The racing career of the ‘other’ Schumacher entered a new phase yesterday – and sad to report that Ralf proved his form over the last three years with the Toyota F1 team was no fluke, qualifying a lowly 14th on his debut in the DTM German touring car series.
Yes, multi-millionaire Ralf is lending the DTM a bit of glamour this year; well, it needs it, considering that fellow F1 refugees Mika Hakkinen and Jean Alesi have now moved on from the Merc/Audi tintop series. But as Audi locked out the podium at the season-opener at Hockenheim, Ralf – in a year-old car, let us not forget – finished 50 seconds off winner Mattias Ekstrom, just behind 13th-placed Paul di Resta. And not that far ahead of Susie Stoddart, or Mathias Lauda.
If anything, though, the result poses a bigger problem for young Lauda than it does for Schumacher. Only a few weeks ago his father Niki (yes, that one) went on the record, saying, “I’ve told Mathias that if he comes home and tells me he has been beaten by Ralf then he won’t be able to use the Lauda name any more.”