As the Formula 1 world waits to see where Kimi Raikkonen will land next year, the Finnish former Ferrari flyer (sorry, couldn’t resist) dropped a subtle wrench into everyone’s planning today: “There are other things I could do and we will see what happens.”
But think about it for a second. He just made in the neighborhood of $50 million last year. He stands to make $20 or so million next year for doing nothing. So, that’s $70 million in two years. You think he could do “other things?”
Still, the snark aside, Kimi’s lack of commitment—or clever negotiating tactic—is at the center of the entire silly season at this point. Both McLaren and Toyota are waiting his decision, and with Nico Rosberg seemingly committed to Brawn GP next year, I’ve got to wonder what Plan B is for McLaren. [Could be Timo Glock. Could be, maybe, Adrian Sutil.] But Toyota is looking out of luck if Kimi doesn’t put on the white and red.
Does a Jarno Trulli/Kamui Kobayashi pairing really fire anyone up?
Whether you like Kimi, or not, or think he’s a good driver when behind the wheel but not when it comes to working hard and developing a car, there is no arguing that for Kimi to slightly pull himself out of the mix is a game-changer.
Or, again, it could just be a negotiating tactic. But which other driver could credibly say he has other options? That may very well sum up Kimi better than anything else.
Here’s the full exchange courtesy the official F1 site .
Q: Kimi, what are your thoughts on leaving Ferrari?
KR: Well, it is not any different than a few races ago. I don’t have a contract anymore with them. It is the last race and we try to make a good result and we will see what happens in the future.
Q: Is your focus totally on Formula One or would you like to pursue your rallying career?
KR: Basically I have a few different options and we will see what is the best one overall and then make my decision.
Q: Would rallying be a consideration?
KR: It is definitely one of them, but I mean it is not just Formula One and rallying. There are other things I could do and we will see what happens.
Q: Just looking back at the second part of the season. You have only scored two points less than the person who has scored the most points. Considering that development has stopped on the car it is a pretty remarkable record, isn’t it?
KR: Yeah, I think we had a good second half. The car is definitely not the fastest but we found a pretty good way of working with the car and getting the best out of. It has been more normal to drive than for a long time before. Once you get something that you have a good feeling with, then usually you get good results. The bigger teams or the better teams who have been faster this year should have done better; better cars, better results and better points overall in the last part but they haven’t and I think we did pretty well.
Q: It seems almost unfair that the focus has been on your team-mates and how fast they have been going whereas you have been racking up points all the time.
KR: It makes no difference for me really. I don’t think they have been going very fast and they can talk to them as much as they want. We just try to score points and get good results. That has been our aim and is still our aim in the last race and hopefully we can get a bit more than McLaren.
And then later there is this addition:
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) … and Kimi, we heard something about you taking a sabbatical next year in 2010. Is that true, it’s an option or not?
KR: I can if I want. I can do whatever I want, but like I said before, I haven’t made my decision what I want to do yet.
And finally, one more question for the Kimster:
Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport) Question for Kimi: you talk about your options. I just wondered how important it would be if you decided to stay in Formula One, if you found another team, that you could do some rallying as well, like you did with Ferrari or whether that’s something of a stumbling block, wanting to do another form of motor sport as well as doing Formula One?
KR: It’s definitely going to be Formula One, it’s going to be in the contract that I’m allowed to do it (rallying). It’s not going to hurt you. Any kind of driving is always going to give you some experience, so I don’t see what’s the issue. It’s been working well this year, so as long as it doesn’t disturb what you’re doing in Formula One or whatever you do, I don’t see that there’s any problem.
Then, on a slightly other topic, one last thing I noted. Check the decreasing size of the answers the drivers give to this question, starting with Fernando, then Adrian Sutil, then Jarno Trulli, and ending with the always tight-lipped Kimi. (I will give him the benefit of having to go last, but he still is delightfully terse!)
Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Do you think, the four of you, that Jenson Button is a good champion for the sport, or just that he had the best car this year?
FA: I think he’s a good champion for Formula One and he deserved it. He did a very good job this season. It’s true that in the second half he maybe didn’t score the points that people expected but it was very difficult to keep the same average points as in the first half, when he won all the races. For that reason, you have the feeling that he stepped back a little bit but I think he did a very good job. If you look at the overall view of the championship from race one to the final race, he was the best of us, so he deserved it. It’s good for him, good for Brawn and good for the sport, I think.
AS: Yes, I think he deserved it, definitely. I think it was quite hard in the last races because he was maybe struggling a little bit with the car and the car just wasn’t the fastest anymore, so they were harder races for him, but I think he always made the best of his possibilities and scored points, a few points, sometimes more points but it was definitely enough for the championship, so my congratulations to him. He did a good job this year, yeah.
JT: I think he’s a very well deserved champion because it’s turned out a good season. Obviously he’s had some ups and downs but he managed to handle the situation; when he had the best car he proved he was a race winner and when he had to defend he just drove well, always keeping his head cool. I think in the end, he deserved it.
KR: Yeah, he had the most points, also at the end of the season but whoever gets the most points deserves it, so he’s definitely the right man for that.