Toyota's Ralf Schumacher reviews the Turkish Grand Prix and discusses other topics Q: The team was optimistic about aerodynamic developments you had in Turkey. How do you view progress and the race? Ralf Schumacher. Photo by ...
Toyota's Ralf Schumacher reviews the Turkish Grand Prix and discusses other topics
Q: The team was optimistic about aerodynamic developments you had in Turkey. How do you view progress and the race?
Ralf Schumacher: It's true that we went to Istanbul with some high hopes for the new aero developments, which included changes to the floor and front wing. We were also optimistic because we had been more competitive in the races immediately before the summer break. In fact, it was quite difficult to make accurate assessments because of circumstances in Istanbul.
The car always felt strong but an engine problem in free practice meant that I had to face a 10-place penalty on the grid and so I started 15th. I was then caught up in the chaos at Turn 1 and the car was damaged. I was able to fight back up to seventh and score points but I spent most of the race in traffic.
Q: Do you like Istanbul Park?
RS: It is definitely one of the most interesting of the modern F1 venues. Turn 8 is a fantastic corner although I'm not sure that all the drivers like it! And the sequence of corners at the start of the lap is also very good.
Q: What about Turkey itself?
RS: Istanbul is perhaps not the place I would come for a holiday. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because it's a very bustling and busy place and I prefer to relax. I'm not really a 'city' person on holiday but I gather there are some very nice coastal places as well, so people who like to move around can have the best of both worlds.
There is certainly plenty going on in Istanbul, with lots to see, so much so that getting to the circuit can take a very long time. That's why I stayed in a villa close to the track after a kind invitation from a nice couple. There seems to be a lot of nightlife as well in Istanbul but we obviously can't get involved in that before a race!
Q: How do you think F1 has been received by Turkey?
RS: The interest is quite big although you would expect that in a capital of 16 million people! But that's good and F1 has been well received and well looked after. The only problem is the horrible traffic but that would be the same if you tried to have a race in London, Paris or New York. I guess you just have to get over it.
Q: Your team mate has just signed a new deal with Toyota. What is you position?
RS: I will be with Toyota again in 2007 and then we will see. I am very happy where I am, which is why I signed a longish term contract in the first place. Formula 1 is a difficult business, you cannot start from scratch and win overnight and I think everyone is well aware of that and still highly motivated to keep moving forward.
Q: Has the fact that another Japanese team won in Hungary had any impact at Toyota?
RS: Certainly not in any negative way. Our motivation is to keep improving until we win and, in a way, when you see another team achieve that, it only sparks people's motivation even more, if that's possible. There was a bit of good fortune involved in Hungary but they still deserved the win. I'm equally sure that we will win too, and hopefully more often in the long term, so I'm not worried.
Q: What is your view on the mass damper rule change coming mid season?
RS: Any rule change that comes in the middle of the season is not nice because it affects car development. Ideally these things should be sorted out beforehand. The full implications of something are not always obvious at the outset, so there will always be things that the FIA feels it needs to get rid of.
Q: What do you think will happen in the championship battles?
RS: It will be interesting. Some people are saying that it could be a disadvantage for Renault because Michelin is leaving F1, but I don't think so. I'm sure they are strong and still working hard on finishing the season in a good way. So I don't see it as a disadvantage. But, having said that, Bridgestone is working exceptionally well and I think the evidence of that has been clear in the last few races. We'll have to wait and see. If Michael and Ferrari have an advantage in the remaining races I can certainly see Michael winning the championship, and I actually think he will.
Q: Will this year's Michelin users be at a disadvantage in 2007?
RS: I don't think so. Next year the tyre regulations will be different again, with different compounds, so I don't really see any disadvantage there.
Q: Suzuka may host its last F1 race this year. What do you think about that?
RS: I've got two different hats: I like Suzuka but I certainly like Fuji as well, it being somewhat Toyota's track. I've always enjoyed racing in Suzuka and I will again this year. And who knows, maybe it will come back or perhaps we will have two GPs in Japan. We have had that situation before, with Aida in 1994, so why not?
Q: How important to your career was winning in Formula Nippon in Japan?
RS: It was a very good time, and actually quite a hard time for me being young and in a different country. But I learned to enjoy Japan, which was nice. For my racing career it was very important because I could concentrate on racing without distractions. But I was over there by myself and it was very hard. Harder than I expected I must admit.
Q: What are your expectations for Monza?
RS: Pretty high I've got to say. We've proved in the last few races that we're quick, with podium potential, it's just that we have had some problems. I think we did a great job to come away from Turkey with points given everything that happened, so I think we should be strong in Monza too.