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Date of birth 30th June 1975
Birthplace Huerth, Germany
Lives Monte Carlo, Monaco
Marital status Married to Cora
Height 1.78m (5' 11")
Weight 73 kg
Hobbies Karting, tennis, cycling and playing Backgammon
Favourite food Pasta
Favourite drink 7UP
First drove a kart At the age of three
First drove a car At the age of 18 in a borrowed BMW Alpina B10 Biturbo
First car race June 1992 in the BMW ADAC Formula Junior, Norisring, Nuremberg (D)
First racing car BMW ADAC Formula Junior
First win Kart club race at the age of six
1991 First in the NRW Kart Trophy;
1992 Second in the German Kart Championship;
Second in his first car race,
BMW ADAC Formula Junior, Norisring (D)
1993 Second in the BMW ADAC Formula Junior;
Test drives and first Formula 3 race, Team WTS
1994 Third in the German Formula 3 Championship after Jörg Müller (D) and Alexander Wurz (A)
1995 Second in the German Formula 3 Championship after Norberto Fontana (ARG);
First in the Macao Formula 3 Grand Prix;
Invited by the Le Mans team to test a Formula Nippon in Suzuka in November, followed by an offer for the 1996 season
1996 First in the All Nippon Japanese F3000 Championship, two wins;
Second in the Japanese GT Championship, three wins (McLaren F1 GTR powered by a BMW V12);
First Formula One test in Silverstone (McLaren Mercedes);
Signed contract with the Jordan Team for the 1997 Formula One World Championship
1997 11th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, Jordan, best result third place in Buenos Aires (ARG)
1998 10th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, Jordan, best result second place in Spa (B)
1999 6th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, WilliamsF1, best result second place in Monza (I)
2000 5th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, BMW WilliamsF1 Team, best results third place in Melbourne (AUS), Spa (BGM) and Monza (ITA)
2001 4th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, BMW WilliamsF1 Team
2002 4th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, BMW WilliamsF1 Team
Muscling in isn’t his thing. Ralf Schumacher prefers to bide his time until the moment for overtaking is right. Under his helmet there’s a cool head. When he radios back to his racing engineer in the pits at 300 km/h, he always sounds perfectly calm and unruffled – almost casual. His calculated moves on the race track have sometimes earned him criticism, but more often they’ve gained him points and even victories. He drives a clean line – unspectacular, reliable and fast. It’s his nature.
Being a star isn’t in his nature. Cheering fans make him embarrassed. “I’m absolutely delighted at the support I get”, he says, “but I’ve never been a passionate fan of anyone myself, so I can’t really identify with it.” That hasn’t changed even after six years in Formula One.
Though the public gets very involved with him, he prefers to ride the highs and lows on his own. He seems to have made a pact with success, which keeps on popping up like an unexpected visitor. Ralf doesn’t jump for joy after his victories either. His first one was at Imola in 2001, also the first for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. After that he triumphed in Montreal and at his home race in Hockenheim. In 2002 he secured the team’s only win of the season in Malaysia.
During his second Formula One season back in 1998 it became clear that he had the makings of a winner. Driving a Jordan, he was heading for first place at the Belgian Grand Prix but had to defer to his then team mate Damon Hill. A year later Ralf Schumacher came close to winning again – he was leading on a wet Nürburgring in the 1999 European Grand Prix before being forced to retire with a puncture.
Cheeky but with a sharp wit
In conversation he displays a brutal directness, a startlingly quick wit and a touch of mischief. Ralf Schumacher doesn’t beat about the bush. He is not afraid to say what he thinks and defend his point of view. His outspoken criticism can cause embarrassment but is also invaluable for the team. His comments are taken very seriously by the technicians because Ralf Schumacher knows his car and can help to improve it.
Ralf is loath to leave anything to chance and reluctant to rely on others. That is why he pilots his own plane. “I enjoy it and it gives me a certain feeling of safety. I don’t like the idea of my family and myself being at the mercy of a pilot who might have eaten some dodgy shellfish the night before.”
He usually travels with his wife Cora, his trainer Daniel Dobringer, and his press spokesman Thomas Hofmann. Having his own aircraft is not so much a luxury as a practical convenience for those in Formula One who live an extremely demanding international schedule. Flexible travel times and the use of small airports near the racing circuits are a significant time-saver.
Ralf’s private life took on a new dimension in 2001. After he had kept his private affairs hidden for years, he appeared in public for the first time with his girlfriend Cora Brinkmann. They got engaged in spring, and in late summer they took their vows among family and close friends in their new home in Salzburg. In October 2001, their son David was born. “It’s a completely new experience for me”, enthuses the fledgling father. “The little guy is such a delight, you quickly forget the occasional sleepless night.”
In the summer of 2002 Ralf and Cora Schumacher had a church wedding followed by a big party.
Karting track, cattle breeding, race car collection
There are other interests that keep Ralf Schumacher busy besides Formula One and the family. He has established his own business with a karting track in Bispingen, Germany, and has taken up cattle breeding in his adoptive country of Austria. There’s also room for the past – he buys up his former racing cars.
Ralf Schumacher learnt his trade on the karting track in Kerpen run by his parents. He first sat in a go-kart at the age of three and won his first club race aged six, with Michael, his elder brother by six and a half years, acting as his mechanic.
Soon after his 17th birthday, Ralf Schumacher entered his first car race on the Norisring at Nuremberg in the BMW ADAC Formula Junior, and came second. He ended his first full season in this Junior Formula as championship runner-up in 1993. It was a logical step for him to move up into the German Formula 3 Championship as part of the WTS Team of his manager, Willi Weber. In 1994, in his debut Formula 3 year, Ralf Schumacher came third, and in his second year was runner-up.
Further experience in Japan
At the end of 1995 he escaped the domestic and European media circus that surrounded racing drivers by the name of Schumacher. He won the Formula 3 world final in Macau. This city circuit on the South China Sea is one of the most challenging race tracks in the world. Victory in Macau counts for a great deal. It led to him being given the opportunity to compete in the All Nippon Japanese F3000, the Far Eastern counterpart to the international Formula 3000 Championship.
His career plan envisaged two years in Japan – one to find his feet on the unfamiliar race tracks and in a foreign environment, and the other to challenge for the title. But the younger Schumacher claimed the championship in his first season in 1996. That same year he came second in the Japanese GT Championship after three wins in the McLaren BMW. The next step could only be Formula One.
Formula One debut in 1997. While 22-year-old Ralf Schumacher was celebrating victories in Japan, Willi Weber was paving the way for his entry into Formula One. He made a good impression with his first test drive in the McLaren and was signed up by Jordan for his first Grand Prix season.
For the 1999 season Ralf Schumacher moved to WilliamsF1. It was general knowledge that BMW would be joining forces with the team in 2000. Ralf spotted his chance. He outstripped his team mates of the first two years with WilliamsF1 – Alex Zanardi and Jenson Button – and also had the edge on 2001 arrival, Juan Pablo Montoya. In 2002, he was forced to concede defeat for the first time in his Formula One career to a rival from his own camp. For 2003 he plans to reverse that. He is convinced that “Juan Pablo and I are certainly different types, but at the end of the day we’re equals.”
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