Former Formula 1 pilot Ralf Schumacher has been rankled by criticims of his brother Michael’s comeback efforts, particularly Schumi’s bully-boy tactic of nearly pushing former team mate Rubens Barrichello into the pit wall along the main straight at the Hungaroring.
“There is certainly a lot of people with history with Michael,” Ralf recently told Welt am Sonntag, in a not so oblique reference to Barrichello. The Brazilian has been nursing a grudge against Schumi in the wake of his six years as toiling in the German ace’s shadow at Ferrari.
Putting his own spin on Schumi’s move, Ralf said, “It was a tough maneuver but it shows how seriously Michael still considers his job.”
Ralf went on to defend his elder brother’s comeback efforts in generally, saying “Previously, he was criticized for being too hard and cold, and now his mood is interpreted as a lack of ambition. That’s not right. One thing is clear. His return has helped the whole of Formula One, but not yet himself.”
Ralf is also candid about still being bitten by the F1 bug. It’s a hard habit for many drivers to break. While some, such as Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen, seem willing to turn their backs on the pinnacle of motorsport to dabble in other formulas, others find it difficult to walk away.
It’s fairly obvious now that Schumacher retired too early. During his three off seasons, he continued to race karts, motorcycles and the occasional Race of Champions. It was clear that racing was still in his blood. When Ross Brawn gave him the call, he jumped at it.
Ralf Schumacher now admits that he would’ve done the same. “I also would have come back to F1” he said, “but unlike him I didn’t get the offer. The reason is that we are, in the positive way, crazy enough to do it.”
Ralf, like a host of other European based F1 retirees (including Mika Hakkinen, Jean Alesi, Heinz Herald Frentzen, David Coultard, J.J. Lehto and Johnny Herbert), has found a new home in the German DTM series. Like most of the other former F1 drivers who enter DTM, however, his success has been limited.