Being Kimi Raikkonen

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?

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88 comments on Being Kimi Raikkonen

  1. kurtosis said on 7th May 2009, 16:43

    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.

    • 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.

    • kimi said on 7th May 2009, 19:57

      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

    • pSynrg said on 7th May 2009, 22:09

      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.

    • S Hughes said on 8th May 2009, 10:13

      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?

  2. 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…”

  3. F1Fan said on 7th May 2009, 17:59

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

  4. GP1 said on 7th May 2009, 18:25

    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

  5. Damon said on 7th May 2009, 18:27

    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.

    • John H said on 7th May 2009, 18:46

      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!

    • K said on 8th May 2009, 2:37

      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.

    • K said on 8th May 2009, 2:43

      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.

  6. Juhhi said on 7th May 2009, 19:26

    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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. Damon said on 7th May 2009, 20:16

    @ Juhhi
    Nice video.

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

  11. Damon said on 7th May 2009, 20:17

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

    Go Kimi!!

  12. Striay said on 7th May 2009, 20:18

    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.

  13. 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

  14. sean said on 7th May 2009, 21:16

    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.

  15. theRoswellite said on 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.)

  16. 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!

  17. Melanie said on 7th May 2009, 22:35

    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.

  18. Rob R. said on 8th May 2009, 0:40

    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.

    • pSynrg said on 8th May 2009, 8:24

      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.

    • S Hughes said on 8th May 2009, 10:57

      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?

    • Rob R. said on 8th May 2009, 12:39

      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.

  19. 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

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