You ain't seen nothing yet, say Lotus and Kimi
LONDON (AFP) –
Kimi Raikkonen has put his money where his mouth is by paying for 500 t-shirts emblazoned with his “leave me alone” radio message, broadcast during last Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
They are being printed and prepared as gifts from the Finnish driver to his Lotus team and to mark his first victory since returning from self-imposed F1 exile this season.
They also signal that he is back in the winners’ circle and has every intention of staying in the limelight for as long as he can – and certainly returning as a race winner.
Raikkonen’s blunt radio messages to his team – including an instruction to “leave me alone” when informed of the gap to Alonso – became a sensation among fans after Abu Dhabi.
The Lotus driver said he was simply trying to stay focused.
“Apparently there were a few of our radio messages broadcast on TV and I think in those moments you could hear how much I just wanted to keep my head down, do my job and win the race. All I needed to know was the gap to the guy behind me.
“I think you can probably find other messages from me in the car if you search YouTube; even from my short time in NASCAR.”
Raikkonen was confirmed at Lotus for the 2013 season just ahead of Abu Dhabi and the 2007 world champion believes his win showed he has made the right decision.
“It’s a pretty good way to show that everyone’s made the right choice,” said Raikkonen.
“We’ve shown all season how good we can be, and in Abu Dhabi we showed we can win.
“There is more to come, I promise.”
Raikkonen had finished on the podium six times this year before winning in Abu Dhabi and he thinks Lotus’s persistence was the key to that elusive victory.
“We didn’t give up,” he said.
“We continued with the exhaust developments we made during practice in Korea and India and the pace was promising all weekend in Abu Dhabi.”
He added that he has no intention to change his style or approach to racing.
“I’ve never cared really what people think – if I don’t finish the next race, then they’ll think that I’m as bad as that race. I’ll just do my thing, and if I’m happy with what I’m doing and it’s the best it can be for the team, then that’s that.
“So it doesn’t really bother me if people are thinking differently of me now, than what they did three hours before the race.”
His Lotus team chief Eric Boullier said he always had confidence in the Finn.
“This was maybe a surprise for anyone on the outside of the team that doubted him, but for everyone on the inside it was not,” said Boullier.
“Kimi has certainly made his mark and shown that he’s back in Formula One and back at his best form. Having him back getting podiums and a win is great for him, great for the team and great for the fans.
“Moreover ‘Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’ (radio message) has already become a Formula 1 classic!”
Boullier, who joined the team back in 2010, admitted that his first victory as a team boss was very emotional.
“I received over four hundred messages at the track after the chequered flag! It was a pleasant surprise to see that a few of them were coming from our rival teams saying how happy they were for us.
“It was nice to hear that people in the paddock thought we deserved the victory.
“Also, standing on the podium as team principal of the winning constructor was something really special. It was a very emotional moment. I hope we get used to it very soon.”