Kimi Raikkonen didn’t arrive for the media sessions in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. It made news. Raikkonen showed up just before the first practice session on Friday. It made news. Last Sunday, Raikkonen’s race engineer on the Lotus pitwall asked him to ‘get out of the f*cking way’ and allow his faster teammate Romain Grosjean to pass. It made news. Raikkonen asked the ‘f*cker’ to ‘stop shouting’ and promptly attempted to push Grosjean off the track. It made news. Of course it did.
Now, you can almost picture Bernie Ecclestone and the PR machinery that runs this sport huddled together wearing furrows and frowns, can’t you? Surely, a top-level board meeting full of FIA suits must have by now figured out just how to deal with this flamboyant Finn effing at everything from the ethics code to his contract. That picture, unfortunately, cannot be further from the truth. For the brains behind keeping Formula 1 in the public eye perhaps realise that at this moment, with a little over a sixth of the season still to be covered and the drivers’ championship dead and buried, the sport has no reason to be in the news at all.
Kimi, however, gives them that reason.
The suits have had little to smile about all season long. Red Bull’s dominance did not end. The TV viewership dropped. Sebastian Vettel won the title in India, rendering the last three races useless. In Abu Dhabi, USA and Brazil, Ecclestone prepped himself to face questions over what he could do to make the sport more interesting. Then Raikkonen showed up with answers, off and on the track.
Purely from a racing perspective, there is one little battle still worth tuning in for — the one between Raikkonen’s current and future employers, Lotus (285 contructors’ points) and Ferrari (309). To put it simply, if Raikkonen decides to help his side finish better than Ferrari, then Lotus earn the money that could have made his 2014 Prancing Horse better. If Raikkonen decides not to help, then the team radio is sure going to make for terrific listening.
Either way, you can be