After three years with the Japanese squad, Ralf Schumacher completed his last race with them in 11th place, but before that his colleagues gathered together in the pits to present him with a rear wing end plate, signed by the team, as well as a 10kg cake.
Chairman and Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina said: “I would like to thank Ralf for his contribution to the team. We have had some good times together, even though we have not had the results we all expected. Ralf brought valuable experience to the team and helped us move forward. He has worked well with the team and in many ways we are sorry our relationship is coming to an end. However, circumstances change and we wish Ralf all the best in his future career.”
Team President John Howett said: “We will all remember Ralf’s podium finishes with Panasonic Toyota Racing with great fondness and we are proud of those results. When we signed Ralf to the team we expected him to bring a great deal of experience which would help the team progress and that is exactly what he did. Even though his time with the team is ending, we still have a good relationship with Ralf and I speak for the whole team in saying thank you and good luck.”
Dieter Gass, chief race and test engineer, said: “I have enjoyed working with Ralf and I want to say thank you to him for his hard work over the past three years. He is a straightforward guy and a pleasure to work with. I will remember some great results together, particularly his three podium finishes and his pole position in Japan in 2005. In my position you really spend a huge amount of time with your driver and over the three years I have got to know Ralf very well. I hope he enjoys a successful future.”
Team manager Richard Cregan added: “Ralf has been a valuable and committed member of the team. We have enjoyed having him here and I hope he has enjoyed being here. Ralf formed a close bond with his mechanics over the three years so I thank him for his efforts and wish him success in whatever he chooses to do next.”
Schumacher won six races, all with Williams, before joining Toyota in 2005. In three seasons with them, he took three podium finishes, one pole position and scored 70 points. The 32-year-old German has yet to confirm his plans for 2008, but his future remains uncertain even if he has said repeatedly that he expects to be in Formula One next season.
Ralf Schumacher made everyone happy and sad at the same time with his way of driving. Here are some of the best moments of his ten years career in Formula One.