It was the most-quoted line of 2012; within minutes, it seemed, it had made its way around the world; and within days it was on a tee-shirt being handed out to everyone in the Lotus factory in the UK.
“Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing,” said Kimi Raïkkönen from the cockpit at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit in the 18th race of the season. He was on his way to the first victory of his comeback year, but it was the 19th of his Formula 1 career so clearly he didn’t need the engineers jabbering in his ear while he went about his business.
In 2013 a revitalised Raïkkönen, now 33, was a revelation: including that famous victory he was on the podium seven times and was spoken of – not only at Lotus – as a title contender.
A slightly less stellar second half of the season, Abu Dhabi apart, meant he ended up a relatively distant third behind Vettel and Alonso, but he joined them as one of only three drivers to score over 200 points.
There were moments when the ‘old’ Kimi seemed to raise his head, most notably at Monaco where he spat the dummy over a new steering set-up he had specifically requested, but perhaps that was reassuring in its own way: it wouldn’t really have been Kimi otherwise, would it?
There were some F1 insiders who felt this was NOT the Kimi of old in the sense that the blinding speed which was his trademark had given way to solid, season-long consistency.
There were ‘only’ two fastest laps on his 2012 record, after all, and no pole positions.
But the real challenge now is to build on that excellent beginning and to drive Lotus into the inner circle of F1’s genuine title contenders. Kimi might just be the man to do that… if they leave him alone.