Say the name Kimi Raikkonen and people react. Perhaps not in the same global superstardom manner as Lewis Hamilton, Michael, Schumacher, or Ayrton Senna, but people just know of him. Raikkonen is considered by many the ultimate No-Fucks-Given driver to have ever graced Formula One, right up there with Nelson Piquet and Jacky Ickx, two other famously crude and stubborn racing drivers. However, when recently asked about his popularity, the former world champion seemed a bit unsure.
In an interview with Motorsport.com, Raikkonen shared that he's not exactly sure why fans like him so much, sharing a theory that it's likely because he's direct. And given his famous tagline of "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing," I think he's hit the nail on the head.
“I don’t know why they like me,” he told Motorsport.com. “Maybe because I am what I am. Consistently odd or weird, or whatever you want to call it! It’s normal for me, but for outside, maybe not for everybody. But I’ve done it exactly on my own terms, most of the way anyway.”
Raikkonen's loyal following came early in his career, with the ice cream aficionado winning over folks during his tenure at Sauber and McLaren, ultimately peaking when he won the championship in 2007 with Ferrari and his subsequent years at Lotus. He thinks it always had to do with sticking to his guns and not changing his persona to please others, whether it be the team, sponsors, fans, etc.
“Here and there, you need to somewhat go in another way," Raikkonen said. "Obviously more in the beginning, it’s more difficult, because they try to put you somewhere. But if you don’t, they kind of give up on trying to change you. It’s easier [for them to say]: maybe it’s best to just let him do what he wants."
Now the Finn is officially retired from Formula 1 and plans on enjoying life with his family in their home country of Finland. He's never claimed to have given up racing for good, but so far, it appears that he'll be coaching his oldest son who has taken up karting and motocross. And in case you're wondering, yes, the "Iceman" calls his kids "Ice Cubes."
“I’m happy that I did the fighting in the beginning, because it’s obviously a lot easier. [After that] it’s much harder to try to be somebody else.”
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