Kimi Raikkonen has had such a long run in Formula 1 that it would take volumes to document his incredible contribution as a true character of motorsport however, in a nutshell, the Iceman did it his way!
On Wednesday he announced the curtain coming down on an incredible career, at the end of this season, one that exploded at Sauber, hit superstardom at McLaren, and was rewarded with the 2007 F1 world title with Ferrari; the last for the Reds since then.
Never happy with the “bullshit” in the paddock, namely media commitments and press conferences – Kimi as he is fondly and universally known – nevertheless has stuck it out for two decades and 341 Grand Prix starts to date.
Ahead of the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix and in the wake of his retirement announcement, Raikkonen told reporters of his decision to quit: “I had a good run, I’m happy with what I achieved.
“Obviously, 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.
“But the rest, strength or no strength, I don’t care. I had fun and I did it my way, and I wouldn’t change a single thing even if I could. Otherwise, maybe we wouldn’t be sitting here today if you changed one thing along the way. No complaints. I cannot really complain.”
As for life beyond 2021, the 41-year-old Finn said: “No plans. I don’t want to have some schedule put on, because obviously the last 18, 19 years in F1, since I started, I did rally in those two years [away from F1 in 2010 and 2011] there was always a schedule, always what is coming next and what is this date and that date.
“So I don’t want that. That’s for sure one of the big reasons why I want to also do something else.”
Raikkonen, now the father of a boy and a girl, expects he will be tweaking his agenda: “Obviously there are other schedules: family, the kids’ schools, kindergartens and that stuff. But I don’t want the family life to be dictated by when is the next race or test or flight or next work. I’m not in a rush, and I’ve not even thought about it at all.”
The Finn also admitted that this was no epiphany, and rather part of his plan and other options in motorsport not on his radar at all, at this stage: “Obviously I’ve known this situation for quite a while, so there’s always obviously opportunities to do this or do that, but right now I’m not interested to even think about it.”
Asked to pick out his best Grand Prix win of the 21 he scored at the highest level, he said: “Every win is different. Some came more easily than others. There were more important ones than others and for sure something like in 2007, especially the end of the year, they were more important than others.
“But something like some wins in Spa where we definitely didn’t have the speed with the car, or Japan [in 2005] was a hectic weekend overall and everything. But they’re all good and you always have to fight for it, so I wouldn’t say that there’s one that’s more special than others. Winning the first one is always a difficult one and it’s kind of different than the rest of them.
“Will I miss the racing?” he added. “I don’t know. I’ve done it so long that I doubt that I’ll start to miss it that much,” added Raikkonen, arguably the most loved driver of this generation, perhaps ever.
Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix will be his 342nd start in F1, of which he was on the podium 103 times, 21 times as a winner.