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F1 Opinion 19

Kimi Räikkönen on Top Gear

I am probably in a minority (again), but I am not a big fan of the Top Gear programme on BBC television.

I am, however, a big fan of racing driver Kimi Räikkönen. So I was keen to see Kimi out on their test track last week in what they call a reasonably priced car. A conversation with Mr Jeremy Clarkson was also promised and that, I thought, just had to be seen.

I was not disappointed. Rarely have I seen Kimi in such good form in an interview situation. Never one to use 10 words when five will suffice, like the majority of Finns, Kimi doesn’t really do interviews. He is not known among journalists to be what’s called a ‘good talker’. He prefers to keep his part in the proceedings to an absolute minimum. This is fine by me as the man has a nice wry sense of humour and is the master of the understatement. Kimi is refreshingly free of the platitudes that have become common parlance in 21st Century Grand Prix racing.

opinion  Kimi Räikkönen on Top Gear

The conversation with Clarkson came first, as a build-up to the 2007 World Champion’s lap of the track. Kimi ambled on, blue baseball cap, blue shirt, blue jeans. Not a logo or sponsor in sight. These days that is rare indeed. How did it feel to be back?

“Very normal. Cars are the same, people are the same. Same story.”

Asked about the car he is to race this season, Kimi seemed a little unsure about its pedigree. Is it a Lotus or a Renault?

“Well it’s, er, it’s not a Renault. Lotus is just a sponsor. I mean, the Renault factory built it, so…”

An anti-dandruff shampoo is also a sponsor. Was that good?

“It seems to be working… maybe you should try it.”

What about those F1 press conferences? Why are his answers so brief?

“You can make it very complicated, but you can also be straight and tell the true story, that’s much easier.”

opinion  Kimi Räikkönen on Top Gear

And his comments about the special meaning of helmet designs for drivers?

“It protects my head.”

Next, the subject of modern circuits. What about Abu Dhabi?

“The first bit is OK but the rest of it is s***. I mean, it’s very twisty in the middle part and you cannot overtake. It’s not just Abu Dhabi, it’s many other new circuits also.”

So, how does he see the season ahead?

“I don’t know, nobody knows where everybody is, it’s complicated to say from testing, but we will see. Our car is not too bad.”

Was he training hard for his return to the grid?

“Little bit harder than normal, should be OK.”

Has he given up drinking?


Is it true he was asleep in his motor home 30 minutes before his first Grand Prix in Melbourne in 2001?

“Not in the motor home, I found a nice place under a table. It’s normal, I always sleep before the race, there’s a little bit of time. I like sleeping.”

Finally, the snowmobiling. Did his Ferrari contract allow him to do that?

“I didn’t really ask them. It was a very strict contract, but as long as you don’t get hurt too badly, it’s OK.”

Is that big scar on his lower left arm a result of a snowmobile accident last winter?

“It’s a scar yes, I had a good doctor to fix it, so…”

Did he break his arm?

“A little bit, yes.”

My wife does not watch Top Gear but she wanted to see Mr Räikkönen, about whom she has heard me speak. “He has a lovely smile,” she declared. So now you know. Thanks then to BBC Top Gear for this enlightening pre-season conversation. The lap, in a Suzuki Liana, was neat and quick. Clearly bored by a lack of speed on the straight, Kimi took a long look at his surroundings. What had caught his eye? “There was a very nice helicopter,” he told us.

So there we had it, Raikkonen relaxed and unplugged. His modus operandi is an acquired taste but he is far from dull, and that’s OK by me. And yes, you’ve guessed it, I am also a fan of Mika Hakkinen. By the time you read this Kimi will be out in the Lotus in Melbourne. If the car is half-way good, he will be right there amongst the other World Champions.

Add your comments

19 comments on Kimi Räikkönen on Top Gear

  1. C C, 16 March 2012 14:44

    Not a massive fan of Top Gear, but it does have its moments, this being one of them.

    I’ve long suspected that there’s more to Kimi (The tabloid headlines have hinted at this also) and his appearance confirmed he’s actually a laid back guy with a Dry Sense of humour who doesn’t take himself too seriously. A few of my friends who are non F1 fans have commented on Kimi’s appearance and what a funny guy he appeared to be.

    I guess it’ll be back to the ‘Yes’ / ‘No’ answers this weekend in Oz for him, but good to see the man out of the corperate enviroment he appears to loath.

  2. Colin, 16 March 2012 15:35

    I agree with your views on Top Gear (sell by date expired) and Kimi, For me he sometimes says a lot by not saying a lot. I have a bet on him to win a race this year. Welcome back Kimi.

  3. Ray T, 16 March 2012 19:28

    Top Gear is great for comedy, outstanding in fact, but as far as being about cars, I don’t put much faith in opinions about road cars blasting about on a runway in the hands of comedians.

    Kimi’s sense of humor is very nordic, thus very subtle, except when it’s not subtle (i.e. his, “I was taking a S**t” comment on BBC).

  4. Pete H, 16 March 2012 19:31

    “I don’t put much faith in opinions about road cars blasting about on a runway in the hands of comedians.”

    True, and God forbid the excellent TG goes back to its roots and bores the pants off everybody.

  5. laurence perry, 17 March 2012 01:05

    Totally agree TOP GEAR and more particularly Clarkson is annoying and full of himself. The two other lads are allright. If you want to see annoying, watch TOP GEAR AMERICA, It will be an hour you will never get back.
    Kimi Raikonen will be excellent to mix up F1. I am thoughroughly looking forward to the F1 season for the first time, because of his upcoming drive.

  6. Mike Kenny, 17 March 2012 01:58

    Sad to see people who apparently like motorcars praising the humour of topgear. They should stick to reviewing cars, they have the humour level of children.

  7. Simon Lord, 17 March 2012 02:51

    Love the helmet comment: ‘It protects my head.’ Reminds me of the classic Graham Hill answer when asked by American commentator Chris Economaki, ‘What’s significant about the straight here?’ He got the reply, ‘It’s significant insofar as it joins one corner with the next.’

  8. chris b, 18 March 2012 07:41

    i certainly don’t think you are in the minority – i think JC and Mr Hammond two of the most annoying TV presenters, in the world, James at least has an interest in cars, and Top Gear is a joke, i watch 5th Gear with great presenters and real drivers, people who actually present a programe for fans of cars. I might try and watch this because Kimi has always been interesting – i met a bunch of Finns [lunatics!] at Hungary a couple of years ago [when Kimi won] and they told me a great deal about Kimi and what we see isn’t what he is

  9. Pete H, 18 March 2012 19:06

    Only unintelligent, unimaginative, po-faced fools would rather see TG return to the days of William Woollard, Noel Edmonds et al.

    5th gear, and Driven, are typical of the sub-standard wanabee shows that commercial television craps out on to their gullible humourless viewers.

  10. Frank, 19 March 2012 03:56

    I always struggled to enjoy Top Gear until I was able to let go of the idea that it was a show about cars, and realised it was a comedy show that used cars as props. But then they stopped being funny and started thinking their audience were fools. So I haven’t watched it in a few years.
    Good to see the Fin bcak, and yes, once you realise he hates being interviewed, he’s quite entertaining.

  11. Joe Machado, 19 March 2012 17:25

    Top Gear is a funny program. What they did to destroy the Toyota Hilux Diesel without achieving it was just too funny. I agree Clarkson is full of it. The other two guys are great. Now, as for Kimi speaking I really don’t care if he does or not. Finns are pretty much the same except for J.J. Letho who understood the need for communication and is good at it. Only in F1 someone like Kimi gets away without communicating well. Get him over to the US fully sponsored and I guarantee that he will be at a K Mart signing cereal boxes. I saw Mansell do it several times. Same for everyone else driving on this side of the pond. The sponsor pays the bills they say jump and these well paid dudes must to just that, Ask him at McLaren if he was allowed to falter with sponsor time. On that note I am surprised at Dennis allowing Hamilton to grow a beard and wear ear rings. It certainly detracts from their impeccable image,

  12. Ray T, 19 March 2012 20:37

    I didn’t even notice Lewis’ beard and ear rings. Alonzo’s soul patch was really cool, …in 2002 maybe.

    Top Gear is FUN. Automotive review shows are all pointless and just sales commercials, and never tell us what we need to know about a car anyway, might as well have some fun and roll a dozen Robin Reliants and drop some pianos on Marinas.

  13. John Read, 20 March 2012 04:13

    They had a TG spin-off in Australia. It lastest about as long as a Kimi interview.

  14. Joe Machado, 20 March 2012 13:33

    They also have the American version with the same name. Tanner Faust, the rally / drift driver is one and an idiot from NASCAR called “Rutldge” is the second. I fail to remember who is the third, however, the show is awful.

  15. Phil Spencer, 21 March 2012 15:49

    I know this article isn’t about TG, but I can’t bite my tongue (fingers), so apologies for being slightly off topic. TG has had it’s enjoyable moments over the years but the increasingly wanton destruction of numerous vehicles, notably in the recent India special is severely distasteful for genuine car enthusiasts. I include Morris Marinas in that statement (it won’t be long before there are fewer Marinas than there are Porsche 911 2.7 RS at the rate that TG destroy Marinas and people “create” RSs. Doubt they’d drop a piano on an RS though).

    Clarkson plays the (annoying) ape very well, and fully knowing that to be divisive is to be successful, though I’d say the public barometer for TG is starting to point towards “tired”.

    All that said I enjoyed the piece with Kimi.

  16. Tony Geran, 22 March 2012 00:21

    Maybe they’ll have him back so he can explain how he didn’t make Q2 yet his inexperienced team mate put his car 3rd on the grid in Melbourne…..

  17. Joe Machado, 22 March 2012 13:46

    Power steering issues??? Jarno Truli syndrome.

  18. Pete Head, 23 March 2012 13:14

    Top Gear is an entertainment show, It’s Monty Python for gear/petrol heads, If you want to know what a car is really like test drive it because all car shows and magazines in my experience lack the time or space to do justice to any car, so lets have some fun with it and drop some pianos on some Marinas. Kimmi: he was never one o’ my favorites because he gave up too easily when he didn’t have the most competitive car or track position and F1 is entertainment like all sports so put on a good show. Sterling Moss never forgot that, he has remained a popular sporting hero and never got the kind of money the modern boys get.

  19. Henrik Smedberg, 24 March 2012 17:12

    Though I am Swede I find Kimi so booooring. He is great racer but outside that….

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