Part 2: Raikkonen Revealed
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
A repeat of a previous article… but I guess Lotus need some news to keep the fans occupied till China in two weeks time!
There are few more mysterious men in the Formula 1 paddock – or indeed the sporting world – than Kimi Räikkönen. So, just who is the Iceman? We spoke to some of his closest companions to dig a little deeper…
Toni Vilander has been a very close friend to Kimi since they started racing together as 10-year-olds and were also in the army together.
Toni won the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship for Ferrari in the GTE class and is a very experienced GT racer.
“As we race in different places we have not been seeing each other very often, but I think the friendship is forever” he says.
Toni is a father himself and Kimi is also the godparent of his son Luukas.
Was it any kind of a surprise to Toni to see his friend having such a consistent season after two years’ absence?
“I was more surprised about Kimi making a comeback than how he performed during last season” says Toni. “When he stopped, he was so fed up with Formula 1 and kept saying “never again”. I think it’s a good thing to have some distance away from everything and do something totally different, like rallying. That’s how your way of thinking changes and your approach gets stronger and stronger.
“Kimi is Kimi. It doesn’t matter how different the cars, the tyres or the rules are, it takes only a couple of laps and he is straight away within a second of the top guys. That’s what he did at the beginning of the Lotus era, too.”
Kimi’s image as a laid back person was seen even more during his first season as a Lotus F1 Team driver. His physio, Mark Arnall, has been working with Kimi since 2001 and asserts that the laid back image gives a false impression of how hard the Finnish star trains.
“When Kimi races he is not laid back. He fights and keeps fighting as long as the car is moving. That’s how he works in training as well. Since we started, he has always been like that. He gives 110% every time, whatever the programme.”
Kimi even ensures that his trainer stays in top condition. “He gave me the latest heart rate monitor from Finnish company Suunto for Christmas” says Mark.
One long-time trusted friend has a big input into how Kimi looks on track. Uffe Tägtström – one of the leading helmet designers in the racing world – has been designing Kimi’s helmets since his karting days.
The driver is very much involved in the design process too, so how artistic is Kimi?
“Artistic? I would not say he is very artistic, but he knows what he wants and he is very fashion-conscious. He is certainly of his generation” Uffe says.
Kimi has always been a trend setter in design style. “Sometimes it has been that whatever Kimi brings to his helmet design, it doesn’t take that much time to see the same idea in some way on somebody else’s helmet, too.”
Kimi saves all his helmets and remembers the season just by having a look at the helmet design.
“Usually Kimi gives a hint of what should be on his helmet for the season ahead” says Uffe. “I’ll then make five different versions of the idea on the computer and he picks what he likes the most.
“Last year he wanted to have his race number up there. He had the number previously during the McLaren times, but then it was at the back of the helmet. Now the number has changed from 9 to 7, but there isn’t that much of a change for 2013, just some new partners” Uffe explains.
At the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix, Kimi showed his respect to a driver of the 1970s when he incorporated the James Hunt design and name on his helmet.
“The idea was there for many years, but with McLaren and Ferrari, there was no opportunity to use it. Last year it was perfect and the feedback was great too” Uffe praises.
Let’s wait and see what Monaco brings along this time…