Kimi Raikkonen has revealed that he has always had bigger things to focus on in life besides Formula 1, and stressed that he decided to retire at the end of 2021 because he had grown tired of certain aspects of the sport.
The Finn revealed in F1’s season predictions YouTube video that his decision to retire had been made before winter testing even got underway in Bahrain last year.
He named the season-ending 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the race he was most looking forward to last season because “it’s my last F1 race.”
The 42-year-old won his one and only championship with Ferrari in 2007, and won 21 races throughout a 19-year career that spanned two spells.
He took two years away in 2010 and 2011 to go rallying but, feeling the absence of wheel-to-wheel racing, returned to the sport with Lotus in 2012.
Raikkonen claimed two race victories in two seasons with the Enstone outfit, before heading back to Ferrari in 2014.
The Iceman took his final win at the United States Grand Prix in 2018 – in what was his final season with the Scuderia – and spent his final three years with Alfa Romeo.
Raikkonen was coy when asked if he will miss being in Formula 1.
“Only time will tell,” he replied in response to BILD’s question.
The former Ferrari driver added that the extra-curricular activities that came with being a racing driver – particularly as Formula 1 became a more media-centric sport – is something that put him off.
“What I already know – driving is the only thing I liked about it! I may never set foot in the paddock again. Formula 1 was never my life.
“There were always things that were more important to me. Nothing will change about that,” he explained.
“I didn’t stop because I didn’t have the strength but because I have better things to do than sit on planes and stay in hotels.”
Upon being asked about any specific plans for life after racing, Raikkonen’s response was: “No, and I don’t want to forge any either.”
His children however – one of whom Robin, who has taken up karting – are keen on introducing a furry friend to the family.
“My kids want a dog, but we haven’t decided yet. Maybe it’s enough for them that I will now spend more time at home again.”
The Finn is most looking forward to spending quality time off without having to train as frequently as athletes do.
“That vacation is vacation again. Otherwise, we only had the summer break,”
“That was two and a half weeks in which you had to continue training and always had in the back of your mind that afterwards the normal madness would be back.”
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur has previously stated that he would have been happy to negotiate a longer stay for Raikkonen, but maintained that he would have needed a committed driver.
The team also waved goodbye to Antonio Giovinazzi at the end of 2021, with the Italian being dropped by the outfit and joining the Dragon Penske Formula E team.
The eighth-placed Constructors’ Championship finishers last year have acquired the services of former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou for 2022.