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Interview with Toyota's Ralf Schumacher 21 Jun 2007

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota. Formula One Testing, Day One, Silverstone, England. 19 June 2007. World © Patching/Sutton

With just two top-ten finishes in the bag, Ralf Schumacher is enduring one of the toughest seasons of his career. To make matters worse, Schumacher crashed out of last weekend’s United States Grand Prix on the first lap - an accident that has done little to assuage his critics. Nevertheless, the Toyota driver is staying positive, convinced he will be making more of a mark on the scoreboard soon…

Q: It looks as if Indianapolis was unkind to you one more time?
Ralf Schumacher:
It’s not my luckiest circuit, for sure. At least I didn’t visit my nurse friends in the hospital this time! I actually thought I was going to have a decent race. Qualifying was not perfect but it wasn’t bad at all. I had a free strategy for the race and was quite optimistic. There is quite a long run to Turn One at Indy and the circuit is wide, so it’s always very busy. We were racing two or three abreast and going into the first corner my tyres locked a bit. David Coulthard came around from the outside and we crashed into each other. Unfortunately, that was the end of my race.

Q: So you were happier with qualifying?
RS:
Yes. In general Jarno (Trulli) and I were quite close to each other and I definitely had the potential to score points as well in the race. My Q1 time was strong and put me in seventh but in Q2 myself and the team decided to adjust the front wing and then I had some oversteer on the infield section. I lost a couple of tenths there and just missed out on going through to Q3. by less than a tenth.

Q: Did you find the TF107 better with the soft and medium Bridgestone Potenza tyres than with the soft and super soft options available in Monaco and Montreal?
RS:
I don’t think our performance is really tyre-dependant, it’s more race track dependant - a case of how well the tyre fits the circuit. In Montreal that was good and in Indy it was reasonable but we still had very little grip. But that issue was the same for everyone.

Q: Are you feeling more confident in the car generally?
RS:
It seems to be coming together bit by bit. I am adapting to the car and we have further development coming soon, so it’s looking more promising.

Q: Did you get a chance to see any of North America between races?
RS:
Not really, which was a bit of a shame because I like the place. Michael (Schumacher) came out to Canada and we had a chance to have dinner with some friends but I arrived from Montreal on the Monday evening, with the team, and so had only Tuesday because Wednesday was a marketing day. I just went for a bit of shopping, did quite a bit of training and that was it. I visited Bridgestone’s charity golf tournament as well, and although I didn’t compete I enjoyed the opportunity to crack a few balls.

Q: But you made a sizeable purchase from the America though?
RS:
Yes, my new motorhome, which is an American one. I actually started that process going at the end of last year. Quality-wise the American RVs are not perfect but they are the biggest ones around and now they are competitive on price due to the dollar, which is why I went ahead and bought one.

Q: You prefer them to hotels?
RS:
I like the convenience. It’s part of the culture on the American scene and a lot of the F1 drivers use them too. You can generally park somewhere at the circuit and in the paddock when we go testing. That saves you the hassle of going to and fro and you’ve always got a familiar environment with your own things around you. I’ve got the luxury of a driver as well, so that’s handy. And I can use it again for karting with my son, which will be good. I can’t carry a hotel room with me!

Q: What are your aims for the rest of the season?
RS:
To keep developing the car with my team, by giving input in testing and also at the races, and work as far as possible towards the front. The Monaco race and the two North American tracks are quite specific in terms of car requirements and not typical of many other circuits that we go to. We have a three-day test at Silverstone this week and then we resume the European season at Magny-Cours on July 1. We will be aiming to catch up to the cars in front of us. We were close to BMW Sauber earlier in the season with the more conventional aerodynamic packages on the car and we have updates planned for the French Grand Prix. The aim is always to get both cars into the points. Jarno finished sixth and scored three points at Indy, so I’ll be looking to do likewise in France.