Aus GP: The Luck of The Iceman
When it was announced that Ferrari was going to sign Charles Leclerc for the 2019 season, many predicted this would mean Kimi Raikkonen would retire...but he had other plans.
Formula 1 Superstars are a rare breed. We all know Formula 1 racers are a talented bunch but superstars who draw massive crowds, have slogans become iconic and can make a fan smile even if only due to a glance in their direction – they are very special indeed. Kimi Raikkonen is such a superstar and many feared that following Ferrari’s decision to sign Charles LeClerc, Kimi would retire…no chance!
Anyone who saw Kimi Raikkonen take victory in the USA Grand Prix last year would testify that there is much talent left in the Fin yet. Thankfully, Raikkonen, known to his millions of fans as ‘The Iceman’ due to his deadpan humour and one word answers, was signed up by Alfa Romeo on September 11th 2018 and following a very successful pre-season testing – all eyes were on Melbourne. In 2018 Raikkonen claimed third on the podium…what could be achieved in 2019?
Raikkonen’s performance was strong in the build up to the race and resulted in him starting inside the top 10 (a slight qualifying issue prevented higher). As for the race itself, The Iceman, in the striking red and white of the Sauber F1 Team, ran strongly throughout the race and finished in a somewhat fortuitous 8th position.
At the Albert Park Circuit, Raikkonen was forced to pit early due to debris within his brake ducts that saw the temperature of his rear brakes increase dramatically. However, for a man who has not had luck on his side in recent seasons, the unplanned pit stop benefited the team. Once the opposition saw Raikkonen pit early, they too chose to dive into the pits to avoid any chance of the undercut as the track temperature increased. Many at the time thought this was strategical by Alfa Romeo but in actuality it was simply to fix a rear brake problem after getting a tear-off from a visor lodged in it.
“We had an issue with the temperature of the rear brakes as one of the tear-offs from the visor went in and that’s why we had to pit earlier than planned,”
“The car has a lot of speed and it felt good. Our car was pretty strong in the race, but then we got stuck behind cars and there’s not much you can do…It seems that it is easier to get closer to the car in front of you but it’s still very hard to overtake.”
Moving away from the track, the latest F1 ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast, featured a jovial Raikkonen responding to his party man behavior.
“Obviously it’s been a joke often…But I actually think it’s more true than a joke that I’ve often been driving better doing whatever I want between the races than if I’m just not having fun and drinks and stuff.”
Anyone present in Melbourne up to race day encountered a relaxed Kimi who was happy to pose with fans and sign autographs. He certainly appears to be loving his racing at the moment.
This confidence has continued and Raikkonen is excited for what is to come in Bahrain.
“the car had a lot of speed and it felt good, so I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain.”
Many fans in Bahrain will be looking forward to meeting Kimi so hopefully this open and relaxed persona continues for many races to come. One thing is for sure, Formula 1 is a much better sport with The Iceman in it.