There are some people who can only be described by a millennial word – badass. Cool, collected, composed and calculating are all adjectives associated with such people. In the world of sports, where such personalities are as hard to find as a needle in a haystack, we love the badass.
In F1, there is only one man worthy of that label. If you took the X-Men’s Iceman out and replaced him with this guy, nobody would notice. He is as cool (pardon the pun) as the superhero, and is even referred to as ‘the Iceman’.
This man is Kimi Raikkonen. He’s the world-famous racing driver who nobody can hate at this point. The best thing about him is that he is a class racer, but also legendary out of it. There is a reason why he is one of the most meme-able drivers on the grid today. The Finn is quite literally an icon, and people eat up anything he says or does.
Speed, I’m Speed – Lightning McQueen
Raikkonen debuted in F1 in 2001. A young prodigy for Sauber-Petronas, it became obvious to the blind that he was destined for bigger things. Twenty years later, he is a legend of the sport. He is a former world champion, one of the fastest drivers ever, and the most experienced one on the grid today. More importantly, he made many fans fall in love with the sport.
With 21 wins, 103 podiums, and 1863 points in his bag, Räikkönen has done it all. He prefers to let his racing do the talking, and quite literally, because he doesn’t speak much.
On the track, he is laser-focused, channelling all his prowess into pure speed. His raw talent made Sauber pick him and re-sign him 18 years later. His fast and utterly wild racing made his McLaren stint a memorable one.
Perhaps most remarkably, his clinching of the WDC with Ferrari by a solitary point is one of the most talked-about feats in F1. His refusal to give up until he completes the last lap is perhaps his most defining on-track trait.
The reason your writer said ‘on-track trait’ is because the man is equally as legendary out of it. His cold personality and his no-nonsense approach have endeared him to the fanbase.
How cool do you have to be to jump straight into a Jacuzzi on your yacht and enjoy ice-cream after retiring from a red-flagged race? You don’t see such sportspersons these days, and that’s why Raikkonen is a treasure that must be protected at all costs.
Raikkonen is known to be someone who despises media interviews. When journalists try to get him to say something, he blurts out very little. Quite taciturn, you may say, and it’s true. This is the guy who tells his team on the radio, “Leave me alone, I know what I am doing.”
Despite his icy demeanour, however, he is an amusing person in private. He is also a devoted family man, and his posts with his kids are adorable. Somewhere underneath that cold way of life, there is a heart.
It’s no wonder, then, that Ron Dennis gave him the nickname ‘Iceman’. As cool as a cucumber, his temperament cannot be so much as warmed. His most famous quote would probably have to be, “I am not here to try and please people. I am here to do my best.” That mentality has gotten him far in his career.
The complete package
If it is fair to say it, there was a prime Räikkönen, and he was a monster. That win in 2007 with Ferrari is the stuff of legend. Even later on, he was remarkably consistent. When he signed for Lotus, few expected him to thrive. Instead, he delivered all the team’s victories. As is normalcy in sports, with age, his peak began to wane.
Yet, he is still blink-and-you-will-miss-him fast. His second stint was Ferrari was seen by many fans as a throwback move by the Prancing Horse. Yet, Räikkönen stunned the world with a victory at the 2018 US Grand Prix, his last race win at the time of writing.
Currently, the legendary driver drives for Alfa Romeo, a team which doesn’t have the same pace as a Mercedes or a Red Bull. Despite that, he is still putting in the odd masterclass. And despite being in the twilight of his career, he is still exactly as he was before. You can’t help but stay tuned to every move he makes, on track or off it.
Raikkonen is perhaps a life lesson to all of us. In an ideal setting, his oddball behaviour will probably be frowned upon. However, he is proof that there is perhaps no better way of life than being yourself. Unless you are an absolute jerk, all you have to do is avoid being pretentious. Everything you want from life will eventually come to you.
Legacy and status
When Raikkonen decides to abandon his racing helmet for good, F1 will have lost a legend. This is one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. For his contributions to racing and his hilarious actions out of it, he will be remembered. There is no doubt he is an idol to many who follow F1. When he decides to retire, it will be a bittersweet moment not just for them, but for all fans of F1.
At a time when celebrities are always either loved or hated, it is a great thing to be universally adored. Räikkönen is one of those lucky people. We may never see someone like him ever again. If nothing else, celebrate him for his unwavering focus on speed and racing.
Even when he calls it a day, he will only have left from F1. He will still be there in our hearts, on our walls as posters, and in F1 folklore.