Being Kimi Raikkonen

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The guy on the right must tell really funny jokes
The guy on the right must tell really funny jokes

Yesterday I wrote about how refreshing it was to see drivers like Sebastian Vettel in the sport.

So much better, I said, than the days of miserable old Kimi Raikkonen dodging every question and sulking his way through press conferences.

Not long after writing that I went to the official opening of Ferrari?s new store in London, where Raikkonen was on PR duty . It gave me an opportunity to see just what F1 drivers do in between races and, to my surprise, it changed my mind a little about Kimi Raikkonen.

Dodging the fans

I?d only seen Raikkonen in person once before, at the Silverstone test ahead of last year?s British Grand Prix.

That occasion served to confirm the suspicions I had about Raikkonen from seeing him on TV. While the likes of Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard took time to sign dozens of autographs for fans waiting outside their motor homes, Raikkonen ducked under the canvas of the Ferrari hospitality tent and sprinted around the crowd before they could spot him.

What a way to treat the people who buy your caps and T-shirts, I thought.

But when he was whisked into the newly-opened Ferrari Store yesterday I had the chance to see at close quarters the kinds of demands that are made on F1 drivers.

“Give us a smile, Kimi”

From the moment he set foot inside the place there were people calling after him. The room was filled with journalists and photographers (myself included), each trying to catch his attention for a photograph, or brandishing a microphone and asking a question.

Dozens of others arrived with caps and books and who knows what else for him to sign. (I?ve written before that I don?t understand why people collect autographs but they all seemed happy with the unrecognisable squiggles Raikkonen bestowed upon their various possessions).

At one point he was walking towards me when one fan gave him what must have been intended as an affectionate slap on the back but was delivered with rather too much force. I admired his restraint in not turning around and administering a shove of similar strength.

Yes, it?s the same for every other F1 driver – even the Sebastian Vettels of the world who make it look a lot more fun than Raikkonen does. And no, it?s not a great hardship to have to do a few PR events when it?s your job to race the world?s fastest cars for a living.

But I couldn?t help putting myself in his position and thinking, if I had photographers shouting at me, if I was being asked the same question 100 times a day by journalists ?ǣ in short, if I were the commodity, I doubt I?d like it any more than he does.

Pictures: Kimi Raikkonen at the Ferrari Store

Read more: Sebastian Vettel: F1?s Valentino Rossi?

88 comments on “Being Kimi Raikkonen”

  1. I noticed this earlier this season.
    Has anyone else noticed how Kimi has taken to wearing his cap pulled real low on his head this year? He thinks he’s a little Finnish gang banger wanna-be. How cute. Not

    1. how cute? leaf trying to be cool. Not.

    2. caps look bad no matter how you wear them imo. I don’t mind how Kimi does it, but I would prefer they don’t have to wear them at all.

    3. I’m presuming when you say bad, you don’t mean good, as in ‘bad-ass’ as I believe the phrase is.

      Apologies.

    4. Cute? I’m sure he cares about what people think about him. Yeah that’s been Kimi’s m-o for most of his career, pandering people like us so he knows he’s liked…

    5. Leaf, I noticed this too in Australia. I think its more a change of cap than wearing it differently – his 09 hat doesn’t have the usual bent peak – its flat.

      Whilst I guess its a throwback to F1’s good old days when caps first came in, but it all looks a bit Fiddy Cent to me :P

  2. yey an article not slagging Kimi off at every given opportunity :-)

    Lee Mckenzie has also he was on good form in a feature to be shown on BBC on sunday.

    I’m regretting not making it down to London even more now!

    1. The media always blame the people whose lives they delight in making uncomfortable with the same old crappy questions, and the constant quoting out of context, who can blame the celebs when all they want is to get on with the job??

  3. Leaf – not only that but its a stupid gangsta style flat peaked one like one of the Ducati motogp riders also has…you’d think they would have enough decent hats to be able to give him one!

    1. Kayleigh – Yeah, Nicky Hayden has got the same look also. It looks stupid on him too. Might as well just turn the brim completely sideways and get the full gangsta thing going. Unlike Nicky, Kimi wins a race once in a while.

  4. I went down to the store yesterday to have a quick look sadly I hadn’t realised that there wasn’t a way to get in without some kind of VIP status.

    Sounds like you had fun though.

  5. But did you actually talk to him Keith? Or did he just sign your T-shirt? :-)

    1. hahaha :D i think he just got that autograph that he so wanted to get in Silverstone last year :D

  6. chaostheory
    7th May 2009, 13:21

    OMG. whats wrong with his cap???

    1. I believe that’s called fashion, wearing over-sized caps with a straight lid. I like mine a bit more classic.

  7. The Joke referred to above: “Kimi, you will win a race again, soon!”

  8. I’ve always sympathised with F1 drivers because they’re treated like, well, prim and proper celebrities… Hamilton could say one wrong word and get slammed by the media for it.

    It doesn’t surprise me that they would want to keep their mouths shut in case the press starts twisting their words, thinking up conspiracy theories and whatnot.

    1. just look at kimi’s comments…maybe he said just 5 words but the media twisted each of those 5 words into something totaly different. why bother talikng more?? they’ll just have more twisting and bashing to do.

  9. I sure I wouldn’t like it either but when you are in that position you make a sincere effort simply because you should.
    Notwithstanding driving the greatest racing machines on earth they get a few bob for the privilege too.
    Kimi is and always will be relatively pig ignorant whichever way you look at it.
    Doesn’t stop me from liking the bloke though :)

  10. Christian Briddon
    7th May 2009, 13:46

    Kimi is always rather miserable. Most Finnish drivers seem the same.

    The amount of cash he is paid should mean he is willing to smile a bit more and do a bit more for the sport in general.

    1. maybe he isn’t petty like some people, and money doesn’t make him smile…nor go bad, like some other drivers of the recent years

  11. I was fortunate enough to meet all the drivers in 2005 (well I say meet, it wasn’t really a stop and chat, more of a brief encounter whilst they signed my book in most cases), when I was in Montreal and Indianapolis, and Kimi was by far and away not the most abrupt of the drivers. When I saw him in the Montreal paddock he stopped and gave me a couple of minutes of his time to sign a picture I had for my sister, and was friendly and didn’t look like he wanted to be somewhere else. Then in Indianapolis when he was coming out of the circuit in his car and there were heaps of people waiting, he wound down the window as the car crawled out so he could sign peoples stuff, for as long as he possibly could. He didn’t have to do that, he could have just driven straight out. I don’t usually spend too much time hunting for autographs or owt, if I happen to be in the right place at the right time then ace, but I always appreciate the time taken by a driver to sign things or pose for photos, it doesn’t really take much of their time, not really, and it means so much to a lot of their fans, myself included. My experiences of seeing Kimi stop to do this is nothing but positive.

    Big bro Schumacher on the other hand, was incredibly reluctant to stop outside the Canadian paddock, until some little kid’s father asked him to stop, for the six of us or so that were there. I could understand it if there had been heaps of people but there were only a handful of us there, a couple of which were quite clearly die-hard Schumacher fans. It didn’t help my opinion on him at all.

    At the other end of the spectrum however – Tonio Liuzzi who was busy when I first saw him, but went out of his way to come back to stop for a bit, as well as then him and Scott Speed spending aaaages having pictures taken with the couple of people who were there. Jenson Button was also good, he stopped for a bit, and Klien and Sato, but most pleasing of all, was Ralf Schumacher (I would actually have been gutted if he had been like his brother), he stopped not just to sign my book, but for a brief chat, asked a couple of questions and stuff. Second only to Liuzzi in the time stakes, easily top of the list for me in the most memorable stakes! And he spent a fair while signing at the DTM last year also, as did Hamilton (he was good at Hungary airport actually in 2006, was really happy and friendly then when we asked him to sign our tickets – pre F1 – think he was surprised anyone had recognised him!) Oh yes and lastly – DC at Autosport show this year, he signed a picture for me, addressed it to my brother with best wishes, which I then gave to my brother for his birthday and he absolutely loved. Couple of extra seconds to make it personal – I really appreciated it, so thank you DC! :D

    It doesn’t take much, but it really does mean quite a bit.

    I digress a little from Kimi as i went on there, I apologise, I get easily carried away!

    1. With all due respect Clare,

      you say: “I don’t usually spend too much time hunting for autographs or owt, if I happen to be in the right place at the right time then ace”

      No need to be so casual….

      I’ve never been to a race, missed out on the Bahrain ones quite a few times (since i live in the area) but your input from a fan’s point of view that has been around the tracks and relatively interacted with the driver’s is a nice insight.

      On another point, i was at the Dubai Motor Show inauguration in 05 and spotted Alesi on the Merc stand, had a short chat with him in french… i swear i think i was speaking gibberish nothing came out like i meant it to be for some reason… and he seemed to be pretending to listen which didn’t help. so i packed up and left. Saw Hakinnen for same occasion in 07, passed him over cause he would say “yes” to almost every question… in both cases they didnt spend much time around, they unveiled the cars and darted out as soon as the coast was clear..

    2. Jensen Button nearly ran me over. It was his fault. The git. lol

      A friend of mine once recognised Hakkinnen at an airport went up to him and said “Are you who I think you are?” Hakkinnen smiled and replied “Yes”, my friend said excitedly “Ahhh great man it’s an such honor to meet you I’ve got all your records my wife loves your music….”, Hakkinnen stood there bemused for moment until my friend could no longer keep it up and burst out laughing. He took it well and the two had a chat for a while, he got a photo and that was that.

  12. I’ve met a few F1 drivers but it was not on the circuit but at cocktail parties that I bought my way into (how gauche!). The atmosphere is a bit different and they were pretty relaxed. In 1998 at Monaco I attended an event at the Cafe de Paris. Mika Salo was there and he was in conversation with James Allen (pit reporter at the time). Rather than ask a racing question, I asked him about his guitars. He was massively relieved to be talking about a subject other than racing and we talked about that and other things for the better part of an hour. He ignored Allen from that point on. On Sunday he drove to 4th place and I felt as if I was in the car with him.

    I met Mansell at an Champ Car race in his winning season and found him also to be a good guy.

  13. He strikes me as a funny guy.

    Much better than the cheesy bleatings of Hamilton etc..

    Why should he answer anodyne questions all the time?

  14. I think the problem is jealously here…you know he’s fastest on grid, best racer by far and you want him to meet your ever fanboyish needs…you use it as a excuse to not like him. if kimi wasn’t in f1, the entire paddock would be quite boring.

    1. good coment!! couldn’t have put it better myself

  15. I think its understandable how he acts, I bet none of you would like people invading your life 24/7. Yh, some can cope a lot better, Kimi keeps his head down, ah well everyone acts differently

  16. Interesting set of comments. Hadn’t realized so many folks had met so many of the drivers. I wonder how F1 ranks with other sports with respect to approachability of the stars.

    1. It doesn’t compare favorably with Indy Car and ALMS here in the States. Here one can buy a paddock pass and wander around, talk to drivers, team members, etc.

  17. There’s no cults of personality/celebrity in northern Europe. I’m not saying Kimi is all fun and laughter, but there might be a cultural thing to it.

  18. Good article Keith. I’ve been at a couple of LH events, and throughout them his name was literally screamed the whole time by fans, journalists and photographers. He was so charming and gracious though, giving everyone a smile and eye contact, and that is what his fans love about him. That is why I appreciate it when he says on his “time off” he likes peace and quiet and why he dodges the media and lives in Geneva. Yes, it is a privileged life, but any one of us would also find the promotional/media aspect of the job quite a strain. These guys are only human. Also, it makes you appreciate that you can have a “view” about a driver, i.e. me not liking Vettel, and loads of nasty “opinions” about Hamilton bandied about on here, but we never really KNOW the drivers. Only their teams, friends and families really know their personalities, but fans can get a better idea of their personalities when they see them in the flesh. All this media stuff IS important though to please fans and sponsors.

    1. Really, why don’t you get married to him?

    2. He has to ask first!

  19. I have always been of the opinion that the drivers don’t have any reason AT ALL to give autographs, or to suffer the photographers, or ANY of that PR stuff any more than you in your regular job.

    We watch F1 because we love seeing fast cars go by, and we might cheer for this or that driver because we like them also, but that is an entirely different thing and doesn’t give us the “right” to take their pictures and autographs.

    I can’t imagine any serious person that cares about their personalities! It’s the same thing that the 12 year old folowing Britney Spears! Seriously, Kimi’s job is NOT to please you! It’s to drive fast.

    I help a friend with a magazine and I have been to several media events covering artists and actors (Robert Downey Jr, Matt Damon, Martha Higareda…) as a photographer and I can say that is a terrible experience for them (the personalities, not the photographers), and I think that if I were in their positions I would do my utmost to AVOID any media or FAN action AT ALL!

    I say again, their job is not to please us, if you don’t like the way they wear their hats, if you don’t like them being mute, if you don’t like what they have on their ipods (remember that nonsensical section on F1Racing? don’t know if it’s still there…), then you’re watching F1 for all the wrong reasons.

    1. i agree with you…his job is to race cars not to pose for some wannabe journalist and make him happy.

    2. I missed the iPod feature in F1 Racing – when was it?

    3. I’m not a proffesional photographer, but when i tend to go to snap shots of celebrities or personalities, i feel uncomfortable. to me most of them are irrelevant, and i wonder why the photographers push and shove to take a shot. many times i end up not taking the shot and take it from one of the other photographers.

      but mostly that has to do with the fact that i hate taking pictures of people posing. i would much prefer take a shot of a dirver racing than posing at a PR event. for actors, i prefer when they are in character on a film set, singer, on stage of recording in a studio… posing for fans is useless i think, if you need a photo to prove that you saw him in the flesh what’s the point… that’s my opinion. I do my job eventually, but it’s not what i like doing in terms of photography.

  20. Oh, and another thing, an autograph? Really? It’s a signature! It doesn’t matter if it’s from The Greatest Man On Earth, it’s ink on a paper!

    Exactly the same thing with the pictures with you and the celebrity, arms around. The silliest thing.

    Oh look look! Here’s a picture of me and Britney Spears together! I’m soooo cool!

  21. We watch F1 because we love seeing fast cars go by …

    @Haplo,

    You make a good point, but the reality is that a lot of F1 fans watch or follow F1 because they are fans of one particular driver, not because they like to see fast cars go by. And some of the F1 drivers only manage to get paid so much because of the ability of the Formula 1 infrastructure to monetize these fans. The infrastructure includes some degree of interaction with the media. So one can draw a straight line from a driver’s interaction with fans and the media to a percentage of his salary.

    You have to also remember that these are the fans who took the trouble to purchase real tickets and fly down to the track – thus contributing to the F1 franchise. These aren’t the fans who just watch webstreams and participate in live blogs. They are much more involved than the average fan, so it pays off to coddle them.

    1. Yes, I see all of that as a reality (more so, I think their paychecks are determined by how good they drive and how good their manager is more than how many fans they have), but that doesn’t mean it has any sense.

      I, for one, am a hardcore fan, follow the stats and all that, but couldn’t care less for the personal lives of the pilots. If Schumacher married Frentzen’s girl is nobody’s business. If Hamilton’s daddy gave Denis the bad eye doesn’t matter at all. If Jenson is ugly as hell and Massa is going bald, who cares!

      You really have to be a very poor fan to care for all that, do you really imagine any serious fan running like a little girl after Lewis asking for a picture?

      They drive F1 cars. Fast.

      They are not performers in the sense that, for instance, a band is. And even so, your taste for a kind of music can be completely detached from wether you like the guys that play.

      You buy hats and jerseys you say? To show your “support” of the Scuderia? That’s laughable! You buy them because you like them, you like being associated with a brand and you like everybody to know you watch F1. Period! If anyone thinks that buying merchandise gives them the right to ask for pictures, autographs and interviews that go about the drivers lifes… well, that’s just plain wrong.

      They are, after all, people. People that happens to drive F1 cars, but people, and that doesn’t make them any special to me. I can, of course, go and buy the Mp4/4 die cast model that Senna drove and show it off, I can wear my red hat at the BBC, and my Williams watch on a night out. But to go and act like a Back Street Boy fan?

      Seriously guys.

    2. so what? if Kimi has a big salary (the biggest in F1, as people claim) that means he has more than enough contact with fans. so maybe Hamilton and other should have more contact to get more money.

      if he doesn’t have enogh contact, they’ll just cut his paycheck and that is it. i doubt that they pay him to sign photos, he’s there and paid so much, to win races. winning races brings more money than a signed photo (to Ferrari). i’m Kimi’s fan and i don’t have his autograph and even if he passed me right by and i wouldn’t get it i would still be his fan, because of the way he is. a fan is a fan, and will be a fan, no matter what Kimi dose off track, no matter how much he talks to the media, no matter how much signing he does. He talks and and does PR on track!!!

      and for the Kimi bashing author of this article, here’s a photo that’ll put you in overdrive again

      http://www.manipef1images.com/large/resp2009th06.jpg

    3. It seems the real point is being missed here. As with all ‘entertainers’ – and sports people are basically just that. The vast majority of their income comes from sponsors. Indeed it is the sponsors that effectively put the entire show on the road.
      The sponsors ONLY have an interest feeding F1 when it pays back to them, either directly or indirectly.
      It is not just an F1 drivers job to drive. It is also their job to give the sponsors value for money in their investment.
      There are parts of my job that I really enjoy and there are parts that are tedious and boring but I apply myself equally regardless.
      I expect any dedicated professional to do the same and a driver has a duty to their fans who are fundamentally the people that monetise F1 because it is to them the whom the sponsors wish to appeal.

    4. Haplo, everyone follows F1 for their own reasons and in their own way. Why should it bother you how people manifest as fans as long as people are following the sport enthusiastically?

  22. Very interesting post, Keith!

    In Bahrein, asking Brazilian journalists, Rubens said that he used to be boring at interviews because he knows that there’s a large and global audience hearing what he is saying. He never try to elaborate answers because he fears to be misunderstood by this large and policulture audience. Rubens even used Kimi as an example of how to deal whit the press:

    “…You turn the Kimi mood on and go ahead…”

    1. NomadIndian
      8th May 2009, 21:06

      hahaha…
      very witty of rubens there…

  23. The most likeable F1 driver I have met is Jarno Trulli.

  24. Kimi has been long enough in F1 that he knows what´s important or not. He´s job is to drive his red car as fast as possible. After that he is just as normal person in unnormal life. Have you noticed latest comments on L Hamilton, day by day he sounds more like Kimi – he´s learning slowly. Maybe the point is, what kind of questions journalists are asking – if you ask stupid question you will get stupid answer

  25. What a way to treat the people who buy your caps and T-shirts,

    So what?!
    They pay the money – get the product.
    Kimi didn’t ask them to buy anything. And he doesn’t make those hats, he prolly even feels embarrassed seeing some geeky merchandise with his name, face and whatnot all over it.
    Wouldn’t you?

    Does buying some stupid T-shirt with someone’s face inprinted on it suddenly give you the right to demand anything from the man on the picture???
    That’s sick.

    Kimi is just a person who does what he loves.
    If someone feels entertained by whatching him do it – then he should be grateful to Kimi, not the other way around.

    1. His salary probably makes people feel that way.

      Listen, they sign the contract, they earn the money, they have a dream job, so they have to do the PR stuff. If Kimi was just bothered about just ‘racing’ then F1 really isn’t the series for him. There are plenty of other championships that offer competitive racing for less money and attention.

      I’m an architect, but my job isn’t just designing buildings (as much as I’d like it to be). I think I do that about 5% of the time in fact!

    2. lol good post good point but surely it depends on the individual more, I mean some people don’t really appreciate fans they just do what they do as you say but others do have that appreciation, the fact that someone respects and enjoys the thing that you love doing and the way you do it and that they are willing to express that to you and support you is pretty cool.

    3. Oh my post was in response to Damon’s, I agree that when people start expecting things from Kimi (or any genuine celebrity as opposed to someone who’s just famous for being famous) then it can quickly become unreasonable. Yes he signed a contract to do certain things but the fact that he he has a dream job and earns a lot of money doesn’t entitle everyone to a piece of him.

  26. Kimi is not pretending on interviews something he´s not. He shows it to people that he is not having fun with press and journalists. Is it wrong? Sometimes you really can see how hard i.e Lewis Hamilton has beacause he has to live with his role with media. He must allways smile no matter how fu”ked up he is…Kimi is TOTALLY different person what he gives out on media. There´s one video which I think Kimi really is what he is…this is from finnish automobile program…I´m finnish so for me this is so much funnier cause understand all jokes and so on, but all you can see that he´s smiling all the time…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT6LSd2fvkk

  27. Hi Keith,
    Love your web site. Checking for updates at least twice a day.

    Hi to all crowd!
    You are a great passionate bunch! Very interesting thread. I enjoy reading your comments.

    I live in Canada, consider myself a Ferrari fan. Attended only one race – 1993 South African GP (only five cars finished the race, Prost won by more than a minute from Senna DUHHH…)

    I do collect autographed photos and car models. I either buy from few trusted or verified sources or rely on ‘by mail’ method. I find it real fun, there is one trick here. There is not much value in getting ‘anything’ signed, piece of paper, page from program, cap, etc. The real fun is when you find a great racing photo, or a candid driver’s photo (not a promo-crap) and get is signed; it creates one of a kind item and imho makes a special connection, especially if there is a personal message or note.

    This may not apply to current drivers, they are incredibly busy with their testing/racing/PR duties/often-twisted-personal-lives and all this under unscrupulous microscope of reporters of all sorts, cameras, TVs, over-enthusiastic fans; I don’t envy them at all. They live crazy lives indeed and truly deserve every bit of privacy they can get.

    On the other side, getting in touch with retired drivers, especially from 60s or 70s is very interesting. The racing scene was completely different then. Having your letter read and photos signed and dedicated by Gurney, Brooks, Moss, Surtees, Brabham, Amon and others means a lot. And I believe/know that it means a lot to them as well. Whatever they do now, I think they are quite happy to know that after 30 – 40 years fans still remember them, know and appreciate F1 history.

    I wrote to and received answers from over 30 drivers from 50s to 80s (mostly Ferrari), I send only the best photos, mostly 20 x 30 cm highest quality. And I see my collection as a tribute to Ferrari team, my expression of respect to their dedication and passion.

    Check out my collection: http://picasaweb.google.com/Igor.Entin2 (start with the first album).

    Finally, well, we all want to see drivers being articulate extroverts, opinionated, with a good English vocabulary and a sense of humour. Remember, most of them in early 20s, they don’t have high education, they started driving karts just out of their diapers :-). They aren’t public speakers (remember that Willi Weber had Schumi trained in public speaking!!!) and English is a second language for most of them. They drive fast, they do their job bloody well, overtaking is pretty much solved and we are having a good show once again. Let’s enjoy it.
    Best Regards to all
    Igor

  28. Hi Keith,
    Love your web site. Checking for updates at least twice a day.

    Hi to all crowd!
    You are a great passionate bunch! Very interesting thread. I enjoy reading your comments.

    I live in Canada, consider myself a Ferrari fan. Attended only one race – 1993 South African GP (only five cars finished the race, Prost won by more than a minute from Senna DUHHH…)

    I do collect autographed photos and car models. I either buy from few trusted or verified sources or rely on ‘by mail’ method. I find it real fun, there is one trick here. There is not much value in getting ‘anything’ signed, piece of paper, page from program, cap, etc. The real fun is when you find a great racing photo, or a candid driver’s photo (not a promo-crap) and get is signed; it creates one of a kind item and imho makes a special connection, especially if there is a personal message or note.

    This may not apply to current drivers, they are incredibly busy with their testing/racing/PR duties/often-twisted-personal-lives and all this under unscrupulous microscope of reporters of all sorts, cameras, TVs, over-enthusiastic fans; I don’t envy them at all. They live crazy lives indeed and truly deserve every bit of privacy they can get.

    On the other side, getting in touch with retired drivers, especially from 60s or 70s is very interesting. The racing scene was completely different then. Having your letter read and photos signed and dedicated by Gurney, Brooks, Moss, Surtees, Brabham, Amon and others means a lot. And I believe/know that it means a lot to them as well. Whatever they do now, I think they are quite happy to know that after 30 – 40 years fans still remember them, know and appreciate F1 history.

    I wrote to and received answers from over 30 drivers from 50s to 80s (mostly Ferrari), I send only the best photos, mostly 20 x 30 cm highest quality. And I see my collection as a tribute to Ferrari team, my expression of respect to their dedication and passion.

    Check out my collection: (start with the first album).

    Finally, well, we all want to see drivers being articulate extroverts, opinionated, with a good English vocabulary and a sense of humour. Remember, most of them in early 20s, they don’t have high education, they started driving karts just out of their diapers :-). They aren’t public speakers (remember that Willi Weber had Schumi trained in public speaking!!!) and English is a second language for most of them. They drive fast, they do their job bloody well, overtaking is pretty much solved and we are having a good show once again. Let’s enjoy it.
    Best Regards to all
    Igor

  29. Hi Keith,
    Love your web site. Checking for updates at least twice a day.

    Hi to all crowd!
    You are a great passionate bunch! Very interesting thread. I enjoy reading your comments.

    I live in Canada, consider myself a Ferrari fan. Attended only one race – 1993 South African GP (only five cars finished the race, Prost won by more than a minute from Senna DUHHH…)

    I do collect autographed photos and car models. I either buy from few trusted or verified sources or rely on ‘by mail’ method. I find it real fun, there is one trick here. There is not much value in getting ‘anything’ signed, piece of paper, page from program, cap, etc. The real fun is when you find a great racing photo, or a candid driver’s photo (not a promo-crap) and get is signed; it creates one of a kind item and imho makes a special connection, especially if there is a personal message or note.

    This may not apply to current drivers, they are incredibly busy with their testing/racing/PR duties/often-twisted-personal-lives and all this under unscrupulous microscope of reporters of all sorts, cameras, TVs, over-enthusiastic fans; I don’t envy them at all. They live crazy lives indeed and truly deserve every bit of privacy they can get.

    On the other side, getting in touch with retired drivers, especially from 60s or 70s is very interesting. The racing scene was completely different then. Having your letter read and photos signed and dedicated by Gurney, Brooks, Moss, Surtees, Brabham, Amon and others means a lot. And I believe/know that it means a lot to them as well. Whatever they do now, I think they are quite happy to know that after 30 – 40 years fans still remember them, know and appreciate F1 history.

    I wrote to and received answers from over 30 drivers from 50s to 80s (mostly Ferrari), I send only the best photos, mostly 20 x 30 cm highest quality. And I see my collection as a tribute to Ferrari team, my expression of respect to their dedication and passion.

    Check out my collection: (start with the first album).

    Finally, well, we all want to see drivers being articulate extroverts, opinionated, with a good English vocabulary and a sense of humour. Remember, most of them in early 20s, they don’t have high education, they started driving karts just out of their diapers :-). They aren’t public speakers (remember that Willi Weber had Schumi trained in public speaking!!!) and English is a second language for most of them. They drive fast, they do their job bloody well, overtaking is pretty much solved and we are having a good show once again. Let’s enjoy it.
    Best Regards to all
    Igor

  30. @ Juhhi
    Nice video.

    But this video shows Kimi at his best:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx9D1mueU6Y
    :)))

  31. Ahahahaaha, this is even better:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P14oD-VZsP0

    Go Kimi!!

    1. Yeah that was cool.

    2. That one where the little girl gets knocked over is quite funny, Kimi isn’t actually the one who knocks her over it’s the woman trying to get his autograph who then tries to ignore the little girl lol

  32. I admire Kimi a lot. I love the way he is so cool and calm for everything, and then is a lot of fun outside f1 and away from the cameras.
    He is a legend!!!

    I have always wanted to meet him before he retires so lets hope he stays another year in F1 if not my chances of meeting him are over, as he will probably never appear in a race again like other F1 drivers do after they retire.

  33. Hi Keith,
    Love your web site. Checking for updates at least twice a day.

    Hi to all crowd!
    You are a great passionate bunch! Very interesting thread. I enjoy reading your comments.

    I live in Canada, consider myself a Ferrari fan. Attended only one race – 1993 South African GP (only five cars finished the race, Prost won by more than a minute from Senna DUHHH…)

    I do collect autographed photos and car models. I either buy from few trusted or verified sources or rely on ‘by mail’ method. I find it real fun, there is one trick here. There is not much value in getting ‘anything’ signed, piece of paper, page from program, cap, etc. The real fun is when you find a great racing photo, or a candid driver’s photo (not a promo-crap) and get is signed; it creates one of a kind item and imho makes a special connection, especially if there is a personal message or note.

    This may not apply to current drivers, Kimi, Jenson, Felipe, Sebastian and other folks they are incredibly busy with their testing/racing/PR duties/often-twisted-personal-lives and all this under unscrupulous microscope of reporters of all sorts, cameras, TVs, over-enthusiastic fans; I don’t envy them at all. They live crazy lives indeed and truly deserve every bit of privacy they can get.

    On the other side, getting in touch with retired drivers, especially from 60s or 70s is very interesting. The racing scene was completely different then. Having your letter read and photos signed and dedicated by Gurney, Brooks, Moss, Surtees, Brabham, Amon and others means a lot. And I believe/know that it means a lot to them as well. Whatever they do now, I think they are quite happy to know that after 30 – 40 years fans still remember them, know and appreciate F1 history.

    I wrote to and received answers from over 30 drivers from 50s to 80s (mostly Ferrari), I send only the best photos, mostly 20 x 30 cm highest quality. And I see my collection as a tribute to Ferrari team, my expression of respect to their dedication and passion.

    Check out my collection: (start with the first album).

    Finally, well, we all want to see drivers being articulate extroverts, opinionated, with a good English vocabulary and a sense of humour. Remember, most of them in early 20s, they don’t have high education, they started driving karts just out of their diapers :-). They aren’t public speakers (remember that Willi Weber had Schumi trained in public speaking!!!) and English is a second language for most of them. They drive fast, they do their job bloody well, overtaking is pretty much solved and we are having a good show once again. Let’s enjoy it.
    Best Regards to all
    Igor

  34. I was in the back of the pits in 2006 and got schumacher to sign my cap,had to chase him a bit and say please but he was very pleasant but on race weekend they are very busy.Got Kimi’s, Massa’s,Heidfield’s,Coulthards,and Ross Brawns [my god he is huge Im over 6 foot he must 6-8].They were all very approachable and polite and happy to take photos this was this was just before free practice on friday morning.I always said please and thankyou never had a problem.I must say the thing that did strike me though was my god they are all so tiny you could put massa and heidfield to sleep in a crib.

  35. theRoswellite
    7th May 2009, 22:25

    Keith…nice twist on the usual mid-race concerns.

    Who can really imagine what life must be like for the “privacy challenged” celebs. I’ve always enjoyed Kimi’s (I use the familiar term here…though we’ve never been formerly introduced)take on most things. He usually seems quite analytical, if you can get past his delivery. (I can’t really be critical of his communication skills, as his English is far superior to my Finnish.)

    Keith, I would be interested to know if you command enough press-cred to get a little one-on-one time with any of the drivers? Your interview would be very interesting…questions we might never see addressed in the normal media. Good luck in this area, and for your regular readers benefit, hope you keep sticking your foot in the door.

    (Oh, and the hat deal………..if you dislike the look, it being a great distance from “traditional” style…that is the idea behind any “new style”….to move away from the accepted. Your attitude toward his cap probably says as much about you as it does about him.)

  36. Hey Keith! Great photos you’ve taken, well done. I was there yesterday too :) I’ve written a ‘diary’ of my day and the experience of getting to hand him CD of fan videos I’ve made and he also signed my Kimi calendar. Please do drop by and read if you’ve got 5 mins to spare! :)

    Kimi was awesome. I don’t expect everyone to understand what we Kimi fans mean by that, but he did more than even I expected yesterday. He was really happy, relaxed and mellow. He naturally is anyway. Another photographer was speaking about him and I heard him say he’s such a great guy when the cronies around him aren’t there. Says it all.

    And I strongly disagree with that cliche of just because someone’s paid millions they have to be obliged to act differently. He doesn’t race because of the money. Money has nothing to do with his interest and love for racing. Yes, I do wish he could have spent longer with the fans as I felt bad for those who didn’t get an autograph, but he’s a humble person. Wha may seem arrogant is just a famous person who’d rather not be famous. He didn’t come out the shop with a big grin and start waving and saying hi to the fans because he’s just shy and modest. It’s so simple. Plus the fact that the maority of Finns are reserved in their emotions, even with their families lol A girl I met yesterday was telling me her Finnish friend is just like that too.

    Give Kimi a break :) anyways, we’re looking forward to the amazing and most exciting Spain GP right? (hehe) woot!

  37. I think Kimi is often just misunderstood as a person. I actually think Kimi and Vettel have very much the same personalities, which is also why they are good friends. But Kimi is just more shy, reserved or introverted then Vettel. People often think that Kimi has an attitude but he is obviously just a bit shy especially in front of all of the crowds. He is very straight forward and honest which people sometimes sees as a bit blunt, or not politically correct. But you sometimes just have to look a bit deeper at his answers, he does have a very scarcastically sharp wit which he sometimes displays, which is actually very humorous at times.

    Some people like him some people dont, but for me he is properly one the last real character on the grid. He is not really PR broken, and he is one of the few persons I have seen who is really comfortable with just being himself.

  38. In addition to the repetitiveness of the questions, I’ve always imagined it would be horrible to know that an encounter with slimy suck-up Peter Windsor is your guaranteed “reward” for qualifying on pole or winning a race….

    Vettel has only experienced that a handful of times.

    Raikkonen is a real character, not afraid to be himself. Remember, he was such a standout talent that he got fast-tracked into F1 after winning only 15 or so single seater races.

    Contrast that with Hamilton, who had all the years support of McLaren, has the hallowed “work ethic” that people criticise Raikkonen for lacking, and still only managed to beat Nelson Piquet Jr. of all people, to the GP2 title by a handful of points.

    1. Lol, Rob R. – A simplistic dig there. Maybe you could follow it with ‘and then proceeded to almost dominate his WDC team mate in his rookie F1 season.’?
      Unfortunately I’ve lost count of how many times LH has overtaken KR in the last 2 and a bit seasons. Oh and there was something else he took from KR also but it… Oh hang on, I remember, it was something called the WDC.

    2. RobR, Hamilton was champion in every feeder category to F1 – why are you rubbishing such obvious talent of the world champion? Why do you have to lay into one driver while praising another?

    3. Well, it’s easy to dominate your team mate when the team boss openly admits he’s working against said team mate and in favour of you.

  39. Nice piece Keith. My press pass was lost in the post but that didn’t stop F1 Badger’s editor from getting near the charismatic driver: Ferrari Officially Open London Store. Kimi runs off

  40. I met Kimi in 2006 at a Tag heuer event in Kuala Lumpur. We were doing a F1 simulator event for them adn had Kimi trying the simulator. Later we escorted him on a walkabout to a hotel next door for a press briefing. He was supposed to come at 8pm but by 6pm the whole area was packed. Upon arrival, I almost got squashed by people jostling to get to him. The girls were screaming _ “Kimi I love you!” and “Marry me!” I didn’t get it.

    Anyway, Kimi was his cold self. Didn’t talk much, no smile, no reaction. Only when he won the world championship did I see him smile more. But that’s Kimi. Contrast that to Lewis. He will always oblige. I know because every year I spend time with him during the Sepang race. And I understand what these people go through with all the fans and press and being constantly in the spotlight. Even being a nobody around Lewis is enough attention. Sometimes I get fedup of the never ending attention, you can’t even do the smallest thing in peace. You can’t even walk 2 steps without being stopped for autographs and a picture. It’s tiring.

    At the same time you can’t be rude because the smallest error you make will be amplified 1000 times and reported with a vicious headline around the world. So Lewis has to be restrained which unfortunately makes him a non-character in F1. One thing I like about Kimi though, he just behaves as himself, to hell with what people think. Good to see he’s trying to balance it though.

  41. I work with a lady who’s daughter and son-in-law were at a function before the Australian GP a few years ago, and the daughter left the phone behind at the bar. Mark Webber found it, saw that the last number called was “Mum” and rang, asking what the owner looked like and he would find them to return it. Which he did, and the mum had no idea who he was until after watching the race on TV and seeing him get 5th for Minardi lol

    I think the whole pressure around the “circus” doesn’t help in making them want to open up and be friendly. Especially with the scrutiny that is placed on every word you say, and moreso when English isn’t your first language. Remember how Hakkinen answered the post race questions? Compare that to the sense of humour he actually showed on Top Gear http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy8LJx71_9o

  42. Interesting discussion! But I have to disagree with the idea that all fans only watch F1 to see fast cars going by. Sure that’s part of it, but if that was the only reason to like a certain driver, everybody would have to be a Schumacher fan (which clearly isn’t the case). Does that mean people like myself, who value ability as much as personality in a driver, are somehow less worthy as fans?

    I’ve watched F1 for almost 15 years now, and never in all this time did I have a favorite driver simply because he was the fastest. And while no driver can be expected to be considerate to his fans all the time, once you’ve met several of them on more than one occasion it’s usually not too hard to see a pattern of who is a nice guy, like David Coulthard for example, and who doesn’t give a damn, like Schumacher (and I’ve never even been a fan of David, but I’ve just never seen that guy being anything but friendly and patient with fans).

    If you’re only in it for the cars and racing, great, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to know more about the drivers beyond what we see on the track. Being interested in a driver doesn’t automatically equate to wanting to stalk, marry or scream at him.

  43. Agreed…

  44. HKat, try telling that to S Hughes who probably wishes to stalk and then marry LH…. :-)

  45. as a finnish person myself i really understand Kimi. Thats the way how finnish people are, specially men. Kimi is not arrogant he is just shy and like most finnish people he wants keep his own pace. We do not show emotions in public and we dont want talk about ourselves in public either. PRIVACY is main word for finnish people, that still dont mean that we are not firndly, we just need our time before we let people coming too close.

    When I was in Australian Gran Prix i could not stop smiling when i saw Kimi avoiding press in paddock. It was really funny :) Media was everywhere but Kimi walked out from paddock with his friends, all having same caps and jeans and media did not regonize him untill it was too late….that was hilarious.

  46. I like kimi because he doesn’t pretend to be something else in front of the media, he doesn’t have to be and probably couldn’t care less about what people think. Personally I find him entertaining, especially when you read about the little things he does to stick it to the fia and the other amusing things he does off the track too. Think gorilla suits, donuts, ice creams and find the kimi.

  47. I think the other issue that it is easy to forget most of these guys are effectively kids in their late teens and early 20’s.

    Covering the World Series by Renault last year you’d see the drivers being mobbed from every corner but away from the race weekends they were all typical teenagers/twentysomethings.

    At the same time by the time you’re in F1 you are a global brand and brand ambassador who a lot of people pay a lot of money to support. If fans pick the right moment (i.e. not immediately after a last lap retirement from a winning position), I think it is not unreasonable to ask for an autograph/photo from a driver and expect a courteous response.

    In contrast to some of the comments here, one of the friendliest drivers I’ve always encountered was Michael Schumacher. He doesn’t like to sign stuff that could be ebayed but I asked him to sign a photo I’d had taken with him 8 years previously and he stopped for a chat. Mika Hakkinen was the same and utterly hilarious in conversation.

    I’ve always liked to collect autographs and still do – last week I was commentating at the A1GP meeting and after interviewing Alan Jones promptly asked him to sign my 1980 Autocourse.

  48. Finnish Guy
    8th May 2009, 19:38

    Well…as a Finn I can tell you that pretty much everyone in Finland is like Kimi. We don’t talk much, laugh much or smile much. It’s a cultural thing. We are beautiful and suicidal!

    Greetings from Finland.

  49. Finnish guy said that, and it´s all true!!! =)…and for sure we spend alcohol too much…

  50. Well said Finnisg Guy, it’s better to be beautiful and suicidal than plastic looking and fake!!

    1. It’s better to be suicidal? Be my guest…

  51. @ pSynrg: LOL!!

  52. I’d rather die than be plastic.

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