This is the first year that I've let myself watch a whole season of F1 racing, and I was left with a deep sense of shame that I'd never given myself over to the luxury of watching grand prix racing before. (Something to do with not driving and thinking motorsport fandom was an absurd hobby for a non-driver and generally not wanting to be the guy slumped on the couch on a Sunday afternoon watching the game. I have no excuses for the first two, but as to the latter, I completely overlooked the fact that I'm married to a sportswriter's daughter, who has very quickly become almost as big an F1 fan as myself. Also, my children now know the names of the leading F1 drivers, teams and circuits almost as well as they know who Guy Martin and the hosts of Top Gear are.)
Of course, starting to follow F1 in 2012 has had one special feature: Kimi Raikkonen.
As someone who can trace most of his problems in life with the fact that I'd rather be away from people than around them, I have a lot of sympathy for Kimi, whose seems to regard everything in F1 that isn't a car - the bureaucracy, the traveling, the other drivers, his crew, the media - as an irritating distraction. As a result, he comports himself with what Jackie Stewart or Graham Hill might not have regarded as the apogee of sportsmanship, while becoming a hero for those of us who'd rather just be left alone to do our jobs, and whose perfect world is one where nobody asks stupid questions.
The most perfect example came when Kimi was interviewed after spinning out during qualifying in Japan:
Jennie Gow (Sky F1 pit reporter): Kimi, what happened?Whatever else happened in F1 this year - and a lot happened - the takeaway t-shirt quote for everyone will probably Kimi's best line, delivered in the heat of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (which he won): "Yes, leave me alone I know what I'm doing." Oh, and here's the t-shirt.
Kimi: I spun.
Gow: And a bit of a disaster, then, for you and for a few others with the yellow flag.
Kimi: I don't care what happened to the others, uhhh...
No less than Jeremy Clarkson had Kimi spotted as a potential highlight of the season when he appeared on the last season of Top Gear, which probably guaranteed the tender place he holds in the hearts of motorsport fans all over the world.
We all know that Finland produces great racers, probably because it's full of all these looping, lethal country roads that breed rally drivers, and probably because it's full of suicidal alcoholics battling Seasonal Affective Disorder. Kimi does nothing to dispel this idea, which is why we love him. And he'd be here to thank us but he's off having a shit.