Red Bulletin: Kimi Raikkonen – Rebel with a cause

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Kimi Raikkonen is different to other drivers. Most world champions certainly. Michael Schumacher may race bikes now, Jacques Villeneuve might strum the guitar, but neither have anywhere near the breadth of extra-curricular interests that the Iceman has. Nor do they have as many toys…

 

You’ve got a brace of amazing Waltz Hardcore motorcycles that have been custom made for you. How involved were you in designing them?

I was quite involved with the first one, the black one. The new one looks similar – I just told them to paint it red and put some Ferrari logos on it. There are some subtle differences under the skin too. I love them to bits, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them. They’ve been exhibited at a few shows, but they’re there for riding. I take them out in Switzerland and I ride to Monza every year with my friends. They have similar taste in bikes to me.

Both bikes have ‘Iceman’ written across the fuel tank. If you park it up and nip into a shop don’t you worry that there’ll be a crowd of fans stood around it when you get back?

No, no I never just leave it because it’s got no key so anyone could take it! I have to park it in gated or guarded car parks or else it’ll disappear. Besides, I don’t take it shopping, I ride it simply to ride. So we’ll go off on a road trip for a couple of days and I won’t leave its saddle. I like to go over the mountains into Italy and lit rip along lakeside roads. You can’t get better than that.

What other toys do you keep in your garage?

I’ve got some other bikes, probably ten in total. Most of them are motocross bikes. I have some cars including a Ferrari Enzo – that’s my only Ferrari – and skidoos, stuff like that. I have a Hummer and a few Cadillacs including an Escalade pick-up. I’ve just got a new Fiat 500, which I really like. And when I went to see a DTM race a while back I took a fancy to the Mercedes DTM car and I bought that. My cars are split between my homes in Switzerland and Finland.

Your first car was a Lada, right?

Yeah, I sold it a long time ago to a friend and I don’t know what’s happened to it since then. Lada’s are good cars – they never break down, basically.

They’re not bad for rallying either. Did you ever take it racing?

No, but I did something similar with a Beetle. I did some racing with cars where you can bash into each other – not banger racing exactly, it was on sand. So I had this Beetle all kitted out with a roll cage. Then I rolled it four times or something and it didn’t work anymore! Yeah, I pretty much killed it.

And you own a Mini don’t you?

Yes, a very old one. I’ve been meaning to fix it up for years but I just haven’t found the time.

What’s missing from your garage?

Nothing, instead I need to be getting rid of stuff! The thing is that I don’t want to get something and not use it. I use all of these toys all the time, especially the motocross bikes. If I find I don’t need something I’ll sell it, and often it’s easier just to rent.

Do you get to play ice hockey much these days?

I play every winter. I grew up with ice hockey, played all the time as a kid, and I like to keep in practice. I don’t have one team who I support massively but I have a lot of friends who play in the NHL and in Finland.

Don’t you just watch it for the fights?

Well those are of course a bonus! You don’t see so much of it in Finland because they penalize you heavily for it. But fights are part of the game, I think, and it spices it up a bit. I went to see the Olympic finals when they were in Torino and I’ve been to see NHL in the States. I wish I could get over there more often, but it’s just finding the time. I try to see the matches on TV but in Europe they’re shown at 3am. That’s not a problem if I’m home and I’ve nothing to get up for, but on a grand prix weekend I can’t really stay up. And a lot of the hotels we stay in don’t have the channels.

You said you played a lot as a kid. What were you like at school? Teacher’s pet?

No, bad! Not good… I hated school and was interested in different things. I only liked sport and lessons where you did practical things like CDT.

What sport, aside from F1, do you enjoy the most?

Definitely snowmobile racing. But this winter was tough because there was no snow except in Lapland. And it takes a while to get there. If I could do it in Switzerland I’d do it everyday, but it’s illegal there.

Why on earth do you live there then?

No, I like it but, for sure, if you talk about motor racing it’s difficult. It’s very strict there, but they let you do motocross and it’s the same in Italy where, in a lot of places, skidoos are banned. For some reason it’s a difficult sport to do. Finland is one of the only places where you don’t get shit for it.

 

It’s pretty dangerous though. Ever broken anything?

I’ve been injured many times but not so bad that I couldn’t walk. For sure, I have had massive bruises on my back and everything. So far I haven’t broken anything though. As long as I can get back and jump in a Formula One car, that’s the important thing.

You did compulsory military service too. I’m guessing you weren’t keen on all that discipline…

Yeah, I did a lot of things there that I shouldn’t and I didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t do this and you had to do that…

Sounds a bit like McLaren…

[Laughs…] Yeah, when I look back on my year in the Army it was a good time, but when I was there I hated it because I couldn’t go where I wanted and I’d get shit from the people. I still laugh with my friends about the stuff we got up to.

What mischief did you get up to? Were you like Bill Murray in Stripes – the joker of the regiment?

Yeah, something like that. I shouldn’t go into detail! Anyway, I was 21 then and I was still in the army when I did my first F1 test with Sauber in 2000.

What did you shoot?

Nobody so far!

[Laughs] No, I mean what weaponry?

We all had AK47s. I’ve shot quite a few different types of gun.

I remember at the Red Bull party in Sao Paulo you celebrated your title by getting behind the bar and making everyone drinks. So what cocktail do you most enjoy making?

Not really cocktails, I’ll choose shots thanks. Or maybe a vodka and Coke.

Have you seen that YouTube clip where you fell off your yacht?

I’ve probably seen all of my YouTube clips. I’ve been involved with all of them certainly! Yeah, well, there are a lot of things that don’t end up on there and that’s a good thing!

If you were a character in a movie, who would you be?

Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean [Kimi roars with laughter]. He seems to know how to have a good time. I might need to drink a lot of rum to get into the role. I love movies like this.

If a time machine were invented, where would you travel to?

If you’re talking about racing then a time that was more fun, like the 1970s. I could have enjoyed it. And before that, maybe the Wild West.

Finally, do you think you’re an easy person to interview?

I don’t mind what people think too much but if they ask nice questions then yes, but for sure if they ask stupid questions then I won’t answer, and they’ll think I’m a dickhead. It goes both ways. If everyone’s nice to each other it’s much easier.

SIX OF THE BEST

Reasons why we love Kimi…

Gambling Kimi: The Finn put in a punishing performance at the 2005 European Grand Prix, which left all of his rivals in the shade. But one small mistake caused a flat-spotted right-front tyre, and it would cost him dearly. With a handful of laps to go, and Fernando Alonso charging hard from behind, Kimi and his team faced a tough decision: pit and settle for six points, or stay out and go for broke. Sadly, that’s exactly what the McLaren’s suspension did on the very last lap when the guilty tyre detonated in spectacular fashion. Kimi very nearly collected Jenson Button’s BAR as he span down the straight in a shower of carbon and rubber. Nil points, but no regrets either.

Inappropriate Kimi: It was meant to be the glorious swansong of the man Kimi would succeed at Ferrari. Michael Schumacher’s last race, at Interlagos in 2006, saw the German presented with a trophy by Pele. All the other drivers turned up to witness the ceremony. Apart, that is, from the Kimster. Moments later, ITV’s Martin Brundle found the Finn hanging out beside his car. Why had he missed Schumi’s farewell? “I was having a shit,” disclosed the driver. Ironically, he was number two on the grid.

 

Knife-throwing Kimi: Being clever chaps, German television executives realized that if they were to get Kimi on their program they might need to re-think the standard sit-down chat-show format. So, instead, they set up a circus big-top tent and gave Kimi a motocross bike to ride in front of the audience. They even set up a little jump for him. But the piece de resistance was when someone handed him a set of steak knives and he attempted to throw them at a member of the audience. He may have been a crack-shot in the Finnish army, but his knife skills are a bit rusty.

Well dressed Kimi: In a bid for anonymity, Kimi likes to conduct his business in a gorilla costume. He chose to don the hairy suit for a speedboat race, entering under his nom de plume, James Hunt. Raikkonen and two of his chums competed in the Hanko Poker Run, a society event where crews speed around the Finnish port collecting poker cards that they then play with. However, when the brown furred ape got out and attempted to moor the boat, the skipper yelled: “Kimi, don’t tie it like that,” and proceeded to give Raikkonen a lesson in knots. Cover blown.

Drunk Kimi: Raikkonen first gained tabloid notoriety when he showed a London lap dancer the real reason he wears a six-point harness. Less accurately reported was the occasion he lost his driving license and $7,500 in Budapest in 2006. This had nothing to do with a road traffic incident – instead, Kimi had been at a Red Bull boat party and was swinging his bag above his head, showering the VIP room with cash and cards. Fortunately everything, including his passport, was returned the next morning. But surely Kimi’s finest drunken moment was the yacht party captured for all to see on YouTube.com. Our hero tries to throw something at the pesky throng below, but looses his balance, falls off the fly deck, and lands on his head. Always a crowd pleaser.

Kamikaze Kimi: Suzuka ’05 was one for the history books thanks to Raikkonen’s most searing performance to date. He started 17th on the grid and fought his way through the field. Giancarlo Fisichella thought he had ten points in the bag when he started the final lap. But Kimi had been planning a dramatic finale. As they shot down the straight into the first turn Kimi got a good tow, went as far to the outside as he could go, rode the rev limiter, flicked right and shot across the front of the Renault. Position Kimi, and with less than a minute and a half to spare.

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