Kimi Raikkonen entered a snowmobile race just before the start of the year under the pseudonym ‘James Hunt’.
The fact that he chose Hunt’s name – a former world champion and renowned party animal – looked like a window into the real, fun-loving personality he keeps hidden behind the dull, monotonous front we’re used to seeing.
Sure enough, Autosport’s Steve Cooper teased it out of him in an excellent interview in this week’s issue.
Raikkonen told Cooper:
My friends and I had always joked about [entering a race as 'James Hunt']… My life would definitely have been much easier in the 1970s. I was definitely born in the wrong era.
All season long, Raikkonen has had criticism for not applying himself properly at Ferrari.
Gigantic natural skill is nothing without total commitment to the job, say his detractors. As he’s stepped into Michael Schumacher’s shoes this season, it’s an obvious criticism to make.
But this view Raikkonen has of himself is illuminating. Frankly, I wish more of the drivers modelled themselves on James Hunt.
Hunt had talent to throw away as well, and famously was the life and soul of the party – although that lifestyle did get the better of him at times.
He retired sooner than he should have, abruptly, in the middle of 1979. Raikkonen says the only thing he loves about Formula 1 is driving. I would hate for that to change and see Raikkonen quit the shport before he’s done justice to his immense ability.
But I would like to see him show a little of his James Hunt alter ego in public – particularly in press conferences, which are painful affairs when Raikkonen takes the microphone.
Let’s see him answering questions cheerfully and honestly, and perhaps occasionally bum a cigarette off the journalists. Something like this:
Photos: Ferrari, Ford