For the first time in 20 years, Kimi Raikkonen has the freedom to do what he wants with his life.
RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen from Finland has dedicated himself to Formula 1 for the past two decades. Even during a two-year break from the 2010/11 series after leaving Ferrari, he never left motorsport.
Raikkonen took part in the World Rally Championship and drove in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series, now NASCAR Xfinity Series.
But Formula 1 has dominated since 2001. After his 349th start at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, Raikkonen said goodbye. This time maybe forever.
“I was gone for two years, but over the years I’ve thought about quitting a lot,” said Raikkonen, 42, in an interview. âNow I want to have more time at home with the children; they grow up quickly.
âI want to do more things with the family. Because of my schedule, we didn’t really have the opportunity to live as a family. That changed everything. “
Raikkonen has two children, Robin (6) and Rianna (4). You changed his view of life.
âYou know, children, from the age of two they start doing a lot of things,â said Raikkonen. âRobin’s in first grade so everything is different now. It doesn’t feel like six years ago when he was born.
“It’s been hard to be away a lot and it’s not the best thing for them, but on the other hand, it’s all they know.”
Raikkonen started driving for Sauber in Formula 1 in 2001 and moved to McLaren for five seasons the following year before moving to Ferrari in 2007 when he won his only world title.
He joined Lotus in 2012 and then worked for Ferrari for five seasons from 2014.
He has been driving for Alfa Romeo for the past three years, where he has had a hard time scoring points. âI enjoyed racing, driving and solving the problems we encounter,â said Raikkonen. âI never enjoyed the rest, but that’s F1. Of course there were good and bad days, but it’s the same in normal life. “
Over the years he’s played his nickname Iceman – cool on the track under pressure, cold in interviews off the beaten track, although he has thawed and become more personable over time.
Sebastian Vettel, a four-time champion who was Raikkonen’s team-mate at Ferrari for four years from 2015-18, said he was missing.
“He’s a real character and I enjoyed my time with him as a teammate,” said Vettel. âI got to know him before and he is probably one of the very few drivers I have met from day 1 until today.
âHe was always very open. I don’t think you can argue or have a problem with Kimi. If you do, the problem is not yours, it is you. He’s a great person. “
Fernando Alonso, who started in Formula 1 the same year as Raikkonen, said his honesty was a delightful part of his character.
“He may have that ice man mask, but there’s a very good person inside that you meet off-track from time to time,” said Alonso, a two-time champion.
âWe met at airports and in restaurants and Kimi is a different person. He was excellent for Formula 1 and is missed because he has his own character and was different. “
So what’s next for Raikkonen? At this point, he doesn’t know and he likes it that way.
âI have no plans,â said Raikkonen. âI’ll do normal things and see what comes out of them. If it’s something interesting, maybe I’ll do something.
“I don’t want to make plans because right now I have the freedom to do things with the family.”
But did we see the last of him on a route? Maybe not. He said: “I always have an open ear when it makes sense.”