• The Inside Line

The Finnish Greta Garbo

Kate Walker August 22, 2013
Kimi Raikkonen's absence from Spa on Thursday was attributed to illness © Sutton Images
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If Kimi Raikkonen were a calculating individual, his non-appearance at Spa on Thursday could easily have been viewed as a Machiavellian masterstroke.

The Finnish racer has been the central figure of pretty much every summer break rumour you could care to mention: The Iceman is staying at Lotus, going to Red Bull, ending talks with Red Bull, and moving to Ferrari. If you tried hard enough, you could probably link Kimi to Sauber's Russian investment deal, Pirelli's future in Formula One, and Roscoe's pneumonia.

He is the Kevin Bacon of the 2013 F1 summer break.

For a driver currently looking at future employment options, being in the news is no bad thing. The more top tier teams one is linked with, the higher - in theory - one's asking price becomes. Few things are more desirable than the exclusive possession of something (someone?) coveted by the many.

As a result, managers, teams, and drivers all find themselves embroiled in a game of manipulation, with stories being placed with the press, or planted with known paddock chatterboxes. These stories are designed to strengthen negotiating positions, to destabilise partnerships, to bolster or reduce the credibility of the people involved. It's all part of the way the game is played.

But the thing about Kimi Raikkonen is that he doesn't play games. He turns up, he races, and he gets the job done. When it's done, he has his ice-creams, he disappears for his shits, and he endures the endless round of press conferences and media commitments that are part and parcel of a modern racing career.

The 'what you see is what you get' aspect of Raikkonen's personality is exactly what makes him so popular with the fans.

Kimi did not absent himself from Thursday with a view to generating a slew of breathless headlines asking whether his absence made a move to Ferrari a dead cert. Nor did he elect to avoid incessant questioning over his 'rejection' by Red Bull, or the nitty gritty as to why talks with the defending champions had stalled.

As the human equivalent of Occam's Razor, Kimi's decision to stay home on Thursday will have but one cause: he didn't want to come in. Maybe he didn't want to come in because he was unwell, or maybe it's because he's sitting at home waiting for the postman to turn up with his pay cheque. Does it matter? We can assign all the motives we want, but it's just a fancy way of saying one thing: Kimi don't do what Kimi don't wanna do.

Maybe we should just leave Kimi alone. One thing's for sure - he knows what he's doing, even if he doesn't want to talk about it.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to ESPN. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, her unique approach to Formula One coverage has been described as 'a collection of culinary reviews and food pictures from exotic locales that just happen to be playing host to a grand prix'.