If High-Speed Racing Doesn’t Scare Kimi Räikkönen, Then What Does?

The iceman cometh to Singapore for the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix—but he thaws long enough to let us in on what he's really afraid of.

If High-Speed Racing Doesn’t Scare Kimi Räikkönen, Then What Does?

By now, one should know that Kimi Räikkönen is a man of precious few words. His steely cool exterior translates well to the sweltering pressure cooker that is the Formula 1. Its what the Finns call sisu—guts. Who needs race-day rituals when you’ve got 18 years of stone-cold experience? 

But even after all those years on the track, having won one World Championship and having seen crashes that might have scared anyone else into retirement, there’s still one thing the cold-blooded Finn can’t quite get a grip on: And that’s media interviews.

“I don’t really need to psych myself up before a race,” he deadpans. “I need to psych myself up more for these things than anything else.”

He’s talking to the media at a Richard Mille event, where he unveiled a limited edition tourbillon minted in his honour. Räikkönen is clearly more in his element in a snug cockpit than he is on a stage, but he accepts the attention with characteristic modesty; It’s not everyday that you have a million-dollar watch that bears your name and insignia, but the Finn clearly doesn’t let it get to his head.  

Lightweight, sleek, and F1 World Champion approved.
(Photo: Richard Mille)

The RM 50-04 Tourbillon Split-Seconds Chronograph Kimi Räikkönen is certainly a lot more verbose than the man it is named after. Crafted with a grade-5 titanium and Carbon TPT movement that weighs just 7 grams, the timepiece—of which only 30 will be made—was created for everyday use, comfortable enough to be worn throughout one’s day-to-day activities. Even if said activities run the gamut from qualifying sessions under the midday sun or glitzy media dinners where you’re surrounded by the press.

Räikkönen himself is a self-professed ‘non-watch-person’. He’s never been one for watches, he says, mostly because they felt uncomfortable and he never saw the appeal. (He also adds, completely matter-of-fact: “So when Richard Mille signed the deal, I was a bit sceptical.”) 

It seemed that Räikkönen’s fears—as well as the legion of directors and designers at the brand—were unfounded. He loves the watch unironically, not because of its handsomeness or the personal embellishes on the dial, like his signature number 7, but simply because it’s just that practical. 

“It’s so light and easy to wear, I can have it on all the time and it doesn’t disturb me at all,” he nods to his wrist in stoic approval. 

Armed with his newly-minted Richard Mille, Räikkönen is all geared up for the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.
(Photo: Richard Mille)

It seems as though the change in humidity might have loosened Räikkönen up just a tad—or maybe it’s because he’s happy to be back with his first-ever team (Alfa Romeo Racing, who he now reps, was formerly known as Sauber before the 2019 season)—because he lets loose another secret in the conversation: That he’s feeling that his age is catching up to him.

The 39-year-old has logged 305 race starts in his decades-long career, and has dabbled in other motorsports such as rallying and NASCAR, but really, all Räikkönen wants to do these days is kick back and relax.

“You’ll have times where you wanna go out, have fun and see your friends all the time,” he says. “That was fun back then, but then there are more important things in life for me now. Today, I have two kids and a lovely wife, and I just try to live a normal life—if my family is happy, so am I.”

He pauses, and then cracks a modest smile: “Plus, I’m not 20 anymore—even though I might look 20 on some days.”

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