Former Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen was one of the most popular drivers in F1 history and also one of the fastest and most impressive of his time.
Loved for his uncompromising character, the 2007 World Champion Ferrari earned the nickname “The Iceman” due to his avowed hatred of the media and distinctively understated and wordless personality. His cool temperament, his perceived “coldness” towards others in the paddock, and his origins in the frigid Scandinavian climate add several meanings to him. However, his life away from the racetrack was sometimes a little less private and contemplative.
Raikkonen has 21 Formula 1 GP wins to his name
42-year-old Finn Raikkonen was the oldest driver in Formula 1 when he last decided to hang up his helmet and retire at the end of the 2021 season. However, his age and experience at the time of his F1 debut was a different story for entirely different reasons.
His signing with Sauber was highly controversial at the time, with some drivers even attempting to ban Raikkonen’s entry as some felt the then 21-year-old had a severe lack of crucial experience. The Finn had completed just 23 car races before making his debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.
After driving a season for Sauber, he went on to drive for McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, Ferrari again and Alfa Romeo (a return to the Sauber team where he currently races under the Italian manufacturer’s new name).
Raikkonen loved his freedom and lived an extravagant lifestyle
Throughout his professional racing career, Raikkonen was not afraid of a drink or two. He famously returned straight to his yacht in Monaco harbor during the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, shirtless and with friends already pouring glasses of champagne, when his McLaren’s engine died in Portier.
That idea was not in doubt more recently when he stumbled onto the stage at the 2018 FIA Awards Gala to claim his third place in the Championship, to the sheer embarrassment of his wife Minttu.
In his book Unknown Kimi Raikkonen, and similarly in one of two interviews for the F1 Beyond The Grid podcast hosted by Tom Clarkson, Raikkonen shared a story that took him between the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix and the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix Spain was drunk for 16 days drove for Lotus.
“It’s normal. It was very normal,” he admits. “It might not be in the book but the whole summer has been more or less racing and partying, it’s nothing new and for me it’s normal. It might look a bit weird outside but for me it’s been normal in the past. .. once you do it, it doesn’t feel like that long I’ve always joked that you’re fine as long as you have more drinking days than hangover days.
After winning the inaugural race for Lotus at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, he finished a notable second place in both Bahrain and Spain in his final season with the team.
“I don’t remember those 16 days very well. Half the things people have had to tell me. We’ve just been through Europe and had some fun. It wasn’t the first time and it was normal for us. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with this story. What’s wrong with it? There’s nothing wrong with that. This was pretty normal and happened all the time. It wasn’t the only time I’ve done something like this. I had fun,” Raikkonen said.
“There are many theories to back it up, you fly better when you’ve had fun… I’m getting old. Sport is dangerous, I’ve always said it’s more dangerous than drinking beer. Usually when you drink, you don’t hurt yourself, you just have a hangover.
“I don’t care how I’m remembered because, fortunately, I’ve been able to do most things the way I want to,” Raikkonen concluded.
Raikkonen’s insatiable love for racing
Raikkonen openly admits his love of racing, famously revealing that racing at the forefront of motorsport ended up being “just a hobby” for a total of 353 entries. No other driver coming close to Formula One would attribute the lifetime sacrifice it takes to get to this point to anything other than his full-time job or career.
After his “first” retirement from Formula 1, he plunged straight into the World Rally Championship in a Citroen C4 and scored his first points at the Jordan Rally before founding his own team, ICE One Racing, in 2011. That same year, Raikkonen made his NASCAR Truck Series debut with Kyle Busch Motorsports and then signed a preliminary contract with Robby Gordon Motorsports – a deal that unfortunately fell through.
However, Raikkonen will make his second post-F1 NASCAR debut with the Trackhouse Racing Team in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen in August. He was also recently announced as Team Principal of the Kawasaki factory racing team in MXGP – the highest level of motocross racing.
His sheer love and passion for racing couldn’t be clearer – he’s arguably the most passionate motorsport enthusiast of them all, which may justifiably surprise some. Not only was he a comedic monosyllabic and down-to-earth breath of fresh air in Formula 1. He was and still is an outstanding, one-of-a-kind driver, racer and sportsman.