A Glimpse at the Life of Formula One Racer Ralf Schmacher - VIDEO FEATURE
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COLOGNE - July 27, 2007: Ralf grew up in Kerpen, Germany, just a few miles from the Panasonic Toyota Racing’s factory in Cologne. He started riding karts when he was two, raced in club championships by the age of five, and made his Formula 1 debut 10 years ago, challenging his brother, Michael, on the race track. Ralf stood on the podium in his third Formula 1 race, and has won six Grand Prix since. Away from the race track, Ralf is involved in charity work, including Stella Deetjen’s action for children of leprosy sufferers in Varanasi, India.
His single-seater career showed all the signs of future stardom. He won the prestigious Macau Grand Prix Formula Three race in 1995, and then took the Formula Nippon title in Japan the following year.
He made his Formula 1 debut with Jordan in the 1997 Australian Grand Prix, which was also the first start for current team-mate Jarno Trulli. Incredibly, Ralf was on the podium in just his third Grand Prix when he finished third in Argentina, but that remained the best result of a tumultuous debut season.
In 1998 a difficult start to the campaign was rectified by mid-season changes to the car. He finished a close second to team-mate Damon Hill at Spa, and took third place at Monza.
A move to Williams in 1999 saw the start of what turned out to be a six-year stint with the team. In the first season with Supertec power Ralf proved to be something of a revelation as a consistent points gatherer, finishing in the top five no fewer than 11 times. The highlight was a second place at Monza.
In 2000 Williams began a new relationship with BMW. Ralf finished third in the new combo’s first race in Australia, and went on to score two more podiums in the first season on his way to fourth in the championship. At the following year’s San Marino GP Ralf scored the first win for both himself and BMW Williams, later adding two further successes in Canada and Hockenheim. Once again he finished fourth in the championship.
He repeated that result in 2002, but in a year dominated by Ferrari his only win came in the Malaysian GP. In 2003 he added two more wins to his growing CV at the Nurburgring and Magny-Cours, and this time finished fifth in the championship. After a difficult start to 2004 a heavy crash in the US GP sidelined him for much of the rest of the season. During his convalescence he was announced as a Toyota driver for 2005 and beyond.
He was passed fit to return to the last three races, making a point by qualifying and finishing second in Japan. He left the team at the end of 2004 having scored six wins and taken five pole positions. He had spent four years of his six years as team-mate to Juan Pablo Montoya, and overall the pair proved to be very evenly matched.
At the last two races Ralf found the revised TF105B more suited to his driving style. He took a superb pole position in Japan, and picked up another third place in the season finale in China. In total he finished in the points 13 times in 18 starts, and took an encouraging sixth place in the World Championship.
The 2006 season proved to be less rewarding for Toyota, but Ralf scored an early third place after a superb drive in Australia. He finished in the points on six other occasions, including a fourth in France, to secure 10th place in the championship. He also qualified an excellent third in Japan. ."
Pre-2007 Season Interview