Kimi’s fans will tell you he is special because he is not affected by pressure, doesn’t pander to corporate expectations, displays no emotion and is simply his own man. He is said not to do simulator work and never does the Thursday track walk, because he believes it to be a waste of time.
Yet you have to wonder whether Kimi’s character model was fellow countryman and F1 predecessor, Mika Hakkinen. The double world champion had plenty to boast about, yet Mika came across as incredibly humble and modest person when questioned over his achievements. His press conferences were short and to the point and he never publicly criticized his team or got into petty arguments with fellow drivers.
Hakkinen’s modesty was never better personified than following his incredible overtaking manoeuvre on Michael Schumacher during the 2000 Belgium GP (No DRS/KERS etc). When asked how to describe it by a reporter, he replied, “It was different.”
By comparison, there are those who would argue that ‘iceman’ Kimi is but a shadow of his countryman in terms of racing skill and cool persona. Kimi did go public on his spat with Lotus over money and recently has been anything other than ‘ice’ cool in his furious radio communications during the race.
At the last race when asked about rumours of a possible paycut, Raikkonen all but lost it and responded: “I heard something about that – I’d be interested to know who wrote it.
“First of all you have no idea what my contract says. You never have. It’s the bullshit nonsense you guys come up with all the time. It’s fine with me.
“Have you seen my contract? So you just come up with bullshit – yes or no? You don’t know the contract but you write stuff. You write stuff that’s not true.
“Maybe you should start writing some things that make sense.”
Ironically, Kimi concluded, “Write what you want, I don’t really care.”
But the big question on everyone’s lips is should Ferrari retain the services of Kimi beyond this year, or ditch him for someone younger and who can do a better job in scoring points for the red team.
Sebastian Vettel clearly believes Kimi should stay on at Ferrari in 2016. “I am pretty happy with Kimi,” Vettel commented during a recent Ferrari media event. “As I said many times, there is tremendous respect between each of us.”
Vettel goes on to explain it is normal for an F1 driver to have spells where his results are not so good. “I had four phenomenal years and had one year where a lot of things happened, where a lot of things broke down in the car and where I did a lot of mistakes, and I got criticised. Now things are changing again.
“That is why these things are not so important if you know who you are. I think Kimi knows who he is and he knows what he wants.
“Obviously the last couple of races were a little bit up and down for him, and it is normal in F1 that you get criticised immediately.
God effort Sebastian, but Kimi’s woes are not coming off the back of four consecutive years of driver and constructor F1 championships.
David Coulthard believes its time for Kimi to quit F1. “There’s a point in your career where you just stop getting better. It happened to me in my career; I was never the best driver, but there was certainly a point at the end where you just lose the edge”.
Coulthard observes that Kimi was soundly beaten by Fernando Alonso last year and is being so again by his new team mate, Sebastian Vettel.
In 2014, Raikkonen after 8 races ihad just 19 points so this year’s tally of 72 at the same stage of the season is much improved.
Yet Ferrari have improved significantly in 2015, but the gap between Kimi and Vettel is some 50 points and to Alonso last year before Silverstone was 62. A marginal improvement.
Coulthard concludes that in the end that the numbers speak for themselves. “The facts are that whether it’s bad luck or something else, he [Kimi] hasn’t delivered in the last couple of years at the level he did in his previous career.”
Nico Hulkenberg and Valterri Bottas are the most likely contenders to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari, as Maranello has demonstrated over the years to be reluctant on recruiting anything but proven F1 drivers.
Silverstone 2014 was of course the scene of a big Kimi accident, which could possibly have been prevented had he done a track walk and understood the lie of the land he found himself in when off track on the Wellington straight.
Raikkonen is a winner of the British GP, though unless Vettel has problems it’s difficult to see the ‘iceman’ winning out in the Ferrari battle of the team mates this weekend coming.
Whether this will be Kimi’s last British GP is yet to be decided.