Thank you Iceman! Why there will be no one like Kimi
Finally, this Sunday we will see our favorite Kimi Raikkonen take the track for the last time.
Over the last couple of days. I have not been able to stop myself from watching all the Kimi videos on YouTube, which I have already watched 100s of times. Classic races in Brazil, Malaysia, Suzuka, Abu Dhabi, Spa, and Monaco, and of course his famous crisp, funny and witty interviews. Have watched all of them again in the last 24 hours. And of course, his last podcast on the F1 channel reflecting on his journey is a goldmine for all his fans.
I don’t particularly know why I started liking him so much in his early years and this appreciation just keeps growing. While I appreciate and respect a few other drivers for how they have conducted themselves and what they have achieved in the sport (Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, and Charles Leclerc), no one comes close to Kimi.
And as I listened to that podcast, through Kimi’s words I was able to figure out why there is no one like Kimi for me and for all his fans. He might not have the highest number of fans to show on social media, but I am sure he has zero haters. In his interview, he said that he has always loved to drive in F1 but doesn’t particularly enjoy the other things that come along. It is these other things – the media, the campaigns, the interviews, the social media, and now drive to survive that have crept into the sport and growing every year. We all love Kimi because he has always given his best on track and cared little about these other things. And that is why whenever he gives a byte or a rare 1-hour interview everyone listens.
Finally, I believe there will be no one like Kimi Raikkonen in Formula One because the sport itself is changing rapidly and it is difficult for the drivers to change with it. Nearly all the drivers on the grid today are falling for these ‘other’ things. However, they fail to realize that the followers and buzz that these other things generate look good in the short term, but eventually these new ‘fans’ continue to build the pressure of expectations on the drivers. In a sport as competitive as F1 where success depends on a lot of factors – driver skills, the competence of the car, weather, pit-stop strategy, and more; not many drivers are successful.
Therefore, over a period of time, the increasing burden of expectations and inability to meet those expectations on track can put immense pressure on drivers and teams eventually leading to driver burnout. Today, there are a lot of exciting and promising young drivers on track – Lando Norris, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon, and Mick Schumacher, but how many of these will be able to strike a balance between the ‘other’ things and on-track performance like Lewis Hamilton has, remains to be seen.
I believe, Kimi was able to avoid this imbalance, by keeping the expectations side in check, because his fan base was mainly due to his on-track performances and not due to the ‘other’ things. At the same time, he consistently met or exceeded the expectations given the car he was driving.
In the end, I would like to thank Kimi for all the memories and wish him the best in whatever he chooses to do next. Now I will go back to watching more Kimi videos.
Header Image Credit: Unsplash