Ralf Schumacher to drive for Toyota in 2005

It is the worst-kept secret in Formula One, but Ralf Schumacher
will be a Toyota driver in 2005. The Japanese motor giant will soon confirm that officially after months of rumour.

It is the worst-kept secret in Formula One, but Ralf Schumacher will be a Toyota driver in 2005. The Japanese motor giant will soon confirm that officially after months of rumour.

Given that the last really productive race the German drove was back in Magny-Cours last July, when his well-judged success so upset his team-mate, Juan Pablo Montoya, that the infuriated Colombian eventually took the decision to move to McLaren for the coming season, this is nevertheless something of a surprise.

The last time that Schumacher beat Montoya in the world drivers' championship was 2001; since then the Colombian has generally had the upper hand. So far this season the German has amassed only 12 points from four scoring finishes: a fourth, two sevenths, a sixth. Montoya has not had a great year either, but has double the points.

Three years ago here, however, Schumacher was busy making history. In qualifying he started from second place on the grid alongside his older brother, Michael, who was on pole, creating the first sibling front row in the sport's history. Ralf beat Michael to win that race and also set the fastest lap, at a time when Williams-BMW were a stronger challenger for Ferrari than they are at present.

The performance of this year's car, the FW26, has been a major disappointment, but Schumacher remains philosophical as he prepares to see out his time with a team he joined in 1999. He is a complex figure, frequently accused of arrogance and lack of commitment by his critics, yet capable of leading races from the front as he showed so capably in France last year. When fully fired up he can look convincing. The trouble is, as insiders at Williams have been saying for some time now, four or five really good races in a 17 or 18-race season does not win world titles.

Schumacher argues, with some justification, that the team have been inconsistent, and recently had a spat when the former technical director Patrick Head - Sir Frank Williams' shareholding partner - was quoted as making suggestions that his driver is still suffering the lingering after-effects of a serious shunt in testing at Monza last September. Schumacher excused himself from competing there after admitting in practice that he forgot to brake from more than 300 kph (186mph) for the first chicane. He was replaced by the test driver, Marc Gene, who critics suggest would have done a better job so far this year.

After their clash in the tunnel in Monaco, when Fernando Alonso spun and crashed while trying to lap Schumacher, the young Renault driver called for him to be banned.

A beleaguered Schumacher refuses to concede to his critics, and recent changes in Williams management played into his hands as Head took the role of director of engineering and the 33 year-old Australian Sam Michael succeeded him as technical director. Schumacher says he bears Head no ill will.

"Even after the accident it all went well. It is more difficult this year because we already got the best out of the existing car, so we are basically waiting for improvements from the factory. It's just with Patrick - sometimes he just goes off with himself a bit or doesn't think about what he's saying or he's very emotional about things. It's not the first time it happened to me within Williams.

"Obviously we are all under pressure, we all want to deliver, we try desperately to deliver and because of it sometimes things go a bit wrong. It should simply be down to all of us trying to get the best out of the package and trying to push hard, as I do always from my side. Going to the factory, going to BMW, speaking to people, trying to get all the information across. I am really working hard trying to turn it around. That is the way to look at it. I am not trying to blame people or whatever."

Despite all his problems, Schumacher is adamant that his future lies in Formula One. "I would consider it quite sure that I will be here next year," he says, "so that's not a problem, but obviously not where, and I will obviously try to be in the best position."

Whether Toyota will be the best position for him - or vice versa - remains to be seen.

News
news
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
News
i100
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore