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Exclusive Q&A with Ralf Schumacher 15 Jun 2007

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, Thursday, 14 June 2007

Indianapolis is tough ground for Ralf Schumacher. Not only does the track hold bad memories, but this year Schumacher arrives with his Toyota future seemingly far from clear and with a car that is currently not performing for him. Believe the rumours and the next couple of weeks could decide whether the German driver and the Japanese team stay together. But what does the man himself have to say?

Q: Indianapolis holds quite mixed memories for you - how do you go about this race?
It’s true I haven’t had a great time at Indianapolis in the past. Clearly the two accidents here are moments I would rather forget. But I am here to do a job and I will not let the past interfere with my preparations this weekend.

Q: To what degree will your previous Indy outings be in the back of your mind?
Like I said, I won’t be worrying about the past. What happened in 2004 and 2005 is finished and in the past. I want to remember the 2007 race here for happier reasons and I will be doing my best to achieve that this weekend.

Q: You picked up a lucky point in Montreal, but it couldn’t mask the fact that the overall performance level was low. How much pressure does this put on you?
There is pressure on the whole team to improve our performance, not just on one person. It is a very tight midfield group and we are fighting hard to move up the order. We are not achieving the goals we set ourselves as a team at the start of the season so we all have work to do to improve the package. In Montreal I stayed out of trouble and ran a clean race when a lot of other drivers didn’t and we were rewarded with a point.

Q: In theory the team has everything necessary to be successful, so why are you not further up the grid?
That’s right, we do have a lot of potential at Toyota but Formula One is a very hard sport and we are competing with teams with much more experience than us. There are teams who have won many races and championships so it will not be easy to beat them. We proved in 2005 that we can compete at the front and I’m sure we can do that again.

Q: Blaming the driver is not the right approach, but could it be said that the Toyota’s current car/tyre combination suits your team mate Jarno Trulli’s driving style better than yours?
We seem to have a problem adapting the car to my driving style. It’s clear that Jarno’s driving style is a little bit more suited to the car than mine and you can see the results of that in qualifying, although not on race pace as much. We have tried various things with the set-up and we have made progress but we are still looking for a complete solution. We have worked hard to understand the situation and there are always different directions to go in when it comes to set-up.

Q: In the end it doesn’t matter what the driver is doing if the car does not perform. Will there be a major re-vamp of the TF107 in the next weeks? And if so, in what areas?
We will have improvements at each race but we don’t have a major new specification of the car planned, just continuous improvement at each race.

Q: Incoming team boss Tadashi Yamashina said that the communication between you and the team is good - and that he is urging you to achieve better results. How helpful is that?
There is a very good communication between myself and Yamashina-san and this is very helpful as we work together to improve the team’s performance. Communication is very important in a team.

Q: Ignoring the rumours that the team has given you an ultimatum, the fact is that your contract terminates at the end of the season. How likely is it that you will sign again with Toyota?
The situation at the moment is the same as it was a few weeks ago. We are talking with the management of Toyota. The team have an option on me for the next two years and now we are discussing whether we will continue to work together. Until there is something to announce I can’t say much more than that.