Ralf Schumacher explains how German formula racing has disappeared and why his son David no longer dreams of Formula 1 as a goal
Ralf Schumacher believes that the chances of bringing young German talent into Formula 1 have fallen dramatically due to the decline of German formula racing series. Until the end of 2012, the German-tinged Formula 3 Euroseries, at the time a firm cornerstone of the DTM supporting program, raced, and until the end of 2007 there was a Formula BMW Germany as an entry-level series. Both no longer exist in this form today.
Instead, Formula 3 was internationalized by the FIA and integrated into a continuous Formula 1 substructure, with international Formula 3 and Formula 2. A shot that “backfired completely”, at least from a German perspective,
“All these international stars, Lewis Hamilton and everyone else, somehow they all came through Germany,” recalls Schumacher. A look at the Euro Series champions alone shows how important the championship was: Lewis Hamilton in 2005, Paul di Resta in 2006, Romain Grosjean in 2007, Nico Hülkenberg in 2008, Jules Bianchi in 2009, to name just a few examples
In addition, there are other German and German-speaking talents who have enjoyed great careers in international motorsport via the Euro Series, such as Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Pascal Wehrlein, Sebastien Buemi from Switzerland and Christian Klien from Austria.
Ralf Schumacher: Formula racing in Germany is irreplaceable
By discontinuing Formula 3 and Formula BMW, Schumacher believes that important platforms for young German motorsport talent have been “abandoned”. GT racing, which still exists today with the new DTM and the GT Masters, is “also a great story. But we’re talking about formula racing here, and that has been abolished.”
Damage that is irreversible in the short term: “The child has fallen into the well,” regrets Schumacher. This was caused by the then FIA President Jean Todt, due to ultimately “financially driven interests […] to bring it all under one roof”. As a result, Formula 2 and Formula 3 are now run by Bruno Michel with “a certain monopoly”.
The FIA’s basic idea was a positive one: because the national formula series were finding it increasingly difficult to attract decent starting fields, it seemed sensible to bring everything under one roof. The catch: due to the internationalization and monopolization of the formula series, they have recently become increasingly expensive.
Nowadays, it is no longer possible to drive Formula 3 competitively for less than one million euros per season – sums that mere mortals cannot afford. For talented German drivers, this means that they are “in Italy, Spain and sometimes in the Emirates in the winter to drive Formula 4,” analyzes Schumacher.
One reason why he assumes that the young hopefuls Tim Tramnitz and Oliver Goethe, who will join the Red Bull Junior Team in 2023, will be the last Germans with a realistic chance of driving in Formula 1 in the foreseeable future
No more Formula 1 dreams for David Schumacher
A train that has now left the station for Schumacher’s son David, according to the Formula 1 expert and six-time Grand Prix winner. Although he finished fourth overall in the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship with twice as many points as the current Alpine Junior Sophia Flörsch.
“You have to be realistic,” he says. “David had his chance. I could also say now: well, with Charouz back then, PHM today, maybe he didn’t have the best team. He also achieved one or two respectable successes, but of course he just didn’t perform well enough at the time.”
“That would be just as unrealistic if I were to say that my son David will be in Formula 1 one day. He doesn’t have the opportunity or the potential to end up in Formula 1 either. It’s exactly the same issue. You just have to be honest with yourself. We have now taken a different direction,” says Schumacher.
German hopes: Tim Tramnitz and Oliver Goethe
He sees Tramnitz and Goethe’s chances of successfully making the next leap towards Formula 1 as much better. The inclusion in the Red Bull squad is “an incredible opportunity” for both of them: “I’m delighted that two German drivers are getting the chance to be supported by Red Bull and that they can see the potential in them.”
Tramnitz has “always been one of the best” where he has raced, and Schumacher considers him to be a “pretty sorted young man who knows exactly what he wants, is focused and has a good environment. He has a sensible family around him, which is very important. And he simply has the potential as a driver.”
“The same applies to Goethe. I think the potential is there. The question is: Which team will be there afterwards? Formula 3 is a pretty young, boisterous field. You still have to assert yourself. It develops from class to class. It remains to be seen whether you will live up to expectations,” warns Schumacher against premature Formula 1 hopes.