Quotes and Interviews - 2006 F1 Season page 4 <<< take me home! >>>
page created 31 July - BRITISH, CANADIAN, U.S. FRENCH GP'S 2006

Ralf qualified 5th for the French GP and finished 4th.

Ralf in the points (16 July) Toyota has recorded its second consecutive fourth-place finish after Ralf took five points at the French GP. Ralf: "We can be very satisfied with what we achieved today. It's a pity that we had a problem with the wheel nut at the first pit stop because we could probably have made the podium but these things happen". Planet F1 has Ralf as the star of the race

Ralfs new manager (19 July) Ralf was accompanied to Magny Cours by a new manager - Hans Mahr. His expertise - interestingly - is in the world of media rather than personal management. It is reported that he has worked on Austrian election campaigns, groomed pop stars and directed television shows, leading to Ralf's own admission that Mahr will work on improving his problematic image.

Ralf & Michael reject F1 doping rumours (15 July) The Schumacher brothers have dismissed outlandish rumours in the Magny Cours paddock that the pinnacle of motor sport might be riddled with doping use. Michael: “It's not an issue in our sport”. Ralf: “I have already been tested this year”

Toyota preview the French GP Ralf: "I wouldn't say that it is my favourite race of the year but the facilities are good and the layout of the circuit can lead to good racing. It is also a place where I have had success down the years. I took my first pole position there five years ago and I also won the event in 2003. It is hard to know how we will perform this weekend but our car has shown it is quick in recent races so we will hope for more on Sunday"

Ralf expects Michael to quit before him In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, he took exception to father Rolf's prediction that he will tire of being a full-time racing driver before 37-year-old Michael. "I am not sure about that. Purely because of his age I think it will eventually be a problem for him". When asked if he knew when Michael would finally call it a day: "Whether anyone believes me or not, I don't have a clue"

Meanwhile, Ralf has slammed a group of drivers and called on their withdrawal from the GPDA. Bemused by their criticism of Michael, or their reluctance to show up at drivers' meetings: "Anyone can make a mistake. But the way some of our colleagues have behaved is not acceptable... Wurz, Raikkonen, Alonso - these members should immediately be excluded from the GPDA. They either do not turn up at meetings or they criticise other drivers, like my brother, in the wrong way"

Ralf also welcomed the voluntary withdrawal from the drivers' union of Jacques Villeneuve. "Just in terms of investing his own money, no-one has done as much for improving safety with the GPDA as Michael. Without him we would not have a GPDA"

Ralf welcomes end of tyre war Michelin is pulling out at the end of the year, leaving only Bridgestone. From 2008 the FIA rules mandate that a second tyre supplier is not allowed to compete. Ralf: "It will definitely be better. If there is no tyre competition then the manufacturers no longer have to go to the limit"

On his crash: "It is clear that these things can happen. When I recovered I wanted to drive again immediately, and when I got back into the car it was the same as usual"

On having one tyre supplier: "It's an advantage for everyone"

On the 2005 US GP: "For us, it was a very unpleasant situation, but it was simply not possible to drive... Why should Ferrari and the other Bridgestone teams have been punished? It wasn't their fault that Michelin was not able to build a suitable tyre"
U.S. GP 2006 (did not finish: wheel bearing failure)

Ralf qualified eighth for the US GP.

Ralf felled by wheel bearing failure Ralf lost a probable fifth-place finish in the US GP due to a wheel bearing failure with just 10 laps remaining. He came into the pits complaining of a long brake pedal, but it soon transpired that the problem was terminal. “Due to a very long pedal I came in, and we found out it was a wheel bearing failure at the front-left, so it was time to come in”.

His retirement took the edge off what was shaping up to be a banner day for Toyota, with team-mate Jarno Trulli coming home fourth despite starting from the pit lane. “It was a tough race for us – it was hot and the car was not so easy to drive. But still we were in a comfortable fifth position; fourth and fifth would have been great”

Ralf at The Mirror Ralf insisted he'd quit rather than hesitate for a second around the fastest corner on the longest flat-out section in F1. "I have never come across a moment where I've doubted that I could do it. It's not that I need to any more but I still want to - and that's the difference"

And about the stretch of track that has so troubled him, he said: "It's flat out all the way through it. Easy. If something happens you've got no chance. All you can do is brake and hope to scrub off some speed"

Despite his bruising history with the grey expanse at Turn One, it is still a subject he can joke about. "They came to me last year and said they'd changed the wall so I'd have a softer impact. I did it again and it WAS softer. Twice I've had bad luck there but what can I do? Downshift? You either go there and do the job or not. I will do the job"

Ralf on the US GP Ralf believes the sport would be better served by moving elsewhere. "In Indianapolis, Formula 1 is always going to be second best to the Indy 500 which is a famous race. If we went to Las Vegas or New York it would stick out and get No. 1 billing"

F1 'shouldn't race' at Indy - Ralf A year after disgraced F1's infamous visit to Indianapolis, Ralf said he was not looking forward to negotiating the notorious oval bend. While tyre supplier Michelin copped the flak for the six-car debacle of 2005, Ralf pointed to the flat-out banked corner - which is turn-one of the fabled Speedway oval - as the real source of aggravation. Not only last year, but also in 2004 when driving for Williams, he was hospitalised after rear tyre failures in the bend. He said the banking is not suitable for Grand Prix machines. "The atmosphere is great (at Indianapolis) and I never expected to be that well received by the Americans. But regarding the circuit itself, to me, we shouldn't race there. Banking is not designed for Formula One"

itv-f1.com Ralf is without a points finish in six starts at Indy and suffered violent final turn crashes in each of the past two years. In 2004 he broke two vertebrae in his back when a rear tyre on his Williams let go as he rounded the 190mph bend, hurtling him into the outside wall and across the track. Then last year his tyre exploded in the same place during practice, triggering Michelin’s concerns about the safety of its tyres on the banking that eventually led to its seven teams withdrawing en masse on the formation lap.

Previewing the US GP Ralf: "Of course I have mixed memories of Indianapolis, not least from last year. It was a tough decision for the teams not to race and it was particularly hard on the fans who had travelled to see the event. But it was the right decision because it was clearly unsafe to race and the safety of the drivers has to come first. It's in the nature of a racing driver to want to race but I hope the fans will understand that it was just impossible last year"
CANADIAN GP 2006 (did not finish: retired due to having no grip)

Ralf qualified 14th for the Canadian GP.

Ralf scored three points last year, his sixth points finish in total in nine appearances at the track. He has started from pole and finished on the podium twice, including winning in 2001.

Ralf on Montreal (26 June) "There was no specific problem but I just couldn't find any grip out there. It was my mistake because I went for the wrong tyres. It was a gamble but it didn't pay off. It was a tough race for everyone because there were so many marbles out on the circuit every time I went on them with my hard tyres I'd lose control of the car. In the end the inevitable happened and we just had to retire the car. I'm disappointed because it could have been a very good race for me"

sports.yahoo.com (23 June) A couple of Michael Schumacher's closest rivals were asked in Montreal whether they thought he would continue racing beyond the end of 2006. "I say he'll carry on" said his Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa. Brother Ralf, however, was less forthcoming. "Why do you ask me? I have no idea"

Ralf not expecting any wins (20 June) Toyota have yet to win a race in Formula One and Ralf has warned fans to not expect to see him on the top step of the podium for some time. He has not won a race since switching from Williams at the end of 2004. "With a little luck we can beat the second drivers of the top teams. Before the end of this season we don't need to be thinking about wins"

Toyota preview the Canadian GP (16 June) Ralf: "We haven't enjoyed particularly good results of late but I'm sure we will continue to improve. The TF106B has made another step and while we still have work to do to reach the level we would like, we are going in the right direction. We have made progress with the mechanical side of the car and our Bridgestone tyres have also improved. In terms of performance we are at a good level, we just need to pick up some better finishes"

"The Canadian GP is always a good place to come to race. Montreal is a beautiful city and the atmosphere is always great for the race weekend. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is known for fast straights and heavy braking. I have had some good results there in the past including my win five years ago"
BRITISH GP 2006 (did not finish: crashed)

Ralf qualified 7th in the British GP at Silverstone (11 June) "We expected to be somewhere between 6th and 10th so we managed to secure a good position"

sports.yahoo.com Ralf's race was cut short within seconds of the start. On the exit of Becketts he was pushed into a spin by Scott Speed's Toro Rosso. As he veered across the track he was collected by Mark Webber's Williams, putting both drivers out of the race.

Ralf: "Unfortunately that was just one of those things that happen in racing. It all began with my very bad start. I lost too many positions and found myself in traffic. That's how these things can kick off because in a mess like that no one really has any space. I had cars all around me so it was really difficult to see exactly what happened but I was hit from behind. That sent me into a spin, which meant that I couldn't help veering into Mark's path. It was a racing incident and no one is to blame because no one does anything like that on purpose. But it's the second time in a row that we have struggled off the line so we should now work hard on improving that"
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