MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene was left wondering whether he was with the real Kimi Raikkonen after his Finnish Formula One driver devoted half an hour to signing autographs and greeting fans at the Italian Grand Prix.
The 2007 world champion is regularly voted the sport’s most popular driver, despite the ‘Iceman’ being renowned for his taciturn attitude and lack of enthusiasm for sponsor engagements.
Asked whether it was true that Raikkonen had “set a record” for signing autographs at Monza on Thursday evening, and whether he had pushed him to do it, Arrivabene smiled.
“We had several conversations and I said ‘I know that you are a very cool guy and most probably because you are cool, they like you,'” he told reporters after Friday practice.
”But at least if we meet the guys -- the tifosi (fans) -- you have to sign and at least move your hand and say hello and possibly smile.
“And he stuck to these instructions and I was thinking ‘is there something wrong here?'. He’s becoming a good guy and I was pleased about that, even if I’m still thinking...I said it can’t be Kimi, it was a (doppelganger) or somebody else.”
Raikkonen’s future at Ferrari had been in doubt but the Italian team confirmed last month that the 35-year-old was staying for another year as four times world champion Sebastian Vettel’s team mate.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer