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2016

The case for Kimi

They say:
He’s too old, not the driver he used to be, lacking a couple of tenths in pace and simply unable, these days, to run with the pack he used to leave in his wake.
A waste of a red seat, a complacent wingman to Superstar Seb, content to cruise and collect the occasional podium, rather than fight for a win.

This is not the Raikkonen Ferrari see:
They believe he is still vital to the team’s fortunes and has a central role to play in their 2017 campaign.

Are they mad? Not at all.

They might, indeed, have made one of the smartest driver re-hires of the year.

How so? Read on as we present... The case for Kimi

A well-worn, but consequently truthful observation about Formula 1, often delivered by those at the painful landing site of a precipitous fall from grace, is that people in the paddock have very short memories. It’s a perception borne out by every commentator’s favourite cliché: you’re only as good as your last race.

Surprisingly though, most experts – including those whose deft pushes in the back frequently instigate the above-mentioned falls – will equally agree that there’s no place for reactionary short-termism in this hugely complex sport, which is why manufacturers and drivers endeavour to sign up for the long haul. So how come there is such frequent disconnect between mouth and brain from people who should know better?

Kimi Raikkonen would say it’s because most people talk “horseshit”. Principally designed to suit their particular purposes at the time. And, deep down, just from our own personal experiences, we all know that Kimi is actually right on this one. Not that there’s anything wrong with this state of affairs. The media exist to sell stories, car companies exist to make money, sponsors exist to make themselves known and therefore also to make money.

Influence is required to make this work. Organisations try to persuade as many people as possible to their particular point of view, which is the staple currency of the sport. At its most basic level, someone is always trying to sell you something in Formula 1, whether it’s an idea, a product or a perception. But Kimi isn’t, ever.

He might just be the most honest, least salesman-like person in Formula 1. And in a sport that is increasingly vulnerable to emperor’s new clothes syndrome, this is probably the most valuable commodity you can buy at the moment. He’s a constant. And that’s why Ferrari were right to re-sign him.

Kimi doesn’t seek to persuade or convince. He simply states the facts as he sees them, and then leaves those responsible to act upon them. Earlier this year, Ferrari made a series of steering modifications to the SF16-H, based on suggestions from Kimi, which benefited the car’s performance. ‘This is great,’ went the gist of the engineering conversation afterwards, ‘but why didn’t you tell us before?’

The truth is, Kimi had told them before – much earlier in the season – and this was subsequently verified by the team’s engineering notes. But, for whatever reason, it hadn’t been acted upon. Because Kimi is never the sort of person who will tell people how to do their jobs; he merely provides them with the information they need to do it themselves. And that’s actually a good thing, very much in keeping with the current Ferrari philosophy laid down by team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN THE SEPTEMBER 2016 ISSUE