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Exclusive - Schumacher & De la Rosa on 2006 06 Nov 2006

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006 Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21 Formula 1 Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain. 19th July 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton. Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF106.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, 17 March 2006 Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 27 July 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF106 and Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21 collide during qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 29 July 2006

In the year his brother retired, a third place in Australia was the highlight of Ralf Schumacher’s 2006 season. After suffering seven retirements, the best the Toyota driver could hope for was tenth in the drivers’ standings. But even that was almost snatched away from him by Pedro de la Rosa, Juan Pablo Montoya’s replacement at McLaren. De la Rosa competed in only eight events but, after clinching points in five of those, came within a single point of equalling Schumacher’s tally. Both talk exclusively to Formula1.com…

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
Championship position: 10th (20 points)
Best race result: 3rd (x1) Best qualifying: 3rd (x1)

“After our strong performances and results in 2005 we came into the season full of high hopes for an even better year. Unfortunately the winter weather during testing made it difficult to evaluate our new tyres in race conditions and we were caught out in Bahrain by not being in the right temperature window. So we made a poor start but since then we have worked well and in terms of car speed we have achieved a lot. It was a very tough year for the team particularly, because they had to work very hard to turn the thing around with lots of hours and days at the factory. We also worked hard with Bridgestone to improve our performance and that working relationship has been good too.

“The Australia podium has to go down as the highlight for the result but the speed we showed over the second half of the season was the real highlight for me. Of course we did not secure the results we were hoping for but in many races we were very close to the pace of Renault and McLaren. What we have learned for 2007 is that we must take advantage of our pace when it is there. Too often we have suffered with reliability issues so that is one important area that we must improve for next season. However, in Japan we showed we have made progress and we were the only Bridgestone team to have both cars finish in the points.”

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren
Championship position: 11th (19 points)
Best race result: 2nd (x1) Best qualifying: 4th (x1)

“I started the season with certain expectations - and then I exceeded them. I started out as a test driver and ended it as a race driver with a second (-place) finish in Hungary. What more can I say? Looking back my personal highlight was my podium finish in Hungary, my third-fastest race lap of Magny-Cours and China or my second-fastest race lap in Hungary. My downside was qualifying, where I could have done better generally. By far, my worse race, for many reasons, was Suzuka.

“And if I could turn back time and re-live a special moment in 2006 - my best bet would be the in-lap after the race in Hungary, saying thank you to all the team on the radio. That is a feeling I would like to bring back into my memory every now and then.”

Click to see more exclusive driver reviews from Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nick Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher, Pedro de la Rosa, Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed, Tiago Monteiro, Christijan Albers, Takuma Sato, Robert Doornbos and Sakon Yamamoto.