There is no denying that Kimi Raikkonen has been overshadowed by Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari this season, but that hasn’t stopped the team re-signing him for 2016. Nor has it stopped the Finn believing he can up his game enough to win another world title. In a wide-ranging interview with Formula1.com, Raikkonen discusses minimising mistakes, life after Maranello, plus fastest laps, fans and fatherhood…
Q: Kimi, you’re still hanging on in there. Did you ever imagine for a minute that 2015 might have been the final word on your F1 career?
Kimi Raikkonen: Ha, I don’t think that ‘hanging on’ is the real term! (laughs) I am obviously doing things right otherwise I wouldn’t be here - this here is no charity ball. Yes, I am disappointed myself that it didn’t go so well at certain points, but we are moving in the right direction. A lot of good things are happening and the results overall show, even though my personal results have not been ideal for many reasons. I am sure we can fix all that in the next year.
Q: Now that everything is decided, can you tell us how close Ferrari came to opting for somebody else?
KR: You’d have to ask Ferrari…
Q: …but you get some impression from your personal situation…
KR: …but in the end when your contract is up for negotiation it is always the same situation in F1. There are so many rumours - people write you in, people write you out - I have seen that now for so many years. If I want to by cynical you could say that the rumours start at the first race. I talk with the team and that is one thing - the rest I leave up to all the crystal ball readers!
Q: Could you consider racing for another F1 team after Ferrari?
KR: When you are racing in F1, Ferrari is the best team to be with. When I quit the first time I said that it is Ferrari or nothing - and I say it now: it will be the last team in F1 I will be with. But in the end you never know. Life is rather unpredictable…
Q: In the last couple of years your team mates have always outperformed you - either it was Fernando (Alonso) or now Sebastian. What do you make of that? Is it luck, is it about commitment, is it about the team concentrating more on your team mate? What is it?
KR: Of course it is not ideal - who wouldn’t know that better than me? But this is part of the game. I have to do a better job. Last year was pretty poor, this season is much better - but it is still not anywhere near where I want to be. You make some mistakes - and that’s how it goes.
Q: Do you sometimes get mad at yourself when you make silly mistakes?
KR: Ha, I am not proud about it, but it happens for certain reasons. That’s it. You live with it and go on to the next race.
Q: You were voted the most popular F1 driver in a recent survey - what do you make of that? Your team principal said your popularity is like the guy who treats the girls badly yet still they run after him…
KR: I liked it. Was I surprised? Never really thought about it. I do my own thing and I’ve never tried to please anyone - and if people like that, fine. I am proud that I have fans, but as to why it is exactly that I am popular among the fans, you’d better ask them. (laughs)
Q: Michael Schumacher is the only man to have score more fastest race laps than you. Do you mourn the days when you were racking those up?
KR: No, not really. But F1 has changed a lot since when I started, so probably many records don’t really matter a lot nowadays. Back then these things were nice, but they really don’t mean the world.
Q: Ferrari in the age of Sebastian Vettel - what has changed? From P4 in 2014 to P2 this year - that’s quite a jump…
KR: We have a new boss - the right guy in the right position. And then there have been other changes in the team that all were right changes - so not only at the top - and more importantly, no changes without a reason. Good results help, as the atmosphere is much better. We have moved together and are moving in the right direction…
Q: …has the working mode changed?
KR: Everything has changed. When the atmosphere changes everything else follows. It is much more fun now.
Q: You were ‘crazy Kimi’ for so many years. What has changed since you became the father of a baby boy? You seem to have become so grown up…
KR: Ha, the grown-up thing - that depends on who you ask. (laughs) Not everybody would follow that! Yes, obviously I have a family and I love raising a family, but I am still who I am…
Q: …so half grown-up?
KR: …as I said, it depends who you ask.
Q: If Kimi Raikkonen were to be given three wishes, what would they be?
KR: I don’t think that I have so much to wish for. I am happy. And I wouldn’t really change my life even if I could. I think for everything there is a reason. Yes, sometimes it is not that cozy, but that’s life. I don’t think that I would change anything. I am happy with my decisions and I live with them - sometimes more and sometimes less comfortably - but they are my decisions.
Q: Could you imagine putting in another year in F1 after 2016?
KR: Why not? It is still some time away. I enjoy it here - and I will enjoy it even more when we get even better results. Being on top always makes it more fun. I love to be with my team and would love to fight for championships with them.
Q: Do you feel that there is still a title win within you?
KR: I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that. I would do something else.
Q: Finally, Mexico City is about 2,200 metres above sea level. Does driving a Grand Prix at this altitude - in the thinner air - concern you?
KR: No not really. I am not worried about me, as I am not feeling any change. I even played football yesterday with no fainting or going weak at the knees. (laughs) I am worried more about the cars. We lose more downforce, so we don’t have the grip that we usually have. Of course we have our calculations - but everything will be put down to reality tomorrow. So the changes will be bigger on the cars than on the humans.
Vou ignorar todas as respostas com relação ao time que ele compete porque elas me irritam. Quero comentar o quanto gosto mesmo de ler Kimi falando sobre outras coisas, como ele ser o piloto mais popular do grid (apesar do comentário de imbecil feito pelo chefe dele), sobre o comportamento depois que o filho nasceu, sobre ter jogado futebol e não ter se cansado tanto (rsrsrs), sobre a vida, sobre todo o resto.
Gostei do que ele falou sobre os erros. Eu ainda fico remoendo mais do que ele, mas concordo, ficarmos muito tempo em cima disto não ajuda. Aprendi isto com o Iceman e é algo que tento diariamente na minha vida, embora seja extremamente difícil. #confesso
Para encerrar, a penúltima pergunta me irrita todas as vezes que a fazem. Claro que ele tem vontade de ganhar outro título dentro dele? Que tipo de pergunta idiota é esta? Não entendo o motivo de a fazerem toda vez. Como Kimi disse, se ele não se achasse capaz de lutar novamente por títulos, não teria motivos para estar ali.