Kimi Raikkonen has hit back at claims only money motivates him to keep racing in F1.
After a two-year hiatus in world rallying in the wake of his Ferrari career, the phlegmatic Finn returned to the grid with Lotus last year, winning in Abu Dhabi and finishing a surprise third in the world championship.
He also made a lot of money, raking in millions after agreeing a modest retainer with lucrative bonuses for the swathe of points he ultimately scored.
“I’ve been paid well for my work,” Raikkonen is quoted as saying by Finland’s Turun Sanomat. “It has sometimes been a lot, sometimes not so much, but if money was the only motivation, I would not be in Formula One.
“Although it has become safer, there are also high risks.”
Kimi Raikkonen has been tipped to fight for pole in Australia next month, and the world championship in 2013.
“I am quite sure Kimi will fight for the championship,” fellow Finn Mika Salo, now a commentator for the MTV3 broadcaster, said.
After two seasons in rallying, 2007 world champion Raikkonen returned to formula one with Lotus last year, finishing the championship third and winning in Abu Dhabi.
“Last year he was not able to consistently show good results all of the time, and the team made mistakes that should not be repeated,” said former Sauber and Ferrari driver Salo.
“It is clear that the Lotus has now improved. I have no doubt that, in Australia, Kimi will fight for pole position.”
Lotus is happy to let Kimi Raikkonen just be himself, owner Gerard Lopez has revealed.
En route to his first victory since returning to F1 last year, the laconic Finn told his race engineer Simon Rennie in Abu Dhabi to “Just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.” Lopez told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper: “Kimi is Kimi. It was just what he felt at that moment.
“Kimi is certainly the most honest guy in F1. That’s why so many people find him so refreshing. We don’t want our drivers to come out of a mould — they are what they are and they say what they say.
“I believe that is why Lotus is appreciated as we are. We are a natural team,” said Lopez.
Lotus memorialised Raikkonen’s radio outbursts with t-shirts and memorabilia, but the 33-year-old world champion of 2007 does not look back with any particular fondness on Abu Dhabi.
“I’d rather fight for the championship, but it didn’t happen,” he is quoted as saying.
Told how popular his Abu Dhabi radio messages were, Raikkonen added: “I just try to do my thing. It was just something that happened during the race — it wasn’t planned in advance. I’m not the biggest fan of the instructions,” he confided.
Kimi Raikkonen has split with his wife of eight years.
When a McLaren driver, the Finn married former Miss Scandinavia Jenni Dahlman in 2004. The Finnish entertainment magazine 7 Paivaa reports that they have split.
“It’s true, they have grown in different directions,” confirmed the now Lotus driver’s personal assistant Ridu Kuvaja, according to Finnish daily Ilta Sanomat.
The newspaper said Jenni moved out of their EUR 30 million home in Switzerland several weeks ago.
Broadcaster MTV3 reports that divorce could be “expensive” for Raikkonen, given his estimated fortune of more than EUR 120 million, including a portfolio of properties.
Mikko Hirvonen, the 2012 world rally championship runner up, believes countryman Kimi Raikkonen would have kept improving had he stayed in rallying.
Finn Raikkonen, F1’s 2007 world champion who has driven for top teams McLaren and Ferrari, finished the 2012 season in third place as he made his return to the sport.
In 2010 and 2011, following his split with Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso, the now 33-year-old opted to try his hand at world rallying.
Speaking about Raikkonen’s competitive return to F1 last year with Lotus after two seasons away, Hirvonen said: “Well, it was not really a surprise.
“This man knows how to drive F1 (cars). When I heard he was going back, I thought that if the car is good, he will survive — and Kimi did very well,” he told Turun Sanomat newspaper.
But Hirvonen thinks Raikkonen would have kept improving had he stayed in rallying.
“The results would certainly have improved, but how much would have depended on how much enthusiasm Kimi had for practicing and testing. But his pace would definitely have improved in the third season,” he added.
Kimi Raikkonen has clarified his aversion to sophisticated Formula One simulator technology, insisting he simply “learns nothing” at the computerised wheel.
An avowed fan of idol James Hunt’s bygone days, 2007 world champion Raikkonen has always sounded unenthusiastic when asked about the simulator technology that has replaced F1’s former days of expensive track testing. That sparked rumours that, like Michael Schumacher, simulators give the famous Finn motion sickness, or that perhaps the former Ferrari and McLaren driver is claustrophobic.
Raikkonen’s new team, Lotus, has now developed a brand new simulator at its Enstone base, but it appears only teammate Romain Grosjean will be at the wheel.
“I just think that I can learn nothing in the simulator,” the 33-year-old is quoted by Switzerland’s Speed Week. “I learn a new track quickly, without a simulator,” added Raikkonen.
Indeed, when Lotus’ new simulator was up and running prior to Austin last November, Grosjean lapped the virtual circuit many times but was still immediately outpaced in real life by Raikkonen, who got his first taste of the US layout in Friday practice.
Kimi Raikkonen, undoubtedly F1’s most laid back driver, reportedly skipped Thursday’s proceedings at Interlagos.
Normally, drivers attend media and sponsor functions, meet with their engineers and walk the circuit at grand prix venues on the day before the official practice action kicks off.
But according to the Finnish MTV3 broadcaster, 2007 world champion Raikkonen was on Thursday still holidaying in Los Angeles, in the wake of last weekend’s US grand prix in Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier denied reports the 33-year-old has not been paid all the points bonus money he is contractually entitled to.
“Kimi has got all the money which he has earned so far,” the Frenchman insisted.
Kimi Raikkonen looks set to be the first driver since Nick Heidfeld in 2008 (BMW) to finish every race in a complete Formula One season. The Finn’s rare feat, delivering him an almost certain third in the drivers’ points standings, has coincided with his return to the sport with Lotus after a two-year rallying hiatus.
“Our record shows that the team can build a reliable car and that I know how to drive it,” said Raikkonen.
Meanwhile, the former McLaren and Ferrari driver gave the same three-word answer – “Never give up” – to three separate questions in an interview for F1’s official website.
The questions were: “What’s been your most valuable life lesson?”, “If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?”, and “What’s the best advice you have been given?”
Kimi Raikkonen may have been tired of his engineer’s radio messages, but he was also looking after his “brand” en route to Abu Dhabi victory.
That is the view of former F1 driver Alex Wurz, referring to Finn Raikkonen’s series of pit-to-car radio exchanges that culminated in the now-famous refrain ‘Leave me alone – I know what I’m doing’ as he added a win to his 2012 F1 comeback.
2007 world champion Raikkonen is ‘the iceman’ — a laid-back, cigarette and alcohol-loving racer who in Monaco paid tribute to his hero by wearing James Hunt’s helmet colours. When asked about Raikkonen’s radio impatience in Abu Dhabi, Austrian Wurz said: “Well, Kimi is the way he is.
“But he’s also a clever guy who understands what his ‘brand Kimi Raikkonen’ needs. Kimi knows very well the importance of his engineers — after all, he took his McLaren engineer, Mark Slade, with him to Lotus,” Wurz told motorline.cc.
Formula One teams have been instructed to pull their drivers into line, after world champion Sebastian Vettel and former title winner Kimi Raikkonen swore during their post-race podium interviews in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
Speaking to former driver David Coulthard for the ‘world feed’-broadcast new podium interviews at Yas Marina, Raikkonen said the word “sh*t” and Red Bull’s Vettel “f**k”.
“I should just remind our audience that he (Vettel) is speaking in his second language,” Coulthard said immediately on the podium, “and so we apologise for the choice of words.”
But in a letter to team bosses, the FIA’s communications head Norman Howell said it is now their “responsibility to make sure drivers are aware such language has no place during media events”. Howell said the letter was just a “friendly” reminder, but that incidents in the future could lead to disciplinary action, according to a report by the BBC.