Daddy Kimi and Robin Raikkonen on track: for now, karting is a game

Columns: Close Up
News of the first podium finish at the first championship race has already spread in our social era, but we try to go beyond the gossip thanks to a nice chat with Nico Carigiet, Rotax Switzerland manager. (mb)

"Raikkonen lives right near our store," Nico explains, "and his son is in his second year of 'racing.' Last year he did a couple of club races in Switzerland and this year he will run the entire Rotax Max Challenge Switzerland championship in the 'Micro' category. Kimi chose to let him compete in this championship because he turned eight on January 27 and the CIK-FIA categories are too fast for him. Kimi wants his son to have fun and do this sport as he does others (swimming, skiing, etc.), so he does not start out right away with the idea that he has to get to Formula 1 at all costs. At Franciacorta, a Rotax "Micro" can turn in '59.600, while the international categories lap five seconds faster. This Franciacorta was his first real big race (with a live-streaming full of Finns!) and he did well. He is still not very aggressive in the race, but he indeed needs to gain experience. In these kinds of races, 80% of the participants come from "normal" families, without any exasperation of the sport. No one arrives with a helicopter, but you see a lot of campers and dads serve as mechanics. This is real karting and you can see the results!
This race we had 110 entries, in the "Micro" (8-11 years old) there were eight, but in the "Mini" (11-13 years old) there were as many as 18 (we obviously chose to run them separately because of the difference in age and speed). As for Kimi specifically, I think he is one of the best mechanics around (and I know quite a few). Always perfect, always clean, always calm, but quick to change tires. The difference with Jos Verstappen (since we are talking about Dads) is that Jos always put a lot of pressure on Max to win and to get to Formula 1. Kimi, on the other hand, acts like a normal, easy-going dad with Robin. It is important to him that he has fun. To give you an example, he only puts new tires on him when he sees that his son is running well! Of course, the drawback for Kimi to get to the track with his son is that so many people line up to get an autograph...amazing how he still has so many fans!
When we went to tryouts in Castelletto di Branduzzo, I counted at least 280 people asking for his autograph, and we never publicize these kinds of tests! Getting back to talking about Robin, he has fun and learns the old-fashioned way without telemetry and coaches, but just with his dad explaining the turns to him. I believe this is the right approach to karting, but today this no longer exists. Now they all want Davide Foré as a coach. Instead, Kimi believes that you have to learn on your own, with time and patience. Today all the dads are asking for four engines and two chassis convinced that their son will make it to Formula 1. Finally, at Franciacorta, we enjoyed it very much as a track and I think it will become our base track in the future. Raffaella Giacomini is perhaps the best person I know who can manage a track. They are professional, but they see karting the way I see it.
Ah, I almost forgot...Kimi also drives karts! He too uses a CRG, but with an OK engine (he likes the old direct-drive kart), he fires it up himself, and he also goes really fast! Many kart drivers are not able to go as fast as Kimi. Kimi used a Rotax "DD2" for the first time in his life at Franciacorta and went only two-tenths off the pole time. In Formula 1 he is known for being tough and reserved, but on the track and in karts he is another person!"


Created by: fmarangon2 - 28/04/23

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