“There’s nothing to be sad about the retirement or F1 exit,” stated Kimi Raikkonen ahead of the impending Saudi Arabia GP.
Not that his fans would agree. Not that it would matter to him for he’s Kimi “I don’t care what people say” Raikkonen.
But if there’s something to be rather surprised about the forthcoming contest, a first for the sport, then it’s the Finn’s preparation for the Jeddah race. You’re a true modern day Formula 1 driver if you end up spending as much time on the simulator as you do in the car on a Friday free practice.
Adaptability is the key
But you’re Kimi Raikkonen if you actually hit a race track having no previous idea or a darn clue about the circuit (or its intricacies) since there was never anything about it on the simulator anyway. And you do become the Iceman when instead of sounding concerned, you’re absolutely chilled about it.
Making no bones about the fact that he’s going to enter the forthcoming Saudi Arabia GP absolutely “blind” in that it was never on the Alfa Romeo simulator, Kimi Raikkonen has made an interesting statement. And it’s that regardless of how onerous a challenge the Jeddah street circuit may impose on him, there’s little the Iceman can do anyway.
In a career that has raced everywhere, in the desert heat, amid the Russian cold, under bright Yas Marina lights, and the twisty challenges as only a Nurburgring, Sakhir and Hungaroring can impose- Kimi’s penultimate Grand Prix is surely bound to be an interesting race.
But whether the enigmatic Finn can make a contest out of a venue he has absolutely zero idea about is something that’s going to keep fans on the tenterhooks. And will, most certainly, also keep critics ready with acerbic judgments using which they’ve spent a majority of their careers downing Ferrari’s last world champion.
To make things even more interesting is the fact that Raikkonen is armed with a recalcitrant machine in the Alfa Romeo C41 that is, at best, a machine mired by mediocrity.
A car that surprisingly held itself well at the challenging Baku Street circuit to give Kimi a tenth but was insipid at the seemingly banal Les Castellet-bound French GP where Kimi Raikkonen finished seventeenth.
While Raikkonen would want to register a final flourish in what remains of his F1 run anyway, the added challenge of not knowing how the Jeddah track is having no prior simulator practice run is going to make the 42-year-old’s contest worth its while.
Or at least, that’s what it seems. What should work in his favour, barring the ever- precious experience is the fact Kimi didn’t do that badly at Monte Carlo, the
first street course race of 2021, where his P11 showed marked improvement for the Iceman, who’d begun from fourteenth on the grid.
So what can you do, Kimi Raikkonen at Saudi Arabia come Sunday?
We know you’ve been through a tunnel of smoke with zero visibility before in your McLaren days. But this is entering a Grand Prix “blind!!”.
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