He said what?! – German Grand Prix edition

Kimi Räikkönen is a man of few words (at least in public).  This should come as no surprise to anyone even slightly acquainted with his F1 career.  And his concise, brusque style has produced a number of entertaining quotations.  At the German Grand Prix last weekend, he provided another one.  With Räikkönen leading the race on lap 49, David Coulthard reported that the Lotus pit wall, wondering whether one last tyre change would be necessary, had asked, “Can you go to the end, Kimi?”  The Finn’s reply: “I told you.”

kimiPhoto credit: Sam O’Connor via Flickr

As it turned out, what he told the team must have been, “No,” as Räikkönen did make one more stop and finished second, behind Sebastian Vettel.  We also know that Räikkönen’s radio was not working properly, as the team told him they could only hear him at one specific point on the circuit.  Based on Kimi’s usual laconic communications with his team (cf. the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP – “Just leave me alone; I know what I am doing.”), one might assume that he would be pleased with a radio malfunction.  Not so, Räikkönen said during the post-race podium interview, as he did need to communicate with the team.

Now, a quick aside for a history/language lesson.  The word laconic, which may or may not have a photo of Kimi Räikkönen beside it in the dictionary, comes from the word Laconia, the region surrounding the ancient Greek polis of Sparta.  During Sparta’s domination of the region, Laconia (or Lacedaemon) were often used interchangeably with Sparta.  As anyone who has seen the film 300 (or read Herodotus) knows, the Spartans had a particular way with words.  In fact, their schooling taught them to speak as concisely as possible and young Spartans were punished for using too many words in response to a teacher’s question.  My favourite laconic phrase from the original Laconians is not from the Battle of Thermopylae, but from over 100 years later, when Philip II of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s father) was conquering Greece.  He sent a message to the Spartans saying that, if he conquered Sparta, the city’s people would be enslaved.  The Spartans’ response: “If.”  Philip and Alexander both steered clear of Laconia.

Back in the 21st century, Räikkönen has mastered the one-word response.  Once during an interview, he was asked what the most exciting part of a race weekend was and responded that it was the start.  Asked what the most boring part was, he said, “Now.”  Indeed, during another interview, he confirmed that “Driving is the only thing I love about F1.”  In response to a question about any special rituals he might have with his helmet, Kimi told another interviewer that “I wipe it so I can see better.”

kimiPhoto credit: Michael Paul via Flickr

These types of quotes have made Räikkönen a very popular driver amongst fans who are tired of canned responses from drivers and teams worried about what their corporate sponsors will think (cf. any response to any question by any McLaren driver, ever).  Kimi certainly does not, once saying, “I’m not interested in what people think about me.  I’m not Michael Schumacher.”

Despite the giving the impression that he might not care, Räikkönen obviously does.  He is regarded as one of the best drivers of his generation and he won the 2007 World Drivers’ Championship.  Given the recent speculation that Räikkönen could end up paired with the much more straight-laced Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull next year, there is certainly the potential for a lot more (both humour- and results-wise) from the Finnish flash.

German Grand Prix notes

  • Pirelli had a great recovery from the tyre debacle at the British GP, although there was still a tyre problem when the Red Bull pit crew forgot to attach one of Mark Webber’s to his car and it rolled down the pit lane, hitting a TV cameraman in the back.  Despite some broken bones, he is expected to make a full recovery.  This incident could have been much worse, and changes are being made in the pit lane.
  • Although TPL is not a big Vettel or Red Bull fan, congratulations are in order for the German winning his home Grand Prix for the first time.  Only three other current drivers have won their home GP at some point in their careers: Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
  • After four straight races with no points for the Sauber team, Nico Hülkenberg has finished tenth in the past two races.  Although he is still last amongst the drivers who have scored points this season, Hülkenberg did inch closer to the Toro Rosso duo, neither of who scored in Germany.  Sauber is still 17 points behind the Italian Red Bulls, though, thanks in part to Esteban Gutiérrez’s failure to get into the points yet.
  • Following a late pit stop, Fernando Alonso made a charge for the podium, ultimately finishing fourth.  In the process, he scored the 20th fastest lap of his career, and his first since the 2011 British GP.
  • Both Force India drivers failed to score for only the second time this season, allowing McLaren to close the gap for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship to 10 points, following their best team result of the season (Jenson Button finished sixth and Sergio Pérez, eighth).
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