Tuesday April 17th, 2001
Frank Williams believes Ralf Schumacher is becoming a serious challenger to his world champion brother Michael after taking a step up in performance in his fifth season in Formula One.
Ralf, driving for Williams, scored his first-ever victory in Formula One at last Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix and his team chief Williams, who has admitted he thought the German star was underachieving last year, is confident he has now found his form.
"Ralf has more focus," said Williams. "He gets more out of his car and he spends more time thinking about his car.
"He is more capable of driving a flawless race and he is fitter and more focused than he was. I think he had a quiet talk with himself."
That quiet talk resulted in a dominant performance at Imola where he moved into the lead off the line, beat all his contenders fair and square, and claimed the fastest lap of the race.
"This is probably his most perfect weekend with us," said Williams. "I think he would always welcome the chance to directly race against his brother but that has always been a limited opportunity.
"Hopefully it will be a more frequent opportunity for him from now on. Michael is certainly more experienced and Ralf is still learning. But he is seven years younger than his brother and I think his day is coming."