Kimi Raikkonen reflects on his retirement decision, how was his career, what could be the future, as F1 rivals share their opinion on the Finn.
2022 will see an iconic name not on the grid; Kimi Raikkonen. Of course, Kimi went AWOL to Rally for 2 years 2010 and ’11 but it is hard to believe that it is 20 years since Kim lined up on the grid in Melbourne in March 2001 for his F1 debut in a Sauber.
While people thought the retirement might happen, others thought not. There were reports that it had been planned that he would announce it at Monza, but they did so before Zandvoort and seemingly gave time for Alfa Romeo to announce Valtteri Bottas.
The decision, though, was taken even before the 2021 season started, as Raikkonen reflected on his career along with his strengths. He talked of when he was the most happy and more, while adding on what could the future entail for him.
Decision difficult, when:
Raikkonen: “It wasn’t made now. Not really. Obviously, I have experience in that, so it was working out OK in that time. There’s always, how the mind plays games, and it’s been a long time here. In the end, luckily I would say that F1 has never been my life, in the way that it takes a long time from my life, but it’s never been the main thing in my life. I’ve always lived my life on the outside and do normal things. On that hand, it’s fine.
“No big reasons for late announcement really or why I waited. Obviously it’s my decision when to say it. I spoke to the owner of the team, I think it was maybe before Christmas or something like that, and he was asking, and I said that I was, I don’t remember exactly, maybe 95% sure that this would be it. But yeah, the head goes around this and that. But no apparent reason. I think the first plan was always to be retired before I turned 30.
“But that didn’t work out. So honestly, I can tell you for sure that I had many, many years that I was close to stop, one or another day, it could have been the middle of the year or any day of the week. So, but it happened to be quite a long, long time after my first plans. But, obviously, I was away for a couple of years. So no, I’m, like I said before, without that for sure I wouldn’t be here today. But I know how it is and I was doing rally at that time. But it’s quite nice to be doing something else.”
When happiest, wins:
Raikkonen: “Definitely out there on the track, rather than in here in the media, but I always said it as it is. And always the purpose to come here in the race is to do racing and driving. And that’s why we come here, there’s a lot of other things that happens around that. But that’s the system of being there have been for me the reasons to come here. As for wins, obviously every win is different and some came more easy than others but I think there was more important ones than others.
“For sure in something like in 2007, especially the end of the year, they were more important than something like some wins in Spa that we definitely didn’t have the speed with the car. I don’t know Japan was a hectic weekend overall and everything but they’re all good than we all had to fight for it. So I wouldn’t say that there’s one that’s more special than others obviously. The first one is always a difficult one and it’s kind of different than the rest of them.”
Miss about F1:
Raikkonen: “It’s tough to say. I mean, obviously we still have quite a few races to go and we’ll try to do the best that we can but obviously I’ve met a lot of people over the years, some have become more friends than others. But I’m sure with the people that I met and be more like friends now, we’ll see each other anyhow. Will I miss the racing? I’ve done it so long that I doubt that I start to miss it that much.”
Raikkonen: “I don’t know if I have one, I had a good run, I’m happy with what I achieved. You want to win. And it’s not easy to win. I wanted to win a championship, I got close quite a few times and managed to win it with Ferrari. So, happy that it happened, especially with them. And the rest, strength or not strength, I don’t care, I had fun. And I did it my way. And nothing, I wouldn’t change a single thing even if I could. Because otherwise, then maybe we wouldn’t be sitting here today if I changed one thing on the way so no complaints I cannot really complain.”
Future – racing or pundit:
Raikkonen: “No, no plans. I don’t want to have some schedule put on, because obviously the last 18, 19 years in F1, since I started, and I did rallying in those two years, there was always a schedule, what is coming next on this date or that date. I don’t want that. That’s for sure one of the big reasons I wanted to do something else, that life doesn’t go because of the race or whatever it is, the work that is involved in F1. There’s other schedules, family, the kid’s school and kindergarten and that stuff.
“Family life is also dictated by when is the race or test or flight to the next work. So I’m not in a rush. Not even thought about it at all yet. Obviously sometimes you know in this situation for quite a while, so there is always obviously opportunities to do this or do that. But right now, I’m not interested to even think about it. If I would know right now, I would tell you, but like I said, I have zero plans. I’m not really planning to make any plans for right now. So like I said, I want to enjoy the time without the schedule.
“The schedule can be our family’s schedule, and I’m happy with that. I’m looking forward to it. Who knows, maybe there will be some racing, maybe not. I really don’t know. It’s not the reason why I was here the first place so I doubt but I don’t see myself there. And like I said, right now I have zero plans after this year, apart from summer holiday plans, but I don’t think I didn’t go to any race when I was…until the first one I didn’t even really watch it. So who knows what will happen.”
It seems even now to think that Raikkonen won’t be an F1 driver anymore after December. Over 350 Grands Prix starts by the seasons end, so many races but also so many rivals. Here’s the rest of the community on the Finn:
Lewis Hamilton: “I mean I’m not surprised, of course he has had an incredibly long career. He has been here a long long time. I know he has got a family and he has already said that he has got things that he is looking forward to enjoying beyond, but I just admire his will to continue racing. Clearly racing is in his blood. I remember before I got to Formula 1 being a huge fan of Kimi and I would always be in his car when playing on computer games so to go to this crazy experience of racing against him and losing a championship to him and then seeing lots of great of battles, so he will be missed. Kimi was one of the better drivers to go up against.
“He was taught but very very fair and you just knew he was one of the most skillful drivers here. There was a good amount of respect on track always with him. I would say I probably got to know him a little bit before when I was in the young driver programme at McLaren and then I think when I was in GP2 I met with him a couple of times. But then once I got to Formula 1, you know you don’t really get a lot of time to hang at other people’s garages you know. I would say that since I have got to F1 there hasn’t been huge amount of interaction. I would say the last time I spoke to him directly was when I lived in Switzerland and I gave him a call about something I can’t remember what it was but he was super positive then but that is about it.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Knowing Kimi he knows he’s probably the better one to ask why, but I wish him all the best. I think he’s been around a long time and an incredible talent. So seeing that first hand as a teammate for some years was impressive. Just the amount of speed he has, right from the get go and the ability to get used to different conditions, different cars. Kimi definitely earned his place and had obviously a long and great career. He has always been the same to me when I arrived in F1 or later. I will miss Kimi’s silence.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I mean, all reaction. I guess when someone retires, like, in a way, you’re happy for them, because it’s, I guess they’ve made the decision. Like, Kimi is obviously at peace with it. And he’s at a point in his life where he’s ready to do other things. So, I guess I’m happy for him to kind of have that next chapter. And looking back on his career, when I was a fan of the sport growing up, you know, I remember he was young and fast. Like that was the image. Kimi was able to just jump in a car and had that raw speed. Also Kimi made a very successful comeback after leaving for two years.
“So to win a race post comeback was impressive. Kimi has a family and stuff. So I’m happy for him to let’s say be more of a dad probably in the future now and spend some more time probably at home. He’s one of the most popular drivers and has been for years. And he’s built a fan base of doing very little other than obviously, the “on track performances”. Even me after, whatever, 10/11 years in the sport. Do I honestly know where I stand with Kimi? No, because there’s very few words, but it’s funny. For sure. Kimi is one of a kind, in the most complimentary way possible.”
Valtterri Bottas: “Like Kimi said himself that nothing lasts forever and eventually always there’s time for something new. Kimi had an impressive and long career in Formula 1. One of the longest if not the longest, but for sure Kimi had an impact on me as a youngster. I was following him closely when he started in Formula 1. I was following his season when he won the world championship. At that time I was doing my first season in single seaters in Formula Renault when he won his title with Ferrari. you know, he’s obviously a big star in Finland, he’s bit of a legend. So yeah, it’s definitely always was really fun to watch him and it’s been nice also racing with him, because he’s one of the drivers that when you race with you’re quite comfortable, you know, going wheel to wheel. And he’s always had good respect to his competition, and that’s just the way I like racing as well.”
George Russell: “The first time I ever spoke to Kimi, the conversation ended with him twisting my nipples. So the FIA gala in 2018. He’s one of a kind. I have huge amount of respect for everything he’s achieved on track. And off circuit, as well. You know, he’s a bit of a legend. For sure, he’ll be missed. There’s no one like him.”
Lando Norris: “I mean, certainly I’ve not had quite the interaction, as George has. But um, Kimi is one of the guys who’s made Formula 1 what it is today, since twenty years ago, so I think he’ll be missed, he’s obviously not the big talker so he won’t be missed as in how much he says, but in more for the for the opposite reason, in a way. So he has a lot of character, and also not like not much character at the same time.
“And yeah, so many people love him because of that, you know. So he’ll missed I think by many he’s still one of the best drivers which have been in F1 for while and he’s achieved a lot of things, more than many of us drivers who are on the grid currently. So yeah, one day I’d love to emulate him in a way.”
Fernando Alonso: “Not much. What do you mean? We will miss him because obviously he has been for many years, and we had great battles in the past more, because we have had more competitive cars, and we were fighting for championships and podiums and things like that. But there are always 20 drivers in F1. We go up and down on the order and we go sometimes not in the sport anymore. Probably is his decision. I think he did an amazing career. He did enjoy the time here. And for sure, wishing him the best for the future.
“I don’t know him enough to have an opinion. We know that Kimi is special and quite shy, and not not big relationships with anyone. I was team-mate of him in 2014 in Ferrari, but even that year, we didn’t have the opportunity to meet each other well enough or more than now. I cannot say anything about that. But he was always fair, always respectful, always a tough competitor, but always cool. So always very fair and no tricks. In that aspect, I will miss him because you knew that you could trust Kimi when you were side by side because he will never do any crazy thing or anything that put in danger any of the two. So he was a fair competitor.”
Sergio Perez: “Well, it’s like Fernando says, it’s the nature of the sport. I think Kimi has had an incredible career. I remember looking up to him in the early days with the fight that he had with Fernando. He can be extremely proud of what he’s achieved in the sport. He certainly enjoyed his time in the sport he own way. I think Kimi was a very unique character, a very unique person. I just wish him the very best in his next chapter of life and all the happiness that he deserves.”
Mick Schumacher: “Obviously, when I heard the news, it was obviously quite saddening because I was looking forward to driving another year on the same grid as him. Kimi has got family and he wants probably to see something else other than Formula 1, which is understandable after so many years. Definitely sad. And I just remember the first time where we really were in the same room for some time was in St. Petersburg when the FIA gala was there. We all had a very good time. Definitely will miss those moments.”
Esteban Ocon: “It is sad news. Of course, we are missing a character of Formula 1 and one fantastic driver that has left a big mark into the sport. We don’t talk much with Kimi – he doesn’t talk much to anybody! But clearly, we will miss him and the fights I had with him were great, and he’s an amazing driver. I wish him the best for his future.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “I am really proud to have shared three years with him in the team.”
Pierre Gasly: “Well, you know, there’s only one Kimi and I think he’s very unique. So I think clearly he’s going to be missed by all the people in the paddock. I kind of remember, like my first memories from watching F1 from 2002, 2003, Kimi was already there. And it’s been, you know, pretty incredible to grow up from year to year in karting watching all these guys racing and Kimi was part of them and I then ended up in Formula 1 racing against him. So I’m very privileged. And yeah, for sure we’ll miss such an iconic driver like him in the paddock.”
The story was written by Neil Farell
Here’s news on Kimi Raikkonen retirement