Farranfore’s Karen McCarthy is Kimi Räikkönen’s Number 1 fan after attending 17 percent of all his races   

Local woman jets halfway round the world to watch her hero’s last race

A Farranfore woman flew half way around the world so she could see her Formula 1 hero race for the last time.

Finnish legend Kimi Räikkönen the 2007 World Drivers’ Champion retired from Grand Prix Racing after Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

North Carolina-based Karen McCarthy has followed the Finn’s 20 year career in the World Championship.

The enigmatic Räikkönen started F1 racing in 2001 with the Sauber team. He has raced for the world’s best teams, including McLaren and two stints with Ferrari, the first between 2007 and 2009 when he won the world title for the famed Italian team.

He earned a cult following, his lack of interest in post-event press conferences often resulted in hilarious one liner responses while his radio conversations with his team chiefs were littered with expletives and a ‘leave me alone’ attitude.

She and her husband Richard Hull have attended 60 of his record-breaking 349 Formula One races all over the world.

They even followed him on his 2010 farewell tour, after which he raced in other forms of motorsport, before making a dramatic u-turn and returning to Formula 1 in 2012 with Lotus.

“Hard to put the last few days in words. So grateful to have been able to be here, but also completely heartbroken having to say goodbye to Kimi,” she said.

“I could never have imagined when I became a fan of his 20 years ago that it would shape my life the way it has. Or that I would have attended 17% of his 349 F1 starts. What an adventure it’s been. He’ll always be my hero.”

Karen and Richard run a motorsport electronics firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite the long-haul flight from the USA to Abu Dhabi the pair were determined not to miss Räikkönen’s final race. They got more than they bargained for as the 2021 World title was decided in controversial and dramatic circumstances between Max Verstappen who took his first World Championship and seven time champion Lewis Hamilton.

RAIKKONEN Kimi (fin), Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C41, farewell decoration on the car during the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021, 22th round of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship from December 10 to 12, 2021 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

“I am so grateful for all the life-long friends we’ve made along the way. But I’m mostly grateful for my very understanding and patient husband. In our 15 years together, I’ve dragged him to F1 races for pretty much all of our holidays. Now Rich finally gets to take a break from F1 as well,” she added.

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