Raikkonen appears to turn his back on a return to Formula 1
Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen appears to turn his back on a return to Formula 1
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Aug 2010   |  8:35 am GMT  |  228 comments

I see that the leading French sports paper L’Equipe has an interview with Kimi Raikkonen this weekend, where he appears to close the door on F1 for good.


The 2007 world champion switched to rallying this season after being dropped by Ferrari in favour of Fernando Alonso. He joined forces with Red Bull and Citroen in WRC and this led to suggestions that his route back into F1 might be with the current championship leaders, but RBR team principal Christian Horner has always dismissed such suggestions and this weekend Raikkonen seems to be saying that he will not be back in F1,

“You never know, but I will probably not return to Formula 1,” he said. “I became the F1 world champion, which I had always wanted to do, but times have changed. I do rallying now and there is far more to life than F1.”

He always looked and behaved like a man who believed that there is far more to life than F1. Raikkonen disliked the politics in the sport and the intensity of the media scrutiny, especially at Ferrari. He found the sport rather inward looking, as it certainly can be. He is more temperamentally suited to the ambience of rallying.

Although he was never afraid of any competitor in F1, the level of driving is very high at the moment and with several top drivers in top cars, the competitions is probably as high as it has been for a couple of generations. To come back and face that he would have to be with a top team, like Red Bull, but as all the leading teams have at least one long term lead driver, there isn’t really a place for Raikkonen.

And Red Bull and Ferrari’s contrasting experiences this season of trying to handle two top drivers shows, it’s not easy to manage.

In rallying Raikkonen seems to be enjoying the challenge of building up a mental database of how the car behaves on the different surfaces, a process which takes many years and is the main challenge facing road racing converts such as him.

Therefore it makes little sense to do a year of rallying and then stop. Only with several years of experience will the results start to come.

“In racing, the surface of one circuit is not massively different to the surface of another, although there are some small changes, ” he says. “In rallying, the difference is huge on every event. There is so much variety on a rally: every kilometre and every corner is different. That’s why experience is so important in this sport. So I just need to keep on building up my knowledge.”

His fellow Finn Tommi Makinen believes that Raikkonen should stay in rallying and that he is having a good time in WRC,

“He seems to be happy,” he said.”Kimi is the kind of guy who wants to make success and find the best performance from himself. I’m sure he is the guy who is not giving up. That’s why I’m pretty sure he won’t jump out of rally yet. I’m pretty sure he will stay next year.”

F1 is the elite level of motorsport and it is where great talents should reside and live out their careers. It’s interesting that for personality and temperament reasons, both Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya ended up competing elsewhere, although Raikkonen did put in a nine year stint in F1, which is longer than most Finns, who historically don’t have very long F1 careers.

Raikkonen also reveals that he hasn’t paid much attention to this year’s F1 championship, “I’ve watched a few races, while for others the result was enough. I’m not particularly hooked.”

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1

Raikonnen is essentially a modern day James Hunt. Only where Hunt could revel in his activities without being given a hard time in the seventies era, Raikonnen would be. But rather than giving into the PR game he prefers to say nothing and just enjoys the racing saving his true personality for places he wont be judged.

2

I’ll miss him in f1!! How i wish he make a comeback! But if he’s happy at wrc,as his biggest fans,i’m happy too

3

I certainly hope Kimi will never come back to F1. I’d light candles for that if needed. Not because of Kimi, i have nothing against the guy, though he is not on the list of my favourite drivers. No, its his fans, the most annoying sort of driver fans on the planet. They spam all the forums and blogs, they are unable to talk about anything but Kimi, Kimi and Kimi, until you turn your back on their postings because it just gets unbearable at a point.

I bet they sleep on Kimi- pillows. From a psychological point of view, the empty canvas of Kimi’s personality enables his ‘fans’ to project all their imaginations onto him.They always seem to be perfectly informed about what he eats, drinks, and most important, thinks.

Kimi-fans spend days and days on the internet telling the readers what Kimi thinks. While the guy probably does what many men tend to do…he thinks nothing.

He is a good driver (at times), he won a WDC (kind of an accident), thats about all, and instead of 200 comments we should have 10 at best.

4

I am sorry, but what’s it to you how his fans admire him? If you don’t like them, then don’t visit forums or read any topic about Kimi. Just because Kimi fans don’t admire or follow a driver, team or sport the way you would, doesn’t mean they are lesser people. If you don’t like Kimi Raikkonen, then you don’t like him. To each his own. He isn’t any less of a great driver just because you think his fans are crazy. There is no need to attack people who admire him.

5

I miss Kimi. What does it say when a team picks a sponsor over a driver? Ferrari wanted Santander more than a WDC!!!!! Michael was SO right to bail on Ferrari, which has totally lost its soul.

6

I hope Kimi stays at WRC.
He seems much happier there.

Watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRAS7psYEO4

7

Fantastic video. Are the rally drivers really that accessible ? Thanks for the footage.

8

Trixie, rally drivers are really nice unlike most F1 drivers, LOL.

The atmosphere at rallies are very relaxed, the mechanics are pretty cool too. Even most the media people there are wonderful. Love those radio rally guys & Becs, Neil…

I hope Kimi continues with WRC next year.

9

Much loved and admired … F1 is just not the same anymore……

…..not just for me but as is obvious from these posts….

for lots and lots of us ……from all corners of the world…. clearly there is something so special about the guy …. which transcends everything …..and that clearly is lacking in all the current whining lot on the grid!

10

Thanks James, finally an article on Kimi.

And timely too, The King of Spa…

11

Whenever there is a post about Kimi here, it reaches the over 200 comments.

12

Well, I for one check this site daily hoping that something about Kimi is posted.

13

Picasso may be best known for his cubism, but he didn’t limit himself to that one style. So why should an extremely talented driver limit himself to one form of auto racing?

14

Well, well, well perhaps people shouldn’t get to excited about Kimi being done with F1.

This is from an interview, after Rallye Deutschland:

SPOX: That means the Formula 1 fans will not see you ever again in a GP-car?

Räikkönen: I will not express it like that. We will see. First, we have to drive this season to the end and then we have to clear some things up. Afterwards, we will see further.

I am starting to believe that even Kimi himself doesn’t actually know what he wants! 😉

15

Nice article James….

Kimi is my all time favorite and I will especially miss him this weekend at Spa. I wish F1 allowed teams to run extra cars for events as they do in Rally, NASCAR, Indy, etc…. It would be great fun to at least see him out there….

16

My friend and I went to the Monaco race this year. During the pitwalk we saw many drivers up close; Alonso, Schumacher, Vettel to name just a few. After the race on Sunday, whilst waiting for the crowds to clear so we could leave, we stood on a marina watching the Red Bull celebrations from across the harbour. Then my friend pointed out we were standing in front of a yacht called ‘The Iceman’. Only at that point did we notice we were just meters away from Kimi and a group of his friends. I was beside myself with excitement.

A brief glimpse of Kimi at close quarters got me far more excited than seeing all the other drivers put together.

I miss Kimi in F1 but have followed him to WRC and wish him all the best in whatever he does.

17

“F1 is the elite level of motorsport and it is where great talents should reside and live out their careers.”

Shouldn’t it be more about what the great talents actually enjoy rather than following the elitist protocol of a journalist?

There are many other great forms of motorsport, Raikkonen realises this and goes to one that he actually enjoys. Same for Montoya.

18

Good luck to them. But they’d both agree F1 is the pinnacle

19

Very interesting comment about F1 being the pinnacle…

It is certainly seen as such by the general public and it surely is in single seater open wheel racing… although oval racers may disagree of course…

I myself did see F1 as the top rung until I went rallying this year…

I had watched rallying on tv before but nothing prepared me for the actuality of hours behind the wheel competitively and just going from stage to stage… as well as the protagonists getting their hands dirty changing wheels, patching up the cars and changing set-ups at remote locations…

And then they have parc ferme and service procedures that mean they don’t just leave the cars as the business stuff finishes…

And not just a handful of corners endlessly repeated on a consistent surface but endlessly different corners on changing surfaces…

Instead of run-offs and soft barriers you have “track furniture” around every relatively unknown corner that can mean danger… trees, rocks, steep drops etc etc….

And in every possible temperature from the freezing (Sweden) to the baking (for example Jordan)… with the long days really hurting here…

What these guys have to do is totally amazing…

And it needs REAL teamwork from the driver and co-driver too…

Actually I now see the F1 guys as a rather effete, spoilt and coddled bunch….

And I never expected to feel like that…

20

Thanks James and I have to say that I have done just as you suggest…

I have been lucky to be at all the current tracks (except Korea!) and fairly close to the action at times… and this year I have been to quite a few rallies too…

Hence I do feel the comparison to be at first hand and not just from my armchair…

And whilst I agree that I may have been a tad harsh on the F1 guys I now believe that to say it is the pinnacle of all motorsport is somewhat of an overstatement and totally devalues other types … but I do accept that it is the blue riband event (rather like the 100m is in athletics)…

The media mollycoddle??.. surely not…

I thought you were a pack of blood thirsty sensationalists… only joking!!…

a little…

21

Well some of us are..

22

Nice to have a comment from you. All elite sportsmen are mollycoddled by their handlers and the media. When you stand by the side of the track in changeable conditions and see what they do, then you realise that it’s a brutal environment and nothing soft about it at all.

23

“But they’d both agree F1 is the pinnacle”

I am sorry James with all due respect, but you must be joking. The only thing that shows is the typical F1 elitist attitude that F1 reporters often have for some reason, it is like they are buying into their own hype or something. If things were so rosy why would they leave F1? It is not as if they couldn’t get a seat in F1 or anything?

If F1 drivers are so superior why weren’t Coulthard or Hakkinen even able to beat those talentless DTM drivers, or Montoya especially should be beating those chumps in Nascar? Or how about Hakkinen beating everyone in the Artic rally, which is only a little national event, instead of coming in 22nd place.

F1 is the elite of single seater track racing, yes that I will subscribe to, but saying they have the best drivers is just wrong. F1 also has the most money so I guess in that sense one could call it elite, although Nascar is properly not far behind in the money stakes. Which also show how F1 for example has lost ground in throughout the years, especially in America. Most Americans hardly even know anything about F1 these days.

But then since rally has been under discussion in this article; with WRC for example one also has to remember that Bernie’s friend Max Mosley has been helping to drive WRC in the ground for years now, so that it doesn’t pose too much of a competition to F1. But if someone else was at the head of the FIA and they didn’t mess around with WRC so much, would it perhaps have been seen as the “elite” motorsport today? I mean rallies like Sweden, Finland or GBR can still attract over the 400 000 spectators these days, not too bad for such a forgotten sport. And the FIA has been following that same pattern with other popular racing too throughout the years, it is not just WRC.

Or how about all of those kids that goes into karting, do all of the best ones really get sponsored to enter into the lower formula? Do the best drivers in the lower formulas always make it to F1? And where does pay drivers fit into this?

And how about Kimi, everyone would agree that he is better then quite a few drivers on the grid today and yet he isn’t in F1?

And Sebastian Loeb a 6 time WRC champion and even a Lemans winner, showing that he can not only do rallying but also some circuit racing. Where does he fit in?

I can go on and on, everyone will get the general idea. James you are always so clever and insightful, I didn’t think you of all people would be so closed minded about this subject.

24

James it very much depends on what you mean by pinnacle.

Certainly F1 has the most prestige and is the class ‘most’ drivers try to reach. However when it comes to the question if F1 actually represents the elite level of driving talent in the world this whole charade falls apart. Motorsport is far too diverse, far too fragmented and far too expensive to make any actual analysis viable.

For example, getting a number 1 record would be the pinnacle for most musicians but does the Official Singles Chart actually represent the highest quality of musical talent? Of course not.

F1 may be the pinnacle of motorsport, but in terms of actual elite driving it doesn’t represent the finest racing talent in the world. It’s very nature prohibits this.

I wouldn’t change it though 🙂

25

Not sure I agree with that. You’ve got me thinking, though. I might do a post on this

26

or would they say the other forms of motorsport are not comparable?

Hopefully Kimi’s commitment to the WRC along with some new cars will lead to improved coverage.

27

F1 needs media friendly personalities.

Kimi didn’t have one.

Bye Bye F1.

Good fast driver though.

28

Kimi is still one the drivers with the most fans, and Red Bull is willing to sponsor him in WRC. This isn’t just a small sponsorship, they have committed to a complete rookie who had never even driver a WRC car before they signed him, in one of the top seats in WRC. On top of that they have now also released an Iceman cap collection, and their reported investment in him is 4 times as much as what Sebastian Loeb is getting.

They must be doing all of this for some strange reason, it certainly isn’t because of his vast amount of experience or public speaking skills. Perhaps it is the good looks, it is always so much entertaining to see some really good looking people climb out of a car after a rally crash. 😉

29

One of the best.

Respected by fellow drivers and loved by the fans.

Hope to see him at the Race of Champions this year beating the best of the best.

30

He doesn’t seem to get invited, probably because the sponsors don’t find him to be desirable.

31

I think Ferrari and Mclaren just doesn’t allow their drivers to take part, which is why Kimi has never done it. There have been a team Finland a few times if I recall correctly, and anyone who thinks Heikki is more desirable to sponsors needs to be fired.

32

It’s ironic how the bar has been raised. It’s no longer enough to have one championship under your belt – you have to be a multiple title holder in order to sit at the table. Ridiculous.

I admire KR even more now that he’s decided once again to make his own way in motor sport. Life is to be enjoyed and that’s what he’s doing. Hats off to him.

33

I see this as a failure of F1, that it has managed to alienate the most naturally fast driver since Senna.

34

“F1 is the elite level of motorsport and it is where great talents should reside and live out their careers.”

Now that is a very short sighted statement. F1 is only the elite level of single seater racing. And it is definitely not necessarily the best drivers, I have often seen that people who follow a variety of motorsports properly thinks that rally drivers are actually the most skilled, and I tend to agree. F1 drivers complain about not having enough runs offs these days, and if the tarmac isn’t perfect. Has anyone seen the stages of Rally Deutschland this weekend? It looks more like gravel then tarmac, on top of that they had to drive between the henkelstein, very dangerous stuff. Road conditions are always changing, most of the corners are blind because of vegetation. And of course you don’t really learn and repeat the same roads hundreds of times, you just drive by pacenotes, which takes years to learn properly. It is also quite demanding on the drivers, you start at 5 and end the day at 12 in the night, through this you must remain perfectly concentrated. There isn’t always help on the stages, it is much more hands on, drivers change tyres, and fix things themselves from time to time. There is also the danger of being out on stage in a remote location. On Saturday for example a car caught fire and the driver and co-driver are currently in the hospital being treated for burn injuries. Don’t get me wrong I love F1, and I think F1 drivers are very skilled. But these days motorsport is so specialised, I have seen F1 drivers going to DTM and really struggle. Montoya didn’t just beat everyone in Nascar and Kimi isn’t just beating everyone in WRC. Rally is one of the motorsports were the driver are still actually making a big difference.

For all of those things I can really see why Kimi likes the idea or challenge of rally so much. You have to applaud Kimi, he isn’t taking the easy way out. He is putting himself up against people with loads more experience in a very difficult form of motorsport, he is really taking on a huge challenge.

There is still lots of pressure on him on him to succeed, and Kimi is still generating lots of media interest. The difference is just that the media seems to be treating him differently. In F1 it always seemed like the media treated him with a bit of contempt, and a condescending attitude, always looking for a mistake. But in rally he is treated with respect and funny enough he is doing loads of PR this year. His participation in rally is really drawing in the crowds, rally Sweden alone for example were followed by more people then the whole WRC season last year. Therefore I suspect Red Bull are more then happy to sponsor Kimi, no other WRC driver can generate the same amount of interest.

Although it is a bit sad that the last real great old school driver has left F1, I am glad that Kimi has decided to stick with WRC. It is very interesting to follow his progress in WRC. And for a complete and total rookie he is doing a fantastic job, I think he has got the potential to become a very good WRC driver, although it will take lots of commitment and lots of work. To Kimi’s credit it seems like he is taking this seriously and he is throwing himself in WRC. He is giving more interviews after the stages and he is really interacting with his fans for the first time. He has also done an excellent job this weekend and he has just won his first stage in WRC. The potential is definitely there, I don’t know if he will ever become a WRC champion, but he is currently doing something special and he is busy cementing his status in motorsport as a true legend.

35

Excellent post! WRC reminds me of the really good old days…when sports car racing took place on road courses, or even public roads (the Targa Florio). Rallying showcases a great group of drivers, and their talent is always obvious to the public, even perhaps more than in GP.

36

I always liked Kimi. He was the anti-F1. He showed up, drove fast, and then was gone. I hold him in high regard as one of the best drivers today, much like JP Montoya.

37

F1 is the pinnacle of road racing in cars, MotoGP is the pinnacle of road racing on bikes.

Off-road is a very different skill and has its own pinnacles – WRC/the Dakar – for both cars and bikes… and trucks…

For those of us that love all types of motorsports seeing a talent like Kimi take on a bit of variety is great.

38

F1 is the pinnacle it the sense most drivers want to be in it. However Motorsport isn’t a meritocracy so you’ll see the elite drivers spread across various series and what not.

39

also at risk of getting shot down, i love f1 and am indifferent with rally. however rally simply has to be so much more difficult than f1. in f1 you have a car trying to bury itself into perfect tarmac whereas with rally you have a squishy long travel car doing 100mph plus on gravel with sheer cliffs, i would love to drive a lower formula car on a track but you couldnt pay me enough money to actively want to go rallying. there are not enough new pairs of pants in the world to accomadate what would happen to me

40

How many times we had heard Schumi saying he would never ever return?

41

There is/was something special about tis guy`s driving especially in the Mclaren around 2005. Something very pure, brave and very very fast driving. His Spa records show his skills.

42

No doubt that Kimi is very talented, but if he doesn’t achieve anything special, soon a place in F1 will be opened for him – I’m not aware of F1 team that wouldn’t like him racing for them. He can be easily back in : RBR – replacing Webber (although I’d like to see him racing more), in Renault – next to Robert, or kicking out Massa in Ferrari – let’s face it guys – he went off Ferrari, because Massa was injured – otherwise I still believe that Scuderia wanted both super-fast-and-furious (Alonso and Kimi) in Ferrari. Don’t worry about the money – Banco Santander are very rich guys 🙂

43

i think people mistake silence for arrogance- he is a great driver but was never my favourite to be honest. i do feel however he won his world championship and then lost motivation. the whole not wanting to do pr thing though is a bit lazy. its like me going to work and saying i dont want to do one third of my job and still get paid. it is what formula one is and i know for a fact if i were paying a team millions of pounds a year i would be perfectly within in my rights to have the drivers playing their part.

44

I don’t think any driver really likes PR, Kimi was just more vocal or up front about this then the others. Kimi still did his PR work like everyone else, and he is still doing loads of PR this year. I think he understands quite well that he has to do it even in WRC, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it.

BTW seeing him in a Roman soldier’s costume this year still wearing that cap of his, was one hell of a laugh. 🙂

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