Recollecting 7 Classic Kimi Raikkonen Moments…
by Dev Tyagi.
These are interesting times in Formula 1. The FIA have unleashed a new wave of technical shifts in a game powered by high-speed action and nerve-wrecking excitement. Bernie is gone. American ownership is here to stay. No more does one see a Red Bull on top of the podium, even as fans and critics would want Christian-Horner to do a repeat of the dominant 2010-13 times. Every paddock you go, every track you visit- whether Suzuka or Spa- there’s a Lewis fan. He might be driving the Silver Arrows, but you know that Hamilton is the man with a golden gun; a car that’s a sure-shot powerhouse. At the same time, you find legions of orange-clad Verstappen fans soaking in some sun. But in this turbo-powered era of 145-kg power units, one thing has remained constant. Rather, a phenomenon: that of Kimi Raikkonen.
Every sport likes a good nickname. Boxing unleashed in Ali ‘The People’s Champion’. Golf had its own ‘Tiger’ before self-hampering exploits saw Woods as the hunted. Basketball thrived on Michael Jordan’s ‘His Airness’. Even the King of Pop MJ didn’t complain when his initials were tagged to address Jordan. But in the realm of F1, where things often get heated up, intense rivalries dominating headlines amidst a spectacle of cringe-worthy racing, it helps to have Kimi Raikkonen ‘The Iceman’.
With typical, straight one-line responses to queries that often seem outright mundane, Kimi breathes fresh air amidst F1’s PR-regimented atmospherics. Not since Raikkonen has Formula 1 seen another driver who’s as bored by the media as celebrated by it.
Amidst the usual shenanigans, drivers clicking ‘Selfies’ with fans prior to start of a Grand Prix, participating in media driven exercises to pucker up excitement surrounding a race, Kimi can be spotted biting into an ice cream, seemingly aloof from all that’s happening around him. Where others- Alonso, Hamilton or Ricciardo seem all cheery giving polite replies to a coterie of publications inside F1’s elaborate press conferences, you can spot Kimi yawning or completely disinterested.
Some regard Kimi Raikkonen’s mannerisms rude or indicative of giving a cold shoulder but to the Iceman, it’s just another day. On the track, he’s fast, very fast. Off it, the Iceman is relaxed, cool and, uncaring truth be told. In his ebb, rest a host of records, among them a somewhat fairytale of an achievement- being Ferrari’s last World Champion- in the 2007 nail-biting fight to the checkered flag, Raikkonen stormed past the finish line 1 point ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Where fans were witnessing a new dawn from Ferrari’s paddock, Raikkonen himself was his staidly elegant self.
So in all these years, where Kimi went from being a light-eyed Sauber rookie to being a Ron Dennis-find at McLaren, a maverick who had raw pace in his wheels- to finally emerging as a Ferrari World Champion, before making way for Alonso to coming back into competitive F1 racing, not before completing a notable stint at WRC, what have been the stand out Kimi Raikkonen moments?
On the occasion of Kimi’s 38th birthday, we revisit 7 classic Iceman moments
1. P6 at Brazilian Grand Prix of 2009
In 2009, Raikkonen showed just how big a daredevil he was at the sixteenth race of the season that took place at Interlagos, in spectacular fashion.
During the initial laps of the 71-lap competition, as Kimi pitted in his Ferrari for a regular pit stop, McLaren’s Kovalainen, who had also stopped having made contact with Mark Webber, was unsafely released with the fuel hose still attached to the car.
As Kovalainen, also a Finn, moved, took along the fuel hose still attached to his car, the fuel splintered thereon splashed on Kimi’s Ferrari, the car tugged right behind the McLaren.
But instead of panicking, Kimi Raikkonen, despite his car on fire, continued to drive and finished a respectable P6.
No fireman needed, for here’s the Iceman!
2. Nearly winning at Monaco at 2017
The Principality of Monte Carlo is amongst the most famous racing circuits in the FIA calendar.
With an affluent audience, not merely everyday spectators, Monaco is a keenly followed event as F1 unfurls titanic duels amidst a setting checkered with a panoramic view of decorated grand stands, serene hills, casinos, posh hotels and, glitzy yachts.
In 2017 however, Kimi Raikkonen took his SF-70 H on pole for beginning what looked a near certain victory on Sunday’s race day at Monaco. In what was pegged as a special grand prix for Kimi, who had broken a nine-year hitch taking his first pole since 2008, turned out to be a somber event.
This is despite the Finn finishing P2 at the conclusion of the 78-lap contest.
In lap 34, Kimi, who had pulled in comfortably ahead on the main straits during the starting stages of the grand prix was called in to the pits for a 1-stop strategy. This meant that in a circuit where overtaking is almost as difficult as walking barefoot on molten lava, second-placed Sebastian Vettel took charge of the race.
In the end, Raikkonen kept third-placed Ricciardo at bay but emerged second on the podium. Could there’ve been a more distraught man ever, despite bagging 18 points on the podium- one’s not sure?
3. Kimi winning the Japanese Grand Prix of 2005
It isn’t everyday that you get to see a driver, starting as a potential last placed backmarker, beginning P17 going on to win a race. Well, unless one is Kimi Matias Raikkonen.
Back in 2005, the famous Suzuka became home to one of Kimi’s most enthralling F1 victories of all time.
As the Iceman kept his cool in the heat of an action-packed, accident-truncated grand prix, McLaren paddock came on their feet to witness the unexpected: Raikkonen diving in wide on first-place Giancarlo Fisichella, on the final stages to clinch the lead and win a pulsating contest.
In overcoming an Alono-Schumacher onslaught and saving his McLaren from the accident-prone high-speed corners and bends such as the famous Spoon corner at Suzuka, Kimi looked like a man in charge and so it became.
The race attained a legendary status in the years that followed and one saw Ron Dennis nickname Kimi as the Iceman for his unflustered, unworried approach to driving.
4. Kimi does some rallying, and well some crashing
Most drivers dream of driving for Ferrari but Kimi Raikkonen is currently running in his 7th season for the Prancing horse. Not that he has starry eyes for any of it.
But back in 2009, then his final year in F1, it was certain that with a recalcitrant Ferrari that Raikkonen was armed with, there would be no high scoring outcomes for the Maranello based outfit.
At the completion of the season, Raikkonen was handed a hefty farewell package. Not that Kimi’s been after the money, he took his racing passion elsewhere: to the terse racing trajectory of World Rallying Championship.
Driving in cold weather, often in the biting Scandinavian winter as also on the slippery tarmac roads amidst European mountains, one saw the Iceman tucked inside the confines of a Citroen DS3 WRC.
When probed if he missed F1 one bit, Kimi would unleash a dead honest, ‘No’ for an answer.
But the thrill the Espoo-born driver carried with him was evident as he persevered, despite being a WRC rookie in events where either his car toppled at racy bends of a mountain cliff or where he lost control of terse steering column, leading to near fatal crashes.
But Raikkonen, continued to race, at times, tagged with Mikko Hirvonen or beside Kaj Lindstrom in fighting hard to set blazing times doing what he described as ‘racing against the clock’.
5. Raikkonen wins Abu Dhabi in the desert heat
In 2012, rumours were rife about a potential Kimi Raikkonen comeback.
Eventually, Kimi returned to the sport where he’s greatly admired for simple, shenanigan-free mannerisms.
Coming back into 2012, Kimi would team up with Lotus in hopes to revive a fledgling team’s chances in Formula 1.
In a season where Kimi climbed to P3 on the driver’s standings at the completion, no mean achievement, considering he hadn’t sat behind an F1 steering wheel for 3 full years, he did the unthinkable at Abu Dhabi.
Winning a memorable grand prix of his career, ever a team man, Kimi scorched past the checkered flag in a thrilling, action-packed race in the Middle East to present fans with an ostentatiously brave drive in a car one didn’t necessarily label as potent to win a grand prix.
With Lewis Hamilton race retiring with some technical glitches in his McLaren, Raikkonen made the most in the front grid to jump in as the race leader, keeping manic assaults by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel at bay.
Not just that in winning a famous grand prix, Raikkonen snapped back at team radio when informed of Alonso’s roaring charge, “Leave me alone, I know what I am doing”. Within hours, Kimi’s famous quote became a bumper sticker expression, going as far as becoming a famous merchandise seller.
6. Kimi makes a funny appearance at Top Gear
You ought to love Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear. Right before the start of the 2012 season, Raikkonen was invited to the most famous British talk show on cars and racing.
Dressed casually in blue denims and grey cap, Raikkonen worked up a few ‘Kimiisms’ sharing he hadn’t given up on drinking and partying and how he collapsed drunk at a bar in Monte Carlo when Clarkson quizzed him if he made The Stig meet his ‘hero’ (referring to Kimi).
In clocking up a gear change in a Fiat, Kimi presented signs of flashing speed and would make up for quite an interesting episode of Top Gear.
7. Meet the Hunter of Hungary
You know him as the King of Spa; you celebrate him as the past conqueror at Suzuka. But its time you warmed up to Kimi Raikkonen’s outstanding record at the Hungaroring.
At Hungary’s speed-fest, it is Raikkonen who possesses a scorcher of a record of 8 podium finishes, ahead of top names in the sport including Alonso, Hamilton and, Vettel.
Collecting one of his four podiums this year at the Hungaroring, Raikkonen’s P2, just seconds off Sebastian Vettel meant that he gave Ferrari their first 1-2 at Hungary since the Schumacher-Barichello show in 2004.
Kimi also has the record of racing at Hungary for 15 times, where he’s finished in the second place on six occasions. Last year, in collecting a P6, having begun from P10, Kimi set a belter of a lap at Mogyorod, clocking up 1:23:086 on lap 52.
Like I’ve always said, it’s a rollercoaster being a Kimi supporter. Not even a pole position after nine years, can be celebrated long enough before we’re thrown deep down into the depths of sadness, but this dip wasn’t like the others, this was… betrayal. And never before in his entire career has it been so evidently clear on the Iceman’s face.
Ferrari could’ve easily still achieved a 1-2 result with Kimi winning and Vettel in second at Monaco. So the idea that they did it for the best interests of the team and Kimi is being a sore loser is just plain wrong. They did it for the best interests of Vettel. It’s not illegal, so why not. A few sorry faces won’t cost them compared to the revenue they’ll make with another potential seven time world champion like Schumacher in the making. Actually, Kimi has a huge following and judging by the reaction of fans, even non-Kimi fans, on all the Scuderia’s social media, it might cost them a lot more than they thought.
As this article explains very clearly how Kimi was robbed of a victory, contrary to the excuses other sites and figures, even the official F1 media, which are trying to convince fans to save face of their sport being under controversial criticism. Vettel even lied about Bottas’ lap-time, trying to justify the over-cut being a response to a threat from Mercedes and RedBull. The only over-cut they were trying to do was to their own world champion, Kimi. He looked ready to give someone an uppercut after the race.
Blind folk will tell you to “look at the lap times”. Ok, yes I’ve seen them, what’s your point? “Kimi was slow and Vettel was faster, end of!” No he wasn’t that slow, even before pitting, he was simply left in the dark unlike Vettel who was told when to push and when he was pitting, Vettel wasn’t exactly flying before Kimi pitted either. Kimi was suddenly called in to pit with no warning and he was released into traffic which cost him the win. Look how close he and Vettel were once they met after the pits. Kimi could’ve easily been ahead without the order to release him into traffic which made him almost a whole lap disadvantaged. It’s one of those moronic situations where the truth is clear but people are so dumb to see it they need to trust F1’s spokepersons (hypocritical teambosses too) to defend Ferrari, luckily majority of us fans aren’t so stupid. Yes Vettel was faster but the question is how and why. How? He was in clear air and Kimi was in traffic. Why? Because Ferrari wanted it that way.
Here is another report on the race which explains why Kimi was pitted the way he was, highlighting he was actually slow (yet Kimi said nothing was wrong and the car felt good) that it almost jeopardised Ferrari’s 1-2. Really?
He has been with them since 2014, and 3 years before that. Couldn’t they have honoured his services with a win in Monaco? It’s not like he was losing dramatic pace or made mistakes or had no chance. This isn’t about not accepting defeat, this is about unfair treatment. And if they didn’t fail Kimi, why would his engineer and side of the garage be angry too as reported by Toni Vilander?
Vettel makes out they are friends, and on Kimi’s part they probably are, but I never trusted Vettel and knew he would be crafty on track as he has previously shown in his career with “Multi 21” and what not. I don’t wanna get anymore personal but the way Vettel celebrated in Monaco whilst absolutely aware Kimi is not happy reduced my views of him even more. He prodded Kimi to shake his hand, what kind of winner goes seeking gratification like that? Then later says to the media he “heard” Kimi is upset, as if he didn’t see it for himself.
“My guess is that they had not told Kimi until after qualifying on pole that the plan was to give Vettel the overcut. That they have never specifically told him that he is there to be number two. And that he will have assumed therefore if he was faster he’d get the chance to win. This tallies exactly with how Massa was told about Alonso having priority (except in that case it was even worse as he only found out in the race itself). In the Alonso case, the agreement that he would have priority was made immediately post-Melbourne but no-one told Massa about it until mid-race Germany! I guess Kimi got into the car with the argument still unresolved. No driver wants to believe he is there to be number two even if he delivers pole. And my guess is they told him that was the case and he resolved to try to win the race anyway. Obviously the best way would’ve been to have done it on pure pace and got so far ahead that the pit strategy became irrelevant. But he didn’t have the speed advantage to be able to do that. So he chose the only other way left – and it almost worked. The anger would’ve been compounded by them bringing him on on a lap that was guaranteed to give him traffic on his out-lap.”
Not all of us understand what happened after Kimi clinched the title in 2007. Some of you may have read about the Santander deal which ousted Kimi for Fernando Alonso. But few of us know for certain, that something was not quite right and has not been ever since, despite Kimi’s return to Ferrari in 2014.
Since Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from F1 in 2006, that itself being forced by hand of then Ferrari boss Luca Di Montezemolo, the Scuderia needed a fitting replacement, the heir to the King, albeit a temporary one. The fastest guy around was Kimi Raikkonen who was falling out of love and patience with McLaren after suffering poor unreliability for 5 years, winning no championship with the team but built an impressive status nonetheless, narrowingly missing out on the 2003 and 2005 championships down to car failures. Apparently Ferrari jumped in and signed Kimi at the end of the 2005 season.
Everyone knew the quiet, mono-toned apolitical Finn was an odd match for the political Red outfit. Many of his fans, including myself, cringed at the idea. And for good reason. Plus, they had another Spanish driver in mind to fill Schumacher’s legacy, one who was more suited to the Latin image of Ferrari.
It was a matter of business and keeping friends close, but your enemies closer. Kimi Raikkonen, claimed by Sir Stirling Moss as “quite frankly the fastest driver in the world” was a threat to Ferrari and any other competitor. Why don’t they just embrace Kimi then, you’ll ask? Well, it’s a matter of personal taste, and those in control either love or hate Kimi. Whichever way, he doesn’t give a shit. Neither do I if anyone thinks I’m crazy.
Ferrari pretty much instantly dumped Kimi, their world champion, no more than four races into the 2008 season. As the Santander article explains, Kimi was at his peak and achieved in his opinion the most perfect hat-trick weekend, scoring pole position, fastest lap and victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. After that it went downhill to money and business. Instead of Kimi fighting for the championship, which he was leading by the way, teammate Felipe Massa was pushed to the fore to take glory, missing out on the title in dramatic fashion in Brazil to Lewis Hamilton. Actions do speak louder than words, like Kimi’s 10 fastest laps record that season, so pace and performance wasn’t a factor. Even whilst Kimi was struggling in 2007 adjusting to a new team, new car, new tyres, he was fighting on fair ground because Massa won a few races too that year. Kimi was never, ever, hired to be Ferrari’s No.1 driver. And I’m glad, because he’s better than that. You just have to look at how long Massa was in that “top” team yet never became champion. That’s because he was the perfect no.2 for Schumacher and then another driver, Alonso. Of course Massa even did his duty on his home race, Brazil, for Kimi to win the 2007 title by one point. Massa wasn’t good enough to be their No.1 driver so they needed Kimi to win in 2007 and he got the job done.
The following year, in 2009, Kimi knew he was on his way out. He knew he was done by a business deal. But the comments surrounding his motivation and character made it even worse. It had absolutely nothing to do with motivation or his lifestyle. Kimi was going through a lot of difficulty personally that time too, but he never let it affect his job. You only have to compare his performances in the poor F60 to Massa’s. After Massa’s awful injury at the Hungarian GP which put him out for the rest of the season, Kimi suddenly had all the focus and attention and support and *surprise surprise* achieved better results, he even made the donkey wagon win at Spa-Francorchamps in a heroic style, which is my all-time favourite victory of his at the Scuderia because it was purely him. His mechanics and engineers were astounded by his achievement.
But the whole scenario at Ferrari disheartened him so much, the Iceman actually left F1. That’s how bad it was.
He forgave them after his return to F1 with Lotus. But that’s only because he’s a decent man. He felt so strongly about 2007 and his dream coming true, the joy, the happiness, he still considers the Scuderia his “family”, but this emotional connection clouded his judgement. I’m sorry to say this but Kimi made a huge mistake returning to Ferrari. When it was announced, on my birthday of all days in 2013, I wasn’t happy at all. I knew exactly what would ensue. I don’t know why his manager Steve Robertson agreed to it, but he is a manager after-all and wants to ensure he gets the best deal available for his driver. Kimi’s return to F1 with Lotus was such a great comeback, but as always on this rollercoaster of a ride, it ended bittersweet. Financial issues and no salary, and harsh behaviour from certain team members, gave Kimi no choice but to leave.
The only reason Ferrari re-hired Kimi, in my opinion, is because of his experience and popularity and they needed a stable yet extremely committed second driver who could pick up the pieces should the other driver be out of contention. The massive appeal Kimi has globally is of great marketing value to the brand. But like the reason they first hired him for 2007, they simply needed a No.2 for the great Vettel who was coming onboard.
Ferrari were getting nowhere with their marriage with Alonso no matter how much money they pumped into it. That bubble burst and ended in divorce. Karma for ruining Kimi’s career, maybe. But Kimi rejoining the team to be Alonso’s No.2, seriously? Didn’t he or Robertson see that one coming? Maybe they did and just accepted it till Alonso left the team a year later and things would be equal again with a new driver? What else could explain this?
What is the true story Kimi? Was he just implying there’s car issues and problem solving practices in question or that he knows his position in the team? I think the latter is unlikely, due to this team radio:
“Yes, but who is making the calls? In one of those, I mean it seems to me at least we are not…. We seem to be getting second choice all the time. So, I wanna know what the hell is going on”.
Still wondering what the hell is going on? That was two years ago Kimi. It had to take achieving pole position after nine years (which by the way the team knew they could over-cut Kimi in the race to let Vettel win), to realise you’re being treated unfairly?
This suggests to me there is no written agreement or clause in the contracts to suggest driver favouritism, otherwise why would Kimi be questioning like this? He would know about it and settle for it or leave. Him settling for it obviously unhappy and complaining shows he does not know about it.
This is Ferrari.
They have cheated Kimi, betrayed his trust and played with his emotions. Heck, Kimi even invited Maurizio Arrivabene and his wife, who is Kimi’s team PR woman, to his wedding last year. This same man who, after Kimi’s excellent pole in Monaco, says “the champion is coming out sometimes“. Maybe because you Mafia guys have shackled him? He said it was “a pity” for Vettel’s lap, why? He locked out the front row with Kimi, what’s so bad? Ah..yes… he’s not the one infront.
Few races earlier this year (and numerous races before since 2015), this is what they do to Kimi in the race when he is ahead of Vettel or threatens his position and then have the nerve to verbally abuse him to media for “doing nothing“?!
“Today Kimi seemed to have other commitments. I talked to Maurizio, maybe it’s time I sit with him and talk to him.
“He seemed to be doing nothing on the track.”- Marchionne, Chinese Grand Prix 2017
So they’ve openly criticised him to the media in only the second race of the year? Claiming he always starts seasons on slow form and gets better? Maybe with Ferrari but he surely didn’t at Lotus after two years away from the sport.
Oh look, Arrivabene says it’s too early to start favouring a driver for the championship, what a lie!
And the sixth race in Monaco isn’t too early either? Why don’t you just admit you’ve handicapped Kimi since the start of the season and every other season to create such a large deficit between him and Vettel in points to justify your team orders to support him for the title? Oh wait, you can’t because you’re fooling him!
In the 2016 season, Ferrari didn’t win a single race, but they still messed about with Kimi. He and Vettel were on very similar pace since Australia, with Kimi outqualifying Vettel that season 11-10 and collecting a handful of podiums, with the odd exception of finishing ahead of Vettel at Spain in 2nd. With mixed fortunes for Vettel on track, Kimi was ahead in the WDC on a few ocassions, after the Russian, British, Malaysian GPs. Kimi was consistently out-qualifying Vettel towards the end of 2016, but with strange strategies and DNFs resulting in finishing behind the German on Sundays and in the championship.
In the 2015 season, as teammates for the first time, Kimi was on par with Vettel’s pace from the start. as James Allison stated Kimi making Vettel sweat. But Ferrari needed their No.1 to bring the team to glory, not the dude who won their last driver’s and constructors championships and suffered with them in 2014 and helped develop the car. In Australia, Vettel showed his class as he pushed Kimi wide into T1 on the first lap.
Malaysia 2015 was a clear indication to me that Kimi’s return to Red was indeed a mistake as Vettel took the team’s first win since Alonso. But I, like Kimi, persevered to watch this joke of a team, thinking he can win at some point without any issues like lack of engine power, electrical issues, clutch issues or poor pitstops and strategies again. Just look how dejected Kimi was after seeing the new boy take the fruits of hardwork Kimi actually made:
Then came Italy 2015, Vettel and Kimi qualified on the front row and Kimi’s car stalled on the start becoming dead last on the grid. That was the last straw for me, and that’s why I quit KRS on this blog since then. It was clear tampering with Kimi’s car to ensure Vettel gets the Italian podium for the Tifosi as the team’s higher paid driver and German Schumacher duplicate. Mercedes owned that year so Ferrari knew they couldn’t win at Monza, Hamilton did, so only one of their drivers could be on the podium so why not their No.1?
“Ah… maybe one day”
… what? Win one day? At Ferrari? That day has come and gone my dear. And it came again, to hurt like a knife in the back, last Sunday in Monaco. I don’t know, maybe he was just so deflated from not having won a race since 2013 and 12 years since winning there. Maybe he was extra invested in it emotionally since becoming a dad again to a baby girl and wants to make family proud. I’d like to think it was just those sentimental reasons, but as his despondent demeanor showed it clearly it wasn’t. I wish he would walk away from this “team” and find contentment elsewhere, whether it be in F1 or another sport or spending time with his real family.
Kimi considers Ferrari his family, well, they’re not, they’re your employers and colleagues, you should never mix business with pleasure. Now all I can hope is he has had words with the team and actually doesn’t get swayed by their fake reassurance and lies again and just leaves, it’s not like he can threaten to quit if they “do it” again as it’s never as clear cut as it was in Monaco’s race, sometimes their poor tactics are so subliminal that’s why Kimi is in this situation of utter perplex.
I’ll carry on supporting him as long as he races and hopefully will see him at Monza in September for the Grand Farce. Oops sorry. Prix. I meant Grand Prix…
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