Kimi Raikkonen says he would “not change a single thing” about his Formula 1 career and is happy that “I did it my way”, following his announcement he will retire at the end of 2021.
The 2007 world champion revealed on Wednesday ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix that he will stop racing after this season.
Although it was expected that Alfa Romeo would replace him for 2022 anyway, Raikkonen says he made up his mind over the winter that this season would be his last having told the team he was almost certain “this will be it”.
With 21 victories and 103 podiums alongside his 2007 title, Raikkonen will leave F1 as one of its most decorated drivers as well as the most experienced, but his unique personality has also earned him a reputation and legacy that transcend mere statistics.
Joking that “I don’t know if I have one” when asked what his greatest strength as a driver has been, Raikkonen said the enjoyment he found from his career was the most important thing.
“I had a good run,” he said. “I’m happy with what I achieved. I wanted to win, it’s not easy to win.
“I wanted to win a championship, I got close quite a few times and managed to win it with Ferrari, so happy that it happened, especially with them.
“Strength or no strength, I don’t care. I had fun and I did it my way and I wouldn’t change a single thing even if I could.
“Because otherwise maybe we wouldn’t be sitting here today, if you changed one thing on the way.
“No complaints. I cannot really complain.”
Raikkonen said he is “not interested in even thinking about” plans for a post-F1 racing career.
“I can tell you for sure that I had many years that I was close to stopping one or another day, it could have been the middle of the year, or any day of the week.” :: Kimi Raikkonen
The 41-year-old, who has two children, says his priority now is to enjoy time without his family life being dictated by racing calendars.
“I don’t want to have some schedule put on because since I started there was always a schedule, always a ‘what is coming next and what is this date and that date?’ so I don’t want that,” he said.
“That’s for sure one of the big reasons why I want to also do something else, that life doesn’t go because of the race or whatever it is the work that it’s involved in F1.
“There’s other schedules, family, the kids’ schools and kindergartens and that stuff. I don’t want family life to be dictated by the next race or test or whatever, the flight to the next job.
“I’m not in a rush, I’ve not even thought about it all. I’ve known this situation for quite a while so there’s always opportunities, you do this, do that, but right now I’m not interested to even think about it.”
News of Raikkonen’s retirement came via his personal Instagram account and was only followed up by an official team statement almost two hours later.
It suggests Raikkonen revealed the news on his own terms, with Alfa Romeo expected to announce its 2022 driver line-up next week.
But Raikkonen said there was “no big reason” for the timing of his announcement and said “it just ended up for many reasons to be yesterday”.
It’s the second time Raikkonen has walked away from F1 having departed for what turned out to be a two-year sabbatical after being paid off by Ferrari to leave the team at the end of 2009.
He returned to F1 in 2012, rejoined Ferrari in 2014 and moved to Alfa Romeo at the end of 2018.
Asked by The Race if he considered retirement at any other stage during his second career, Raikkonen said: “The first plan was always to be retired before I turned 30! But that didn’t work out.
“I can tell you for sure that I had many years that I was close to stopping one or another day, it could have been the middle of the year, or any day of the week.
“But it happened to be now, quite a long, long time after my first plans. I was away for a couple years and like I’ve said before, without that for sure I wouldn’t be here today.
“It’s quite nice to be doing something else, just put it this way.”
Raikkonen suggested his decision to call time on his career had not been rock solid since the winter, commenting “there’s always how the mind plays games”, but said it was not a difficult decision to reach.
“I’ve been here a long time but, in the end, luckily I would say that F1 has never been my life,” he said.
“It takes a lot of time from our lives but it’s never been the main thing in my life.
“I always lived my life outside and did normal things and so on that hand it’s fine.
“I have met a lot of people over the years, some have become more friendships than others but I’m sure with the people that I’ve met and are more friends now we’ll see each other anyhow.
“Will I miss the racing? I’ve done it so long that I doubt that I will start to miss it that much.”