Iceman’s personal press officer. And guess what? It turned out to be a laugh a minute…”
To view pages in high resolution, click on the image and select “view in full size” in the bottom right box. Or just right-click and open image link in new window you noobs!
Anthony Peacock, press officer: “Kimi may leave some interviewers frustrated, but unlike many of his contemporaries, he’ll never tell a lie; beneath the laid-back exterior there is a man with rigorous integrity.”
Mark Arnall, physical trainer: “He doesn’t get caught up worrying what people think of him. People have differing opinions about Kimi, but he really doesn’t care what they are. Instead, he has the ability to focus solely on driving the car.”
Kaj Lindstrom, rally co-driver: “There’s no side to Kimi. What you see is what you get. Sure, it wasn’t always easy. But it took me about two minutes to realise how special he was. He enjoyed his rallying and I think he’ll give it another go one day. If he asked me, I’d be delighted to co-drive for him again. It’s obvious he’s got the talent and speed.”
Steve Robertson, manager: “He’s always had this great natural feel that lets him push hard but still get the most out of the tyres. The number of fastest laps he’s set speaks for itself. It’s a god-given talent.”
Rami Raikkonen, brother: “In the end, Kimi will just do what he wants to do. The only sure thing is that the more you tell him not to do something, the more likely he is to do it.”
“Neatly packaged in one sentence, that’s all you need to know about Kimi. And it’s what makes him the most interesting individual and surprisingly committed driver out there. Because it’s easy enough to conform. Much harder to choose your own road.”
Here are a couple of images where F1’s top photographers share and talk about the 2012 season with their favourite shots; and among the photographers Kimi Raikkonen is a popular subject! Taken from the February 2013 issue of F1 Racing magazine.
The Kimi photos by the following photographers:
Steven Tee / LAT:
“2012 was a great season, with so many different teams winning races. It was fantastic to have such a variety of winners to shoot.”
Andrew Ferraro / LAT:
Last season was exciting but long. My highlights were the new race at Austin and Kimi’s Abu Dhabi win.”
Charles Coates / LAT:
“It was great to see the best drivers rise to the top of the sport despite the random results early on.”
F1 Racing had an interview with Daniel Ricciardo answering questions sent in from readers, here’s what he had to say about Kimi in one!
Hi Daniel, what do you think about this line-up: Raikkonen and Ricciardo at Red Bull in 2014?
DR: That’s the first time I’ve heard of that. It would be fun. Kimi is a man of few words, but I’m sure I could stir him up a little bit and piss him off. That would be interesting.
The January 2013 issue of F1Racing came in my post today – and it includes a great feature on Kimi with his engineer Mark Slade! The issue includes the magazine’s annual Man of the Year awards, however sadly Kimi goes home empty handed this time round, hehe. Enjoy the read and pictures :)
“A man of rare verbal restraint, Kimi Raikkonen has this year answered his critics of his F1 return with the classiest of on-track ripostes. And after that sensational Abu Dhabi win, F1 Racing convinced Kimi and his engineer Mark Slade to open up…” – by James Roberts.
There are no guarantees that a driver returning to F1 after time away will demonstrate the level of performance he’d shown previously. There are always question marks over speed and commitment, and these were all raised when Kimi climbed back into the seat of an F1 car at the start of 2012, after two years away.
But soon we were witnessing familiar flashes of the Iceman’s brilliance: the fastest lap towards the end of a race, the charges through the field, another podium and then another. Over the year, he has rarely made a mistake; his speed has been stellar, his consistency metronomic.
Typical Kimi, he’s a man of few words, who doesn’t boast or effuse about his strong season, but we thought some pictorial reminders might get him talking about what a great year he’s had. And it worked. We spoke to Kimi alongside his engineer Mark Slade, to reflect on a fantastic comeback, which has quite rightly been rewarded with a confirmed second season at Lotus for 2013.
Kimi Raikkonen: That day was the first time I’d ever driven the car in the wet and that was right at the start of the race, on full tanks, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do.
There was a high rate of attrition and we were able to keep it together for a good result and score some points.
I managed to set the fastest lap towards the end of the race when the track was drying, so that was an important result because in the first few races we had some issues, then we started to build up performances after that. (more…)
Taken from F1Racing’s December issue, Peter Sauber goes back in 2000, when a young quiet Finn with only 23 races to his name asked for a 3-day test in the Sauber F1 car. Enjoy!
Go Figure – Kimi Raikkonen’s life and times in numbers
F1 Racing’s November 2012 issue, “The Dark Horse Rises”, on Lotus’ E20 and Kimi. F1 Racing proudly presents the life and times of the sport’s most taciturn choc-ice aficionado…in numbers. Enjoy!
To my delight, Kimi appeared through my letter box today in the October issue of F1 Racing’s magazine, dedicated to the sport’s champions. As well as a page on each driver talking about their experience of realising their childhood dream, the magazine includes a 3-page length poster of nine world champions; Vettel, Button, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Hakkinen, Villeneuve and Damon Hill. Here’s Kimi’s page, enjoy!
Kimi Raikkonen: “Winning the world championship was something I’d wanted since I was a child, and I remember that the last race in Brazil in 2007 was a really emotional one.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such emotions in the cockpit before. I had to wait a few seconds to be told where everyone else was in the race and then I could celebrate.
Winning felt good: I’d got close a couple of times before, but it hadn’t happened for one reason or another and when I finally did it in 2007, it felt great. It stopped other people – and me – questioning whether I could ever be world champion, but it didn’t really change my personal life. Maybe people looked at me differently, but I didn’t change.
In 2007 we were not always in the strongest position and there were occasions when we had some reliability problems and lost quite a lot of points. At one stage of the season, people were saying that we weren’t even in the championship anymore; it felt good when we eventually showed them that they were wrong.”
Here is today’s feature on Kimi, including opinions from those inside Lotus as well as outside. There is also an interview with Kimi where he talks about the long awaited Grand Prix for all his fans – Spa. I bought the issue today so please do credit KRS when sharing (please use this link to download the images), and enjoy!
Snippets from the issue:
James Allison: “The measure of him is that he was prepared to sacrifice all of Friday in Germany, and some running in Hungary, to help us develop something for the car [the double DRS] that we hope to use later on in the season, but which there was no prospect of him getting any benefit on in those two races. He has the self-confidence to compromise his Fridays but signed up for it. That gives you an idea of the straightforward nature of the bloke.”
Key to the success of the partnership is Lotus understanding how to get the best out of a driver who is somewhat esoteric in his approach. Conscious of Raikkonen’s lack of patience with some of the commitments of being an F1 driver off-track, the team ensures his workload is kept to a minimum. That said, it’s not all concessions. The squad has also had to adapt to the fact that, unlike Robert Kubica, Raikkonen doesn’t push the team continuously. At Ferrari, he’d raise an issue about how he wanted the car to behave and all too often this feedback was disregarded because he didn’t hammer home his point.
“We’re learning that side of him as well,” says Permane. “Much has been made of the power-steering and the press has blown that up into some kind of feud between us. I saw some stuff after Monaco saying we weren’t going to do any more power-steering developments, which is nonsense because we brought a new one to Valencia for him. He hasn’t moaned about it for a long time but we’re still working on trying to improve it.
Kimi Raikkonen is on the cover of F1 Racing’s magazine, the June issue. A nice surprise for myself this morning! The feature includes a full interview with the Iceman. So here are the scans (please use this link to download the images), enjoy the read:
P.S – Please click once on an advertisement below! It would be much appreciated!
It’s no secret that Top Gear are fans of the Iceman. So in the March issue of the subscriber’s magazine they have included a feature on Kimi Raikkonen’s F1 comeback, check it out!
Source: Autosport & F1 Racing
We have scanned these great interviews with Kimi from Autosport’s 16th February issue and F1Racing magazine’s latest March issue. Enjoy!
Seiska’s reporter Panu Hörkkö visited Kimi Räikkönen at his home and he was surprised – positively.
“When I drove on Feb 3rd from Helsinki to Kimi Räikkönen’s villa in Porkkalanniemi I had butterflies in my stomach. I had actually had them ever since the night before and Kimi even visited in my few hours dream to be honest.
So the unconsciousness pulled cruel tricks on me. I was however about to meet Kimi for the first time and I had heard that he hates reporters. I wondered which one of us is more troubled with the meeting – the one who was going to be interviewed or the interviewer?
Kimi’s expression was something completely different from what I had expected!
When the photographer and I arrived to Porkkalanniemi we were greeted by Riku Kuvaja. He informed in his kind way that he would go and walk around the villa with the photographer and I could soon interview Kimi in peace.
Soon after that the glass door opened and a beanie-headed Kimi came out to shake hands with me.
I immediately saw an expression on Kimi’s face that I hadn’t seen in one single magazine or tv-interview earlier. Kimi was unbelievably laidback and frankly put charming, if a man can say so about another man.
Kimi’s boyishness and grinning continued all through our 3-hours meeting and the ice broke easily in the Iceman’s cave. Kimi answered my questions in a laidback way and used his witty sense of humour. His laughter was catching and the atmosphere was warm.
It wasn’t pretending from his side, I can say based upon my life experience that Kimi is genuinely a laidback person – and modest too on top of that – unlike many “heroes” I have met.
Lacking speaking skills, they say! After we left the villa I could only think that dammit, that guy just hates cameras just like probably 99% of Finnish men also hate!
Next F1-season I am going to concentrate on following only Kimi and his grips in Lotus. The guy did after all set the fastest laptime in Jerez testing!
I will leave in their own league those who nag about Kimi’s poor skills of commenting or posing. Afterall I know myself that we Finns have an exceptionally charming hero in this man. And a man can say this about another man.
Good luck to the upcoming season, Kimi!
Q: What kind of chances of success do you think Lotus has this season?
KR: It’s difficult to say, nobody knows yet. We will see after the first tests where we are going.
Q: Do you have hunger for another WDC?
KR: Yes. You always have that as a goal. I will try a lot, lets see if that’s enough or not.
Q: You have said that Lotus has a homey atmosphere compared to your earlier teams, how do you see the difference?
KR: Each team has always been different. Lotus has however a different kind of management. They are younger and racing-spirited and not any uptight people.
Q: Is Sebastian Vettel your best buddy in F1?
KR: Yes, I know him best and have spent most of time with him than with any other drivers.
Q: Do you have any enemy or someone you can’t stand there?
KR: No I haven’t but it’s difficult to say what other people think.
Q: Have you already met your team mate Romain Grosjean? Is he a good guy?
KR: I have met him and he is a nice normal guy.
Q: Where do you see yourself after ten years?
KR: Difficult to say but hopefully everything is still okay.
Q: What plans do you have for your life after F1?
KR: No plans. I have never have any terribly long plans.
Q: In how good physical shape are you?
KR: I guess in the same shape as before. I know pretty well in which shape one has to be.
Q: They operated your wrist after the recent motorsledge-race. Has it healed well?
KR: Yeah. It’s now completely okay.
Q: They often talk about your money in public. You have a fortune of over 100 million euros. What does money mean to you?
KR: I guess it means the same as it means to other people too. I get a certain amount of money for the job that I do. Some think it’s right, some think it’s wrong. I myself have however made all the work so it doesn’t make me ashamed at all. Money makes some things easier but it really doesn’t solve everything in life.
Q: Has the big fortune made you out of touch with reality or do you even think about monetary matters?
KR: *laughing* Definitely not! I’m just the same as I was before. It makes some things easier but it also brings a lot of negative things along. (more…)
You hardly lack variety, after snow and gravel you had your first WRC rally on tarmac. Satisfied?
Generally yes, our speed was good. Okay, it was disappointing though
that we didn’t finish were we could have been, in the top 4. But most
important was that we learned much again. On the second and third day it
wasn’t easy to have the same motivation than in the beginning when we
were fighting for the top places. Altogether I’m still happy.
Is the time difference to Sebastien Loeb like you expected it?
It was the first time that I did a tarmac rally against Loeb. How should
I have an exact idea what to expect? On some places we were not so far
As an ex-F1 driver you certainly feel more comfortable on tarmac. Are you working there already more on details?
The difference is not that big although I feel more home on asphalt. But
rally driving is and will remain something totally different to circuit
races. When we set up the rally car it is the same procedure. You
handle a programme, no matter if it’s gravel or tarmac. I’m still
lacking the experience in rally. That’s why I not only trust my feeling
but also listen to the tips of the team.
Is rally after half a season still passion or already daily business?
No, I still have a lot to learn, so it’s rather not daily business. I like driving rallies, it’s a great challenge for me.
How far are you with your process of learning?
Still at the beginning. In rally there is nothing like experience.
Everything is very complex, that can’t be learned in some months.
In which areas you see most likely room for improvement?
Everywhere, really. Everything is new for me, I’m learning all the time.
One fundamental point we have to work on is the notes. That’s something
which doesn’t exist on the circuit but in rally sport it’s an important
factor of success. With the right notes you can gain a lot of speed.
And where you have improved the most?
I don’t think that there is this one point. The point is to improve
everything together, the whole package – to learn as much as possible. I
feel now much stronger than at the beginning of the season, in all
areas. But we have to continue working and learning.
Are there things in the rally championship you imagined differently?
No, basically everything is like I expected it. From last year I had a
bit of experience, so I could imagine how things will come. But if you
want to improve only experience counts. A circuit you can learn in some
hours, with rally that will take much longer.
Where can you benefit from your experience in F1?
Like I said before, rally and circuit are actually completely different,
there is no comparable point. Of course on tarmac rally there are some
things which are similar like for example the quickest curve. The
driving style is still pretty different, in the race car you want
anything but drifting. To drive as clean as possible that applies for
about your setup in WRC? You said at the beginning of the season that
you will start more or less with the same setup like your team mates. Is
that now different?
Actually we start every rally with a very similar setup. Later I, like
the others too, let the team make little changes to have a better
feeling for the car. Once we want the car to turn in better or we change
the height of the car. Luckily the team has a lot of experience with
the car and they can give me good advices.
How difficult is it for you to trust someone else in the car?
You mean the relationship to my co-driver? That’s very good. My co Kaj
Lindström is a great guy with plenty experience, that helps me a lot.
For me the point is to make good notes and to use them optimal. We are
working on it and it’s getting better every rally.
Which rally has you surprised the most?
But for me all WRC rallies are new – apart from Finland. All and
everything is new. But the most special event this season was Jordan.
The surface and the character of the rally changed all the time. It was
very important to work precisely with the notes. We got our first points
there, a nice memory.
What do you know about ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
Not much. I know it is a tarmac rally with very different surfaces and that Loeb has won there several times. That’s it.
Germany is a “Racing” country. Is it a special feeling, as an ex F1 driver to contest there now with a WRC rally?
Not really. I’m not thinking about something like this. I start every
rally the same way. So Germany is a rally like every other rally.
They say that in F1 the relation car to driver is 60:40. How is that in rally?
I don’t know. I don’t have the experience yet to value that exactly. It
depends on so many different things, if you just look at the surfaces
and the tactics. In rally there are probably more variations than in F1.
When I was driving Grand Prix, the top cars were pretty close, a driver
could make a big difference.
How often do you have contact with your buddy Sebastian Vettel? Do you get information about F1 from him?
From time to time we talk but that’s not so often. If, then we talk
about F1, rally but also about other things, just normal things.
What would have to change that you come back to F1?
It is not so much the question what would have to change. The point is
to have the right options. I had some opportunities to stay in F1 this
season. But they were not the right ones. That’s why I’m now here.
The fight for the F1 championship is close. Who will be world champion?
I think it will be a duel between McLaren and Red Bull. The Red Bull is
the quicker car, but they had some problems with reliability. The
drivers are pretty close. McLaren also did a good job, especially Lewis
Hamilton. I guess it will be very close.
What do you think can we expect from Michael Schumacher in the second half of the season?
Hard to say, I don’t know. He is a seven time world champion so
obviously good. It is always also a question of the car, motivation and
many other things.
How about your future? Is there a decision to continue rally?
You can be certain that as soon as I make a decision I will let
everybody know. There are always options to do different things. I need
to find the right one for me.
When can we expect your decision?
When I made it.
Download zipped file via Mediafire
magazine. Enjoy the read (courtesy of YiNing from our forum). You can also read the full Rally Sweden report at the end.
Kimi Raikkonen loved every moment of his WRC debut in Sweden – even if he did finish in 29th place. By David Evans.
By David Evans
AUTOSPORT rallies editor
Kimi Raikkonen’s World Rally Championship
campaign begins with one of its biggest tests, Rally Sweden, this
weekend. AUTOSPORT’s David Evans talked to the Finn during his
preparations for the event
Q. When did you decide you wanted to go to the WRC?
Kimi Raikkonen: Last year. I always had the passion for the WRC and I
wanted to try and see how it is. After whatever happened at the end of
the year we found the solution to race with the great team and Red Bull
helping with the sponsorship. In the end it wasn’t so difficult choice
[to come to WRC].
Q. Have you missed anything from F1 yet?
KR: So far, no. I’m excited to have this challenge now. Everything is
new. I was in F1 for a long time and I don’t miss it now. In the future,
Q. Which rally are you looking forward to the most?
KR: Any rally really. Apart from Jyvaskyla [on Rally Finland], where I
know it a little bit, everything is new. I don’t know the places or the
stages or anything. It’s always exciting to go to a new place and see
how it is. In Formula 1 sometimes there is a new place, but usually the
testing and everything is the same. Now everything is new, so it’s
Q. What’s the biggest challenge for you this year?
KR: Just to learn everything. There is so much to learn and to get the
experience on all different conditions. Making the notes and listening
to them right is also tough. I need to learn everything.
Q. Which is the most difficult part, learning the notes?
KR: You can make them, but to try and make them exactly as you want –
and to drive on them at full speed is not so easy. You can make the
notes, but if it’s not exactly like it should be, then you can’t drive
as fast as possible.
Q. Olivier Quesnel has already said that if you have a good year this
year, you could be Sebastien Loeb’s team-mate for next year. How do you
feel about that?
KR: There are a lot of stories, always. I want to learn things and be a
good as we can be and then see what happens.
Q. Long term, do you want to be World Rally champion?
KR: It would be great, but we have done one rally with the car and we
start next week in Sweden. Let’s wait and see what happens.
Q. What about podiums later in the year?
KR: I don’t really know what to expect because it’s such a new thing. I
know it’s difficult and I want to get in the points in the beginning.
Later in the year when we have some more experience, we can be a bit
faster. Let’s wait and see.
Q. What about on asphalt?
KR: Overall, this should be a bit more easy. Okay, it’s a different car,
but the feeling is much more easy to find. Comparing the surfaces, the
snow is the most difficult to be fast and get everything right. I did
only one gravel rally last year and that surprised me that it’s much
more similar to asphalt than the snow. It should be easier, but I
haven’t driven the car on asphalt, so I don’t know yet.
Q. There’s a natural assumption that you’ll look forward to asphalt
rallies more than gravel. Is this right?
KR: Yes. I know more about driving on asphalt than any other surface. It
definitely helps to find the right line and to find the braking point.
In that way, it should be easier, but until we do the first test or
rally, it’s impossible to say.
Q. What do you think about Michael Schumacher’s return to F1?
KR: For me, it doesn’t matter. I have seen something in the paper,
probably he started to miss it and now he has a good option. Good for
Q. Did you follow the testing yesterday?
KR: No. I see just in the newspaper, like every day, if it’s in the
newspaper, you see it. I didn’t follow it on the internet. I have a new
challenge now and I’m more interested in this. Even when I raced in
Formula 1, if I didn’t do the test, I didn’t look for the times.
Q. How have you found the other WRC drivers?
KR: I know some of them, I met some in earlier days. They’re very nice.
It’s more open here than Formula 1. The teams are friends together more
than F1. It’s great and people have been very helpful. It’s a more warm
feeling here, people are more together. In Formula 1 you race each
other, here you race the clock – it’s slightly different, but the people
Q. Have you turned your back on F1 completely now?
KR: I already kind of did it, so we see what happens in the future.
Q. What’s your deal with Red Bull.
KR: It’s [for] one year.
Q. What did you think of your performance on the Arctic Rally? Was it
what you wanted?
KR: Of course we went off on the first day and got stuck in the snow
bank for a long time. But I don’t really feel I have the good feeling
with the car like I want it. I brake three times in one place where you
should be braking once. There are still many areas where I can improve.
We were not so far away from Dani [Sordo]‘s times. I need more
experience, more running and more time with the people running the car. I
was pretty happy in the end.
Purely the rally was for me to get used to the car and to try some
different things. It was quite difficult conditions with the fresh snow
and things like that. It was good practice and it definitely helped me
for the next one.
Q. What’s the aim for Rally Sweden?
KR: We’re hoping for a good clean rally without any mistakes and then we
see where we are. I have no idea where we will be. I want to try to do
the best I can and have a good rally.
Q. Any more snow testing now?
KR: No. Just the shakedown before the event.
Q. What about gravel testing? When do you drive the car on the loose?
KR: It’s after Sweden sometime. I don’t know the date, but it will be
Q. Is it possible for you to do more smaller rallies this year?
KR: I don’t know, we will have to see.
Q. But you will get a lot of testing on gravel – enough time in the car?
KR: I will get something around 10 to 15 days. I have no idea how many
the others are doing, but this is pretty okay.
Q. Is rallying more difficult than Formula 1?
KR: Every sport is difficult when you start, but there are so many more
things you cannot really change, the condition changes: it is what it
is, but in Formula 1 you go to the same circuit and lap by lap you know
it’s going to be the same. But, in rallying, you can go from one stage
to the next and it can be completely changing. There are many things
that can change in rallying and you cannot affect those areas.
Q. Is rallying more fun than F1?
KR: It’s more relaxed, definitely. More fun, it depends what you like: I
like it because every corner is different in rally. There are a lot of
things which can challenge you and in the end you are driving against
yourself. Okay, you can go more sideways when you are sliding, but it’s
probably not the fastest way – going forward is faster. It’s just a
Q. What’s the feeling for WRC among the other drivers in Formula 1?
KR: I don’t really know because I don’t know how many F1 drivers know
the sport that well. [Robert] Kubica has definitely done it for fun and
[Heikki] Kovalainen knows the rally side. But I don’t think the other
drivers really have so much knowledge of what is rallying compared to
Formula 1, so it’s a bit tricky to say.
(Read Kimi Raikkonen’s diary of his Arctic Rally weekend, exclusively in
this week’s AUTOSPORT magazine)
Raikkonen: "I’m finding a bit of the young Kimi in me again"
The full interview
Words by Werner Jessner | Photography by Gian Paul Lozza
The carbon-fibre disc brakes on his Formula One Ferrari have barely cooled down, but already Kimi Raikkonen has moved on to something new: a driver for the very same Red Bull Citroen World Rally team that has just taken Sebastien Loed to his sixth consecutive world title.
The arrival of Raikkonen is a huge coup for the World Rally Championship: for all his occasionally mute press conference performances, the guy’s a superstar. And while some might question the move from the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ into a parallel universe of mud and trees and ice and snow rather than lap upon lap of pristine tarmac, the man himself has no doubts: this is a hugely serious attempt on an equally presitgious world series, one which he’ll attack with all the commitment for which he became famed in F1.
So, Kimi, let’s talk dirty. What’s the earliest rally car you can remember?
KR: My brother’s Ford Escort. Of course, as a good Finn, I saw rally care on TV from an early age. I liked Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen’s Peugeot 205 T16s the best. The first rally I actually went to must have been the 1991 1000 Lakes Rally, which Kankkunen won in a Lancia Delta Integrale.
Were rally drivers your childhood heroes?
KR: I didn’t have any childhood heores, I was a fan of the sport, not individual drivers. During my childhood, Kankkunen, for example, was a world-class driver so he could have been an idol. I’ve met him since then. He’s still got a Peugeot 205 at home and a Group B Audi Quattro from the 1980s. He might even lend it to me if I asked nicely.
Was it inevitable that you would end up on the racetrack?
KR: I always wanted to give rallying a shot, but I did get into F1 very quickly [Raikkonen was only 21 when he made his F1 debut, for the Red Bull Sauber team at the Australian GP, scoring a point for sixth place]. So it became difficult to move sideways into rallying, which meant I just had to lump it. I didn’t get the chance until very late – I was almost 30 [Raikkonen competed i the 2009 Rally Finland, in a Fiat Grande Punto Abarth]. I also think F1 helps you as a rally driver and vice versa.
But it would be a bit ungrateful to say that you were biding your time for nine years in F1 and you had to become world champion so that you could ultimately become a rally driver?
KR: That’s just how my career has worked out. Now it’s the right time to go for it with the right people and the right car for however long. I did negotiate with another F1 team for next season, but we couldn’t agree 100 per cent. Then Red Bull came and made me an offer to drive in the WRC for a season. It felt like the right thing to do straight away.
A lot of racing drivers in your position would have just bought themselves a world rally car and had some fun in it. But you’ve joined the Citroen Juniour Team for a whole season where you’ll be up against Sebastien Loeb, the best rally driver in the history of the sport. Haven’t you made things difficult for yourself?
KR: It’s definately the biggest challenge yet. I’ve got to learn everything from scratch. But I want the challenge. I have to get to know the car, the rallies, how to work with my co-driver [Kaj Lindstrom], everything. I’m looking forward to it. And you’ve got to set yourself some competition if you really want to know how good you are. I’ll still be able to drive around the forest in a private rally car.
But when you entered the WRC last year, at the Rally Finland, it was a much more professional effort compared with other well-known converts.
KR: If you’re going to do something, do it with the best team. My car’s been prepared by Tommi Makinen’s team; these guys are super professional. Of course it’s a smaller operation than an F1 team, but they’re professionals. Even though the driver plays a bigger overall role in rallying than in F1, the best driver won’t win in a bad car. So that’s why I wanted an experienced co-driver so at least one of us would know what he was doing. I met Kaj Lindstrom through Tommi and we were ice spies for Chris Atkinson during the 2006 Monte Carlo rally. Kaj is outstanding; he and Tommi were World Champions together. Kaj was also the one to make first contact with Citroen Sport.
Does entering the World Rally Championship feel a bit like it felt when you first test-drove for Sauber F1 in 2000?
KR: Yes, I’m finding a bit of the young Kimi in me again. A world rally car is quicker and tougher than the S2000 car I dove last year on the Rally Finland; it’s 10 times better to driver and has more power. It’s why you can still come out of critical situations. If the Fiat ever went sideways with its non-turbo engine, it was game over.
So what about rolling the car in Finland last year?
KR: It wasn’t because I was going too fast! It was the opposite. The car had already begun falling apart, so I just wanted to get it to the service park. The Fiat definately wasn’t the quickest car in the S2000 class, nor the most stable. My line going into the left-hand turn was maybe 2m off and we turned over.
Why was your line bad?
KR: I was driving with my eyes and not my ears. But in rallying you’ve got to pay 100 per cent attention to what your co-driver says.
Is that something you still have to learn to do?
KR: It is. The driving itself shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If you know the special stage, there’ll hardly be any different usually. What makes the difference is the pacenotes [the co-driver's notes on the road conditions for each stage of the rally] and your trust. That’s my main disadvantage starting out – I only know the Arctic Rally and Rally Finland. I’ve got to work the rest of the events out for myself.
Can you use other crews’ pacenotes?
KR: It’s always better to have your own. If you want to be really fast, you’ve got to have trust. And you’ll never have complete trust in someone else’s notes.
Does it help to follow other drivers’ tracks to get your bearings?
KR: No. There’s no way of knowing what the car in front of you might have done. You’ve got to do what the co-driver tells you.
When was your first roll?
KR: I was 14. I rolled my brother’s Lada. We had a 3km track close to home. Marcus Gronholm [Finland's two-time world rally champion] also trained there. I over-braked the rear axle and rolled twice. The roll-bar [the car's internal safety cage] also broke.
Your brother Rami was seen as a great rallying talent. Does he still drive?
KR: No, he’s a family man now. One year he was runner-up to Mikko Hirvonen [runner-up in the 2008 and 2009 World Rally Championships].
Have your nephews caught the motorsport bug?
KR: Absolutely! There’s only three and four and they already go karting. I’ve bought them a quad bike.
Are you a good co-drver?
KR: No. I’ve been co-driver to Tommi Makinen [four-time World Rally Champion] once. I have complete confidence in him, but I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience. Maybe I’ll sit alongside Load during a test. I don’t think he’ll do the same for me.
Are you expecting a couple of rolls next year?
KR: Of course. Over the course of the WRC there are bound to be a couple of shunts. Everyone makes mistakes in this sport and, as a rule, a mistake usually means you wreck the car. How many cars must Jari-Matti Latvala [WRC winner] and Hirvonen have destroyed before they won their firt world championship rally? The only driver who hasn’t rolled is Loeb. He’s an exception.
Do you think you’ll be more intuitive on tarmac or gravel surfaces?
KR: We’ve been amazingly fast on gravel, but tarmac will probably be more my thing. Snow will be the hardest. Your lines have got to be spot-on in the snow, whereas on tarmac it’s no big deal if you brake a metre too late and have to turn more sharply. You have to be able to read the gravel. On some types of gravel you’ve got incredible grip with rally tyres and on others you haven’t.
What sort of results are you expecting?
KR: The first few rallies are bound to be tough. Until I know how fast the other drivers are, I’m holding back on any personal expectations. I’m sure I won’t manage to keep up with the top four [Loeb, Dani Sordo, Hirvonen, Latvala].
Your team-mate Sebastien Ogier is also seen as a future star.
KR: Yeah, he’s really good. He’s a perfect yardstick to measure up against.
When you look back on your F1 career, is there a single moment you value above all others?
KR: In F1, every lap is more or less the same. It’s more difficult if it rains, but otherwise it soon becomes a routine. In rallying, every corner or hill might be different from what you expected. The most fun I’ve had in recent years was fooling around with friends on snow-scooters, for example. I’d find it difficult to pick a single moment from the last nine years.
How about this as a moment to go down in history? Kimi Raikkonen overtaking Giancarlo Fisichella on the outside at Suzuka on the last lap of the 2005 Japanese GP, to win the race?
KR: Yeah, that was really good.
The 2009 Ferrari must have been really difficult to drive when we see how badly Giancarlo Fisichella struggled when he stepped in for the injured Felipe Massa. Not to mention [Ferrari test driver] Luca Badoer.
KR: The car wasn’t bad. It just didn’t have enough grip. It was hard to driver but I liked the 09 Ferrari more than the 08. I didn’t cope too badly [Raikkonen won the 2009 Belgian GP]. But it made Fisichella age 10 years in two races!
If you couldn’t get a neutrally balanced car, would you prefer oversteer or understeer [a car that has more or less front/rear grip]?
KR: I’ve never liked understeer. How can you push the car if you don’t know whether it’s going to steer? You lose time on a circuit but in rallying, you end up in the trees because you run out of space.
How much communication does motorsport need?
KR: As a driver, there are some things you just can’t communicate. No F1 driver in the world can talk to an aerodynamics engineer on an equal footing because they have completely diffferent levels of understanding. All you can do is tell your race engineer what you’d ideally like. Mechanics are important too but they do what engineer tell them to. So your communication is limited to two or, at most three, people in the team. And then what’s made of your input depends on the team.
In rallying, you’ll sometimes have to work on the car yourself. Do you know know to?
KR: I enjoy it. In Finland, I’ve always repaired my own cars. I tweak my bikes too. There’s nothing wrong with getting your fingers dirty.
Did you foster the ‘Iceman’ image to survive in F1?
KR: No. ‘Iceman’ goes back a long way. In F1, politics gets in the way of the exciting side of things. The atmosphere in rallying is much nicer and there’s a lot less politics involved. It’s must more about how the driver performs.
You’re a celebrity, especially in Finland. Now that you’re moving over into Finland’s national sport – rallying – you probably won’t dare to go out on the streets of Helsinki at all.
KR: I don’t care about that. It can’t be any worse than it already is. I’ve learned to deal with it.
You did military service. What did you find most difficult about it?
KR: The first couple of months were stressful. We were constantly roared at. By the end we were bored and messed around. Apart from military films where everyone’s roaring, getting up early was the worst.
Rally drivers often have to get up early too.
KR: I know. But I had to get out of bed early for F1 sometimes too. It’s part of the job.
What’s your favourite toy during the off-season?
KR: A snowmobile. It’s huge fun tearing around Lapland with friends on one. But Motocross comes close.
What makes a good road car?
What’s the last sport you’ve tried?
KR: I started climbing last year on the recommendation of my fitness trainer, and it’s fun.
Who’s going to win ice hockey’s Stanley Cup?
KR: The San Jose Sharks.
Who’s going to win snowboarding Olympic gold in the half-pipe?
KR: I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the Finns, but it’ll probably be hard to beat Shaun White.
Who’s going to be the next World Rally Champion?
KR: Loeb or Hirvonen. Loeb.
KR: Have the teams changed much? No. So – Rossi.
KR: Hard to say. I don’t know what Ferrari’s plans are. Mercedes will probabaly have a good car, so will McLaren. Red Bull Racing probably will too. So I’m going to have to award the title based on who I like: Sebastien Vettel. He’s so down-to-earth.
Do you have much contact with him?
KR: I know Heikki Kovalainen better. As a rule, I don’t have that much contact with people from F1. Sometimes I play badminton with Vettel. He’s moving to my part of Switzerland so we’ll probably see more of each other.
How interested will you be in F1 if you’re not in an F1 car yourself?
KR: I’ll watch a race on TV every now and then. Maybe I’ll go to the Monaco Grand Prix. I could get an F1 drive again any time, but lots of bad things are happening in F1. Manufacturers are pulling out. Let’s have the same conversation in a year’s time.
Let’s look way into the future. What would an WRC title mean to you?
KR: More than my F1 world championship title. I’m just starting out and I can sense what a long journey it would be to get to that point.
No one’s done it before.
KR: That’s another thing that makes it interesting.