The Iceman leaveth
Once in while in top-level sport there comes along an enigma, and right now Formula 1’s supreme example is none other than the reigning world champion.
Throughout a grand prix weekend various stories and rumours will circulate the paddock, and either gather momentum or wither and die – depending on peoples’ interest and the facts garnered by the news hounds.
Over last weekend’s jaunt in Germany we heard of (alleged) top team/driver tapping-up, the demise of yet another European race, and the new obsession amongst F1’s über-rich: cosy little games of poker.
Without doubt, though, the most intriguing story (and one that’s quickly gathering a head of steam) is the possibility that The Iceman may quit the sport before the 2009 season gets underway.
Kimi Räikkönen is surely a mind doctor’s dream: supremely quick, apparently so laid back he’s almost horizontal, keen on a good time, and (I hear) a great bloke – away from the sport, at least.
All well and good, you may think, but there appear to be widening cracks in Kimi’s icy outer shell. We’ve all seen his recent physical assault on a photographer, and his erratic race performances confuse everyone who follows the sport. He seems to go from utter domination to desperate aberrance in a trice with no apparent rhyme or reason, all suggesting a far from relaxed mindset.
Pre-drivers parade at the Hockenheimring Kimi cut a lonely figure, standing separate from his peers, anorak collar up, sunglasses on and cap pulled down, barely exchanging a word with anyone. Later, when he parked his Ferrari in grid slot six, there was a tense feeling in the air as his management, physio, mechanics and team press officers nervously kept an eye out for photographers straying into his comfort zone – hardly ideal race preparation.
Post-race at the Hungaroring in two weeks time we may all be showering the 2007 champion with plaudits for a stunning win, but I doubt it. To the keen observer he seems distant and uninterested – which is a shame, but may be all too predictable for this most aloof of characters.
Time will tell.
Please now click on the ‘Formula 1’ link at the top of the page to enjoy my pictures from the 2008 German Grand Prix.