December 1, 2012

Why Formula 1? Cuz Kimi.

This is not a carefully sculpted diatribe about the benefits of Formula 1.  Until the series finally came back to the States a couple weeks ago in Austin, most Americans could not name one Formula 1 driver.  Maybe Talladega Nights helped people hear Formula Un.  But now it's back.

I like motorsports.  I prefer Global Rally Cross or NASCAR because of the contact and wrecks, except the gap jump wrecks, those terrify me.  I think we’re attracted to motorsports because the drivers are a collection of boys who haven’t grown up.  They spent their youths playing with cars, and now as adults they’re getting to do the same thing.  Plus they get paid handsomely…

Who wouldn’t want to avoid their day job?  The cubicle, the work site, and the collection of 100 pre-teens that they deal with 5 days a week (that one is me specific).  I think we are envious of race drivers.  I know I am.

There are many types of athletes: those that work so amazingly hard to become mediocre at the professional level, those that work hard to become brilliant, & those that drink, party, gallivant and are still other-worldly.
Kimi Raikkonen is in the last category.  Kimi doesn’t have to train like all the other drivers.  He can spend the entire night before a race out partyinsg, show up the next day, and glide to a win.  He’s that good. 
Kimi at 2012 USGP

There’s a mythology to Kimi. 

He began racing F1 at 21.  I was 20 and still trying to get a serious girlfriend.  Kimi was racing at 200mph all over the world. 

Before his first ever F1 race, he was found asleep under a table in the pit box about 30 minutes before.  I get it.  I’d be a nervous wreck, literally crapping my pants (TMI?)… 

He’s a man of few words.  Stoic is what he is.  If you set him up with a question that can be answered with a yes or no, then that’s what you’re going to get; one word, yes or no. 

Kimi won the world championship in 2007.  In 2010-2011, he left F1.  He went off to race World Rally Championship.  WRC doesn’t go as fast as F1, but it brings into the mix gravel, trees, dust, jumps, and brilliant crashes.  There are literally hours of WRC crash videos on YouTube.  Not to be outdone, but here's another driver I like rolling his car 7.75 times.  The best part is their reactions.

Kimi broke his wrist right before he started racing this last season. It wasn't the first time.  He talked about it on Top Gear.  He’s quoted as saying it was “the smallest and slowest crash I’ve ever had…”  It was on a snowmobile.  What else do you do in Finland in the winter?

Kimi might be part super hero.  The Finns have always been robots of the race course.  Whether it’s WRC or F1, there’s normally a Finn near the top.  Kimi kept that tradition going this year driving Lotus to 3rd in the Constructors Championship.  His teammate at Lotus is a Frenchman who seems to crash brilliantly just about every race.  So the main reason Lotus is in 3rd is because Kimi put the team on his back and got them there (I think there’s a Marshawn Lynch reference there. NSFW!).

Kimi pulled out a win at Abu Dhabi this year.  Somehow his team forgot he’d been in the position before.  This year’s win is now famous for Kimi’s terse responses on the team radio. 

“LeavemealoneIknowwhatImdoing.” “YesyesyesImdoingallofthat. Youdonthavetoremindmeeverysecond.”  I love it.  The second part of the video is his post-race interview with David Coulthard, F1 play by play man for the BBC.  “People thought I didn’t give a shit because I didn’t smile enough last time.”  You can’t script this.  It’s great.

Yes, Sebastian Vettel just won his 3rd World Championship, but Kimi’s the one I root for.  Mainly because I know he doesn’t give a shit care if I do or not.

The F1 season is over for now, but I’m going to make the effort to get to Austin for next year’s race.

P.S. If you attended this year’s race in Austin, thank you.  The turnout was so fantastic that we should have F1 in the States for a while.

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