Toyota's Ralf Schumacher reviews the Belgian Grand Prix Q: You ran second, you set fastest lap, could you even have won at Spa? Ralf Schumacher. Photo by Toyota Racing. Ralf Schumacher: If things had gone our way, it was possible....
Toyota's Ralf Schumacher reviews the Belgian Grand Prix
Q: You ran second, you set fastest lap, could you even have won at Spa?
Ralf Schumacher: If things had gone our way, it was possible. We were very competitive in the race and we went for dry tyres early, at my second pit stop. These things are very close calls and if the tactic had worked we could even have had a decisive advantage over the McLarens. But as things turned out I had to change back to intermediate tyres. I stopped again for dry tyres with four laps to go so, altogether, I had four pit stops. To finish 7th and still score points just goes to show how strong we were.
Q: Spa can dry very quickly, but it didn't seem to this time?
RS:No. Just my luck! We have had races at Spa where a dry line has emerged just two or three laps after the surface was very wet. Basically, I think that's the case if there is some sun or a bit of heat in the air, but this time there was only moisture. It is always a bit of a gamble going onto dry tyres early, but we went for the aggressive strategy because we were in such a strong position.
Q: Was it a tough weekend after you lost most of Friday practice to rain?
RS: It always makes it more difficult. We were allowed to postpone our tyre choice until Saturday lunch time but it was difficult and all morning we weren't sure which tyre to go for. Just before qualifying I switched onto a compound for the first time and didn't feel too confident on it but it worked out quite okay.
Q: Your first and third lap sectors were very competitive in qualifying. Did you have a problem in sector 2?
RS: I lost the rear end a bit in Turn 8 and then had massive understeer elsewhere in sector 2, so I just couldn't do anything.
Q: When you have dry qualifying but expect a wet race and can only make limited changes to the car, do you adopt a compromise set-up?
RS: We do take into consideration what we think is going to happen in the race, but having said that, there's still a bit of estimation involved. So, yes, we didn't race with a 100% dry set-up.
Q: If you are expecting rain, do you run a bit more wing?
RS: It depends on the aero figures that the team sees. We did use a bit more wing, yes.
Q: Is there anywhere at Spa you have to take particular care in the wet?
RS: On all the high-speed parts like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont you have to be careful not to lose it, but the main problem is standing water. That can cause aquaplaning and be very dangerous.
Q: Is visibility a big concern for you at Spa?
RS:It can be, especially on the long straight after Eau Rouge, going up to the chicane. It can be a bit like the forest sections at the old Hockenheim where mist can hang in the air between the trees and make visibility very bad. Sometimes you can barely see your own hands and that is not a good situation to be in. It's not nice when luck is more important than judgement...
Q: Is it just a case of keeping your right foot flat and having blind faith?
RS: It can be if you are confronted with conditions like we had for second practice, where Antonio Liuzzi aquaplaned off and Alonso did a slow installation lap but nobody else went out at all. We all spoke to Charlie Whiting (the FIA Safety Delegate) and he agreed to be very careful about getting the Safety Car out sooner rather than later if conditions were really bad. As it turned out, although the track was wet almost right through to the end, it did not rain heavily and conditions were no problem.
Q: Had you had a chance to evaluate the latest Michelin wets in testing before Spa?
RS: Not really, actually. For most of us it was the first time in the rain this year, apart from qualifying in Melbourne. Thankfully it was not wet enough to need the heavy wets but the Michelin intermediates seemed to perform well and I think they were very happy.
Q: Do you personally like Spa?
RS: I think it's a good track for everybody. It's a nice high-speed circuit. Everyone has his own preference and while you could say that my favourite is Suzuka, Spa is certainly right up there. Having said that, I don't have a problem with any tracks.
Q: Are you looking forward to driving for Toyota in Japan?
RS: Yes, because it looks as if we go pretty well on high-speed tracks and it would be great to have a strong performance and hopefully even a podium for Toyota at Suzuka in a month's time.
Q: How do you assess this year?
RS: It has been very good so far and a lot better than we all expected. The car performed well again at Spa and we were very competitive.
Q: How are you finding working with the Toyota team?
RS: Really good. It's a very enjoyable team to work in, with better feelings than I have ever had in the past. Toyota has a different way of working with drivers than Williams had. Both teams work well in their own way, but I personally prefer it at Toyota.