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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Pre Race GP Indian

Too cool for school
Rohit Bhaskar, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 26, 2012
First Published: 00:15 IST(26/10/2012)
Last Updated: 02:35 IST(26/10/2012)

There was once a dastardly, politically-motivated plot to kidnap an F1 world champion? True. Kimi Raikkonen was the man held captive? Err…not quite.

F1 legend from the 1950s,  five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped in 1957 during the Cuba Grand Prix at the behest of Fidel Castro. Castro and 82 supporters sailed to Cuba on the Granma with one aim - to start a revolution and overthrow the Batista government. The guerrillas captured Fangio at gunpoint on the day of the race with the intention of releasing him after the race, which they duly did.

Raikkonen's 'kidnapping' was slightly different, maybe you've even seen it (the video has gone viral on YouTube). A refreshing change from sportsmen announcing contract deals through dull press releases, scripted conferences or bland advertisements. No, he didn't ask you to join his pit crew as some F1 drivers have, nor has he offered your business logo space on his car as others have done. The best part is, he doesn't need to!

The dotted line
As the scene opens you see a couple of street toughs driving a man, with a black bag over his head, to a dingy caravan site. They enter the caravan, gypsy music playing in the background. The black bag is removed, and the man who's been kidnapped is… Raikkonen.

Sitting on a round table with a bunch of local heavies, the Finn is given a contract and a pen. None too pleased, Raikkonen lets his captors know how he feels about the situation, spitting on the contract. The heavies, though, have done their research and aren't unduly taken aback by the initial refusal.

They then proceed to show Raikkonen an album of 'personal' photographs. And that's that.

True to form
While it may have been an advertisement for a clothing label, it doesn't seem that out of place to think that this is how Kimi signs his contracts.

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On a paddock packed with trained, media-savvy drivers, Raikkonen's insouciant ways are a throwback to the playboy days of1976 world champion James Hunt, who among other feats bedded 33 Britsh Airways stewardesses, fuelled by a steady supply of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine in the two weeks leading up to the title decider in Tokyo.

Hunt is something of a kindred spirit to Raikkonen, once the Finn even went power-boating under that alias to avoid pesky reporters and angry bosses at Maranello. Other times, he's gone dressed as a gorilla. He's loves zipping around in snowmobiles, he quit F1 at his peak to test his skills in the demanding World Rally Championship. Raikkonen loves speed…and we're not even talking about amphetamines! (Though he does like the odd shot of vodka, pint of beer, cup of glögi…You get the picture).

Mockery without end
The Finn is famously, even comically, monosyllabic in what little interactions he has with the media, but from time to time he's opened up, especially when Hunt is the topic of discussion, as he was during this year's Monaco GP when he wore a replica Hunt. Racing was very interesting back then, said the driver, who at many times has appeared disinterested in the grind that is the life of a modern F1 driver.

You can see that in his antics over the years - at the 2006 Brazilian GP all drivers took time for a Kodak moment with Pele. Kimi was conspicuous by his absence. When anchorman Martin Brundle asked him what he was doing, his poker-faced reply was, "Yeah, I was having a s**t"; Or when he's dealing with journalists, dismissing most questions even before they've been uttered with bizarre wit and mockery without end. "Your most boring part of an F1 weekend," asked one journalist, "Now," was Raikkonen's curt reply.

Answers that may not win him many fans on the grid but ensure a cult following among fans looking to support the righteous outlaw!

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