Minttu Virtanen. Photos Veikko Kähkönen
Minttu Virtanen. Photos Veikko Kähkönen

When flight attendant Minttu Virtanen moved in with F1 star Kimi Räikkönen, she had to get used to the big house; futhermore, the partnership of two travelling professionals meant that finding time to spend together had to be done with diaries in hand. – Still, I'm not going to give up my job. It's a strange idea to be wholly dependent on someone else.

When flight attendant and fitness model Minttu Virtanen, 27, was introduced to Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen, 34, by common friends last summer, attraction was immediate. The couple hasn't slowed down since: in November, Minttu moved in with Kimi in Kaskisaari, Helsinki. The change in living conditions was enormous; Minttu's bedsitter had 34 m², Kimi's house 500 more than that.

– At first, I was nervous about being alone in such a big house. When I came home from work, I went into each room and turned the lights on to make sure there was no-one there, Minttu tells us.

– I never imagined I'd be the type of person who could spend her time admiring the scenery, but I've noticed how relaxing it can be just to sit with a cup of coffee and watch the sea.

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She has brought a little of her own handiwork to the decor of her new home without interfering with the general theme.

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– The house was already so nicely decorated, and I don't need much to feel at home. It's irrelevant where I am as long as I can be with my loved ones. With Kimi, in this relationship, I feel I'm in the right place.


The sadness of lonely nights at home

Minttu has had to get used to both the big house and life according to the F1 racing calendar. She appreciates the flexibility of her employer, FlyBe, in her new situation.

– We live according to the F1 racing calendar, and I try to adapt my own schedule so that I can support Kimi as well as I can. At least so far, my holiday requests have received understanding at work, says Minttu.

In a partnership of two travelling professionals, the everyday life of a long-distance relationship has quickly become familiar. The hard fact is that being together every day is impossible. At such times, the couple keep in touch via the internet or, more often, by phone.

– In a long-distance relationship, understanding is emphasised even more and trust has to be on a solid basis, Minttu says.

– At work, the distance is easier to cope with, when you have something else to think about. But on lonely nights at home, I get sad, sometimes so much that it starts to annoy me. Then I have to think about the future and remind myself that the situation won't be like this forever. This is our everyday life now but eventually, it will change.

Minttu admits that much has happened in less than a year but, at the same time, the familiar framework of everyday life has stayed the same.

– My life hasn't turned upside down, even though there are many nice, new things in it. My everyday life, work and friends are still here in Finland. I'm not going to give up my working life or my independence because Kimi's career takes him around the world. It's a strange idea to be wholly dependent on someone else; it's important to me to hang on to my own thing.

Sporty life and a ban on sweets

Minttu is, indeed, doing her very own thing. She already has an established career as a flight attendant, as well as another profession as a fitness model for the Bealive agency. Sport is the number one passion in her life, and there she could find even more to do. Minttu has just started training to become a personal trainer and she will graduate next autumn.

– I don't know if it could be my primary profession, but at least it's something I could do within the framework of my travelling life. It also gives me more depth and knowledge for my own excercise, and I suppose I'll design a fitness programme for Kimi too, Minttu jokes.

– He's already promised to commit to it.

Minttu admits that her attitude towards Formula 1 has changed after it became more familiar to her through Kimi.

– I understand those who say that driving isn't sport. I didn't consider the drivers' job physically demanding until I saw the speed and races up close. Excellent body control and muscle strength are required just to stay in the seat at speeds like that, not to mention races where the heat adds to the physical demands. My own ideas about the sport have completely changed and my respect for the drivers has hugely increased.

Minttu enjoys complete concentration during excercise. It's easiest to achieve while jogging or at the gym, where Minttu carries out a training programme tailored for her.

– I've never been on a diet or excercised to look thinner. I think a healthy-looking, well-muscled body is more beautiful.

Kimi's home in Switzerland has its own fitness equipment, but in Helsinki the couple trains at a private gym a stone's throw from their home in Kaskisaari.

– Sport is a self-evident and natural part of my well-being. It's also an immensely important thing for the mind. Few things give me such a great feeling as after an excercise. If I don't have time to excercise enough, I feel it in everything: I'm more tired and bad-tempered and I don't eat well.

As far as eating is concerned, Minttu does have one weakness.

– I can't have sweets in the house. When it comes to them, I have no self-control whatsoever!

When Minttu is the sole occupant of the house, she makes quick salads or chicken and vegetables. When Kimi has the time to stay at home, he cooks or the couple go out to eat sushi or a proper steak.

– I like to keep my home orderly and tidy, but I'm no cook.

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