Well there's a surprise. After trousering a fraction over £25m during three years of driving a Toyota F1 car not very quickly, Ralf Schumacher looks set to steer gently into retirement at the end of the season. He decided not to continue driving for the cash-rich Japanese F1 squad, which has proved itself more capable of working its way through the greenbacks than achieving any seriously hard results.
Well, that's the official word. Ralf didn't want to continue. I'm bound to say that I think Toyota was being remarkably sensitive in allowing the news to filter out in that fashion. They must have been tempted to issue a press release saying “slow German booted into touch,” but they diplomatically refrained from such a heavy-handed course of action.
Ralf and Toyota conducted their business in the comfort zone. There was never any raw hunger about their partnership. Neither of them, put simply, seemed to display any real urgency about winning. It just seemed as though being there was enough.
Ralf was quick on a handful of rare occasions, but never managed to rekindle the sort of form which suggested he just might be a world championship contender during his spell with the Williams BMW squad. OK, so he might have needed a strong tailwind, but the facts are that Ralf looked pretty damned impressive back in the summer of 2003.
But it transpired that he was unable to reproduce this sort of form in the administratively overloaded, high-pressure Toyota environment. Taken as a whole, you could say that the last four years have been a complete waste of time for both of them. Not that either would ever admit as much.