Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Adam Macdonald
A figure who defies all logic and expectation by merely not caring about how people perceive him. In an age where corporate responsibility and vying for sponsors is so important, there is one who simply gets the job done on the track instead. Kimi-Matias Räikkönen is certainly one of the last few left.
Born in Espoo, Finland, 17th October 1979, he is now one of the sport’s elder statesmen. However, he is by no means the example for aspiring racing drivers to follow. If anything, he goes against the ‘model driver’ template.
Way back when…
There was a time not so long ago in Formula One, where being a corporate machine, who gave all the correct answers to the media, turned up to all the promotional events and made an effort with the sponsors, was not so important. The sport has undergone such an overhaul following the global recession, as sponsors are now expecting drivers to work hard for their investment.
‘The Ice Man’ has had two careers, at very different times. His first F1 career finished at a time of transition into the time we are now familiar with, where drivers are marketing tools as much as they are racers.
Some have attributed this as to why he lost his Ferrari seat at the end of 2008. Considering he had won the WDC the previous year in 2007, and equaled the record for fastest laps in a season in 2008, it was certainly not down to his race craft. Ferrari had become tired of his media unfriendly personality and disregard for Ferrari commitments. This coupled with the fact that Alonso brought with him Santander money, meant Räikkönen was shown the exit.
So the question this begs is will this attitude cost Kimi the seat at the triple (and potentially quadruple) World Champions, Infinity Red Bull Racing in 2014? For that, I’m sure we will have an answer sooner rather than later, but signs at the moment would suggest no. If he is not given the seat, it will be because Dr Helmut Marko (right hand man to Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz) has shouted loudest and would prefer to see someone promoted from the young drivers programme, ie Daniel Ricciardo. A person who it will be much easier to market as well.
A dying breed
So what about if Kimi were an aspiring young driver now? There are no drivers who could take the same stance that the Finn does, and be able to gain a race seat. Unless there is a complete restructuring of the sponsorship in Formula One, whereby the sponsors are affiliated with the teams and not the drivers; Kimi Räikkönen is an endangered species. With years of his career left now into single digits, fans should appreciate the time they have left to view him before his kind becomes extinct.
Perhaps there should be an appeal for this kind of driver. For just £3 a month, you could sponsor a driver…..to ensure he (or she) gets the drive that they deserve.
There seems to be few equals in other sports like this that spring to mind. Claire Williams, in an interview with F1 Racing, made reference to how hard to handle Ralf Schumacher was, in her time as Williams F1 communications officer.
One professional that has recently felt the pressure of sponsors is Papiss Cisse, of Newcastle United FC. Torn between religious beliefs over lending and the need to wear the clubs sponsor on his shirt, he has missed a pre-season training camp with the team in Portugal due to an argument over the issue. Cisse has since agreed to wear the shirt and in an interview with the Daily Mail said, “After a huge amount of thought and reflection I have made the decision to follow my teammates and wear the kit.”
Few and far between have taken this stance.
Ultimately, commercial and corporate responsibilities won the battle. It is indeed true; ‘money makes the world go round.’