When interviewing Kimi Raikkonen, the interviewer always has to work the hardest. However, when a man who tends to keep the word count down to a minimum, does speak out, each and every word is digested. It is therefore not surprising that pundits are discussing Kimi’s latest bombshell revealed in an interview, where the Finn declared that he will more than likely retire at the end of the 2015 season. Fellow Finn, Mika Hakkinen, has voiced his opinion of this controversial declaration, stating that the Iceman’s comments were “not very smart.” In fairness, it is difficult to disagree with the double World Champion.
Kimi dares to defy convention, and the enigmatic Finn fails to mince his words. However, in this instance, speaking his mind may well have put him at a severe disadvantage for the next year and a half of his career. In his latest blog, Mika Hakkinen, who won back-to-back titles for McLaren in 1998 and 1999, condemned his fellow countryman’s decision to announce that he will “probably” retire at the end of his contract, stating, “Everyone does what they think is right, but in my opinion it was tactically not very smart.”
I doubt Kimi thought of the implications of his comments before they entered the public domain. As Mika highlighted later on in his post, the mindset within Ferrari will shift dramatically in Fernando Alonso’s favour. If ever the Spaniard needed the advantage in the team, the mechanics will now be more inclined to offer their support to Fernando, knowing that their long term future and success will lie in his hands. Meanwhile, this feeling will be enhanced by signs that Kimi may be apathetic towards the remaining races. If a guy does not value his position in the sport enough to be vague about his future at this stage, then is he really motivated for success. With Kimi, this is very difficult to establish as the Iceman is certainly not one to show his emotions. A sign of any emotion from the Finn is certainly a collectors item, which usually requires a lot of digging to find. While it is difficult to tell if he is motivated or not, Kimi seems to be a driver who comes alive when there is a chance of victory – in a difficult Ferrari, these opportunities don’t just arrive; they need to be earned. However, even if Raikkonen does not want to scrap for every last point to the extent that Alonso does, he shouldn’t be suggesting this in the media. To announce that you will probably give up at the end of your contract screams of a man who lacks motivation.
Ultimately, I have to agree with Mika. His announcement of his exit from the sport was much more professional in 2001, with the Finn declaring towards the end of the season that he would be taking a sabbatical in 2002, which eventually became retirement. Its an announcement which has to be made at some point in the career of every successful driver, but Kimi seems to have jumped the gun and jeopardised his prospects for 2015. Could Ferrari even pay Kimi to leave at the end of this season? Well, they have already done it once before!