Kimi Raikkonen, The Purest Driver?


Last time, I compared Kimi Raikkonens steely determination to Ayrton Senna's. However, day by day I feel Kimi is the only driver who will not settle for anything less than a win, even in a car which isn't one of the top runners.

steely determination

When he took a break from Formula 1, it was because he lost his motivation. Not because he got tired of the media or any other personal reason. It was simply because he was sick and tired of driving the uncompetitive Ferrari. If he can't fight for wins, he doesn't see the point of wasting his team. He went rallying, and then to NASCAR. Even in this disciplines, he was one of the fastest drivers on track. Kimi was actually faster than many seasoned rally drivers during testing and was moderately successful in his debut season. In NASCAR, he very nearly broke the lap record during testing. It simply stunning to see Raikkonen excel at any motor racing disciplines he tries his hand at. Many Formula 1 world champions in the past haven't been anywhere near as successful after leaving F1 to try different forms of racing.

Back in 2001, when he entered Formula 1 with just 23 Formula Renault series races to his name(he won the series with a 56% win rate), he scored points at his first race with Sauber. McLaren, impressed with his raw pace, signed him up from 2002 onwards, but they couldn't provide him with a car either reliable enough, or fast enough to mount a serious title challenge. Moving to Ferrari in 2007, he finally the championship he deserved with a car that wasn't on the pace in all races. In 2008, his form dropped and in 2009, with a poor car, Raikkonen lost his patience and agreed to leave the team. With the contract termination money, he went rallying and NASCAR, where he proved that he was fast in any car, anywhere. Returning to F1 in 2012 with Lotus, he had one of his best seasons since 2005, and in 2013, his form has never been better. Rumoured to move to Red Bull in 2014 for his last season in Formula 1, he remains the sport's most loved driver.

Its quite easy to figure out Kimi Raikkonen. I don't get all the fuss about him being a closed person. Yes, he doesn't talk to the media and he simply hates wasting time with PR events. He came to race, and when given a car somewhat capable of winning races, he is the most motivated person in the paddock. Finishing 2nd three times in a row is no different than finishing last for him. It is a black and white situation for him. "Do or do not. There is no try"-Yoda. I haven't seen this sort of extreme self motivation since Ayrton Senna. Finishing on the podium gives him no joy whatsoever, unless he's standing on the top step. 

A rare smile

In the current Pirelli era of tyres, Kimi Raikkonen is one of the few drivers who have just gotten on with the job of conservation and not made a fuss. Why? Because its the same for everybody, so there's no point in wasting time complaining. His adaptable driving style means that he finished every single race in 2012, and continues to do so in 2013. In China, he slammed into the back of Sergio Perez and broke the nose cone, and lost the wing cascades on one end. Even with the loss of balance and downforce, he finished 2nd. His ability to adapt is what makes him one of the very best. Kimi has another natural ability to gauge how much traction he has in hand. This means that when he exits a corner, he knows exactly how much throttle input he needs to dial in. In Australia, he didn't spin his wheels more than twice throughout the whole race. With the extremely sensitive 2013 spec Pirelli's, it's a crucially important skill. Kimi Raikkonen has a unique driving style; he spends as little time taking corners as possible. He takes the corners at a 'V', and thus his tyres experience as little lateral force as possible, and thus he manages to conserve his tyres very well without having to compromise on his natural speed.

He might not speak a lot, and he may not be an out and out team leader, but his reputation walks ahead of him. The boys and girls back in the factory know that the car they are building, will pushed to its limit. Kimi does his talking on the track. On the stopwatch. On the podiums. By winning. There are no excuses.

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  1. hello my friend.. what did you mean by kimi taking corners at a 'V'?

  2. Hey riazobackwards, Kimi takes the corner at a 'V' shape. Jenson Button for example, a smooth driver makes a 'U' shape when he takes a corner. If both take the same corner, say a hairpin, then while Jenson has already started turning, Kimi is still braking in a straight line, and at this point Kimi is slightly ahead because he has braked later than Jenson(he has to brake earlier to start the turn). Kimi makes a quick direction change, in a 'V' shape, and Jenson is cutting a 'U' shaped arc. Kimi, with his ability to judge the traction, makes a quick getaway, but Jenson has carried over some speed while making the turn in a 'U' shape, and he also makes a good exit. So both these methods are equally fast, but Kimi does not spend as much time putting his tyres through a lateral sideways force, thus preserving his tyres.

    Rob Wilson, Kimi's driving mentor back in the Formula Renault days, explains this concept nicely here:

  3. haha yeah thats what i thought but wasn't sure.. thanks a lot for the vid :) watched the others too


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