Many could tremble like a wound leaf in the face of the greatest experience of their lives.
But who will be surprised when Kimi Räikkönen is said to have had his own filed-like self when he first got into an F1 car?
Exactly 20 years ago, on September 12, 2000, Mugello wrote perhaps the most significant chapter in the Finnish F1 story.
Even though the signs were in the air, hardly anyone could comprehend what was happening.
Until 20 years and a couple of months ago, you had to be interested in motorsport if Räikkönen’s name said anything.
The success had been blessed in karting and the British Formula Renault series, but the eyes of the general public did not just get lost outside of formula one and the rally.
Fortunately, the F1 depot was awake.
Räikkönen’s Managers Steve and David Roberts pushed their Finnish diamonds to be tested by F1 teams. The stables received offers like this few that day, but this father-son pair was worth listening to.
The previous year, the duo had managed to get an F1 place To Jenson Button. When the young Briton demonstrated his talent, the Robertsons were known to offer only quality.
Sauber grabbed the offer. Räikkönen is invited to the Mugello motorway in Italy.
The 5.2-kilometer-long Mugello offers a pleasant challenge for the F1 driver. Fast, flowing bends bring a nice vibe to driving.
This is provided that the body is in the required condition. In young Räikkönen, this criterion was exceeded by touching the bar.
In the gym, muscle grows, but nothing trains the muscles required to drive as much as … well, driving. And the requirements of the F1 car could not even be compared to Räikkönen’s previous experiences with Formula Renault.
Just like a challenging and new track as well as a car would not have been enough. Sauber’s C19 car offered its own additional spice, which lacked such a driving solution as a power steering.
– My neck didn’t want to last. Any other track would certainly have been better for the initial test. I was able to drive three laps and then I had to return to the depot to squat, Räikkönen recalled the event years later.
In the beginning, lap times didn’t matter. The most important thing was to get a feel for the car and the track.
Sauber had brought his other race driver to the scene Pedro Dinizin. The Brazilian was to adjust the car and give the young Finn a reference time.
After getting used to the challenges of the F1 car, Räikkönen shook. In the depot, one if another jaw popped open when Räikkönen shook half a second better lap time than Diniz.
Beating the F1 veteran took only 35 laps from a real yellow beak.
Räikkönen’s pace was not only known to Sauber. At the end of the second day of the test, a prestigious guest knocked on the stable’s motorhome.
– Michael sSchumacher asked who our new driver is. When I told Kim that he was driving karting a year ago, he said “or so, he will still be really, really fast,” Räikkönen, the racing engineer who supervised the first test Jacky Eeckelaert recalled the F1 series.
How right Schumacher was.
Not yet Iceman
In addition to speed, Sauber was convinced of Räikkönen’s flawlessness. After a successful test on all sides, the team knew they had found talent.
In Räikkönen’s case, however, becoming an F1 driver was not a breakthrough. Today, teenage F1 newcomers are a basic oatmeal, but even 20 years ago, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) eliminated Räikkö, who had almost no driving experience.
The Finn’s belt only had 23 starts in the formula series, which could be listed as breeder classes.
Team manager Peter Sauber however, was not upset. Together, he and the Robertsons applied to the FIA to grant Räikkönen the required super license. Maybe Schumacher’s praise could end up in Paris at the headquarters of the Automobile Association.
Permission would helt, and so on Eskimosta became Sauber’s second race driver for the 2001 season?
Wait a minute. Eskimo?
– Peter (Sauber) called Kim Eskimo because his first test was paid for by a Nordic ice cream company. When Kim’s contract was confirmed, Peter told us about it, stating that he had hired Eskimo. The Iceman nickname came only later, the chief designer Sergio Rinland recalled in a special interview for the F1 series.
Everyone knows the end of this story.