Friday, 9 March 2012

Kimi Raikkonen: A disinterested talent?

Kimi Raikkonen is returning to Formula One after two seasons out. In the final part of my opinion series on the grid's top drivers, I ask if Kimi Raikkonen is motivated, and if he is a disinterested talent?

Since he came into the sport way back in 2001, Raikkonen has being criticised for his apparent lack of motivation, and lack of personality. Some think that he comes across as boring, and isn't motivated in the sport. There's no doubt that he might not be the most energetic and exciting driver ever to emerge in the sport, but he certainly has a lot of talent. Just because he's not great at interviews and public relations doesn't affect the fact that he's talented, because he's a Formula One World Champion, and that takes a lot of doing.

In interviews, Raikkonen never seems happy
Is it really important for drivers to be personable and approchable? I don't think it is and I think the need for this is greatly exaggerated. I understand that fans want to know their drivers better, and get closer to them, but surely the drivers can let their driving do the talking? I'm a big fan of a particular driver, and put it this way, I'd much much rather see him do well on track than do well in interviews. But there certainly is a case that Raikkonen isn't a personable driver. And this has come about in quite a few famous incidents, which were well publicised and have never being forgotten. During the break in the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix due to a red flag, every driver was in their car or near to it, frantically recieving information about their cars. All except one: Raikkonen. He was seen in the Ferrari motorhome, eating an ice cream. Does this show a lack of motivation or interest? Very possibly. And one of the main things that make people think he isn't actually interested or motivated is his departure from the sport in 2009. He left Ferrari after they signed Fernando Alonso, but had offers to stay in the sport. The Finn declined these, because he only wanted to drive in a top team. This for me was seriously disappointing, and when the idea of Raikkonen returning to F1 first came about (in actual fact with Williams), I cited this as one of the things I'd like to see Raikkonen do, go to a lesser team. In many ways, he had. No disrespect whatsoever, but most would say that Lotus aren't one of the top teams.

Raikkonen seems very motivated for the 2012 season
However, Raikkonen must have some motivation in him, because otherwise: a) he wouldn't have had such a long career in the first place and b) he wouldn't be returning to the sport. And he genuinely seems glad to be back in F1. I'm not just saying that because I'm excited to see him return, I genuinely think he is relishing the task ahead of him. When it was announced he had signed for Lotus, he said "I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid." So just from this quote it shows that he is interested, and is motivated. Furthermore, he has impressed in testing, with him and his Lotus team frequently looking in good shape. Not really the signs of someone not interested.

To conclude, I don't think that Raikkonen is disinterested. I think in his previous career then maybe he was, but not now. Not now at all, and I can tell just from the way he has being regarding his comeback. He really does seem ready for this new season, and good luck to him. I hope he can prove his doubters wrong and prove that he is motivated. If he wasn't motivated, I'd be upset, because only 24 people in the world get to drive a Formula One car, and that's a privelege. I hope Kimi Raikkonen recognises that. And I think he does.

This article brings my nine-part opinion series on the grid's top drivers. We are now almost at the 2012 season, which begins next week in Australia. I hope you've enjoyed this opinion series, and here are the other eight if you want a read of them.

Sebastian Vettel: A true great?
Mark Webber: Can he challenge Vettel?
Lewis Hamilton: Is he F1's troubled star?
Jenson Button: Was 2011 his best ever year?
Fernando Alonso: When will he get the car he deserves?
Felipe Massa: How can he improve?
Michael Schumacher: Will he ever be the old Schumi?
Nico Rosberg: Top class or over-rated?

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