You will be missed, Kimi.
Kimi Raikkonen owns a villa in a small village near Zurich. He made the news in 2009 when he purchased it for a reported $24 million. We find it interesting for two reasons, and the price isn't one of them.
First, the villa is located close to Vettel's house. The two are reportedly good friends, which we wouldn't believe if it wasn't for a particular TV spot we'll get into a little later on. The second thing we find interesting is the field behind the villa. According to lore, this is the field on which Kimi grows his *expletives deleted,* which is why it's barren. He had zero even before he purchased this rather handsome villa, and that hasn't changed since. That's why we love him so much.
Raikkonen will retire at the end of this year, and when he departs, it will be the end of the F1 playboy era. Kimi is old-school. He plays as hard as he races, and he doesn't care what the world thinks of him. The worst job in F1 is carrying Lewis Hamilton's umbrella. The second-worst job is being the PR person in charge of whatever team Kimi is racing for.
"Hang on. He said what? Having a shit?"
To celebrate Kimi Raikkonen's F1 career, we decided to make a list of our favorite Kimi moments. Some are on track, and others are off it. While the Iceman doesn't like to speak more than one syllable at a time, he does share quite a lot about his private life on social media.
Making live appearances and acting in ads is part of any modern F1 racer's contract. More often than not, it comes across as forced and cringeworthy. Kimi made more than a few of these horrible appearances during his 20 years in F1, but there are two that are genuinely fun to watch.
Kimi and Vettel were teammates at Ferrari, and they eventually became good friends. This is evidenced in a good-natured UPS commercial, where Kimi has to say happy birthday to his friend, Seb. For a change, Kimi actually smiles. Well, almost.
The second was a recent YouTube video to punt the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm. Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi took turns driving the new Alfa around the Nurburgring. Kimi scared the crap out of his Italian teammate. Gio tried to return the favor, but the Finn just sat back and poked the door trim. Superb.
Kimi made his F1 debut in 2001 with Sauber, precisely 20 years ago. He had to wait two years for his first victory, but when he won, he won in style at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Making a debut these days is not the same as 20 years ago. When Kimi made his debut, he was up against Alonso, Coulthard, Button, Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Ralf Schumacher, and Mark Webber, all of whom were capable of fighting for the win and holding a race-winning car up at almost every turn.
Imagine for a second how intimidating it must have been to be the rookie on that grid, even though he had traded his Sauber for a McLaren Mercedes. It also happened to be the first time another rookie, Fernando Alonso, appeared on the podium. Alonso recently returned to the podium after a long absence at the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
Raikkonen has an incredible ability to stay cool under pressure. It's a talent the two top championship contenders seem to be missing these days, but perhaps they're missing Kimi's life hack. Rumor has it, Kimi likes to sleep before a race. It's never been confirmed, but we've been told several times that the team wakes him up 10 minutes before the race starts. While others spend their time doing yoga, visualizing the race, or rubbing their lucky jockstrap, Kimi sleeps.
We got a glimpse of this icy cool attitude at the site of Kimi's first F1 win. At the 2009 Malaysian GP, he was part of Scuderia Ferrari. The FIA was still deciding whether the drivers should race or not due to torrential rain and standing water on the track, which many drivers were concerned about. A cameraman followed the Iceman, who was already devouring some gelato. Instead of stressing about race safety, Kimi returned to the fridge and grabbed a Coke. If that doesn't prove how cool and collected he is, we don't know what will.
Following terrible choices and even worse contract negotiations, Kimi was left without an F1 seat in 2010 and 2011. He did not let that time go to waste, however. More on that later. He eventually returned to F1, driving for Lotus, and it's safe to say that Raikkonen was not a fan of having a race engineer in his ear.
During the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP, the race engineer interrupted Kimi's driving with information about his closest competitor on the track, Alonso. The Iceman obviously felt this information was useless, responding with a sentence that sums him up perfectly: "Just leave me alone. I know what I'm doing."
Why do people love him so much, even though he was so arrogant and rude? Well, the engineer was annoying, informing Kimi twice in the space of 26 seconds, and Abu Dhabi is a fast track that requires constant attention. The last thing you need is someone trying to micromanage your every move, something that always leads to more issues than it solves. We can all relate to that.
With nothing to do after contract negotiations with various teams turned sour, Kimi decided to take time off from Formula 1 in 2010/11.
He tried his hand at NASCAR at the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 and finished 15th. Not bad for a Finn used to driving in icy conditions. There were some negotiations with a team, but Kimi crashed during a test. It was pretty apparent that NASCAR was not his sport.
Even before he departed F1, Kimi experimented in the World Rally Championship. He drove like a demon and even won the 2010 Finnish rally. The rest of his two-year career was a series of impressive 6th- and 7th-place finishes. He scraped the roof once or twice, but the fact that he could handle the car at all is the impressive bit. Many have pondered the theory that rally drivers are even more skillful than F1 helmsmen, and just keeping the rubber bits on the ground is a noteworthy feat.
Fernando Alonso won the driver's championship in 2005, yet the FIA saw it fit to name Kimi Raikkonen the driver of the year. Why? We recently saw Lewis Hamilton battle his way from tenth to first, and it was named one of his best drives ever, but it was nothing compared to what Kimi did at the Japan GP in 2005. During qualifying, Raikkonen's car had engine problems. In addition to that, it was raining. As a result, he qualified in 17th place.
The next day, Kimi played a significant role in what is widely regarded as one of the best F1 races of all time. He battled his way through the grid, all the way to second place. The consensus was that Giancarlo Fisichella would be impossible to pass, as he was fantastic at defending his position, as you can see in the video below. No problem for Kimi, who overtook Fisi on the outside. This happened on the very last lap of the race. From 17th to 1st place in a grid packed with all-time greats. What a legend.
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, more commonly known as Spa, is one of the most dangerous racetracks in the world. And it's all because of a little segment called Eau Rouge-Raidillon. It's a combination of two corners you have to tackle following a steep downhill. You can't see the exit at the top, so you have to commit to it blindly. This corner is infamous, to say the least. It claimed the life of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert in 2019, and Lando Norris had a crazy off there earlier this year. Eau Rouge is now being reconfigured for safety.
Early in his career, Raikkonen was racing at Spa. Approaching Eau Rouge-Raidillon, he saw a massive cloud of smoke. Kimi did not lift and committed to the corner fully blind, relying only on muscle memory. The source of the smoke was Olivier Panis' engine blowing up spectacularly, but there was no way Kimi could know that.
Kimi Raikkonen has a massive scrotum, filled with two giant balls made of vibranium, adamantium, and brass. Stupid? Maybe. Fearless? Undoubtedly.
Over the years, F1 lost a lot of viewers because it just wasn't fun anymore. The racing was predictable and the drivers were turned into brainwashed clones, trained to know exactly what to say without offending anyone. You'd be better off asking a tire wall for a comment.
The problem was that F1 was sold as a glamorous sport in which everyone behaved like a gentleman. It wanted to move as far away from the James Hunt playboy era as it possibly could. Thankfully, Liberty Media saved the sport. These days, you have access to almost everything, thanks in part to a dedicated Netflix show giving you an excellent behind-the-scenes look once the season is finished. The show knows that we want to know the people in the cars. It adds drama to an already impressive spectator sport, and it's a win-win for everyone involved. But Kimi Raikkonen proved that fans love a character long before Liberty Media arrived on the scene.
The video above is the perfect example of Kimi being Kimi. It would have been a PR nightmare for the team, but nobody could have known that it would end up making Kimi one of the most beloved racers ever.
For context, Michael Schumacher was receiving a lifetime achievement award. Martin Brundle walked over, asking if Raikkonen would ever get over missing the presentation, and the Finn responded with his most iconic words ever: "I was having a shit."
The clip immediately made Kimi a hero to those who hated the uptight nature of F1. In addition, Kimi gave several interviews where he just didn't care about his image. In the Top Gear feature below, he's more than happy to admit that he passed out drunk in a bar. And then there was the time he crashed out in Monaco and snubbed a debrief with the team, instead walking straight to his yacht to have a beer.
Why does it make him unique? Well, you can't say you never saw the real Kimi Raikkonen. He put it all out there in his own one-syllable way.
Let's be honest. Kimi could have kept going for another few years. In fact, in true Kimi fashion, he caught Alfa Romeo off guard, announcing his retirement on Instagram. He always said he'd keep on racing until it wasn't fun anymore. Looking at the family images he likes to share, it's apparent that he found something else he loves more.
The average young viewer likely won't know it, but Kimi used to be a dominant force in F1. He narrowly missed the driver's championship in 2003 and 2005, but 2007 was finally his year. It was a difficult season, but Raikkonen eventually won by a single point.
As a world champion, he joins the likes of icons such as Nico Rosberg, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Jensen Button, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and James Hunt.
During these last few years, Kimi did not have a competitive car yet still provided a valuable service. When asked what they thought about his retirement, the older drivers mentioned what a tough but fair competitor he used to be. The younger drivers all said that they learned a lot from him.
In F1, you have to pay your dues, working your way up the field into a competitive car. And let's be honest, there are only two competitive cars currently out there. This means that only four drivers have a realistic chance of ending up on the podium out of the entire grid unless something unusual happens. As a young midfield driver, you have to gain skills, and you do that by going up against a legend like Kimi. Regular viewers will know the midfield battle is often more entertaining to watch than the one happening at the front. Kimi had no sympathy for the younger drivers and made them work hard for a pass.
So what will Kimi do now? It seems like he's trying to get his son's F1 career started. In addition to that, he'll likely be enjoying the fruits of his labor. His car collection includes the Lotus Evora, Ferrari Enzo, Ferrari F12berlinetta, Ferrari 488, and Fiat 500. The latter is likely to pop over to Seb's place down the street.
Hyvästi, Kimi Raikkonen. We will never see your like again.