Please Note: Written on 4th September 2008
It is difficult to feel sorry for Kimi Raikkonen, for he is the man who apparently has it all. The reigning Formula One world champion has had a glittering career.
From his debut for Sauber after just 23 single-seater races, to his defining moment in Brazil 2007, the Iceman has almost always shown blistering raw speed.
Heading into the 13th race of the 2008 season in Belgium, however, Kimi has found himself a long way off the pace and has now not won a race since late April in Spain.
Has something gotten under the Iceman’s skin? Given his usual introverted relationship with Formula One’s media circus, it will always prove difficult to figure this one out.
If the various observers and commentators were to stop and look at this "crisis" as Kimi himself is probably looking at it, I wonder if there would be much to write about at all.
The man had a disastrous first half of the season last year before calmly storming through to take the drivers’ title at the final hurdle.
This year, he is blaming his dip in form on the effects of making minor mistakes in qualifying on the overall outcome of his race weekends.
This has led Stefano Domenicali to hold talks with the Finn in order to determine who is responsible for these errors, and I suggest the Italian would not be blaming his own race car.
After all, if Massa can do it, why can’t Raikkonen?
If this was a move designed to question Raikkonen’s ‘flat-out’ attitude, made famous by his Finnish predecessors Hakkinen and Rosberg, then Domenicali may well have hit a nerve with the Iceman.
Like all the modern drivers, Kimi has devoted his entire life to winning the title of being the fastest man in the world, a goal which he has now achieved.
Unlike other drivers however, Kimi has never tried to hide his genuine dislike of his life outside of the car.
Endless interviews and sponsorship events, coupled with numerous intrusions of his private life in the off-season, must have left the man somewhat embittered at the poisoned chalice he lifted above his head in Brazil last year.
On top of this, Raikkonen’s teammate, Felipe Massa, is having the season of his life.
Sterling performances in Bahrain, Valencia and Hungary (where he was so desperately unlucky), have left many questioning whether Kimi is really deserving of his salary, rumoured to be as much as five times that of the baby faced Brazilian.
The fact is that on more than one occasion this season, Kimi has simply been outclassed by his supposedly inferior teammate, an issue which has no doubt disgruntled the Finn even further.
Perhaps the Iceman’s time at the peak of the sport is already drawing to a close. He has already banked $100 million from Ferrari in the last two seasons alone, and he has signed countless other endorsement contracts.
These financial rewards, combined with sealing his name in the history books last season, could well be telling Raikkonen that now is the time to go and enjoy life.
He could get away from the hectic atmosphere of the Formula One weekend, and the watchful eye of the world’s media.
Of course, this does not mean Kimi is going to give up and fade into obscurity, I would suggest that his pride would prevent him from doing that. He has a chance to prove himself this weekend at Spa, a race he enjoys and has won for the last two years.
The Finn has shown he has it in him to block out the pressure and the media circus, but the question remains as to whether there is enough left for him to achieve in Formula One to give him the hunger this sport demands.
One thing is for sure, if Raikkonen has lost his appetite for success, there is a Spaniard in the paddock who is more than willing to eat his leftovers at Ferrari.