[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] KIMI RAIKKONEN: ALFA’S TOP MAN

Alfa Romeo Racing, the Italian-branded Swiss team previously known as Sauber, pulled off an incredible coup in signing 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen... 

The Finn’s signature a shock after 291 races, 21 wins, including last year at Austin, 18 poles and 46 fastest laps across 16 seasons in F1, with the last five spent at Ferrari for eight overall at the Scuderia.

But, sign until 2020 he did. An action that surprised the paddock when it was announced in September last year, with little chance for podiums, let alone a win, and retirement a more graceful end to his career.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I don’t know if I made the right decision. In my heart I made the right decision and that’s all what matters for me. Obviously the results side is: we always want to do well and you want to always win but in the end there’s always one car or one team at the end of the year that will win.”

But there are positives… Alfa Romeo is enjoying a closer collaboration with Ferrari. There’s also familiarity given Räikkönen’s F1 debut with Sauber in 2001. And a shorter commute, around 40 minutes, from his Swiss home.

Along with the chance to remain racing at the pinnacle of motorsport, the Iceman’s enjoyment of the role key to his staying on.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“It’s everything, otherwise I wouldn’t do it, for sure. Obviously some days it doesn’t feel like the most funnest job… and you don’t always enjoy it because there’s good days and bad days.”

The 39-year-old will also enjoy the cash that comes with it, despite taking a reported pay cut from $7 million US dollars at Ferrari in 2018, excluding bonuses, to around $4 million a season.

It’s also likely that he will remain in the top-10 with the team set to move up from Sauber’s eighth-place finish last year: just four-points behind Force India-turned Racing Point, and 14 behind McLaren.

Räikkönen will also be team leader to full-time rookie Antonio Giovinazzi, despite the fact he doesn’t see it that way.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I don’t feel that I’m in the leader role. I try to do my things as well as I can, and I know if I’m doing well.”

Regardless, the 39-year-old is on his day one of the fastest on the grid, and now free of his number two role at Ferrari he can enjoy the twilight of his career pushing Alfa Romeo Racing forward.