SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Kimi Raikkonen says Formula One has become something of a ‘hobby’ for him, now that his Ferrari days are over and as he races towards his 40th birthday and a record number of starts.
The 2007 world champion, whose birthday is in October, told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix that he was enjoying life at Alfa Romeo.
“I don’t have any special things that I try to motivate myself. It’s become more of a hobby for me lately than anything else and probably that’s why it’s more fun again,” said the Finn, who was much more in the spotlight at Ferrari.
“I always try to do the best that I can. Some days it goes a bit better than others – but that’s how it goes when you do a lot of racing. Some days it’s a bit more tricky than others. It’s never really been an issue.
“When I feel that it’s not what I expect from myself, then obviously I try to find a new hobby after that.”
Formula One is celebrating its 1,000th world championship race in Shanghai and Raikkonen, who made his debut with Sauber — the team that is now Alfa — in 2001 has started 293 of them and won 21.
Retired Brazilian Rubens Barrichello holds the record of 322 starts which means Raikkonen, whose contract runs to the end of next year, is on course to overtake him midway through the 2020 season.
Raikkonen, who joined Alfa from Ferrari at the end of last season, has made a strong start with 10 points from two races and is sixth overall. Team mate Antonio Giovinazzi has yet to open his tally.
Asked whether the performance had changed his goals for the season, Raikkonen shrugged.
“No, it hasn’t. I didn’t really have any goals, so it’s pretty hard to change them. I can’t really talk about last year’s car,” he said.
“So from my side it’s hard to say what is better on this car than the one they had last year… but I think in general it’s quite a good, solid package and we understand it pretty OK and they seem to have good guys on all areas to bring new stuff.”
With several other drivers set to race with special helmet designs to commemorate the 1,000th race, Raikkonen said he had nothing new.
“I wanted to have an open-face helmet but there were some regulation issues,” said the Finn, who has said before he would have liked to race in the much more dangerous 1960s and 70s.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)