Brought to you by TJ13 contributor: The Grumpy Jackal
Is it really 11 years since Kimi Raikkonen won on his Ferrari debut in Melbourne – going on to beat the cheating Mclaren team and its drivers Lewis and Fernando?
By the way, I’ve been told that I should use the full name to introduce the villains to my piece but I’m sorry if people reading this don’t know who Lewis or Fernando are respectively then there really is no hope..
Anyway, back to the story. I really don’t get Kimi Raikkonen.
I’ve never been able to understand his apparent popularity with the fraternity of F1 fans. In the early days, the general rule of thumb was to admire his bravery and speed. His monosyllabic responses had more in common with moose in mating season than they did to any coherent modern day language. Yet his supporters spoke of a unique style all his own – this fabled Iceman.
No doubt part of Ron Dennis’ balding complexion has been caused by his failure to control the Kimster – we all know how anal Ron was about order within McLaren. But how many times did we hear of this crazy Finnish man leaving nightclubs in states of inebriation that on one occasion meant his companion was an inflatable dolphin? Or falling off the upper deck of his boat and landing on his head. Possibly, the most eye-opening of all his blatant refusals to play by the rules was entering a snow mobile race, dressed as a gorilla named James Hunt…
It appears that I was in a minority of not appreciating Kimi but back at Spa in 2002, I was watching in absolute horror as he kept his foot buried to the bulkhead and speared through a cloud of oil-smoke left by Olivier Panis’ self-detonating BAR on the Kemmel straight. At this point, the drivers would have been accelerating beyond 180mph+ and this imbecile was applauded for his bravery!!
I have seen Tom Pryce and a marshal killed during the 1977 South African GP when both parties were unsighted over the crest of a hill, and unlike many, I held my breath hoping the Finn would navigate through safely. Thankfully, no fire marshals were running towards the burning car and none had decided to cross the track otherwise the carnage would have been unspeakable.
I doubt Mr Iceman would have uttered anything beyond a grunt – he has a persona to uphold – yet as the world found out in recent seasons, he demanded to be left alone as he knew what he was doing in Abu Dhabi. Yet, still I do not understand the idolatry surrounding this individual.
Maybe my resistance to Kimi is entrenched by the fact I am one of the Tifosi. You see, Ferrari fans have come to expect certain traits about drivers employed by Maranello. There are the heroes – Villeneuve, Alesi and Mansell were all adored for their warrior spirit. In the early days Schumacher’s valiant efforts against the tormentors was roared across Italy; but he blotted his legacy with the team-orders fiasco at the 2002 Austrian GP.
Counter to the heroes, of course, is the anti-heroes and Kimi joins an expansive collection of wannabe’s. When I think of Kimi, I add in Alain Prost, Felipe Massa, Michele Alboreto, and Eddie Irvine amongst many others. All top quality drivers but not one of them a racer.
Stirling Moss was quoted, ‘I’m a racer, not a driver. There’s a big difference” and I think it’s this tangible quality which sadly is missing from most of the drivers on the grid.