Ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Ralf Schumacher chats to the
Toyota press office about team mates, mass dampers, his brother’s championship
chances and his own prospects for the Monza race…
Q: Your team mate Jarno Trulli has just signed a new deal with Toyota. What
is your position?
Ralf Schumacher: 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 One 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
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 t he long term, so I'm
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
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
(Schumacher) and Ferrari have an advantage in the remaining races I can
certainly see Michael winning the championship, and I actually think he
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
Q: Suzuka may host its last Formula One race this year. What do you think
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.