"Atleast Kimi hasn’t become anymore serious" smiles fellow Finnish racer Toni Vilander, winner of this year FIA GT2 World Champiion trophy. "Since joining Ferrari last year, Kimi has been very happy. He’s probably even more relaxed now, but the change didn’t start from scratch, so it’s hard to tell. It’s great to achieve a lifetime goal. I can easily see that in Kimi’s appearance. But his behaviour is exactly the same – champion or not."
Vilander and Raikkonen have had some fun times together during the short winter break. The boys are famous for their karaoke singing in certain parts of Finland. They still sing the same traditional songs from the 80’s – however, apparantly, Kimi has not sung Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ once. His favourite song is called Oon Rekkamies which means ‘I am a truck driver’.
Kimi’s parent’s, Paula and Matti, have also noticed a slight difference in their son. "Kimi has come home to visit a few times since winning the world championship," says his father Matti. "He’s perhaps more talkative now. I don’t know though, because usually it’s me who talks the most!". Atleast there’s one member in the family who appreciates the difference in Kimi since his big win. Ajax, the Finnish star’s German Shepherd, gets more freedome while Kimi is at home in Finland. "Kimi lets the dog jump on the couch, although they both know it’s forbidden," sighs his father, "Kimi just wants to share his happiness with the whole family!".
Another person who has witnessed Kimi’s reaction to winning the world championship is his physio and trainer, Mark Arnall, who also worked with Mika Hakkinen when the Finn won his first F1 title in 1998. "Mika went through McLaren’s lowest period before he won the title, so for him it was a big change. He gained so much more confidence in himself," says Arnall. "With Kimi, it’s totally different. What you see is what you get. Winning or losing, he remains the same. His target is to always deliver the best he can. Kimi is Kimi. He’s the same guy I met in 2002, when we first started working together. The determination and attitude are the same. Now, he’s just so delighted to have achieved his goal of being world champion."
I’m glad that Heikki Kulta was chosen for the Kimi section in the FIA special from Red Bulletin, as he’s probably the most sincere and correct person to do it. I’ve noticed no change in Kimi, apart from that he is actually more chatty nowadays – just what Bernie hoped for eh! I think it shows Kimi has been so concentrated and determinded to reach his goal that talking about it wasn’t sufficient. Now that he finally has done it, he can be more relaxed and be happy. Keep flying Kimi!
The Renault team have confirmed Fernando Alonso and Nelsinho Piquet as their racing drivers for the 2008 season.
Alonso, who announced his move on his website on Monday, returns to the French squad after one season at the McLaren team, which he left two years before the end of his contract after a turbulent season.
Alonso will have Piquet, a test driver for the team in 2007, as teammate next year, after Renault confirmed an all-new line-up for 2008.
"Fernando and Nelsinho will form one of the most exciting driver line up of 2008," said Renault’s managing director Flavio Briatore.
"We are delighted to be welcoming Fernando back home to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success. His abilities as a driver and a team leader are well known, and we look forward to forging another strong partnership.
"What’s more, he knows the team well and how we operate; he will feel comfortable straight away in this environment.
"Nelsinho is one of the most promising young talents in motorsport. After his success in GP2, he has spent a year learning the ropes as our test driver and getting to know the team ; he is now ready to step up to the next level."
Not that it neccessarily affects Kimi, but this decision leaves some questions as to whether Renault will be good enough for Alonso to challenge Kimi in 2008 and if having a teammate like Piquet will change Alonso’s approach to teamwork after the clash with Hamilton. One thing is for certain, Alonso will be happier at Renault and he still remains a top challenger in F1 despite the fallouts.