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Frank Williams pays tribute to Ralf 30 Sep 2004

Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, 23 September 2004

Team boss Frank Williams has praised Ralf Schumacher for his work with the team since returning from injury, despite his decision to withdraw from last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Schumacher pitted with a puncture midway through the race after being hit by David Coulthard’s McLaren. It coincided with a scheduled stop for team mate Juan Pablo Montoya, and he was forced to wait. By the time the team had determined his car was undamaged he decided he had lost too much time to continue.

The move prompted speculation of a rift between Schumacher and the team, but Williams has insisted that his driver has been nothing but professional since returning to the wheel following his crash earlier in the year at Indianapolis.

“Since his recuperation, his work in the car – both testing and racing – has been characteristically quick and consistent,” Williams told the team’s official website. “And his contribution to the championship outcome will be vital."

The BMW-powered team lie fourth in the standings with 64 points, but have old rivals McLaren just six points behind them. Williams insisted that Schumacher would be racing for them at the final two rounds in Japan and Brazil as they bid to stay ahead.

Schumacher, who topped the times in testing at Jerez on Wednesday, moves to Toyota for the 2005 season, where he will partner Jarno Trulli.