Quotes and Interviews - 2006 F1 Season page 1 <<< take me home! >>>
page created 4 May - Off Season Quotes 2005-2006
Toyota finished the 2005 F1 season with 88 points, five podiums two pole positions and one fastest race lap. They came fourth in the constructors' championship, whilst Ralf and Jarno finished in sixth and seventh in the drivers' standings with 45 and 43 points respectively.

I've left the reports about Ralf splitting from his manager/Michael's rumoured move to Toyota in the weblog and the winter test reports as all that's now out of date but here's some stories on the new car/tyres etc.

It's a big year for...Toyota Since their inception, Toyota have only ever run on Michelins. The first time the car hit the track wearing Bridgestone tyres was this winter. As a rule of thumb it should take a top team six months to fully integrate with a new tyre partner, so they may struggle to be the quickest Bridgestone team early on. Ralf Schumacher was his usual sparky self, evading questions about the team’s future performance by declaring: “We're going to have another good season, whether it's one victory or 10, I don’t know - I'm not Harry Potter”

Final Winter Test Report (2 March) A summary of the winter testing (not too technical) The tests began back in November 2005 and by January it was clear that the main focus of testing until the race season would be on the Bridgestone tyres and the reliability of the new V8 engine.

Ralf writes off bro's chances (28 Feb) After a dismal season by its standards in 2005, Ferrari is being tipped by most F1 pundits to come back with a vengeance this year but Ralf is unconvinced by the winter testing form of Ferrari’s 248 F1 car and reckons Michael will have to play second fiddle to Renault’s reigning champion Fernando Alonso. “I am sure Michael will have fun this year, but you can rule out the title” he was quoted as saying by Sunday newspaper The People.

Ralf predicts close competition (28 Feb) An interview with Ralf from before Bahrain. He said "Ferrari has showed that it is serious about coming back" (and he was right) More quotes Ralf played down suggestions that - with F1's biggest budget - Toyota should be more of a player in 2006. "I hear about our 'biggest budget' all the time but the truth is that our budget is similar to all the other top teams"

Ralf @ sportinglife.com Ralf confesses he has not always felt welcome in the Formula One paddock. "People have always felt that one Schumacher is enough, especially in my case where there was always more focus on the team-mates I had than the other way round" Ralf told Autosport. He says he is happier and believes he can now finally concentrate on driving. Ralf: "There is a point where you stop caring what you read about yourself, there's so much sometimes. But I must say, and especially since I changed teams, it has been a lot better and more positive. That's appreciated, definitely. In this team we concentrate on that rather than trying to make people's lives difficult"

Ralf wants to improve image (21 Feb) Ralf reckons the media often get it wrong when reporting about the lives of himself & Cora. "Perhaps the problem is that the public does not know us very well" he told the Eurosport Automagazin publication. He hinted that they would go out of their way to make more public appearances, in a bid to be better understood.

Toyota Test Revamped Car (13 Feb) New front and rear wings, sidepods, rear diffuser, engine cover and floor effectively mean the new car has little in common with the TF106 officially launched on January 14.

Ralf backs FIA over V8 rule (7 Feb) Ralf has backed the FIA over F1's controversial new V8 engine formula for 2006. He told reporters at the Valencia test that less horse power has made the sport safer. “The FIA has made some bad decisions, but on the safety side we have seen some good ones. If the cars are slower, the drivers are safer”

The end of the V10 era, however, and the loss of around 200 horsepower and three seconds per lap, has not been universally popular up and down the grid. But Ralf thinks F1 could have sped out of control if engines had kept evolving. “Each year we were moving closer and closer to the limits, and beyond. Without the V8s, I am sure we would have surpassed 1000 horse power this year”

But some observers wonder just how much of an impact on safety a three second per lap deficit can have when speeds are still 300 kph-plus. Ralf explained: “If you crash and the shock is 3 or 4-g lower, that is a big difference, for sure”. He also dismissed the argument that a slower F1 is therefore less spectacular for its fans. “I don't think they will notice a difference. If you are talking a second or two, you don't really see that with the naked eye”

There's a nice interview with Ralf at pitpass.com (6 Feb) He says he's much happier at Toyota than he was before. "At Toyota we concentrate on our jobs but we also try to have fun. The philosophy of the two teams are quite different. At other places it seemed like more attention was put into spreading stories around about the drivers. Honestly, I am really happy to be with this team"

Ralf waits for new Toyota package (6 Feb) An all-new aerodynamic specification will be debuted at Barcelona in February, and could also be concurrently run at an Italian venue in the very same week, according to speculation. Late last year, Toyota became the first of F1's eleven teams to run a 2006 car, while the plan was always to launch a second aero package prior to the first race. Following that a B-specification car is expected in May. Ralf: "When the new package arrives in the coming tests, we will see how competitive we are going to be. Aerodynamically, the car's not ready yet"

Ralf's new motor home Ralf will trek to the European GP and test sessions this year in a $180,000 motor home. The aptly-named luxury 'Concorde Charisma', which features a double bed, is currently just on loan, while Ralf decides whether it is worth the money.

There was to be a major aerodynamic facelift for the the Toyota before the first race in Bahrain in March - and then a brand-new design for Monaco just 12 weeks later.

Ralf backs idea of single German race Ralf: "If race tracks can't afford Formula One every year, for whatever reason, maybe it's quite a good idea to adapt to that (alternation) for a while. It doesn't really matter to me. I know both the circuits so well, one year here and another there is quite a good idea"

Ralf buys a new car...

Ralf on 2006 Ralf: "I don't know about lots of wins but at least one or two would be great. We expect wins, that is certain. I think beating Ferrari is very possible. We were very close to them last year... let's wait and see, but there is a chance. I'm not really talking about the championship at the moment, we had a few podiums last year and never really had a chance to win a race so I think talk of the championship is far too early at the moment"

Toyota kick-starts 2006 on home ground Toyota officially kicked off its 2006 campaign with a special event for the world's media at the Toyota manufacturing facility in Valenciennes, France on Saturday 14 January (click link to read a very long article)

Toyota Resume Testing The team began what will be an intensive period of testing throughout January and February, preceding the first Grand Prix in Bahrain in March. Ralf: "As last year, we are hopeful that we can make a strong start to the season, because just like the chassis side, the engine department under Luca Marmorini has done a great job. The target for '06 is to win some races and I think it should be realistic after the podiums we had last year. People on the outside expect that we could score one or two victories and I do think that should be possible"

Ralf on 2006 "We want to be within the first three in the championship and I want to win a race in '06" Ralf told Sport Bild.

Keke Rosberg on Ralf "Ralf's body language at the winter tests radiated self confidence".

Toyota set 'launch' date for TF106 The official launch of their new car was set to take place on 14th January.

The TF106: Comprising a new rear-end, modified front suspension, new specification RVX-06 engine and new Bridgestone tyres.

Michelin tires of F1 Michelin has announced that it will quit Formula One at the end of 2006. The move follows the decision by the FIA to opt for a single tyre manufacturer to supply teams from 2008, and comes only months after the debacle at the US Grand Prix when an accident involving Ralf Schumacher revealed serious flaws in the Michelin tyres he was using (Ralf's thoughts on the new tyres are below)

Questionnaire with Ralf (6 Dec) Q: Any thoughts on the move to V8s? Ralf: "It will be a lot slower, but that’s not a problem. It’s safer again, so that’s a positive aspect to look at".

Q: What about the move to Bridgestone? Ralf: "Whatever tire you go with there will be tracks where one of them will be better, it’s normal. I think what the FIA is looking at, basically getting one tire manufacturer, will be a good thing for everybody".

Q: You made a decision to leave Williams, and in retrospect it looks like it was the right one… Ralf: "You can never tell. They might have a good season next year – I wish them all the best…"

Toyota happy with V8 progress (2 Dec) Ralf said of the new tyres: "The Bridgestones didn't feel that much different".

itv-f1.com (28 Nov) Toyota was the first team to run its 2006 car when it tested at Barcelona... Mike Gascoyne says the TF106 carries much of the thinking from the team's previous and most successful racer, the TF105B – which took a pole position in Japan and a podium in China in the hands of Ralf Schumacher... Much of the early development work on the car could be aimed at learning about its behaviour on Bridgestone tyres. With no previous experience of the Japanese rubber, and Toyota's deal only recently concluded, vast amounts of data needs to be acquired before the Christmas break.

planet-f1.com (22 Nov) Ralf: "We do not get a huge break before the winter test phase begins" Ralf said while relaxing at his home in Austria.

speedtv.com (21 Nov) Ralf confirmed at Toyota until 2009: Ralf inadvertently announced that he will be driving for Toyota until 2009, during an interview for F1 Racing magazine. "At the moment I see no reason to think about moving. I have a five-year contract and feel pretty lucky to be with this team - so far it's running better than expected"

Toyota's first outing on Bridgestone tyres took place on 29 November at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, as the team began its preparations for 2006. Read all about the new tyre choice at sports.yahoo.com (11 Nov)
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