Kimi Raikkonen greets fans after FIA Prize Giving Ceremony
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Kimi Raikkonen will leave F1 at the end of the current season, bringing to an end a long and successful career over two decades. The Iceman wowed plenty with his speed on the track, and will be just as fondly remembered for his razor-sharp wit off it.
The Finn has long been one of the biggest characters in the sport, never afraid to offer a bold opinion or crack a joke and is known for his dislike of interviews with the media.
His blunt and often monotonous speaking style has yielded some hilarious quotes down the years – as has his penchant for some bizarre actions.
One such moment came at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006, when he reacted to being forced to retire because of a mechanical issue by strolling onto his yacht and getting into his hot tub – while still wearing his race suit.
That was during his sixth season in F1 so you’d be forgiven for thinking his experience and stature in the sport gave him the gall to pull that stunt.
But the truth is, he has always been so laidback. He was found by a Sauber engineer napping just 30 minutes before his F1 bow in 2001, before he begrudgingly got up to get in his car, finish sixth and score points on debut.
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Also in 2006, Raikkonen missed a presentation at the Brazilian Grand Prix given by football legend Pele.
“Why?” asked pundit Martin Brundle.
“I was having a s***,” came the instant, matter-of-fact response from the Finn.
Six years later came what is probably the Finn’s most famous quote, when he was told during a race by his race engineer that he would be regularly informed of Fernando Alonso’s pace as the Spaniard was only five seconds behind.
“Just leave me alone, I know what to do,” barked Raikkonen over the team radio. It was a moment that sparked a lot of media coverage and even inspired t-shirts printed with the quote emblazoned across them.
Other much-loved bits of Kimi wisdom include his obvious disdain for politics in his sport (“Driving is the only thing I love about F1”) and his curt response to a question about the special meaning of his helmet (“It protects my head”).
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That’s not to say all these weird and wonderful moments came at the cost of his impact on the track. Oh no. Behind the wheel of an F1 car – or any vehicle, for that matter – Kimi Raikkonen was in his element, doing what he loved most. Driving, and racing.
He boasts 21 race wins in F1 as well as one world championship in 2007, when he pipped McLaren duo Alonso and Lewis Hamilton to the title despite being in an unfancied Ferrari.
His latter years in the sport have not yielded much success, though that is more down the the lack of competitiveness of the Alfa Romeo he has driven since 2019 than any noticeable decline in ability.
This moment has been coming. Raikkonen has said before on Netflix’s Drive to Survive documentary: “[Racing in F1] is more like a hobby for me, so obviously I don’t need to do it if I don’t want.”
With his contract expiring at the end of the current season and his 42nd birthday coming up on October, the Finn has clearly decided now is the time to pursue other interests.
It gives an opportunity for younger drivers to compete in F1, but no matter who replaces him a huge hole will be left in the sport, in talent yes but also in personality.
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