(from sportsillustrated.cnn.com) Money played no part in my decision. I have earned so much in the last few years that I do not need to worry. Money is and never was my motivation to be in Formula One.
I decided on a vision. I think I maybe join Toyota at the midpoint of a project, whose long-term goal is winning world championships. Also I have my big ambition, the drivers' world championship. That is not abandoned -- entirely the opposite. I am young enough and motivated enough to make a new start in order to reach this goal.
I know you cannot buy success and I also know that Toyota does not become a winning team overnight by signing me. But I can promise that I will do all in my power. I will put all the experience of eight seasons in Formula One into this project in order to bring it to a successful end.
It's good to hear Ralf sounding so positive. A slightly different translation (from dailytimes.com.pk)
Iíve chosen the future. I know you canít buy success and I also know that Toyota cannot become an overnight success but I can promise I will put all my energy and patience into what they ask of me. When I think Iím going to be at the heart of Toyotaís long term project for the world title I start to have stomach cramps.
(as a fairly new Ralf fan who's never experienced him changing teams I'm nervous for him too)
Iíve earned so much money I donít have any worries about the future. Money has never been what motivated me in Formula One.
Toyota confirmed on 7 July that it has signed a three-year contract with Ralf to race with the team from the 2005 season.
Toyota Racing Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita: "It is with pleasure that we can announce Ralf as one of Toyota's race drivers for the 2005 season. He has proven himself to be an extremely quick racing driver in his career, and I am sure that his vast experience will be extremely beneficial to our team. We have not finalised who will partner Ralf in 2005, and this is something we are in no rush to decide on. We are happy with the job that Cristiano and Olivier are doing for us and both of them are under consideration for the remaining race seat next season. There are still eight races of the season to go and everyone at Toyota is fully focused on improving our level of performance to gain as many championship points as we can"
Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis will continue to race for Toyota in the remaining events of the 2004 season. The team will make a decision on the remaining race seat towards the end of the season. In the meantime, Toyota will not comment on any speculation or rumours surrounding the remaining race seat until all contractual issues have been finalised.
Just before this announcement Ralf indirectly confirmed his long-rumoured move from BMW-Williams to Toyota. If, according to your information, I am moving to Toyota, I can confirm that you are not quite wrong.
Ralf will decide his BMW Williams future before the Silverstone Grand Prix on July 11 his manager Willi Weber confirmed on Saturday. "We still need a bit of time to think. After the races in Canada, the United States and France we will make a decision"
Latest Rumour: Is Mika Hakkinen, two times a champion with McLaren, looking to make a comeback with Williams as one Finnish newspaper reported? No, he says.
Although many were expecting Toyota to announce the signing of Ralf Schumacher this weekend (see below) they revealed that no such announcement is forthcoming.
Toyota will not announce its 2005 line-up until later this year In a statement issued at Nurburgring, team principal Tsutomo Tomita revealed that no announcements will be made until later in the season, whilst dismissing rumours that there could be a driver change this year. He said: "There is no plan to replace Olivier Panis or Cristiano da Matta during this season. Furthermore, I categorically deny all recent media speculation that a driver swap with another team's driver will happen. Like all teams, we are obviously evaluating our driver options for next year. In the second part of the season, once a decision has been made concerning our 2005 driver line-up, we will make an official announcement"
Ralf is set to announce at the European GP that he is moving to Toyota but according to reports he has attempted to block David Coulthard from also joining the team. Toyota, based in Ralf's native Germany, apparently believe that Ralf is capable of delivering the type of improvement that his brother inspired when he joined a Ferrari team stuck in the doldrums in 1996. Ralf's plea to be granted a team-mate veto, similar to the one Michael is said to hold at Ferrari, has been turned down by Toyota. Their door is therefore still ajar for David Coulthard - much to the displeasure of Ralf.
"Ralf has been pushing hard to get a veto clause in his contract. He certainly would not relish someone of Davidís calibre and experience as a team-mate, who could make life difficult" a 'source close to Coulthard' told The Sun. "Fortunately, the team told him the clause is unacceptable because they want the best and strongest possible line-up next season"
Even without achieving the veto, Ralf's move to Toyota is set to spark the drivers merry-go-round into life (source: planet-f1.com)
I wish he could leave Williams now then there wouldn't be a need for all these un-necessary comments (see below) Then again, after reading the article above it makes you wonder if things will be any different at Toyota. Maybe I should just make a page for the site entitled absolute nonsense...
Speaking a day after Ralf accused him of spreading rumours behind his back, Patrick Head confirmed that he had privately expressed concern (that Ralf could still be suffering from the lingering after-effects of a big crash last year)
"I was talking to four British journalists and it was well understood that it was an off-the-record conversation. The subject was why Ralf was being outqualified regularly by his team mate. We've had drivers before that have had big accidents, Nelson Piquet at Imola when he had a tyre explode on him and Thierry Boutsen as well and they both said to me afterwards that when they were concussed it took them six to nine months to fully recover. In the private conversation (to a journalist?!) I speculated that maybe the accident at Monza, which was of our making -- we had a suspension failure -- had had some influence"
Ralf crashed in testing before last September's Italian Grand Prix, which he missed on medical grounds. The comments, and Ralf's reaction to them, increased the sense of uncertainty surrounding his future at a team already seeking a replacement for departing JPM.
Head was asked whether he felt Ralf was suffering a lack of confidence and should see a sports psychologist. "Ralf is an intelligent guy and he knows himself and his body and his physical condition and he is more than capable of looking after that aspect himself. But, you can imagine, Ralf is not happy with his position relative to his team-mate and we are confident that we can rely on him to put that aspect right" (source: reuters.co.uk)
The moral of this story is, don't trust British journalists...
He added: "But it shows that actually, talking off the record is unwise and probably won't be repeated"
Ralf accused Patrick Head of spreading rumours behind his back. Asked about a report in a German magazine quoting an unnamed Williams boss as suggesting that Ralf had not been the same since a testing accident at Monza last September, Ralf pointed the finger at Head.
"It was Patrick. And if he would have the kindness to show and to explain it then it would be good, and not just to spread a rumour for no reason. To me it's nonsense, nothing else"
Ralf missed last year's Italian Grand Prix after admitting after Friday practice that he was still feeling the effects of concussion from his crash. "He still has problems today" Germany's Auto Bild magazine quoted its unnamed senior team source as saying. "In qualifying in Barcelona in five places he braked 10 to 15 metres earlier than normal"
Ralf dismissed the suggestion and said he had a good relationship with the team and Head. "There is no real relationship problem. It's just with Patrick, sometimes he just goes off with himself a bit or doesn't think about what he's saying or he's very emotional about things. It's not the first time it happened to me within Williams. Obviously we are all under pressure, we all want to deliver, we try desperately to deliver and because of it sometimes things go a bit wrong"
Ralf was asked whether he felt Head wanted him to be a different kind of driver. "I think Patrick is sometimes looking for something that happened 20 years ago... it really depends on whatever he feels on the day. He's a very motivated guy, still tries everything to give us a winning car and believe it or not I enjoy working with him. Ninety percent of the time we get on well"
Ralf's best chance of winning the World Championship will be if he leaves Williams, according to his team boss. However, Sir Frank Williams doesn't believe Williams cannot offer Ralf the opportunity of winning the title but instead argues that his driver needs a change of scenery. Ralf has been with the team since 1999, and in those six years has raced in 87 events for the team. However, he has achieved only six wins and four pole positions. He is now being linked to a move to Toyota, which his team boss says is probably the best thing he can do. "Ralf is obviously frustrated by the setbacks he has suffered this year and might be able to revitalise his form with a switch of team" Sir Frank told The Guardian.
And now here's some comments on whether Williams will sign Jacques Villeneuve but I'm getting bored with following this. Once Ralf's left I'm not interested in who they employ...
A journalist asked Frank Williams about the currently unemployed Jacques Villeneuve. "What about Villeneuve, he is not a driver now?" ... "Yeah" piped up yet another scribe, "he's a civilian!" By this time everybody was falling about the place in laughter. "I can't respond to what you read or what your colleagues have written" Williams said once the laughter had subsided (article from espn.go.com)
Ralf has poured scorn on speculation former world champion Jacques Villeneuve could make a Formula One comeback with the team. "Certainly Jacques was good in Formula One but I would just be surprised if he comes back to Williams"
Villeneuve won the 1997 championship with Williams but turned his back on the sport last season after losing his drive with BAR and has not been seen at a race track since. "I remember days when Frank (Williams) and (technical director) Patrick (Head) would blame him for anything and everything and hated him and wanted to fire him and said he was useless and everything (you tell it like it is, Ralf) So, fine if he comes back next year to Williams -- great. He'll be a nice team mate if I'm still here. In the last couple of years of his Formula One career he didn't look so strong any more but maybe that all changed, I don't know"
"There's one driver definitely going, the other might go or not, and there are not so many options out there. So you have to look at all the options again and obviously Jacques is one of them"
Williams denied rumours that Villeneuve had a test scheduled with them. Sir Frank Williams is feeling 'a bit torn' about drivers. His list of candidates to replace JPM, and perhaps even Ralf (more like most definately?) has grown so much that it now boasts names like Jacques Villeneuve. Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Mark Webber, Antonio Pizzonia, IRL champion Scott Dixon - even Mika Hakkinen, believe it or not - are similarly mentioned.
He told The People: "You're always torn, unless you're signing the next Senna. We're all trying to find the next Michael Schumacher. Every team dreams of unearthing the next superstar" (but they don't want to put up with his brother...)
Jacques Villeneuve has already sold his boat and installed a driving simulator into his flat in Monte Carlo, and recommenced serious physical training. He is thought to be testing the Williams in the first week of June, probably at the Silverstone circuit. He has also offered himself for nothing to test the car regularly for the rest of the season in order to have some influence on next years car.
Added to the rumours already out there, there is another claiming that Villeneuve might be in the Williams from the Canadian Grand Prix. But, this is only possible if Ralf gives up the seat by himself. "In order to kick Ralf out, Williams must prove, that he is not performing" his manager Willi Weber said. "They will struggle to find an objective evidence for that in front of a court"
Now there are suggestions that Ralf might start his development work with Toyota this year, so they are better prepared in 2005. This in turn would open a spot for Villeneuve at Williams. Remember, in Formula One everything is possible! (article from auto123.com)
The Toronto Sun newspaper's Dean McNulty is dismissive of Villeneuve's chances with Williams: "(the team's) future is not a 33-year-old former world champion, who last won a race in 1997. Sir Frank Williams may have a soft spot for Villeneuve but his team's trailer is firmly hitched to Indy Racing League champion Scott Dixon, who will take a test at the wheel of the BMW-Williams FW26 in July. And Villeneuve -- even a year removed from F1 -- isn't built to be a backup to anybody, especially a raw rookie like Dixon"
BMW-Williams denied any connection with their former driver. "To deny circulating rumours, he is not being seat fitted for us or indeed testing for us in France"
And then maybe there won't be a need for this page anymore :D
Patrick Head on the Jacques Villeneuve rumours: In respect of our driver selections for 2005 and beyond, the team's immediate priority is to improve the performance of the FW26 as this will be the biggest single incentive to securing a competitive driver line-up. We are actively considering a wide range of potential candidates as would be reasonably expected and to this end we have had discussions with many drivers whose names have been the subject of recent press speculation. However... a discussion does not mean necessarily that a driver is under active consideration for any number of reasons.
Ralf will almost certainly race a Toyota in 2005. A source close to the Cologne-based team said his manager, Willi Weber, has written a 'letter of intent' regarding a multi-year contract with Toyota. The source claims that Toyota may also have drafted a reciprocal letter.
Ralf dismissed talk that he may not be in Formula One next season, as his contract talks with BMW Williams remain stalled. Talking at the Spanish GP: One thing is certain, I will be in Formula One. I just don't know where I am going to be next year but that is nothing to do with Frank (Williams) or Patrick (Head) discussing whether I would be good enough or not. It is basically in my hands to decide what I want but we'll have to wait and see... It is not that it will depend on a few good race results.
Ralf on being replaced by Williams' test driver Antonio Pizzonia: I don't know where he got the info from. He obviously tries to get a seat back in Formula One, which I wish him all the best for but I don't think it will be the case at Williams. But we'll wait and see.
There is a list of candidates, generally believed to be headed by Jaguar's Mark Webber and possibly including Canada's former champion Jacques Villeneuve. Williams' test driver Antonio Pizzonia positioned himself as a potential replacement for Ralf when he said at the San Marino Grand Prix that it looked like Ralf would also be leaving. But Ralf poured cold water on that idea (see above)
Ralf probably leaving, says Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia "It looks like there are going to be two seats available in the team, which is good for me" he told Reuters after Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix. "It would be great for me if we could race together again. That's what I'm hoping for at the moment -- myself and Mark Webber on the team"
"I think it's looking good. Testing has been going really well for me this year, and I will be testing a lot more from now onewards" said Pizzonia of his chances. "I think they are pretty happy with the job I am doing with the car and they said that my feedback is also very good. But it's still quite early. We have to wait to see what is going to happen"
Frank Williams said before the start of the season that he had no doubt Pizzonia was very quick but he questioned the Brazilian's race form. "One worries about what happened to him last year and in his Formula 3000 season before that"
From an article which touches on the contract negotiations:
Ralf failed to enhance his bargaining power with Williams on Saturday after being outqualified for the fourth race in a row by departing team mate Juan Pablo Montoya. "I'm sure that Ralf isn't happy about seeing the 4-0 qualifying position between Juan and himself" commented Williams technical director Patrick Head at the San Marino Grand Prix. "Nor can Ralf be particularly happy with his seven points. But Ralf has generally tended to go very well here... and I suspect that he will race very well. But my impression is that Ralf... has a difficulty in positioning exactly the level of risk he takes and I think in the first qualifying he felt he had been a bit too aggressive in some corners. After the final qualifying he said he had over-compensated and been a bit too much the other way"
Ralf has scored seven points to Montoya's 12 in three races. Ralf won at Imola in 2001 but qualified fifth on Saturday compared to Montoya's third spot. JPM is leaving for McLaren at the end of the season and Ralf, whose contract also expires then, has been in discussions with Toyota as well as Williams and could also be on the way out. Head rejected a suggestion that contract negotiations might have affected the German's performance: If it's a distraction, it's not a distraction for Williams and we're not aware of any distractions that it may be causing.
(13 April) I was convinced from earlier reports Ralf would stay at Williams, but after reading the following I'm not sure where he'll end up.
From an article at crash.net: Three time grand prix winner Johnny Herbert said in the Sunday Mirror: (Williams) probably see no reason to keep Ralf. There are other drivers out there who could do just as good a job for a fraction of the cost.
From an article at grandprix.com: (Toyota) is believed to be waiting to see whether Ralf can do a better job than he has been doing in recent weeks with Williams. If not, Ralf is going to be in big trouble because there is no sign that any other team is interested in running him in 2005. There is now no chance that Ralf will stay at Williams and there are signs that the relationship is getting more and more strained, Ralf leaving the Barcelona test early last week because of an apparent backache. The team remains intent on signing up Mark Webber and in recent days has been looking closely at Indy Racing League Champion Scott Dixon. The New Zealander did a solid job but the times were not very spectacular, Dixon ending the third day of testing with a time which was still seven-tenths off the best lap recorded by test driver Marc Gene. In all probability, therefore, the team is going to continue to look around for other options. There is no shortage of drivers who would love to race for Williams and there is no great rush to sign anyone as the team is currently dictating movements on the driver market.
From various reports: Toyota confirmed on Friday they were talking to Ralf but denied they had already signed him. We are talking to various drivers and one of them is Ralf, we don't deny this said spokesman Andrea Ficarelli. But reports that we have signed him are absolutely not true... We didn't sign a contract. We're not even close as far as I know. I think this report was just an echo from Bahrain. Nothing has developed since then.
A recent report claimed that the move will be officially announced in the coming weeks although Ralf himself has refused to comment.
Ficarelli said there will be few drivers changing teams until Ralf and Williams reach a conclusion. If he leaves, that will open a spot on the Williams-BMW team and lead to a shuffling of drivers at other teams.
Ralf and his manager, Willi Weber, have insisted for weeks that they are close to a new deal with Williams-BMW.
Ralf denied new rumours he will quit Williams to join Toyota in a £60m deal. He was in no rush to sort out his future adding that a planned meeting after this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix between team chief Frank Williams and his manager Willi Weber had been delayed.
Everybody must be bored because Ferrari keep winning, that's why there is a lot of talk about my contract. I don't think there will be a decision made after Bahrain. The talks will go on a bit longer still. We are still negotiating and both sides know what they want. I am not in any rush to get this sorted out. I don't think it will affect me concentrating on the world championship.
Another report worded slightly differently: It's simply a bit boring in Formula One at the moment now that Ferrari keeps winning, so I think that's why (there are rumors) Ralf told reporters at the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. There has been a lot of talk about my contract situation. The only thing I say is that as soon as we know anything we will let you know.
Ralf had said that there would be another meeting with team boss Frank Williams after Bahrain but he said on Thursday that the plans had changed. We have decided to wait a little longer. It will come eventually. He added that an announcement was unlikely immediately after Bahrain. We are still talking. At the moment we really have other problems. We aren't particularly happy with where we were in the last two races. There is a lot to do on tires. The whole package has to improve a bit and then I don't see a problem.
Ralf is hoping to stay at Williams and he's willing to take a pay cut. Ralf's manager says: The bonus point is that if Ralf is doing well, gets on the podium or wins races, then the money increases and will be the same as what we have now. He will meet again with Frank Williams after next week's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Weber was recently quoted by Germany's Bild newspaper as saying that an agreement had been reached with Renault boss Flavio Briatore 'on all major issues' and that finalising a contract was merely a formality. The report prompted denials from Renault and Weber, who also dismissed speculation about Toyota.
I read this in the newspaper, I have never spoken with them. I just read in the paper that they are interested in making some offer. Fact is that I have not spoken with Toyota and Renault about Ralf because again we want to stay in the team. Williams are the main choice and we are discussing with Frank Williams. We had a small meeting (on Saturday) and I can say it was very good, so it looks always better. I want to stay with the team, Ralf also and I think that's the story.
He said there was no deadline for a contract and negotiations could continue up to the Hungarian Grand Prix in August if necessary. There's no deadline. We just said we must draw a line to speak together because Ralf wants to know what is going on in the future. But I don't want to say it's a deadline after Bahrain. Even after Hungary is enough time.
March 2004: Ralf may stay at Williams after all.
(question to Ralf at the Malaysian GP Press Conference) Is Renault true? Is Toyota true? Have you been talking to all these people?
At the moment I am talking to BMW-Williams, that is the team where I am and where I would like to stay and we are still talking about it. That is all I can say.
Also Frank Williams had this to say about Ralf being linked to Renault. But more promisingly it seems they have been having contract talks again at last :D
Frank Williams said that Toyota are the only team interested in signing Ralf. Ralf's manager has said that he's close to agreeing a deal to move from Williams to Renault, but Frank told German magazine Kicker that was "nothing but nonsense. Toyota are the only ones"
He said he still hoped Ralf would accept a new deal from Williams. I've made Ralf a new proposal. He will earn a little less than he does now, but the decision is his and his alone - Williams or Toyota.
The Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper reported that Toyota have offered Ralf 19 million euros a year until 2006. Ralf has fixed the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 4 as the deadline for a decision to be made on his team for next season.
Frank Williams on whether Ralf's contract will be renewed past 2004: I don't have the slightest clue how that will turn out. Ralf criticised Frank recently (because he accused him of being a money grabber) Frank Williams: I heard about that, but didn't read the article myself. I don't read any reports on Formula One anyhow. Either they anger me or if they're positive, they could make you overconfident. So I stay away from them.
As well as the apparent communication difficulties between Ralf and Frank, Ralf's manager Willi Weber announced contract negotiations were almost finalised with Renault which team boss Flavio Briatore swiftly denied: I saw Willi Weber in Melbourne. We certainly talked to each other -- we are friends, so that is perfectly normal. However at no time did we discuss, or have we discussed, a possible future for Ralf Schumacher in a Renault car.
Reuters says: If Ralf joined Renault, Williams would be without a driver for 2005. By mentioning Renault, Weber, who has previously said Toyota was an option, could be trying to put pressure on Williams to act swiftly and accept Ralf's conditions or risk losing him.
February 2004: Ralf has hit back at Frank Williams comments [see opposite] that he's demanding more money. Ralf did a u-turn a day after he threatened to leave the Williams team in a row over his new contract details. He had accused team boss Frank Williams of suddenly retracting a new contract that was all set to be signed.
But Ralf denied that his words in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper should be taken as a "threat to leave". I didn't talk about breaking the contract, nor that my words should be taken as a threat to leave. My only intention was to to counter press reports that implied that I was only interested in money.
What Ralf said: Even if me and my manager Willi Weber would find it hard to leave behind our friends at BMW, there's a chance it could happen. It would be sad but I can't allow myself to be treated like that by Williams. I'm not frustrated, but I find it hard to understand certain things that have happened these past few months.
Ralf claims that Williams, who he said offered him a contract then retracted it, has accused him of only being interested in money. Frank Williams says I'm nothing but a money-grabber. I can only laugh at that. He knows that I would accept to cut my current salary in half.
Ralf said he was furious when Williams failed to turn up to sign a new contract last year. I wanted to sign. We scheduled a meeting for the final race of the season in Japan but Frank Williams wasn't there and then he suddenly pulled the offer. On a human level I'm very disappointed with him.|
Ralf believes he had a verbal agreement with team boss Frank Williams to stay. They struck a deal at last season's final race in Japan, according to Ralf.
When someone agrees to something and seals it with a handshake, I assume it won't be broken afterwards. He took back his offer -- that's the truth and that shouldn't happen.
But Ralf believes he's in a position of strength, and the team needs him since JPM is jumping to McLaren for the 2005 season. I think Williams is under pressure in the negotiations, a lot of pressure in fact. If they lose their second driver after Montoya for 2005, they've got a problem.
Ralf also denied he was demanding too much money. He said he would sign a new contract which cut his salary in half. He also said this year was the one for Williams to win the title and challenge his brother and Ferrari. We will certainly have some duels, our cars are pretty much equally strong.
Sir Frank Williams has revealed that fights over money stalled contract-renewal talks with Ralf Schumacher. He told British broadcaster BBC that Ralf's current contract, which expires at the end of this season, will be reviewed around mid-2004: Ralf is our preferred choice. Once the second half of the season is underway we will see where we are in the championship and get back to fighting over the money.
He also says: Money is an issue with Ralf. The ideal situation would be to keep Ralf. But we have agreed to park up the problem for some time. There is no rush for us to do something about 2005.
If a deal can be sorted out, Ralf will go to Toyota. Sources close to the deal say that Ralf and Toyota are well advanced in their negotiations. Ralf is unhappy that Williams wants to cut his salary from what is estimated to be around $12m this year to $7m in 2005. Toyota is believed to be offering him $15m.
January 2004: Ralf's future is undecided. He's put contract negotiations [with BMW Williams] on hold until April because he wants to concentrate on his driving. There are rumours that the problems are money-related but Ralf says that's not the case.
Ralf: At the moment I just want to concentrate on what I'm doing. The first three months of the year are very important and after that when I see how successful it could be then we will continue to think about the contract. I have freedom in all possibilities. Even if it takes to the end of this year I don't mind. At the moment I am thinking BMW Williams but at the end of the day if there is no possibility to find a way of working together then I will certainly have to look for another cockpit but that's far down the road. It's not about the money, the money is not a problem.
Ralf: That we have decided to continue our negotiations in April was my decision. I want to concentrate on winning races. We will then always be able to reach an agreement if the conditions are right.
I decided to stop it because it was lasting too long and I wanted to focus on my driving.
Sources continue to insist that Ralf, Weber and Sir Frank Williams maintain opposite views on how much he should be paid per year. Ralf is looking for a $3.6 million pay-increase, according to an insider.
I'm sure this page will be updated with the latest developments [or not] with Ralf's contract soon...
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