“Then I had the accident in Monza.” – Could 2003 have been Ralf Schumacher’s year? The brother of Formula 1 record champion Michael Schumacher had an extremely strong summer back then.
He finished second in Canada and then won the following two races at the Nürburgring and in France.
“We could have won the championship,” he looks back on the 2003 season in the podcast “Beyond the Grid” today.
After the Hungarian Grand Prix, three races before the end of the season, Ralf was only 14 points behind the front runner and later World Champion Michael. “Then I had the accident in Monza when the left rear suspension broke in Lesmo 1,” he recalls and reports: “I took off and had a concussion. That’s why I couldn’t drive”.
“Without the accident we could have made it, because the package was right,” Schumacher believes, who had to skip the race in Monza and later remained without further points at the last two races of the season in the USA and Japan. He finally finished the WRC in fifth place. It remained his best chance for the World Championship title with Williams. “After that it became more and more difficult,” he recalls.
“We had problems with the gearbox, the rear was too heavy, the aerodynamics didn’t fit with the ugly nose . All these things made it difficult,” he reports and explains:
“Help was offered, but they didn’t want it [at Williams]. That was very frustrating. After that, it was impossible for me to switch to a top team. There was only Toyota left.”
Schumacher drove for Williams for a total of six years. After joining Formula 1 with Jordan in 1997 and also driving for Eddie Jordan in 1998, he moved to Grove in 1999. One year later BMW joined the team as a new engine partner.
“The Williams deal was the best option at the time,” Schumacher explains, adding: “I think we had successful years around 2000, 2001.”
“The only problem was that the relationship between UK and Germany didn’t work. That was the big problem, otherwise we could have won World Championships again,” said Schumacher with regard to the relationship between Williams and BMW. According to the 44-year-old, the BMW engine was the best in the field at the time.
“I think we sometimes had 60 to 70 hp more on the engine side,” says Schumacher.
The chassis, on the other hand, looked different. “That’s just my point of view,” Schumacher says ahead and explains: “I think Frank [Williams] and Patrick [Head] overestimated their ability and ability to lead the team in the right direction.”
“I think they should have involved BMW more. They were willing to invest a lot of money to help the team even more. But they refused,” he reports. Williams finished the Constructors’ World Championship in a total of six BMW years between 2000 and 2005 in second place twice. But they never claimed the world championship title – which, according to Schumacher, would have been quite possible.
“But at that time both were so stubborn, that was unbelievable,” he shrugs his shoulders and reports: “They simply didn’t listen. We had clearly visible problems. There were many ways to solve these problems. A lot of support was offered, but they didn’t want it. In the end, the results and the rejection of the help made BMW quit.”
A year earlier, Schumacher’s own time at Williams ended, and in 2005 he moved to Toyota. “I could have gone to Sauber,” he reveals. After the separation from Williams, BMW took over the Swiss team in 2006. “The problem was that BMW made a contract with Sauber [from 2006], but that I would have had to stay with Williams for another year to bridge the gap,” explains Schumacher.
But that wasn’t an option for him. “At that time something very private happened between Frank and me, so I didn’t want to drive another year for Williams. I didn’t want to wait a year, so I signed with Toyota,” he explains. All in all, Schumacher celebrated his greatest Formula 1 successes with Williams. He clinched all of his six Grand Prix victories for the long-established team from Grove.
Breaking news update on Dutch Grand Prix – Zandvoort
In the last few hours, the news outlet from Netherlands – rtlz.nl – published an article the Formula 1 Dutch GP in Zandvoort, a venue that’s struggled to move forward with necessary site and track modifications required to hold an F1 race.
Last month, TJ13 published an article highlighting a serious set of problems facing the race organisers in Holland. In it, I reported that the Zandvoort council had…. READ MORE