|Teams||Jordan, Williams, Toyota|
|First race||1997 Australian Grand Prix|
|First win||2001 San Marino Grand Prix|
Ralf Schumacher (born June 30, 1975 in Hürth-Hermülheim near Cologne is a German racing driver, and the younger brother of seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher. His own Formula One career spanned 11 seasons from 1997 to 2007, during which time he won 6 races from 180 starts and achieved 27 podium finishes, before retiring from Grand Prix racing after failing to secure a drive for 2008. Since 2008 he has been racing in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series with Mercedes.
- 1 Early career
- 2 Formula One Career
- 3 DTM career
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Racing record
- 6 External links
He started racing at age three on his parents' go-kart track in their home town of Kerpen. After finishing runner-up in the national karting series, Schumacher graduated German Formula Three in 1995. Finishing runner up in this series was not the highlight of the year for him though, as he also won the Macau street race, a feat also accomplished by his brother Michael. In the race he beat future F1 team-mate Jarno Trulli, Pedro de la Rosa and Norberto Fontana, the driver he finished runner-up to in German Formula 3.
Formula One Career
Ralf Schumacher made his Formula One debut in 1997 with the Jordan team. In his first race, Ralf qualified 12th on the grid. He made up a couple of positions in the race and was holding 8th place before retiring with a gearbox failure after just two laps. The young Schumacher finished on the podium in just his third race, at Argentina. However Schumacher retired in more than half his races that season and ended up behind team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella having also been out-qualified 10 times during the season by the Italian. The two had an uneasy relationship after Schumacher took Fisichella out of the Argentine Grand Prix when they were competing for 2nd place. They collided again at the Luxembourg Grand Prix later in the season. Schumacher finished 11th in the drivers championship standings with 13 points, behind Fisichella.
The following season, Jordan was powered by Honda and proved capable of race wins when Schumacher followed team mate Damon Hill to second place in the rain-soaked Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher was reportedly unhappy at not being allowed to pass Hill late in the race as the team demanded he hold station. He finished 3rd in the next race at the Italian Grand Prix. Ralf finished 10th overall in his second Formula One season.
In the knowledge that a deal had been done with BMW in 1999 he changed to the Williams team and scored three podium finishes and sixth in the World Drivers Championship with the underpowered, obsolete Supertec engine. A tyre puncture at the European GP prevented him from achieving his first Grand Prix win. Schumacher was regarded among the paddock as the next future star for his determination in a underachieving Williams car. However, Heinz-Harald Frentzen who replaced him at Jordan scored two wins and four podiums that year.
Schumacher's performance in the 2000 season was considered by many to be a disappointment. Running the powerful new BMW engine, he was expected to compete for wins, but he was only able to match the three podium finishes of the previous year, despite being the senior driver in the team and suffering only four mechanical failures.
In 2001, Ralf emerged as a future star achieving his first three Grand Prix wins at Imola, Montreal and Hockenheim. The San Marino Grand Prix was the first win for the Williams team since 1997. Montreal was the first sibling 1-2 in the history of Formula 1. This time Michael Schumacher was out-raced by his younger brother Ralf who had a much more powerful car for this race. The Schumacher brothers would finish 1-2 in the 2003 edition as well. At his home Grand Prix, Ralf earned an easy win finishing 46 seconds ahead of Rubens Barichello.
Ralf Schumacher finished the 2001 Drivers Standing in 4th position ahead of Team mate Juan Pablo Montoya.
In 2002, Williams was left fighting for podiums as Ferrari's domination prove to be unstoppable during the season. Still Ralf managed to score Williams only win of the season at the Malaysian Grand Prix from 4th on the grid. This race marked as one of only 2 races not won by Ferrari. Ralf collected another 5 podiums including a second place at the Brazillian Grand Prix. He finished the championship again in 4th behind team mate Juan-Pablo Montoya.
After a slow but confident start and despite scoring at every race, Ralf didn't manage to get onto the podium until the eighth round in Montreal, where he finished 2nd. By then, he seemed, for much of the European season, to have perhaps the only realistic shot at the drivers' title of his career after he won the European Grand Prix (at the Nürburgring) and the French Grand Prix within the space of a week. However, his form and luck eluded him subsequently and his challenge had faded by the time of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. As a result, the final six races of the season yielded one points finish. An accident in testing at Monza ended his championship hopes. Schumacher finished the season 5th and his contribution, alongside Juan Pablo Montoya did, however, help the Williams team to finish second in the Constructors Championship in 2002 and 2003, narrowly missing out on the title to Ferrari on the latter occasion.
Schumacher became the third highest paid driver in Formula 1 in 1999, when his pay after the 2000 season was raised to $15.5 million US. His brother Michael was the highest paid racing driver in the world and second highest earning sportsman in the world behind Tiger Woods.
At the 2001 European Grand Prix, Schumacher's brother Michael made a poor start and veered across the track, forcing Schumacher to back off.
Crash At Indianapolis
On June 20, 2004, Schumacher was seriously injured in an accident at the United States Grand Prix. The deceleration was measured at 78 g (765 m/s²), one of the most severe in all of motor racing history, resulting in a concussion as well as two minor fractures to his spinal column. He was taken to a nearby hospital and spent almost four days there and several months at home in bed. This caused him to be sidelined for the majority of the season. He crashed in almost the same manner in 2005, revealing the tyre troubles that would lead to the fiasco at the 2005 United States Grand Prix.
In 2005, Schumacher transferred to the Toyota F1 team after Williams refused his salary demands. In the first 12 races of the season he was out-performed by team mate Jarno Trulli, however in Spa-Francorchamps, he was able to challenge for the lead most of the race and ended up setting the fastest lap. Schumacher earned his first podium with Toyota F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, finishing in third place, less than a second behind his brother. The Toyota team brought the "B" specification of their TF105 car to the last three races of the season. Schumacher took pole position in Japan after a wet one-shot qualifying session prevented many drivers from setting competitive laps. He then finished the Chinese Grand Prix in third position a week later. This modified version of the car secured sixth position in the Drivers Championship for Schumacher, two points ahead of Trulli.
Schumacher remained with Toyota for 2006, however the team was off the pace in early races, though he managed eighth in Malaysia. At the third race of the season in Australia he finished a strong third. He never mounted the podium again that season, although opportunities to do so were lost through mechanical failure. A fourth position in France was his only other significant finish in 2006, while he scored 6th place in Hungary, and earned seventh place in both Turkey and Japan. Overall, he outscored Trulli again, but admitted it was a disappointing season for himself and for the Toyota F1 team, as he finished only 10th in the drivers' championship.
Ralf Schumacher earned Toyota their first point of the 2007 season by finishing in eighth place in the Australian Grand Prix, one place ahead of team-mate Jarno Trulli. However, Trulli then finished in seventh place in both of the following two races in Malaysia and Bahrain, scoring 2 points in each. Schumacher, meanwhile, failed to score in either. In the Spanish Grand Prix, he was involved in a collision with Alexander Wurz of Williams, dropping him to the back of the field. He eventually retired with a mechanical problem. Monaco proved to be another struggle for Schumacher, as he qualified 20th and finished the race in 16th, 0.9 seconds behind Trulli. It was rumoured at this point that the Toyota team were unhappy with his performance, and seemed likely to drop the driver when his contract expired at the end of the 2007 season.
Schumacher scored a point by finishing 8th in the Canadian Grand Prix, a race from which Trulli was forced to retire after crashing out. This was not enough to prevent Toyota Motorsport vice-chairman Tadashi Yamashina publicly urging Schumacher to up his game or risk losing his seat, having only qualified for the race in 18th place. He then lost control at the first corner of the next race, removing himself from the race as well as the cars of Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard. In an attempt to retain his place at Toyota for 2008, he offered to accept a $17m pay cut. He retired from top 10 positions in both the British Grand Prix and the European Grand Prix. The first was due to mechanical failure and the latter was caused by a collision with the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.
A change in fortunes seemed to occur at the Hungarian Grand Prix (the scene of his first podium finish for Toyota). Schumacher started 5th on the grid after setting the 6th fastest time (Fernando Alonso was relegated to 6th). He held off Alonso for much of the race until the third sector and went on to finish 6th. This fortune, however, was short lived as at the Turkish Grand Prix Schumacher put in an inexpicably poor qualifying performance to start 16th for the race while Trulli was up in 9th. Schumacher finished 12th and ahead of his team mate but only after Trulli was punted off the track at the first corner of the race by Giancarlo Fisichella.
Retirement from F1
Before and after Schumacher's official resignation from Toyota, there were rumours linking him to several Formula One teams. He approached McLaren to enquire about the seat being vacated by Fernando Alonso, but was turned down. He held talks with friend and Scuderia Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost about a possible drive for that team, but Toro Rosso instead opted for Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Bourdais. Despite this, Schumacher remained certain he would be racing in Formula One in 2008.
Schumacher's final outing in a Formula One car came in December 2007 when he participated in a test for the uncompetitive Force India outfit in a bid to secure the second race drive alongside Adrian Sutil. However, after being the slowest of all the Force India testers on the day he tested, Schumacher stated that he was no longer interested in driving for that team, and that he would likely not be back into another Formula One car in 2008. The seat eventually went to Giancarlo Fisichella, Schumacher's team mate during his debut Grand Prix season in 1997.
On January 17, 2008, Schumacher participated in a test for the Mercedes Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) team at Estoril Circuit in Portugal. It was his first outing with an AMG Mercedes since 20th July 1997 when he was a guest driver in a race of the FIA GT Championship in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium with an AMG Mercedes CLK-GTR. This was also Schumacher’s last opportunity to drive a race car with a roof.
About his switch to DTM for the 2008 season, Ralf had much to say :
"Of course I know that neither the media nor the spectators consider me the greatest race driver of all times and this is not what I’m aiming for.” “During my last three years in Formula 1, I didn’t have much success and it almost sounded strange to me when Norbert mentioned in our conversation, that short before this time I had managed to win two Formula 1 Grands Prix within only eight days.” “However, I am still the same Ralf as at those times, the same racer who has fun in motor sports and who wants to compete with the best.”
“Now I am able to do so in the DTM which I know very well since the mid-nineties when I was a young up-coming driver racing in Formula Junior and Formula 3 which had been staged as a supporting programme of the DTM. Then I dreamed of racing in the main event sometime.” “I like the series, I like the environment, I like the enthusiastic and positive spectators. And I like Mercedes – with them I got my first chance to test a Formula 1 car in 1996 and who knows how my Formula 1 career had turned out if I had accepted the McLaren Mercedes offer to become their test driver for 1997.“
“But then I wanted to drive races, and that’s what I still want today, more than ten years later.” “I will learn in the DTM, I will work hard and I will put it behind me if people will criticize me if I should have problems during the first couple of races.”
Ralf made 2 point-scoring appearances in the 2008 DTM season, highlighting a 7th place in Barcelona and 8th place at the Nurburgring. He quietly finished his rookie DTM season in 14th place, with 3 points as the second best driver in a year old Mercedes C-Class behind Gary Paffett.
In October 2001, Schumacher married Cora-Caroline Brinkmann a former model. On October 23, 2001, their son David was born.
Complete Formula One results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Complete DTM results