Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen was interviewed by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport at the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix, as the 2007 Formula One world champions talked about what motivates him to continue racing, the partnership with the Maranello team, but also his family life and future plans:
Can you play a role in the fight for the title between Vettel and Hamilton, like Bottas did for Mercedes so far?
Kimi Raikkonen: “It is not something you can plan. I will do my best in any of the races that are missing, we will try to put two Ferrari ahead of everyone, hoping this will help the team and Seb. I would be happy.”
Last Sunday you could win and “steal” important points from Hamilton. Instead your car had a problem before the start. But in the end, also Monte Carlo and Hungary are missed opportunities..
Kimi: “I have no regrets. In racing, small details make a difference and these details can change the result. I had many chances but something has always gone wrong. What’s important is to keep trying, doing your best. The level of the competition is very high and it’s not easy to win a race.”
What pushes you to continue in Formula One, since you talked about your retirement already in 2015?
Kimi Raikkonen: “Racing. The pleasure of driving, the competition, these are the only things why I am still in Formula 1. I do not care what there is around. I feel that I still have the speed to win races and to fight for the title.”
On October 17, you will be 38, the same age as Valentino Rossi: do you see similarities between you and him?
Kimi: “I don’t know him personally, but he certainly has many more titles than me … (laughs). For sure, he keeps racing because he loves to compete, he enjoys and he fights for victories. In my case, every year there are people who come out with the usual story that I won’t be in Fl in the following season. It’s unpleasant to hear these voices but I don’t pay much attention to them: my desire to continue comes from inside”.
What does it feel like to be the last Ferrari world champion?
Kimi: “I am proud. I won a title with Ferrari in 2007 and maybe I could have won two or three [titles], considering the other teams I have raced for. But Ferrari is a special team, a team that has made history, and I think it’s an honor to be part of it.”
Have you ever wondered why so many fans love you, although you don’t try to look a rock star like Hamilton?
Kimi: “I’m glad, but I don’t race to please people. I do that for my happiness. Maybe people appreciate that I’m always myself and that I don’t try to look different”.
In the past, you wore a helmet with James Hunt’s colors for a GP in Monte Carlo. Why such a transgressive idol?
Kimi: “He is not really my idol, even though he was a fantastic driver. But I’m fascinated by that era, by the races of 70s where there were less money, teams on a human scale, more freedom and it was even more fun.”
Lauda said that Ragazzoni was a friend because, when they were in Ferrari, he was straightforward and he didn’t have secrets. Is it the same for you and Vettel?
Kimi: “Yes, it’s the same with Seb. He doesn’t play politics and this helps to face and solve problems together, for the good of the team. We got along immediately when he arrived in Fl, and as time went by, we have become friends. Even if on track each of us wants to beat the other one”.
Probably you talked [with Seb] about the start in Singapore. Would you repeat the same move?
Kimi: “If I was a wizard, I could go back and try again. Actually I can’t blame myself anything, even though I was part of the episode as hit by Max. An unlucky situation.”
Can Seb still win the title?
Kimi: “We will see that soon. We are not where we would like to be, neither in the drivers standing nor in the constructors standing, but we will try everything possible till the last lap of the last race.”
Last summer you became a father for the second time. How is this changing your life?
Kimi: “I found out that it’s nice to spend time with my family and do normal things like everyone. Wake up in the morning, decide how to spend the day. Unfortunately, racing all around the world, time is never enough. The little girl is very close to her mum [Minttu], while Robin is growing up and it’s fun to play with him. What is important is to be there for them.”
How did you choose the names?
Kimi: “It didn’t make any difference to me. To us [him and Minttu] they looked nice. In Rianna’s case, it’s not linked to the singer. What matters is, in any case, to see them in good health.”
If Robin asks you to become a driver?
Kimi: “On one hand I’d like it, on the other hand it would mean that when I’m old I would still be here! But whatever they choose to do, driver or footballer, or dancer in Rianna’s case, I will support them as long as they are happy.”
Have you thought about your future after Formula 1?
Kimi: “Not yet, I’m a person that in life doesn’t even make plans for the following week. Maybe I’ll do some rally for fun.”
Do you think that Ferrari will fight for the title also in 2018?
Kimi: “Our aim is to win or stay always in front. We would like to make 1-2 every Sunday. Then it depends on so many factors, starting from your rivals. But this year we took the right direction and I am sure we will be even stronger next year.”