Despite his seventh position on the grid, Ralf had been confident of a good result in the Malaysian Grand Prix. But then bad luck struck, twice. At the beginning of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, it looked as if Ralf Schumacher might be a key...
Despite his seventh position on the grid, Ralf had been confident of a good result in the Malaysian Grand Prix. But then bad luck struck, twice.
At the beginning of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, it looked as if Ralf Schumacher might be a key player, as the German had taken top five positions in each of the four free practice sessions at Sepang, setting competitive lap times.
But when it came to qualifying, the tide started to turn. "It seems that I may have been slightly too fast on my out lap", said Ralf, "This must have been the reason why my tyres started to give in at the end of the qualifying lap. By means of the data recordings, my engineers were able to show me that I was one tenth of a second ahead of Juan Pablo when entering the last corner. But when I crossed the line I was two tenths behind and only seventh quickest instead of fourth."
After this, Ralf had to hope for a good start - just as he had to in Australia. "I was optimistic that I might have a reasonably good race anyway," added Ralf, admitting that his goal for the race had been, "To be able to gain maybe one or two positions at the start and perhaps to even make it to the podium thanks to a clever strategy."
But it wasn't to be. "My start wasn't exactly what you would call a good start," admitted Ralf, "and after the collision with Mark Webber's Jaguar during a passing manoeuvre my race was virtually over." The contact had seriously damaged the front set-up of Ralf's WilliamsF1 BMW FW26. "After this incident, the handling of my car was disastrous," revealed the 28-year-old German, "In some of the high-speed corners I had to shift down two gears further than usual. Under these circumstances, it was quite obviously impossible to match the pace of the leaders."
Engine failure on lap 28 marked the end of a race that Ralf will probably try to forget as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, the German has recognised that the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's form is rising. "Is there anything positive I'm taking with me when leaving Malaysia? Yes, Juan Pablo has proven that we aren't hopelessly behind. Nevertheless, there's still a lot of work waiting for us." On Thursday, Ralf will be back behind the wheel of the FW26 to work on further improvements during three days of testing at Le Castellet, France.