At 41 years of age, Kimi Raikkonen is the oldest driver on the Formula 1 grid. He’s also one of the most beloved, having been a perennial fan favourite since his McLaren days. Now in his third season at Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and with what could potentially be his final season on the way in 2021, the flying Finn is hoping that he and his colleague Antonio Giovinazzi will see better results than they did last year. Raikkonen only managed an overall finish of 16th place in 2020, with his only points-scoring results coming at Mugello and Imola where he finished both races in 9th place.
“Our main objective is hopefully having better results as a team this year,” said Raikkonen at the launch of Alfa Romeo’s 2021 car. “Antonio and I are working to move the team forward – let’s see how this season goes.” The team of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi is one that’s been somewhat of a winning combination in terms of how both drivers get along with each other, something which Raikkonen commented on when he was asked about how their relationship has evolved going into their third season together: “Obviously I knew Antonio already from our days back at Ferrari. This made it quite easy for both of us when we became team-mates.“
“Of course, the more years we spend together, the better we get to know each other. We always had a good relationship and we have some good fun together.“
Raikkonen has spent his off-season spending time with his family and doing a lot of winter sports, much of which he’s uploaded to the world via his social media. “I haven’t been doing much since the end of last season,” Raikkonen said when he was asked about what he’d been up to. “We had Christmas and New Year’s right after Abu Dhabi, so we went to Finland for a while before coming back to Switzerland. I’ve been spending time with the family, doing normal things, training and visiting the factory a few times. In general, very basic home things – soon we will start travelling again, so I made the most of the time off.“
When asked about his training schedule leading up to the beginning of the 2021 season, Raikkonen gave a typically Raikkonen answer: “I mostly do things that feel good for me and they are very similar every year. I don’t have a fixed schedule, there are no big plans made in advance. I enjoy training, but if one day I feel that I do not want to train, I will train the next day. It’s not the end of the world!“
The shorter amount of testing time the teams will get this year (only one and a half days in the car per driver) is something that Raikkonen isn’t too worried about. “We will find out what the main priorities are soon enough,” he said. “Of course, the team always has many things they want to try. The drivers may prefer to do one thing, like trying different set-ups, so you need to find a compromise so that you get the most out of these days.“
He did, however, share a little bit of concern about how poor reliability could potentially have a much greater impact in testing this year due to the shortened amount of time teams and drivers are allowed. “This year, with only one and a half days per driver, there cannot be any reliability issue – you can’t afford to lose half a day or a full day as you will be left with not much to work with. It’ll be important to pick and choose the right things to tests, trying to spread it over the three days.” He remained upbeat, however: “I am hoping for good mileage and to finish the week feeling positive.”