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... 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. 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. 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 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! 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!