Q and A with Ralf Schumacher
Q. How pleased were you with the strong 6th place in Hungary?
Ralf Schumacher: The aim is always to score points and we had been a bit unfortunate in the races before the Hungaroring. I was fighting for points at the Nurburgring, for example, but the incident with Nick Heidfeld put paid to that. These things happen in racing and you just have to get on with it. Hungary was very satisfying because I qualified very well and started fifth after Alonso was moved back, which is my best position of the season.
That was the clean side of the track and I made a strong start and was fighting for fourth place in the first few corners. The car was good but a little nervous in the first stint. We cured that by adjusting the front wing at the first pit stop. We then started to see some different strategies playing out. The BMWs opted for three stops but we stopped just twice. It was the right decision and it made for an interesting race all the way through.
Q. Has the team made a step forward?
RS: We were already quite quick in the USA and Montreal in June but for various reasons things didn't quite come together. We were unlucky with the safety car and so on, but the potential was there. We have got both cars into the top 10 in qualifying in recent races and I think it's going in the right direction.
Q. Did the car have any updates for Hungary?
RS: We are constantly introducing updates to the car thanks to the hard work of everyone at the factory. In Hungary we had a significant update to the floor, which we will use for the next races as well. Budapest has a slow average speed and you need a high downforce package, so we had some aero parts just for that race.
The car worked well from the start in Hungary although it's hard to know on the first day because the Hungaroring is always so dusty. As the circuit evolves you have to avoid chasing it with the set-up and you get a better idea of where you are on Saturday. I was very happy to be competitive over one lap and also strong on longer runs as well.
Q. How important were the tires in Hungary?
RS: The tires were really the key in Hungary. It was quite an interesting situation because with the softer option tire some people were finding it difficult in the final sector of the lap, to the extent that they elected to qualify on the harder tire.
You therefore had to manage the tire situation well and also try to predict what the situation would be at the end of the race on Sunday, when more rubber had gone down. That was why we saw some different strategies unfolding, which added to the interest.
Q. Do you enjoy the Hungaroring?
RS: I do actually. It's quite a physically tiring track and one of those places where you certainly get a pay-back for all the training we do. You are always busy in the cockpit and although overtaking is difficult, the circuit itself is one where you can build a nice rhythm. I like the race altogether - Budapest is a great city and a nice place to be.
Q. What does Toyota need to do to close the gap to the top teams?
RS: There is no easy answer. When you look at the most successful teams they all have an enormous amount of experience. There is no short-cut to that, obviously, but everyone is working hard and is tremendously motivated. We may not have had the results that we would have liked this year but we have improved during the season and we will keep pushing hard.
Q. Are you looking forward to the summer break?
RS: Yes, it's always nice to have a bit more time with my family. It is also particularly important for the other team members who work so hard at the track and at the factory. Work doesn't stop of course, but for those whose life is dominated by all the traveling, it is nice to be able to keep the feet in one place a little bit longer. Toyota F1 PR