Let’s face it, Kimi Raikkonen shows no sign of heading for the nadir of his popularity and grip on F1 fans the world over. They guy can simply do no wrong no matter how terse, curt, snippy or vulgar he gets. That’s a terrific position to be in and one that has created quite the cult of personality for the 2007 Formula One World Champion. Raikkonen’s reputation is such that he can gain praise for actions other drivers reap derision for. He may be turning F1 lead into gold and doing it one ice cream bar at a time.
It stands to reason that if you can catch the normally demure Finn in a talkative mood, you have to bottle that lightning as fast as you can and Thursday’s press conference was one such occasion when Kimi was in a mood to talk. If he’s talking, get his opinion on the current war of words raging over the high degradation tire impact on the sport and the racing its creating:
“I don’t think the racing at the front is any different to what it has been in the past,” Kimi said.
“F1 hasn’t really changed a lot in the 10-odd years that I’ve been here.
“Of course some years you’ve been able to go faster but then you do more stops, and shorter runs with less fuel.
“In those years if you’d put 50 kilos more fuel in you’d have had to look after the tyres. It hasn’t really changed.
“Sometimes now you have to look after the tyres, but if you did six stops you wouldn’t have to look after your tyres.
“It’s your option. Whatever is the fastest way for you to do the race, you try to do it.”
Kimi is known for not mincing words or waxing poetic and that’s just fine by him. He, like his driving style, seeks to be as efficient with words as he can and tends to use the least amount of them as possible while still trying to communicate intelligibly. He also thinks Pirelli deserve a break from the accusations:
“You can never please everybody so for Pirelli it’s not an easy job,” he said.
“Whatever they do, there will be teams, drivers and people who will not be happy.
“In the past we had different tyres but some teams were not as happy with those tyres as other teams were.
“Sometimes you have some issues and you pay the price for it. But that’s OK because otherwise it would be easy.”
The positive side of Kimi isn’t that he’s making revelations about what to do with the sport but simply adapting to the current situation and that’s what makes him such a terrific driver. His adaptability is a key to his success. Raikkonen had been away from the sport for two years and never drove on a high degradation tire. Upon returning, he adapted incredibly quickly and this is something returning 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher just couldn’t come to grips with… pun intended.
Making the best of the situation, Kimi will be reveled as an iconic hero of F1 for simply telling it like it is and making sense when all the other words being offered these days are bereft of sensibility.