Tapio Laukkanen used to work at Tommi Mäkinen Racing as a trainer and driving coach, when Kimi Räikkönen came in contact at the end of 2008. Räikkönen, the number one star of the then Ferrari F1 team, wanted to drive a rally and learn.
As a car, Räikkönen acquired a Fiat Grande Punton in the S2000 class, as the car also had to be from the same group as Ferrari for contractual reasons.
Mäkinen's people modified the car, for example, with regard to the suspension and differential locks.
In his own career in the rally, Laukkanen, who won the Finnish and British championships in his own career, became Räikkönen's driving coaching and acting as an advisor in race situations.
Kimi Räikkönen in the drivers of the rally car 2010.
Photo: Vesa Koivunen
According to Laukkanen's memory, the first test event was in the snow at Uurainen in late 2008. It was a closed section of road due to the test, and not a driving practice or rallycross track.
- In the forest between the trees and then only bets on it, Laukkanen said.
Was it scary to sit on an F1 man in a rally car for the first time?
- No. He immediately had an idea of how the device should be taken.
- Braking technology, utilization of the most efficient operating range of the engine in different situations and replacement were in possession. And there was no hash link with the steering wheel. Overall, doing in the cab was timely and appropriate.
Did the rallyer in Räikkönen particularly touch on something?
- Tranquility and strong self-confidence.
- And the enthusiasm was really hard! He was always coming to drive if only the schedules fit at all.
What things, then, was to be petrified, or Did you mostly have the role of facilitator?
- Of course, you can feed your self-confidence with encouragement, but the coach can't start talking to any nonsense, even if the meritorious man is sitting next to him.
- Among other things, we went through the change of brake pads in different conditions and driving in grooves.
Räikkönen's first race was at the Fall Rally in 2009, when he was 13th in the general race. In the same year, in the midst of a huge media hassle, he also participated in the Finnish World Rally Championship for the first time.
In “Jyskälä”, the special test times were promising, but the trip was interrupted by an exit, for which Räikkönen chuckled in the service area.
Kimi Räikkönen's Fiat slipped into a rest in the Finnish World Rally Championship 2009.
Photo: Niko Lindholm
At the end of the first Ferrari wash in Räikkönen's career, he toured the 2010 and 2011 World Rally Championships in a Citroën WRC car. The best result, Fifth place, came from Turkey in 2010. Räikkönen also broke the base time of one World Championship sprint, it came on the asphalt in the short special stage of the German race.
- Sure, driving Kim in the World Championships was a bit volatile, but there were damn good break times there. Asphalt was the best start for him because of his track background, he went down on a really hard credit, Laukkanen said.
According to Laukkanen, Räikkönen has the most to develop in notation, Listening to notes and internalizing them.
How much more can a middle-aged man learn from sheet music if he wants to?
- You can learn it in theory no matter how much, but in a way it is a tedious job. Actually, there should be a race situation on it so that the doctrine is as appropriate and catchy as possible, Laukkanen points out.