Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Analysis: Ralf Refuses to Follow the Script

Friday April 20th, 2001

By Alan Baldwin

Scheckter, Stewart, Fittipaldi. The surnames all conjure up memories of Formula One titles and Grand Prix wins.

Unless you replace the familiar champions Jody, Jackie and Emerson with Ian, Jimmy and Wilson.

Racing brothers of successful champions have in the past enjoyed about as much of the limelight as Minardi drivers watching from a distance while the Ferrari men cavort on the podium.

But that is all Grand Prix history now.

Ralf Schumacher does not follow the usual pattern of Formula One siblings and the younger brother of Michael showed his disregard for precedent last Sunday with his first career win at the San Marino Grand Prix in a Williams.

At Imola, for the first time in Formula One history, the brother of a race winner was triumphant.

Michael, triple world champion and winner of 46 races, was at the finish to congratulate his brother after having had time to shower and change into his jeans following his Ferrari's retirement before the halfway mark.

"We have both achieved our goal and our parents will be very proud," declared 32-year-old Michael.

That was perhaps an understatement.

The Schumacher parents, father Rolf and mother Elisabeth, are separated but were united in delight by the outcome of the fourth race of a season already marked by thrilling battles between their two offspring.

In Malaysia, the 25-year-old Ralf and Michael had traded fastest qualifying times before the Ferrari driver took pole and the other had to be content with the second row.

"I said to Ralf before that our father must have been going mad with his heart rate at home watching this, and our mother. They are more nervous than we are," said Michael.

Palpitations

The two drivers, who have banged wheels in the past, gave their parents even more palpitations in Brazil, when they filled the front row -- the first time that had happened in Formula One.

And Sunday's race had the parents on the edge of their seats.

"I was so nervous that I didn't even want to watch the race," their father was quoted as saying in Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"Several seconds before the start of the race I went up to the first floor...I couldn't keep still, I was pacing around like a caged animal. Then I heard a shout: 'Ralf's leading.' I couldn't believe it, I ran downstairs in a hurry."

Their mother was equally proud.

"Now we have the fastest sons in the world," she said. "On Sunday, my heart was beating particularly for Ralf. Deep down, the first win matters more than any other."

The words of the now retired Damon Hill, Michael's rival who made history in 1996 as the first son of a champion to win the world title, came to mind after the race.

"I thought the world could only bear one Schumacher. Now we have two," he had said in 1997 when Ralf made his debut.

The first brothers to race together were Britons Peter and half-brother Graham Whitehead in the 1952 British Grand Prix. Peter finished 10th in a Ferrari and Graham 12th in an Alta.

Peter, whose only scoring finish was a third place on his debut in the 1950 French Grand Prix at Reims, died in 1958 when Graham crashed in the 1958 Tour de France for cars.

Skills

Other sets of brothers have come and gone in Formula One, with only one of each making a major impact.

Jody Scheckter, Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi won titles while Gilles Villeneuve won the hearts of fans worldwide for his breathtaking skills and daring.

But older brothers Ian Scheckter, Jimmy Stewart and Wilson Fittipaldi made no waves in Formula One when they tried their luck. Gilles Villeneuve's brother Jacques, after whom the current BAR driver is named, failed to make a breakthrough at all.

Jimmy Stewart had just one race, long before Jackie's debut, at Silverstone in an Ecurie Ecosse Cooper in 1953. He retired 11 laps from the finish after qualifying 15th.

Ian Scheckter raced for Max Mosley's March team in 1977 but finished only twice in 13 starts due to car unreliability.

Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, a dashing star of the 1970s with his long sideburns, won two titles and 14 races in a career with Lotus, McLaren and Copersucar Ford that made him the youngest champion ever at 25.

Wilson Fittipaldi arrived two years after Emerson but achieved just three points in three seasons, fewer than his son Christian who raced for Minardi and Arrows from 1992-94.

Before them came Mexico's Rodriguez brothers, who both died behind the wheel.

Ricardo entered Formula One in 1961 aged just 19 and qualified second at Monza in his first race. Ferrari signed him from 1962 but he was killed in the non-championship Mexican Grand Prix of that year.

Pedro, who died in a sportscar race in Germany in 1971, won two Grands Prix and was sixth overall in 1967 and 1968.

Italians Corrado and Teo Fabi also overlapped briefly without success, while the Brambilla brothers tried and failed.

Tino Brambilla should have raced in the 1969 Italian Grand Prix but was replaced by Pedro Rodriguez as a result of injuries suffered a few days earlier when he fell off a motorcycle.

He never got a second chance.

Vittorio did win a race and provided Formula One with a memorable moment of dubious humour.

The Italian took the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix which was ended after 29 of 54 laps due to a downpour. He was so delighted with his luck that he punched the air in jubilation -- and crashed his March into the barriers.



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