Raikkonen: Maybe F1 fans like me because I’m ‘consistently odd or weird’

Kimi Raikkonen contested 19 seasons in Formula 1 between 2001 and 2021, taking a break in 2010 and 2011.

He became quite the cult hero in Formula 1, particularly with the incremental emergence of social media, but former Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen still does not quite know why he is so adored.

Having entered the sport in 2001 with Sauber, the Finn would go on to take 21 race wins in a career that saw him win a championship with Ferrari in 2007.

Upon his return in 2012 however, fans became ever more aware of the brilliantly unique personality that came with the 42-year-old and his blunt interviews, coupled with fiery exchanges with race engineers, gave viewers a great source of entertainment.

READ: ‘Kimi can always be trusted’: Ferrari team principal praises ‘great person’ Raikkonen

After his retirement at the end of 2021, Raikkonen spoke about the adulation he frequently received from the fans and suggests that, while his personality is natural to him, it appears unique to others.

“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.”

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The former Ferrari driver maintains that he saw the importance of not falling into anyone’s mould – especially in the early years of his career – and that staying true to himself eventually stopped members of the F1 community trying to shape him.

“Here and there, you need to somewhat go in another way. 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,” he explained.

“It’s easier [for them to say]: maybe it’s best to just let him do what he wants. 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.”

The Iceman insists that embracing one’s own personality is healthier than attempting to crowd-please.

“I think you can do what people ask you, or be what people ask you to be, for a while. But I don’t think it’s very good or healthy in the long run,” he affirmed.

One of Raikkonen’s aforementioned radio messages arrived at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which he told Lotus engineer Simon Rennie “leave me alone, I know what to do,” while he was leading the race.

He would go on to take his first victory since his return from a sabbatical over the previous two years, and the quote would end up being printed onto a t-shirt.

He was asked if he was much moved by the endearing gesture, and many fans of F1 will probably already know what his answer was.

READ: Kimi Raikkonen admits he could be ‘completely wrong’ as he leaves door open to motorsport return

“No, not really,” he replied.

“In the end, we won the race, and the people that were there actually know what happened.

“It’s easy to make one thing out of it and do this and that. In the end, winning the race is a long process from Friday to Sunday. I have no feelings either way, good or bad about it.”

Raikkonen took his final F1 victory at the 2018 United States Grand prix for Ferrari, before spending the final three years of his career at Alfa Romeo.

Since his retirement, he has become the team principal of the Kawasaki motor cross team.

Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinnazi also left at the end of 2021, and he is making his Formula E debut in this weekend’s Diriyah E-Prix for the Dragon Penske team.

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