Five reasons why Formula 1 will miss Kimi Raikkonen

Date published: December 31 2021 - Finley Crebolder

Kimi Raikkonen on the Hungary grid, August 2021.

For the first time in over a decade, the Formula 1 grid will not include Kimi Raikkonen next season – and it will be a lesser place without him.

Here’s exactly why the Iceman will be missed by us and the sport as a whole…

His mindset towards Formula 1

Throughout his time as an F1 driver, Kimi was interested in one thing and one thing only – driving fast cars.

In an era when off-track squabbles in the paddock are starting to be discussed as much as what happens on the track, the Finn never had any desire whatsoever to get involved with anything outside of the car.

Drivers and team principals alike often play mind games to try and gain an advantage over those they are battling against and while that can provide some good entertainment, there is something refreshing about a man who let his driving do the talking.

There is no doubt he had just as big a desire to win as anyone else, but he wanted to do so purely by being the best driver on track and enjoying himself in the process.

The Iceman’s attitude was perhaps summed up best in Netflix’s Drive to Survive. After a string of dramatic one-liners from drivers and team bosses about the pressures and stakes of the sport, it cut to him and he bluntly stated: “It’s more like a hobby for me…”

His sheer hatred of media and PR duties

Unfortunately for him, his job did always require more than just driving a car, and the reluctance and disdain that was on show every time he had to carry out media and PR duties was simply glorious.

Most drivers have had a huge amount of media training, which leads to the same somewhat generic answers being given over and over again, but Kimi clearly could never be arsed to take such training which led to him either giving straight, blunt responses or none at all if he was not a fan of the question.

Things got even more amusing in more recent times when he was forced to participate in things such as F1’s official Grill the Grid YouTube series, with the 42-year-old purposely getting a question wrong in this year’s final episode so he could get out of there.

Don’t get us wrong, we love the many drivers on the grid today who are very active on social media and enthusiastic in front of the cameras, but none will ever be quite as entertaining as Kimi was.

His legendary team radio messages

Media and PR duties were not the only things that irritated Kimi, with his own team members often doing so – and when that was the case, he made it abundantly clear.

That led to one of the greatest team radio messages in the history of the sport when, while leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2012, he told his race engineer to leave him alone and got even more frustrated when the poor guy had the audacity to remind him to keep his tyres warm behind the Safety Car.

While that was his most famous team radio message though, it was one of many brilliant ones, with another stand-out message being when he quite frankly screamed at his team to give him his steering wheel at Baku in 2017.

So iconic were his messages that we felt genuine excitement whenever we saw one was about to be broadcast during a race, and we will miss that feeling a lot.

His incredible sense of humour

Much of the time, Kimi was absolutely hilarious without actually meaning to be, such as his team radio messages or when he went straight to his yacht after retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix, but the 2007 World Champion had quite the sense of humour too.

A fine example of that came before the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix when, asked by Martin Brundle on live TV about missing Pele giving Michael Schumacher an award, he, with a mischievous smile, replied: “I was having a sh*t.”

One of the few things he did that made us laugh more than that was when he got *slightly* drunk (completely hammered) at the FIA end-of-season gala in 2018 and took the absolute p*iss for the whole night.

They were just a couple of many, many moments during his Formula 1 career when it was clear that beneath that rather cold, emotionless exterior of his was a real joker.

His killer instinct

All of the above, as well as the fact he was perhaps past his best in his final seasons, have meant it has been somewhat overlooked in recent times just how formidable a competitor he was on track.

That was particularly the case during his spell with McLaren and his first with Ferrari. During that time, he went up against the likes of Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton and was more than a match for all of them in every way.

He had absolutely rapid outright pace and an immense hunger to win. While it may have seemed like he didn’t care much, that was not the case at all for he was ruthless and relentless in his quest to become a World Champion, never giving an inch to his rivals on track or being pals with them off it.

You need only to look at his wheel-to-wheel racing. While he was usually fair and clean in that department, he never gave any more space than he needed to avoid a collision when attacking or defending, making him one of the best racers around.

Such a killer instinct may have faded somewhat once he won the title in 2007, but there is no doubt it was there – and boy, was it killer.

 

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