Kevin Garside: Throwback Kimi Raikkonen keeps it simple in a style Stirling Moss would be proud of

The Way I See It: Favourite tales include the one from the Mayfair lap-dancing club

There was much coughing and spluttering in Formula One and beyond last week when Stirling Moss expressed the view that he would rather not be portrayed on film by a homosexual male. Dipping into the parlance of a bygone age, Moss used the word "poofter", which crashed about the chattering classes like a bovver boy at a home counties garden party.

Moss was the alpha male of 1950s Britain, a diminutive bundle of post-war machismo whose principal interest each day was to drive cars fast and cover as many women, or "birds", as his libido would allow. Moss was a child of his time, a marvellously uncomplicated figure who followed uncritically the promptings of his instinctive drives in a culture that shamelessly codified women as domestic appliances in suspender belts.

Mercifully the world has moved on. There is one, however, who in some aspects of human behaviour, as it pertains to Formula One at least, still inhabits the Moss milieu. That is not to say Kimi Raikkonen alerts his wife to her marital responsibilities with a club around the head, only that he brings to the business of grand prix racing the same unfettered joie de vivre that Moss did. Raikkonen is a racing driver at grand prix weekends. In between he lives a life a little calmer perhaps than he did in his twenties, but nevertheless he is a million miles removed from the polished corporate jockey demanded by today's teams.

His reluctance to play the corporate game, or "b******t" as he refers to this aspect of modern Formula One, explains in large part why he left Ferrari and the sport for two years to try his hand at rallying, a far more relaxed environment in which to indulge his speed fix. He was, and perhaps still is, a nightmare for paddock reporters seeking a point of view to enliven a dull day. But the bulletins between races more than made up for that, keeping his minders at Sauber and particularly McLaren's nanny state on their toes.

Favourites include the tales from a Mayfair lap-dancing club, where he once broke into a strip of his own, powerboat-racing dressed as a gorilla while using the pseudonym James Hunt, or falling drunk off the deck of a yacht during a mid-summer festival on a Finnish lake. All of which had McLaren's rather stiff ownership choking on their ironed cornflakes.

Raikkonen was catapulted into the sport by Sauber, who were persuaded to give the 21-year-old tearaway from Espoo a go after just 17 outings in single-seaters in British Formula Renault. My first encounter with him came 12 years ago in Malaysia, his second race in Formula One. The interview was conducted between practice sessions in an air-conditioned office in the Sepang paddock. He gave me nothing, save for a few grunts between spoonfuls of gruel knocked up especially for him. It was 40 degrees centigrade outside but that did not stop Raikkonen insisting on his favourite breakfast delicacy.

There is only so much you can do with "we have to wait and see". I was rescued by Finland's revered pit lane reporter Heikki Kulta, who spilled the beans about Raikkonen's less than propitious upbringing in Espoo, where he began life the son of a steamroller driver who opted to invest in a kart for his boy rather than an inside toilet for their rundown home. Good decision, boss. Raikkonen continues to speak in t-shirt slogans. "I told you the car was good," was his latest offering after taking the chequered flag in Albert Park, a rather more polite expression of Finnish delight than the instruction he gave en route to victory in Abu Dhabi last year: "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing."

So much of Formula One reduces to numbers. The mathematicians churn out impossible algorithms that yield predictions for every eventuality. But it is the driver who must intuit the car's performance, must somehow make the data he imbibes through the senses line up with the science. Biology tells us that the frontal lobes of the brain control and govern creative impulses. The research is sketchy since it operates on the frontiers of knowledge, nevertheless it suggests that at some point down the line medics will be able to classify the relationship between mind and body that has fascinated thinkers down the ages. This cannot come soon enough for the world of sport, where we suffer all manner of cod explanations or the terminally dull reductions of psychologists parroting on about visualisation and goals.

It is almost pointless asking Raikkonen to deconstruct his gifts. He just fires up the engine and gets on with it. That will have to do until the time comes when we can saw off the top of a man's head, peer into his cranium and see for ourselves what is going on in the mind of an athlete on top of his game.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz