As the 2010 World Rally Championship gets underway, we finally get to see if Kimi Raikkonen can successfully make the switch from F1 to WRC.
It would be foolish to bet against him as he has a terrific advantage...
They’re an odd race, the Finns. Not only are they fiendishly handsome with their blond hair and blue eyes, but they are intensely laid back and likeable. They have a dry sense of humour and conversations can take an eternity.
Still, don’t let the fact that they speak slowly fool you, these guys are speed demons.
The term Flying Finn may have come from track runners, but the motorsport boys have claimed it and made it their very own.
There is something about the Finns that makes them driver very fast; it’s a genetic thing.
Even the Finnish version of Mr. Plod realises that they are a nation of leadfoots—speeding fines in Finland are amazing. Jussi Salonoja, a sausage magnate, was fined 170,000 Euros for doing 80km/h in a 40 zone. Didn’t stop him though!
Finns are over-represented at the very highest levels of motor sport, particularly Formula One and World Rally Championship, where they have won more world champions per capita than any other nation on earth.
They burst on to the scene in the early 1980’s when Ari Vatanen won the WRC in 1981, following Markku Alen's championship win in the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers in 1978.
Since then Finns have had a mortgage on the WRC winning it 13 times in all.
Vatanen was followed by some of the greatest names in rallying: Hannu Mikkola, Timo Salonen, and Marcus Gronholm. Then there was the impeccable—if humourless—Tommi Makinen and the incomparable Juha Kankkunen who, between them, won eight WRC titles.
A year after Vatanen’s WRC success, countryman Keke Rosberg broke through to be the first Finn to claim the F1 world championship. It took a while, but Rosberg was eventually joined by Mikka Hakkinen, who was the last man to put McLaren on top of the F1 pile.
And then came Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi knocked Captain Eyebrows (Fernando Alonso) and Renault off their championship perch—not bad for a guy who looks like he’s 11-years-old.
Now Kimi’s jumped ship and left the mantle to Heiki Kovaleinen.
Whether it is dodging the 10 squillion trees (a figure that may or may not be accurate, but there is a lot) or staying out of the 188,000 lakes (187,888 according to Wikipedia—which is as reliable as the previous figure) after drinking Koskenkorva that makes the Finns such good drivers is unclear.
Whatever it is, they’re doing something right.
Has Kimi got what it takes to take out this year’s WRC?
Of course he has, it’s in his blood.