Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that the sport will miss Kimi Raikkonen, claiming that the rest of the grid is “very much like a robot.”
Raikkonen left the sport at the end of last year following 19 years in F1 that covered two spells.
The Finn joined the paddock in 2001 with Sauber, before spending five years with McLaren, where he won nine races between 2002 and 2006.
He then moved to Ferrari after seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher left the sport, and he claimed his sole F1 world championship in his first season with the Scuderia.
Raikkonen would then leave at the end of 2009 to take on rallying, but having missed the thrill of side-by-side racing, he returned with Lotus in 2012.
Following two wins in as many years there, the 42-year-old re-joined Ferrari, eventually taking his 21st and final race win at the 2018 United States Grand Prix.
Upon being replaced by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, Raikkonen headed the other way to join the newly named Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2019 season, where he spent his final three F1 seasons.
As well as an exceptional racer, Raikkonen established himself as one of the most unique characters in the history of the sport.
He wandered off to sit on his yacht after retiring from the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, and tucked in to an ice cream during what would ultimately become a terminal red flag period at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix.
He was also renowned for his one-line answers to the media, and his frequent irritable radio interactions on the team radio.
Ecclestone is full of admiration for the one in a million character that is Kimi Raikkonen.
“Kimi, as a person, is a super guy,” Ecclestone told Sport1.de.
“As a driver, he is sort of… he is a race driver! He’s what you want. He races. He doesn’t take an awful lot of notice of people, [and] in fact, he gives them his opinion,” he added.
The 91-year-old laments the fact that there are not more like Raikkonen on the current grid, and sees that as a “problem.”
“So there’s not many… there isn’t any Kimis today, really, I don’t think – that’s the problem.”
Speaking on the other drivers, Ecclestone believes that they do not express their emotions enough and are too easily led.
“They’ve all become very, very much a robot, listening and doing what they’re told, rather than doing what they think is the right thing to do.”
Raikkonen’s tenure for all of his final three teams ended at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and they all terminated abruptly.
He suffered race-ending contact at the first corner in 2013 with Lotus, before sitting out the final two rounds of the season over a pay dispute.
A mechanical issue put pay to his final Ferrari outing in 2018, before a brake-by-wire (BBW) failure also curtailed his final race in the sport with Alfa Romeo in December.
Such is the extent of the Finn’s weariness at the expansive ulterior commitments within the F1 paddock, that he simply did not care his final race ended in the pits.
“I’m just glad it’s over. Even the fact that I couldn’t finish the last race doesn’t matter,” he said in an interview with BILD.
He was then queried as to whether he has heeded a particular piece of advice throughout his lengthy career, and unsurprisingly, he has always given it little thought.
“Many have tried to give me advice, but I haven’t listened to any of it!
“I’ve always done my thing and have no regrets. I would do it all again. Everyone has to know for themselves what is best for their life. Even the boss can’t dictate things to you,” he explained.
“People say that. I’m not interested in that. I know who I am – I am Kimi.”
Raikkonen scored points on four occasions on his way to a 16th-placed championship finish in his final year in the sport, while he and the also departing Antonio Giovinazzi guided Alfa Romeo to eighth in the Constructors’ Standings.
His last victory in 2018 was the 101st of his 103 podiums, the last of which came at the Brazilian Grand Prix that year.
He and Giovinazzi, who will join Dragon Penske in Formula E, have been replaced by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou for 2022.