Kimi Raikkonen lived up to his famous nickname as ‘The Ice Man’ on Friday when, 12 days after Romain Grosjean’s fireball crash in Bahrain, he coolly climbed from his blazing Alfa Romeo and helped firefighters put out the flames.
Not even a stubborn radio cable connection in the cockpit, which required persistent tugging, could ruffle his composure in practice for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The fire erupted behind him when the Ferrari engine, an old unit that had run to the end of its racing life, in his car failed at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Frenchman Grosjean told AFP he “saw death too closely” in the crash and has missed t
Raikkonen became known in 2012 for telling his Lotus team ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’ when on his way to victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix nearby.
This time, a radio message from his Alfa Romeo team urged him to escape his parked car rapidly.
“You have a big fire – get the hell out of there quick,” was the call from Raikkonen’s engineer as Finn parked up. Raikkonen followed the instructions before taking a keen interest in putting out the fire, instructing marshals where to spray before taking hold of an extinguisher himself.
The modest Finn, who is now 41 and a veteran of a record 328 Formula One race starts, remained calm.
“There was nothing scary about it,” he said.
“It’s just a shame that it (the car) gets some fire and gets all messed up, trying to put the fire down. It’s one of those things.
“I don’t speculate [on the damage],” he said. “We will see. For sure there is some damage, hopefully it’s mainly bodywork, but we’ll see. Obviously it’s a different engine and gearbox that we run tomorrow. It’s just a bit more work for the guys.”
Raikkonen is hoping to end the year on a high after a run of two 15th place finishes and one P14 since finishing ninth at Imola.
Antonio Giovinazzi has a lack of understanding with the Pirelli tyres
While Kimi Raikkonen finished the session P14, teammate Antonio Giovinazzi had a disappointing P17. The Italian had missed FP1 after veteran Polish driver Robert Kubica took over the car. After the session, Giovinazzi pointed to a lack of tyre temperature and grip being the focus areas for improvement.