Getting inside The Iceman

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

Current page

196

Current page

197

Current page

198

Current page

199

Current page

200

Current page

201

Current page

202

Current page

203

Current page

204

Current page

205

Current page

206

Current page

207

Current page

208

Current page

209

Current page

210

Current page

211

Current page

212

Current page

213

Current page

214

Current page

215

Current page

216

Current page

217

Current page

218

Current page

219

Current page

220

He might be an individual of precious few words, in public at least, but Kimi Räikkönen’s new authorised biography extends to more than 300 pages. Here, the writer offers an insight into the project’s genesis – writer Kari Hotakainen

It might seem odd that I should have been chosen to pen the first official book about Kimi. Although I have worked as a writer for about 36 years now, I started out composing poetry and then moved on to children’s stories, novels, radio plays and film scripts, but had never written a single word about motor sport.

If I’m honest, I knew very little about Formula 1. I was aware that Keke Rosberg, Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen had all competed, and then Kimi came along. I used to watch on television sometimes when Mika Häkkinen was winning in the late 1990s, but not all that often – I wasn’t all that interested because the cars were so different from the ones we use every day. I found it easier to relate to rallying, which has always been popular in Finland. As a youngster I used to live in the countryside, so would go out to watch local rallies, but F1? I had no idea!

I suppose it was seven or eight years ago when the idea first occurred. I started thinking about the fact that I had written only fiction and decided it would be interesting to take a different approach and tackle a real subject about which I knew absolutely nothing – and Formula 1 was eminently suitable.

And I thought Kimi would be interesting, because he is in a very unusual position: he is incredibly famous, yet very few people know much about him. I was aware that he didn’t like giving interviews – he’s interested in race driving but hates talking about his job – and I could absolutely relate to that. I’ve never really enjoyed talking about my work – I just love writing! – so I knew we had at least one thing in common.

I was sure it could be a good project, followed my instincts and approached his management for the first time in 2011, although at first I didn’t hear anything back. I knew other writers and publishers had approached Kimi about doing a book, so I thought maybe I wouldn’t ever get the chance, but in March 2017 I was very pleased to receive a call from Sami Visa at Kimi’s management company.

He explained that they wanted to publish an authorised Kimi biography and were searching for an established writer who worked outside the sport, to avoid any preconceptions, so I fitted the bill. There are many other writers like me in Finland, though, so I’m not really sure why I was chosen. In the beginning I told Kimi I knew nothing about F1 but that I did know something about human beings, so perhaps that’s why he was happy to work with me. I got along very well straight away with him and Sami, so things progressed quickly. Kimi certainly hadn’t read any of my work before – I was totally unknown to him.

I realised immediately that Kimi came from a different planet to mine, but he surprised me completely. Although he often appears shy and introverted he is at the same time a funny guy, a dedicated family man and actually quite talkative away from the Formula 1 environment.

One thing that struck me – and became quite an important element of the project – was Kimi’s vocabulary. The two words he used most frequently were ‘loyalty’ and ‘truth’, which I think tells you something about him.

Sami helped me a lot, because he advised me to interview Paula, Kimi’s mother, Rami, his brother, other close friends and all of the Ferrari people with whom he has worked. That helped me to build a broader picture of the real Kimi.

I was given very good access, too. I stayed at his home in Switzerland four times, and each visit lasted several days, plus I attended winter testing in Barcelona and also the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. I also spent a lot of time with him in Finland during a Christmas holiday period.

Coming in to the F1 environment as a complete outsider, I found the whole thing incredibly surreal. I can understand why Kimi finds elements of it frustrating, because he is from a very normal, working-class background – very different from the F1 world. He loves the time he spends behind the wheel, but that’s it. Away from the driving I think he finds it quite difficult to understand the politics and all that kind of stuff. When he’s at home he talks very little about F1 – I asked him whether he watched any Grands Prix during the two years he was away doing rallying, NASCAR and other things and he told me ‘Never’!

But the Kimi I met at his home had very little in common with the Kimi I watched in the F1 paddock. They are two totally different people. Away from his work he is truly a family man, in a very settled relationship, and he seemed quite relaxed throughout the time that we were collaborating.

I noticed straight away that he’s very good with kids – a doting dad like any other. I have no idea whether his new F1 contract [with Sauber] will be his last, but I have the impression that he is really looking to a time when he is free to spend time as he pleases, with his family.

In terms of our discussions only his first marriage and subsequent separation were taboo subjects, but he was very open and very honest about everything else. From what I’d heard about his reputation as the silent guy I had been scared that this might turn out to be a two-page book, but the reality was very different.

I knew things would work out OK after I’d written the first 40 pages or so. I was apprehensive when I sent the first few chapters to Finland, because I know Kimi isn’t by nature a reader – literature isn’t his thing – so I wondered how he would respond to my writing style, which can be quite ironic, but he received it very well and it transpires that he has a very dry sense of humour, a bit like my own.

It was very much a collaborative process, too. It took about 10 months to complete the text and Kimi and his wife Minttu were very involved with the proof-reading. I would write one chapter at a time and then email them to Switzerland and he always checked and returned them very quickly. He was very enthusiastic about the whole process.

Will the experience inspire me to tackle other non-fiction projects? I don’t yet know. Recently I’ve been flat out promoting the book, which has been very well received in Finland, so I’m going to enjoy the moment for as long as it lasts and am really not sure what I’ll do next.

Whatever happens, I will retain fond memories of my time working with Kimi. I can also tell you that he’s not a bad cook, though he did serve up pasta and chicken almost every day…

Related articles

Related products