Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Jari-Mati Latvala and Andreas Mikkelson are the current crop of Nordic drivers at the top of their games and the top of their respective Motorsport.
What is it about this area of the globe that yields such a high success rate of professional racers? A key reasons accounting for Finland is one of philosophy. The term sisu is used to describe the collective discourse of Finnish culture, going deeper than mentality and physicality, sisu does not have a direct translation into English. It vaguely means ‘to have grit’ or ‘stoic determination’.
If you add this mindset to the widespread racing hobby and a lack of other things to do in a lot of these countries, the picture as to why there are so many successful Nordic drivers in Motorsport becomes clearer. Former F1 driver Mika Salo said,
“I bought cars worth maybe £50 with two or three friends and then drove around on the back roads. Not closed roads, but a dead end. We used friends to stop people coming the other way. I was probably 13. I only needed to go two kilometres from my house to find dirt roads where we could thrash the cars. A lot of people do that. You get really brave.”
– Mika Salo
If there’s nothing else to do, young drivers cut their teeth in the unpopulated areas and the stubbornness of the sisu mentality propels these youngsters to keep going and never give up. This combination creates an efficient conveyor belt of race drivers that are fully focused and less prone to glaring mistakes. The weather conditions must aid the craft of car control too.