Ralf Schumacher Sumar
Ralf drove Karts from an early age, but he launched into his racing career in Formula Three in 1994, joining WTS Racing, which was owned by brother Michael's mentor, Willi Weber. His first win for the team came at the end of the 94 season giving him needed points to rank third overall, behind Jorg Muller and Alexander Wurz.
His second season was a battle for the title with Norberto Fontana, which he lost. In 1996 he progressed to Formula 3000, winning three
races and taking the title at the final round. 1997 saw his entry into Formula One, racing for the Jordan team. He proved fast, achieving his first podium result, a third place, in Argentina, the third race of the season. Although he had the raw speed, Ralf tended to crash a lot. The 97 season saw him retire from 10 races, half of which were accident related, and it appeared as if 1998 was to be the same. Partnered with Damon Hill, by mid season he showed that he too, like Michael, could excel under wet conditions, bringing home Jordan's first point for the season in a wet Silverstone race.
From that race on, he showed speed and consistency, culminating in his best finish ever, a second, in horrendous conditions at Belgium. Despite his good results, he finished 10th overall, and decided to partner Alex Zanardi at Williams for the 99 season. He was on the podium often through the season, outshining his CART champion teammate, who failed to win a point.
Ralf sat on 19 points and 6th in the championship at the halfway mark, and he continued to impress not only his bosses, but also most of the paddock. His passion was obvious as was the fact that he had learned to control his earlier erratic drives very well. He finished the season with thirty-five points while his teammate was pointless. He remained with Williams in 2000, the team merging with BMW, in their return to the sport. Although many expected that the outfit would only run mid field at best, including the team themselves, Ralf put in some very strong drives throughout the year, including a podium finish in their debut race at Albert Park and they ended up third in the constructors championship.
2001 saw his debut win as well as a further two victories throughout the season. A strong run throughout the year saw him in a three way battle with David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello for second in the drivers battle, however this failed to materialize and he was forced to settle for fourth place.
2002 didn't get off to a good start for Ralf after he was involved in a first lap accident with the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello. The Williams driver went airborne over the Brazilian and came to rest in the gravel trap, thankfully uninjured. Malaysia was a lot better, as here he took the chequered flag for the first and unfortunately, only time in the season. Ferrari proved to be too strong throughout the year and Ralf was forced to settle for fourth place once again.
In 2003, Ralf Schumacher put together a tremendous mid-season, claiming victory in back to back European and French Grand Prix. However, the German was unable to sustain the pace and a huge testing accident ahead of the Italian Grand Prix saw Ralf miss the race. Indeed, the finals rounds yielded just five championship points for the younger Schumacher and he ended the season a disappointed sixth overall.
2004 promised a great deal, by the FW26 chassis was never a match for the dominant Ferrari design and the team also found themselves out-paced by both BAR Honda and Renault. For Ralf Schumacher the season was one to forget as a huge accident during the US Grand Prix saw him miss a bulk of the season to recover from back injuries sustained in the accident.
Schumacher took part in the final three races of the season with Williams, running a strong race in Japan to finish second but for Ralf, his immediate concern is the pace of the Toyota F1 team as he has a contract with the German-based squad that will see him race with them in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons.
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