Amidst all the fuss about Michael Schumacher’s retirement and the Alonso/Renault championships, one little snippet of news about Kimi Raikkonen put a huge grin on my face. It seems that Martin Brundle, interviewing the Finn for ITV, asked about Kimi missing Pele’s presentation of a gold trophy to Michael Schumacher. Ever a man of few words, Kimi responded with a “Yeah”.
Obviously amused at Kimi’s lack of concern over the matter, Brundle suggested that he would get over it. The Finn’s response blew Martin and live feed viewers away: “Hey, I was having a sh*t.”
Oh blessed moment of reality intruding upon the rarified world of F1! Suddenly we recall that this is the man with the reputation for wild nights in nightclubs, in complete contrast to his deadpan public utterances. Ferrari are getting themselves a character.
Now there’s a thought to give one pause. Could there be a greater difference between the Ferrari number ones of 2006 and 2007? Michael is probably the greatest exponent of press-handling ever seen in F1; Kimi is a public relations bomb waiting to explode.
This surely has to be a worry for the team that Michael built. Yes, they are getting probably the fastest guy on the grid but he will not be quite the same team player as his predecessor. And I can see trouble in store as a result.
Imagine Ron Dennis’ reaction to hearing of Kimi’s statement to Martin Brundle – a loud guffaw would be inevitable. But Jean Todt (if he’s still there next year)? Or Montezemolo? Somehow I can’t see them being very amused. Ross Brawn would probably shrug it off but strong rumor puts him on sabbatical for a while at least.
Historically, Ferrari have always been a difficult team for a driver to win over. Lauda managed it and Schumacher, obviously. Gilles was their darling. But other great drivers have departed in a huff: John Surtees, Jean Alesi, Alain Prost, to name just a few. It seems to me that, unless Kimi starts winning races immediately in 2007, a certain tension will develop in the Ferrari camp. And, once that happens, everything could fall apart.
Raikkonen has made no secret of the fact that he is moving to Ferrari because he wants to win races. I have heard no mention of a lifelong love of the Italian team or anything like it, something that is almost required of new Ferrari drivers. Maybe I’m wrong but it looks to me like a recipe for disaster.
Another interesting item was the news that the Turkish GP organizers have asked that their appeal against the FIA fine be withdrawn. Obviously, they’ve been reading my blog…