Q & A with Ralf Schumacher

Conducted and provided by Toyota's press office

Q & A with Ralf Schumacher

Q. How do you feel about Toyota's first ever podium finish in Malaysia?

RS: It was great to see the debut podium for Toyota in Malaysia. Jarno did a good job and the pleasing thing is that the TF105 had competitive pace all the way through the weekend. People underestimate how difficult Formula One is and the experience of the teams we are racing against. Teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have more than a century of experience between them. For Toyota to be finishing second after just over 50 races is commendable.

Q. What about your own experiences in the first two races of 2005?

RS: There wasn't very much I could do about the opening race of the season in Melbourne. I got a bad break with the weather in qualifying and there was no way back from there. I was stuck in traffic for much of the race but, encouragingly, when I was finally able to run in clean air my lap times were competitive. There was clearly a balance issue on Jarno's car and we couldn't find the reason for that after the race. He was still doing reasonable lap times towards the end but he didn't feel happy with the balance in the middle.

Q. And at Sepang?

RS: Our third driver, Ricardo Zonta, set competitive times on Friday and then Jarno and I were fighting at the front for the whole meeting. Unfortunately I had a little bit too much understeer and lost time in sector 1 on my first qualifying lap. It meant that ultimately I qualified behind Mark Webber. I had more race pace than the Williams but I couldn't get by. When I tried, at Turn 15, we collided and after that my car lost some aerodynamic performance. In the end, four points for fifth place was what I came away with, but it helped to put us into second place in the constructors championship as we head for the third round in Bahrain. I think that if anyone had offered us that scenario at the beginning of the season, we'd have taken it.

Q. How tough did you find Malaysia physically?

RS:The Malaysian race was not a problem physically, to be honest. You see some of the mechanics with beads of sweat framing their faces and you can feel for them. The humidity is pretty extreme but the problem is being stationary with fireproofs on. At least in the car we have some airflow, even if the air is pretty warm! If you have trained, you are in good condition and you acclimatise, then you should be okay. Dehydration can be a problem and you must keep your fluid levels up. For instance, normally a driver might lose a litre of water through sweat during a race. In Malaysia at its worst, you can lose almost four times that. Your muscle strength suffers as a result and then your concentration goes. But as long as you are in good shape and properly prepared, it's okay.

Q. Is the Sepang result an accurate reflection of where Toyota is?

RS: Talking about the competitiveness of the car, well, you can't make performance up. It's definitely there. I said in winter testing that although it wasn't obvious, the baseline of the car is good and its progress depends on the developments we do. We knew that the testing period in the beginning could be difficult, but we did that intentionally to be out early and to have all the problems sorted out mechanically. Then, with the first few aero package changes the potential came. That will continue from here. We have a good plan and if we stick to it, there is no reason why we shouldn't be in decent form for the whole year.

Q. How would you rate the aero package?

RS: Whatever aerodynamic solutions we have come up with so far have worked and improved the car. Everyone is doing a good job at the factory, with modern facilities. The car is well sorted and heading in the right direction. Coming out in January with the TF105 we knew that aerodynamically it was going to be compromised initially, which is why it was no surprise that the first aero package made a big impact. And you shouldn't forget that we had extremely cold winter testing and some cars do stress the tyres harder than others. Although the rumour was that we stress our tyre harder, that's not the case. Sepang proved that. With the low downforce that we had at first, to get a one-lap time, which is all the media tends to look at, was difficult. That's maybe why we looked worse than we were. But there's no such thing as a winter world championship.

Q. Are you surprised at the rapid progress seen in Malaysia?

RS: Since Mike Gascoyne joined (December 1, 2003) he made improvements to the chassis department and the TF105 is basically the first real new car since then. There is still plenty of scope to work at getting back some of the downforce that the '05 rules took away but it's definitely heading in the right direction. 12 points from two races is a very good start, but there is more to come.

Barrichello Encouraged by F2005

Previous article

Barrichello Encouraged by F2005

Next article

Analysis: Crunch Time for Ferrari

Analysis: Crunch Time for Ferrari
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Mick Schumacher
Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent Plus

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent

While Japan's fever for motor racing is well-documented, the country has yet to produce a Formula 1 superstar – but that could be about to change, says BEN EDWARDS

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration Plus

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration

For too long, F1's richest teams have justified being able to spend as much as they want because that's the way they've always conducted their business. STUART CODLING says that's no reason not to kick a bad habit

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is not guaranteed

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021