Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ilta-Sanomat (paper edition): "Kimi has to come back next year"

F1-doctor Aki Hintsa knows what F1-drivers are like

You went to McLaren in 2003. Why?

- I was invited. I had already made co-work with Mika Häkkinen since 1988. I was Mika's personal doctor and we took care of things related to his performance level.

What is your title and job description in McLaren?

- The title is Head of Human High Performance, in other words I take care of the human top performance of the drivers and the team.

How has F1-world changed during your F1-years?

- After 10 years of experience I can say that if possible the F1-world has become even more commercial. You see it from how they choose races based upon financial matters. The old F1-culture is starting to vanish. A new commercial F1-culture is taking it's place. It's a shame for the sport.

- The focus from the sport doesn't disappear but the angle changes. Earlier perfomance was the most important thing. Now the situation is so finance driven. You really have to go digging if you want to find even an ounce of humanity.

What do they require from the drivers today?

- More and more. A F1-driver has to be physically in top form and he must be mentally extremely prepared for top perfoming. Family and friends are important. If you succeed then your group of pals grows bigger. If there's nothing then nobody cares. The difficulty is how to master the wholeness. The wholeness consists of physical training, mental resources, social frame and the work environment. Inside the team you have to master the psychodynamics so that you get the best out of yourself as a driver.

- Everybody also constantly wants a piece of the driver and that's why it's easy to lose your identity. My job is to get the boys to keep their feet on the ground aswell as hang on to their identity with teeth and nails so that they maintain their human dignity.

What has it required from you?

- I'm sitting in the same boat.

You had to move to Switzerland because of your work. What do you miss from Finland?

- The kids are the first thing that comes to my mind because they study in Finland. I also miss the silence, sauna and jumping into the lake from the sauna. When we warm up the sauna with my son Niklas we can easily talk all night.

You have earlier been in Africa making operations for free. Why?

- I was in Ethiopia for 3 years working for a developmental aid organisation. One year was right after the civil war and it was more war surgery. I also taught local doctors to perform smaller operations. I led for two years the health projects. I was in Africa two years ago but am planning to go there again. I'm in a project where African war- and aids-orphans are helped.

What made you go to developmental aid?

- As a small boy I promised God that I will go to Africa and help and I kept my promise.

You are friends with top sprinter Haile Gebreselasse. How often do you meet?

- Haile always takes good care of me when I'm in Ethiopia.

You also took Mika Häkkinen to Ethiopia back in the times. Why?

- I asked Mika to come many times and he promised to come. I doubted him and said that you are not going to go to Ethiopia. Once when I was going to Ethiopia Mika was suddenly waiting for me at the airport. I still doubted he was going step into the plane. But he did and we went to say hello to Haile.

You have brought many F1-drivers to Kuortane Sport Academy and your cottage. Why?

- We have a long working relationship with Tapio Korjus. I have many other good friends there too. Kuortane is a good place for F1-drivers just like Vierumäki is. We have an extremely top level sport academy -culture. The private journeys have a bigger meaning for the drivers. They are then coming for silence and peace. They really can calm down.

You have to travel all the time and you are constantly surrounded by hundreds of people. Where do you get your strenght from?

- The work is torning and the age in the meter isn't getting smaller. I jog and go to gyms and to sauna in Finland. Unfortunately I have been quite seldom in Finland. Sometimes it feels like I'm done with all of this.

How long is your contract with McLaren?

- Two years, after that I don't know. They have presented new jobs inside the team and we are talking about changing my job description. Other teams have also made offers to me. I'm also a manager in a medical space program in Switzerland and I'm very excited over it. In the future I want to work more in one place so that people come to see me instead of me travelling around the world.

What are Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton like?

- They are both different but brilliant guys in their own way.

What is Sebastian Vettel like?

- An extremely determined young man. He knows for sure what he wants and he will also get there.

What about Mark Webber?

- He is one of the most interesting guys. He gives the impression of being fair but his will to compete covers fairness. Mark has two faces, which is a really good thing for a top sportsman.

Fernando Alonso?

- I have worked with him too. If you could say that you can see from some driver's eyes who wins you wouldn't have to guess twice. Alonso's will to win, both in good and bad, is something that I haven't seen during my career. He does well because of that will.

Who will win 2010?

- The black horse.

Do you believe that Kimi Räikkönen will come back to F1?

- If Kimi comes back next year, then he can come but after that I don't believe in it. Therefore 2011 is the last year when he can make a comeback.

Courtesy: Nicole

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