Kimi Raikkonen has given his first interview since becoming a Red Bull Citroen rally driver and it reveals some interesting points about his views on the way F1 is heading and on his own future plans. Clearly he feels that F1 is not on the right track, not for him anyway.
Speaking in the German language edition of the Red Bulletin, Red Bull’s in house sports magazine, he says that there are too many negative things going on which overshadow the racing in F1. This took away a lot of the pleasure for him of driving and he feels that even the challenge of the driving is limited, compared to rally,
“In F1 too many things overshadow the racing. There is too much politics, no one says what he thinks, because he is afraid that things are taken out of context. The atmosphere in rally is much nicer. It’s more about the performance of drivers, ” he says.
“Each lap in F1 is more or less the same. When it rains, it becomes more difficult, but otherwise this is routine now. In rallying every curve, every hill may be different than you thought. That makes it interesting. The most fun I had in the last few years when I have gone out with friends, on snowmobile, for example.”
Asked whether the 2009 Ferrari was difficult to drive, given the struggles Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella had with it, Raikkonen says,
“The car was not bad, it had very little grip. Okay, it was difficult to drive, but I liked the ’09 Ferrari even better than the ’08 car. I didn’t cope so badly with it. Fisichella, however, aged ten years in those five races!”
Raikkonen tips Sebastian Vettel for world champion in 2010 because he finds him the most likeable driver and reveals that he plays badminton with the German, which is an interesting image to conjure up in your mind,
“In general, I have little contact with F1 people. Vettel and I sometimes play badminton. Now he moves into my area in Switzerland, we will probably see more of each other.”
As for his future plans, the Finn says that he has options in F1, but isn’t sure about the way the sport is headed. He maintains the line that this is a sabbatical year, but one wonders whether he will really want to go back once he settles into an environment which is much better suited to his character. He has the money and the F1 champions’ title, what more would there be to come back for, especially as he can enjoy a long career in rallying now,
“Maybe I’ll go to the Grand Prix in Monaco. As it looks now, I can always get back a F1 cockpit. But do I want it? In Formula 1 some unpleasant things are happening now; one manufacturer after another is leaving. I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about it at the moment. In a year we’ll talk.”
Meanwhile Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko has dismissed suggestions that Raikkonen might take Mark Webber’s seat at Red Bull in 2011 as “a pure rumour”.
“Raikkonen is going to drive the rallies in 2010, and what happens after that, we will see, ” he added.