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Featured Where Are They Now? Ralf Schumacher

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Paul Jeffrey, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    Where are They Now - Ralf Schumacher.jpg
    In the second of our new 'Where are the now' articles, we look back at what Ralf Schumacher has been getting up to since leaving the Grand Prix grid in 2007...

    Schumacher Jnr. was supposed to be the next best thing to having Michael Schumacher himself in the car when he made his Formula One debut back in 1997, however with the younger of the two Schumacher's unable to temper his considerable speed in race conditions, often leaving the German involved in unnecessary incidents, it wasn't until his move to Williams alongside the fiery Juan Pablo Montoya that we saw the real star quality of a driver that on his day was simply untouchable in a Formula One car.

    Ralf Schumacher was a mystifying sort of driver during his time in Grand Prix racing, often appearing to never quite live up to the not inconsiderable expectations placed on his shoulders, and spending many a Grand Prix invisible on the timesheets as his teammates found the extra edge of performance. However when all the stars aligned and Schumacher found himself on his best form, the younger of the Schumacher brothers was an incredible talent that simply couldn't be beaten out on the circuit. Sadly for Ralf, these days became fewer and fewer as the years progressed and never numbered enough to bring the German into a serious contender for a full championship assault.

    Unlike his incredibly successful brother Michael, Ralf was to often find himself in the right place at the wrong time during his ten year stay in Formula One racing. Just like his brother six years earlier, Schumacher made his debut for the colourful Jordan team for the 1997 season in what was a risky rookie driver line up that included the talented Giancarlo Fisichella. In the two seasons driving the Buzzing Hornets, Schumacher Jnr. often found himself battling towards the lower end of the top ten, moving away from the team at the end of 1998 just as Jordan began it's most competitive period in Grand Prix racing...

    Ralf Schumacher 3.jpg

    Schumacher did make a strong impression in his two seasons at the Irish team, securing a podium finish in just his third Grand Prix and generally proving a match for the highly rated Fisichella throughout the '97 season. A more mature Schumacher would appear for 1998 partner up ironically with his Schumacher Snr, arch rival Damon Hill, and Ralf would again perform admirably alongside the Englishman with another two further podiums to his credit, including second to Hill at the now famous Belgian Grand Prix, in what was Jordan's debut Formula One victory.

    Ralf Schumacher 2.jpg

    For the 1999 season Schumacher would find himself making a dream move to the previous dominant Williams team, leaving behind Jordan for a drive with the 1996 and 1997 World Championship winning outfit. Unfortunately in a case of typical bad timing, Schumacher would be partnering up with Williams just as the team began it's long and painful fall from grace, with his former Jordan squad picking up several victories and rising to their own competitive peak from 1999 - 2002...

    Schumacher would tough out the difficult times at Williams, eventually spending six seasons at Grove and wrapping up twenty two podiums (including six victories), on route to finishing twice in a career best fourth in the overall standings. For Williams however, patience with the temperamental German ran out for 2005 as the team signed an all new driving pairing of Nick Heidfield and Mark Webber, leaving Schumacher to pursue a big money move to the wildly spending Toyota operation.

    Ralf Schumacher 5.jpg

    Toyota looked to be attacking Formula One very seriously when the outfit announced it's intentions early in 1999, spending record amounts of money as the Japanese giants looked to buy their way to instant Formula One success. A full year of testing would be undertaken by the Japanese squad prior to making their racing debut, however much like Ralf himself the team never quite found the form it so often promised.

    Schumacher Jnr. would spend a total of three seasons in the red and white colours of the Toyota team, eventually picking up a handful of podium finishes, but never looking likely to step back on to the top step of a Grand Prix podium.

    At the close of the 2007 Formula One season Ralf announced his departure from the Japanese / German squad, opening up a new chapter in his career by signing for Mercedes to race in the growing DTM touring car series.

    Formula One Career Statistics
    Starts:
    180
    Wins: 6
    Poles: 6
    Podiums: 27
    Fastest Laps: 8
    Teams: Jordan, Williams, Toyota

    Career Highlights
    1993 Formula BMW - 2nd
    1994 German Formula Three - 3rd
    1994 German Formula Three - 2nd
    1995 Macau GP - 1st
    1995 Grand Prix de Monaco F3 - 2nd
    1995 Masters of Formula Three - 2nd
    1996 Formula Nippon - Champion
    1996 All Japan GT Series - 2nd

    Ralf Schumacher 6.jpg
    Schumacher would make his high profile debut for the Mücke Motorsport run Mercedes squad in 2008, lining up on the grid alongside other big name drivers such as Mattias Ekström, Paul di Resta and Gary Paffett.

    With the obvious draw of the Schumacher name, big things were expected of Ralf for the 2008 racing season, with many seasoned veterans of the sport suggesting that the now 33-year-old driver could very well be in contention for a championship challenge at the end of the season.

    Unfortunately the younger of the two brothers would constantly find himself struggling in these high powered prototype touring cars, never looking even remotely like challenging for regular race victories, a best result of second adding to his previously won podium earlier in the 2011 season being the only highlight of his five year stay in touring car racing.

    DTM Career Record (not exactly "highlight" worthy)
    2008 - Mücke Motorsport Mercedes- 14th
    2009 - HWA Team Mercedes - 11th
    2010 - HWA Team Mercedes - 14th
    2011 - HWA Team Mercedes - 8th
    2012 - HWA Team Mercedes - 17th

    Having stepped down into what was effectively a retirement from full time driving at the end of 2012, Schumacher's name would continue to be linked with the world of Formula One as several of the new for 2010 teams were reportedly courting the German driver, however with Schumacher looking to establish himself in DTM and not willing to step back to the rear of the Formula One grid, the German would be destined to never return to the cockpit of a Grand Prix machine.

    With an active driving career now firmly in the past, Ralf would take his considerable experience and marketing pull of the Schumacher name into the world of team and driver management, securing a shareholding in his former DTM squad Mücke Motorsport as he looked to develop his considerable experience to the other side of the pit wall.

    In recent years Schumacher has developed and run his own highly competitive karting team, KSM, and an FIA grade kart racing facility in his native Germany.

    Schumacher's son David is currently progressing through the professional karting categories.


    EDIT: Ooops forgot this bit (because cross article promotion is king 'aint it? Check out our first in the series, covering the happenings of a certain Mr. Heikki Kovalainen



    For more news on Formula One and thebig wide world of motorsports then check out our Motorsports Sub Forum here at RaceDepartment and join in with the community discussion. Motorsport is amazing folks, share the love!

    Ralf Schumacher 4.jpg Ralf Schumacher 7.jpg Ralf Schumacher 8.jpg Ralf Schumacher 9.jpg

    Did you enjoy our latest article of the new series? Do you think Schumacher had what it takes to become World Champion in the right car? Did the pressure of being a Schumacher have a negative impact on the German during his career? Let us know in the comments section below!
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  2. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
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    Like you mention in the article I think most of his career was beset by bad timing, however he did win races and that's something a lot of F1 drivers never achieve. Can't blame him at all though with the move to Toyota at the time, I think any driver would have thought they were on to a winner with the amount of money and time they were throwing at the project.

    I always get the underlying impression that because of the big manufacturers involved DTM is even more political than F1, maybe that's partly why he didn't shine so much in the DTM. There are also plenty of drivers that for one reason or another can't adapt to that type of machinery.

    I'm glad though he found a successful life outside of F1, slight shame that maybe he didn't do a few years in sportscar or endurance racing. I think he would have been easily fast enough to delivery the goods but maybe he'd decided he'd simply had enough.

    Good article as always :thumbsup:
     
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  3. kedy89

    kedy89
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    In my opinion, he certainly had the talent to become a champion. What he lacked was consistency. Seem to remember having seen an interview with JPM where he was talking about the Schumachers, stating that Ralf was tough to beat, but when you beat him on his best day you could get in his head, playing mental games. Something that was very hard to do with Michael.

    Don't quite agree with the right place at the wrong time statement. True, Jordan and HHF had a shot at the title in '99. But they were nowhere near that in the following years. Ralf wasn't exactly doing bad in the FW21, even came close to winning the European GP if not for the puncture. After that Williams and BMW were a strong combination. They lacked reliability in the first 2 years, 2002 Ferrari simply was unbeatable. 2003 though they had a realistic chance on both titles. After that they started to fall down the order, so leaving them after 2004 was exactly bad. Just unlucky to move to Toyota, they had the money, but they didn't know how to use it. There never was a right time to be with them.
     
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  4. Nick Hill

    Nick Hill
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    Ralf? You got that? Ralf? Can you hear me, Ralf? :D

     
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  5. kedy89

    kedy89
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    The friendly way of saying let me win or I'll take both of us out if he attempts a pass...
     
  6. Nick Hill

    Nick Hill
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    Ha! So true!

    It's really not fair, as mentally I very strongly associate that particular instance of team orders drama with Ralf, but the real story is Damon Hill being more than a little bit of an arse about the whole thing.

    Paraphrasing, he pretty much says "you better listen and listen good - if Ralf tries to pass me, I will wreck him". That takes some pretty big stones!

    If I were in Ralf's racing boots, I'm not sure I would have had the cool headedness to stay behind - I'm afraid I would have gone for it.
     
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  7. Leonardo Chaves

    Leonardo Chaves

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    I was about to say that @nhill40 , that may have played a part on Ralf wanting to leave Jordan.

    And i gotta say leaving Jordan for Williams was a good career move, sure Jordan had a better car in 99, but Williams had already signed with BMW and immediately became a much more competitive team, Jordan won those 2 times in 99 and after that just a freakshow in Interlagos 03, Ralf alone won 6 times during that period, not counting anything JPM did on that period.
    Truth is that was the heyday of big brother and his dream team, no one else had a chance.

    The move to Toyota was also his only option i think, there was tension between Williams and BMW, and people were getting out of dodge, Ralf didn't get a Mclaren/Renault/Ferrari offer... so Toyota it was.

    He did have a tendency to wear out his welcome though.
     
  8. kedy89

    kedy89
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    Commentators already mentioned Ralf being likely to leave the team. If it really was already decided at that point, he just should've gone for it.
     
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  9. Nick Hill

    Nick Hill
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    Yeah, if he was already leaving and truly was 5 seconds (!!!) a lap faster - which is an incredible differential, even at a long track like Spa - he probably should have called Hill's bluff and went for it.

    On the other hand, with that spray...wow! I kind of wonder if, in an overtake situation, either driver would have had much chance of creating/avoiding a wreck even if they wanted to! (which is probably what Eddie made his calculation based on)
     
  10. Gui Cramer

    Gui Cramer

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    I'll always remember SniffPetrol's love affair with Ralf

    2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg 5.jpg 8.jpg 9.jpg 10.jpg
     
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  11. snyperal

    snyperal
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    I doubt any of today's ego's would've stayed behind.

    Hami, vettel, definitely verstappen and maybe raikkonen.
     
  12. gamer19

    gamer19

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    1998 race was not famous by that incident only, the whole damn race was a spectacular (and they say that today's F1 is thrilling:D) here's the recap.

    Insane! :thumbsup::roflmao:
    That was a bit childish isn't it ?I mean...
    I'm sure if the situation was opposite, if Ralf was first they would ask Damon the same.
    "They don't love me... and here'e my, long expecting, proof". Or some variation of that.
    It's not alway "the whole world is against me", sometimes you need to use your common sense.

    Btw, looking at my video, it's clearly that Ralf didn't look that unhappy on podium.
    Not even close as Rubens or Massa, on similar occasions.
    (I wonder did they feel like it's the right time "to move on" after their own, even much stranger, team orders:D)
     
  13. Constantin Grimminger

    Constantin Grimminger

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    Boy, what a pic that is! World Champion Jacques Villeneuve in one of his last F1 races just behind the late Ralf Schumacher, ahead of future World Champion Nico Rosberg and multiple runner-up David Coulthard... god, the times.

    Anyways, I guess it'll be good to mention that Ralf is currently managing the US Racing outfit in German F4 together with former Mercedes DTM chief Gerhard Ungar. ;)
     
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  14. gamer19

    gamer19

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    Good to know. I was just thinking - this was more of "what career they had in motorsport" than "where are they now" type of article but ok...
    we're all amateurs around here aren't we ? :)
     
  15. Acke Rosa

    Acke Rosa

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    Ralf to me was a life lesson that you can have the DNA and the Name but if you don't have the work ethic its not likely to happen consistently. Michael himself considered Ralf to have more natural speed, but he sure didn't have big brothers unrelenting work ethic and willingness to keep learning.
    Still I thought he performed better than he got credit for at the time.
     
  16. Jack Vos

    Jack Vos
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    Thanks for the headsup didn't know Ralf has his own Kart team cool!

    this is the adres of his Team
    Adres: Michael-Schumacher-Straße 5, 50170 Kerpen, Duitsland
     
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  17. James Cook

    James Cook
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    Ah...when DTM cars kind of looked like touring cars. Better days.
     
  18. badash199

    badash199
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    Nice article, thanks :thumbsup:
     
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  19. snyperal

    snyperal
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    Yeah great read. So many heroes of Motorsport that dissappear from the limelight but are still involved in motorsports.
     
  20. 4 8 15 16 23 42 108

    4 8 15 16 23 42 108
    Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen Premium

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    Maybe have overlooked it. Nowadays Ralf is running a team in German F4 with former Mercedes DTM head of operations Gerhard Ungar.
    The team has been reported for over-bending the rules at least twice this season, cars being disqualified in Q and having to start from the back or under objection.