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Book reveals Raikkonen's rocky road to F1 success

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By Reuters
Book reveals Raikkonen's rocky road to F1 success
FILE PHOTO: Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen faces the public at the sales event of his biography "The unknown Kimi Raikkonen" in Helsinki, Finland August 16 2018. Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa/via REUTERS   -   Copyright  LEHTIKUVA(Reuters)

By Anne Kauranen

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Childhood poverty, running away from military service to make a race, and going on benders between Formula One races are some of the revelations in a new book that sheds light on the life of usually taciturn Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Nicknamed “the Iceman”, the 38-year-old former F1 champion is known for his cool and gruff character but he has opened up to Finnish author Kari Hotakainen, whom he authorised to write “The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen”, a book about his life.

In the book, so far published in Finnish only, Raikkonen, who is paid millions to drive for Ferrari, reveals he grew up in a small house without an indoor toilet.

He also describes the financial problems of his teenage driving years.

“(My brother) Rami was my mechanic. We drove an old van to the races… already then I grasped that, goddammit, dad and mum had put in all their money and when we got there I felt like I wasn’t going to make it anywhere,” he wrote.

In 1999, at the age of 20, he signed a contract to drive in the British Formula Renault series but had to join Finland’s compulsory military service the same year.

Raikkonen describes one occasion where, after returning to his garrison late and drunk he thought he would be punished and might miss a race. He therefore absconds from the garrison early in the morning to avoid censure.

“They started calling after me … They were mad, because on top of being drunk and late I had also escaped,” he said.

“But we were just lying on the beach drinking beer.”

In the end he said he made a deal with the military that he would be allowed to race if he came back.

Raikkonen’s partying continued at Lotus and he recalls a time in 2012 when he drank for 16 days in a row between F1 Grands Prix in Bahrain and Spain. He would finish third in the latter race.

Raikkonen went on to win the F1 championship in 2007 driving for Ferrari, where he returned in 2014.

The book’s first edition was sold out within days in Raikkonen’s native Finland and the rights have been already sold to 10 other countries, with an English edition expected to be out in October.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)