Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ralf Schumacher might land at Toro Rosso?

We might have another Schumacher back on the grid for 2010. Ralf Schumacher, the brother of Michael Schumacher, has refused to deny speculation linking him to a Toro Rosso drive. Ralf, 34, who still officially races with Mercedes in the DTM series, revealed he turned down an offer from one of F1's new teams. Reports said Toro Rosso, Sauber and Renault remained possibilities for a return to the sport for Schumacher.

In 2009, STR had a pair of young drivers, Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Alguersuari. Buemi has been retained for next season, but the 19 year old Alguersuari's future is less certain. The practice of leaving drivers swinging in the wind is not uncommon for STR. They did the same thing to previous drivers Scott Speed and Sebastien Bourdais. However, in this case the indications is at worst he may be regulated to testing duites again, which in this era does not guarantee he will develop as a driver.

In returning to Schumacher, he knows Toro Rosso's team principal Franz Tost well not only from their days at Williams, but from when Tost managed Ralf's early pre-F1career in the mid 1990's. Tost was also employed by Ralf's former manager Willi Weber to look after the driver when he entered F1 with Jordan in 1997, and subsequently switched to Williams in 1999.

Admittedly the move of retaining a veteran driver for STR would make some sense. They are currently in the process of constructing their very own car for the first time and may need the experience to help develop the car. Clearly, experience is something that Buemi and Alguersuari do not have. However, why that choice would be Ralf Schumacher who has not been in F1 since 2007 and has been an also-ran in the DTM is a mystery. There will be new rules and new tires that Ralf would need to contend with and the fact that he did not cover himself in any glory at the end of his F1 career. First, he quit Toyota, then was curiously overlooked by Toro Rosso and then when testing for Force India, he was the slowest of the drivers they had scheduled. So, is it the relationship or does Ralf actually have anything left for a return to F1. I guess we will see.

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