December 5, 2007


Kimi Raikkonen is the invisible man and that just fine by him. He won possibly the most exciting World Championship in years in the old fashioned way, by winning more races than anyone else and earning it against all odds.
But you could almost not know that if you follow UK-centric motorsport media. F1 Racing's first cover after Interlagos was of Lewis Hamilton with a tiny picture of Raikkonen in the corner, need we say more?

As a public service to our readers who are true F1 fans, I translated this very nice interview by Corriere dello Sport writer Marco Evangelisti, fresh from Jerez where Raikkonen has been testing.
It's extensive and at times quite humorous and for sure Bernie Ecclestone will reach for his bottle of antacids. Kimi talks about being World Champion. Ferrari and his future. His past with McLaren and his relations with Ron Dennis, Schumacher, Hamilton and James Hunt.

Once again, Kimi is 100% Axis approved!

Kimi, Welcome back to work. What's it like coming back to the office as a world champion?

"To be sure it's a great sensation. Winning the title did not change my life but it was my goal, what I wished for since I started driving a car. I have tried for many years, I was close twice, in the end the Championship arrived."

It was quite a peculiar Championship year.

"Especially because it really did not look like we were going to win. Actually at one point all seemed lost. But we pulled through the difficulties and we did it. So It's true, coming in first has a different flavor."

They tell us that the evening after Interlagos you should put it...loudly?

"Ha ha, we had a good party that night, that's all."

But that was not all, how did you deal with the fuel temperature inquest which could have stripped you of the title?

"I was not worried, that's a state of mind I try hard to avoid. Let's say I was quite confident. There were no reasons to change the results of the Brazilian GP. But it is also true that one can never be certain of everything and this year, certainly everything happened."


"So I was at home waiting for news, without to much anxiety. Stefano (Domenicali, the new team manager) called to tell me everything was ok. In the end, I was expecting that but from that point on I began to feel fully world champion."

So how can you say nothing changed?

"I have not changed, my life has not changed. I can understand how some might see me in a different light. The World title might have changed things for other, maybe but not for me. Let's put it this way, it was an objective I had been chasing for a long time."

To attain this goal you gave up on a team apparently tailor made for you, Mclaren and joined one which seemed ill suited, Ferrari.

"I have no desire to be involved in that argument. What happened at Mclaren frankly does not interest me. I was living a situation that I did not like very much. There were issues that were not just tied to racing, it had to do with my behaviour, my way to live my free time. I had always been clear, I want to live my life!"

How would you have felt had you been Alonso?

"Not so bad I would say, I always managed to get along well with my team mates."

And what is you found Alonso with you at Ferrari in 2009?

"No problem, I would not change my style or the way I drive a car. It would be interesting to compete in the same car, but I don't know if it will happen. Maybe it will take time."

Were relations between you and Ron Dennis tense?

"Oh, some discussions....but never any e-mails."

In any case, you feel comfortable at Ferrari?

"Certainly. I am very happy with the team and the relationship with the engineers and all the others. I see no compelling reason to go anywhere else, this team is perfect for me. I don't know if this will be my last contract but I do want Ferrari to be my last team."

Are you thinking about retirement?

"Not at all. But my professional horizon is now up to 2009 when the contract with Ferrari will end. I do not set any limits for myself but I also don't know for how many years I will be racing."

Certainly you want to win more championships. Hamilton has said he wants to win at least seven?

"I always said I did not want to retire without having won at least one title, I reached that goal. Now I want more, however may possible starting with the next one."

and if it will not be possible?

"Then I will try again in 2009, I will certainly not have run out of gas by then."

Let's come back to this year's championship, the one you just won. How did you do it...or if you prefer, how did Hamilton manage to lose it?

"It's simple, he made mistakes. He had a very reliable car that had issues at the wrong time, It happens."

It's not that the rookie was suddenly crushed by the weight of a very difficult season?

"I'm not sure it has anything to do with being a rookie. I think that finding himself in a certain situation, with a team where the psychological pressure is always high, has contributed to making him lose focus at the crucial moment."

These were Hamilton's difficulties, what are Raikkonen's merits?

"I won more races, that's how it works in racing."

Something is odd here. You won the World title in a way that will be remembered for a long time yet we are here speaking about Hamilton, the crowd's idol, covered in prizes from one end of the planet to the other, of Schumacher who might or might not return, of Alonso who is still without a team. You don't think it's strange?

"I think it's great. I leave the spotlight to other so I'm not bothered and I can live my life quietly and having fun. But you know what? I'm the World Champion and nothing can change that, I'm interested only in a single trophy, the one they will hand me in Montecarlo. The other prizes, plaques and certificates as "driver of the year" I'll gladly leave to others."

Thursday will be Finnish independence day, Friday you will get your trophy in Montecarlo, Saturday it's the Ferrari Christmas party, where will you have the most fun?

"Saturday's party, It's the most casual. There will be children and I like children."

When you have used a pseudonym you used James Hunt, why?

"He was a cahracter I always liked. He was world champion but he lived as he liked. He was different. Then again all of Formula 1 was different in the 1970's."

Now you have become a universal, a world champion even if you do not yet run the number 1 on your car, thoughts?

"Numbers are not important but I will love to see that number 1 on my car. It will look better than on any other car! I won it and I want it to stay there even though it will be difficult."

More or less difficult than this year without traction control?

"It will be more entertaining. When I tried the car I thought I was back in 2000 when I tested for Sauber at Mugello....made me feel younger, it was good!"

How will driving change?

"Essentially you will need to be more concentrated. Any little distraction will lead to a decisive error, it will not be simple."

Michael Schumecher has a more active role with the team compared to the months passed, how have your relations changed?

"Not at all. I continue to have normal and cordial relations with Michael. We are not each other's best friends. We don't phone each other regularly, we don't go out. But this means nothing. It's the same with Felipe."

However, it was wise of the team not to have you test on the same day.

"Yes, for a few good reasons. First off there would have been the temptation to push to the limit when it's not necessary just for bragging rights. Second it avoided much pointless blabbering."

May I ask a comment on the story in the press of your presumed love story with an Italian girl?

"Naturally you are free to ask. Naturally I am free not to reply!"


  1. Great interview, thanks for translating!

  2. I much rather read a Kimi interview then listen to one. Zzzzzzzz......

  3. Thanks for the translation! Great to hear that Kimi is a bit more eloquent in his native language. After so many years of stunted english in post race interviews I always thought he had no personality. I'm beginning to realize he's a lot more fun than some of the other drivers out there...

  4. Kimi is a true great!
    "Shut Up and Drive"
    Hail Kimi for 7 more straight tittles. He will still be the same by the end of it...

  5. Just for clarifications... the interview was written in Italian, however I'm sure it was originally conducted in English.

    I love two comments

    "...but never any e-mails"


    "Worried is a state of mind I try to avoid"


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