The Other Schumacher


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Eddie Jordan had given one Schumacher a chance, and the start of 1997 was the time to give Michael's little brother Ralf a chance. Like his brother, he outqualified his Italian team-mate. Like his brother, he failed to complete 2 laps before the car stopped. However, that's where it started to go wrong, since Briatore felt no need to turf Gerhard Berger out as he once did Roberto Moreno...

His first podium came in Buenos Aires in his third race, but Fisichella was to take two by the end of the season - at Fisi's customary excellent performances at Montreal and Spa. 1998 started poorly for Schumacher and his brother's old nemesis Damon Hill at Jordan, Schumacher scoring their first points at Silverstone. He felt aggreived when ordered to stay behind Hill in their famous one-two at Spa, but he backed that up with a podium at Monza.

He was off to Williams for 1999, where he scored three podiums - at Melbourne, Silverstone and again at Monza, scoring 35 points to his team-mate Zanardi's none. The start of BMW-Williams in 2000 was above expectations with Schumacher taking 3 podiums - Melbourne, Spa and Monza again - and he scored double Jenson Button's points tally.

His big day came at Italy's other track, at Imola, in 2001. Jumping the McLaren lockout of the front row, he lead every lap to dominate. He beat his brother in a straight fight at Montreal and profited from his team-mate's unreliability to be the last winner through the forest at Hockenheim. There were only two other podiums though - including a 4th consecutive Monza podium made less impressive by his team-mate's victory. 4th in the Championship was his reward.

He was 4th again in 2002, only behind Montoya this time, and the winner of one of Ferrari's two aberrations at Sepang. An engine blowout from the lead ended his Monza run as he appeared on the podium 5 times. 2003 was a similar story, with Montoya leading the championship fight up to the penultimate round but not taking more wins than Schumacher, who took advantage of Raikkonen's engine to win at the Nurburgring then backed it up with his final win at Magny-Cours.

Williams' walrus-based error of 2004 was the end of the younger Schumacher's time at the top. He never got to grips with it as well as Montoya and by the time it was improving he'd been involved in a horrible accident at Indianapolis which took the meat out of his season. Runner-up at Suzuka as he returned, he left Williams for Toyota.

Plonking a Toyota on pole at Suzuka, even despite the rainstorm that affected qualifying, must have pleased the executives, but he was edged by Trulli for the Japanese constructors' most productive year, one that would have been rewarded with 3rd in the WCC if it weren't for the Indianapolis farce. Podiums in Budapest and Shanghai were Ralf's reward. His final podium was at Melbourne in 2006, a year he got the better of Trulli, but he would not survive a poor 2007, which was in truth as much about Toyota's poor form as his.

Ralf Schumacher has become a bit of a joke in F1 terms, but his legacy is tainted by the inevitable comparison with a brother who no-one managed to hold a candle to in the decade Ralf was in F1. On his own merits, he could not be described as a top drawer driver, but he was occasionally brilliant, and far better than his current reputation would suggest. From 1999-2001 he was quite excellent, and his whole career faced the difficulty of living under the longest shadow. For this, maybe it is time to give Ralf a bit of respect.
He's got some sort of management role with Mucke Motorsport and he coaches the youngsters coming into DTM he retried from competition at the beginning of last year at the age of 37..

His DTM stats are not that impressive though..

Debut: 2008
Starts: 52
Laps led: 30
Poles: 1
Best finish: 2nd
Podiums: 2
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 46
Best championship finish: 8th (2011)
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Well as the old adage goes Titch

"Those that can do and those that can't teach and those that can do neither, become armchair experts and bang on about how crap the ones that do are."
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Ah yes - Half Schumacher...

Perhaps not as bad as he was ultimately perceived to be, but he didn't half (ha!) ride on his brother's coattails.

One thing of note I seem to recall was that he sternly rebuffed the advances of one Katie Price, while she was doing various photoshoots for Jordan GP - I guess that should count in his favour!

One of the funniest articles I ever read in F1 Racing magazine was all about Ralf, written about the time he retired and entitled "A Grim Rictus of Disgruntlement" - the journo involved obviously had an extraordinarily low opinion of him as a whole, and dissected his shortcomings in highly acidic, yet amusing style. I can't remember precisely who wrote it, but it may have been Matt Bishop (now in charge of media relations at McLaren, I believe).
Some regarded Montoya as a driver with big F1 potential and his ability was seen as far greater than Ralf's by many.

Somehow though Ralf won more race than him during their long period as team-mates though...
I am stunned, I had never heard of this guy before and thought this was some kind of weird joke until I googled him. That is some what of a shadow he is living under.

Kidding aside, I once read an interview with Michael Schumacher where he commented on Ralf and said he was more talented but far to lazy, to actually make use of his talent.
As teabagyokel mentioned, he was at the top of his game during the 1999-2001 period. Some thought he was the next big thing only to disappoint from 2002 to 2004 when he was bested by Montoya. Never a likable character (at least by me), he nevertheless delivered on the track. When the time came to switch teams, his best years were on the rear mirror and he was a shadow of himself. Montoya was a biggest disappointment but at least he came close to winning the title in 2003.
I never felt that he had that 'rage to win' of drivers of probably similar talent such as Montoya and Raikkonen.

We rely so much on the lens of the media to perceive these drivers, though. Neither Michael nor Ralf were loved by the UK press, with a few exceptions.
I never felt that he had that 'rage to win' of drivers of probably similar talent such as Montoya and Raikkonen.

One of the things that surprised me was that the only season of the Montoya-RSC partnership that Montoya won more races was 2001. Montoya was more consistent (!) than Schumacher, but it was Schumacher who tended to have more of the very best days.
I think that sums Ralf up teabagyokel. When he could be bothered he was good but most of the time he couldn't be bothered.

I seem to remember a period where every race he'd catch his brother up pretty rapidly and everyone would get excited but when he got there he'd just sit there and make no move whatsoever.

I also remember that after his massive crash at Indy he hated the circuit and retired there once after very few laps for no reason anyone could really fathom.
I think that sums Ralf up teabagyokel.

I also remember that after his massive crash at Indy he hated the circuit and retired there once after very few laps for no reason anyone could really fathom.


His only two early retirements after that on that track were Michelin-gate the following year and the first corner crash in 2007, so I'm not quite sure what race you are referring to?...
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hmmm it does seem like I've fed you phoney information but I'm sure thats a story I heard about Ralf. Certainly after his accident he was less willing to put himself out there (who can blame him).

I shall go back an retrace the story. Maybe it was in a practice session.
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