Ralf Schumacher in a white racing suit, in a white and blue vehicle, with a V10 engine and really good speed: the German felt in the Legends Parade as part of the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix on the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg own past taken back. “As if it was the day before yesterday” that he competed in Formula 1 with the Williams-BMW FW25.
In fact, that was almost 20 years ago. But for Schumacher, a lot was still the same as it was then, as he explains in an interview with “Motorsport-Total.com”: “It was the car with which I  won two races. The seat, the belts, everything was fine. The pedals were still mine and so were the settings. I just sat down.” And off we went.
“Funnily enough,” says Schumacher, “I still had the suit from back then.” He sat just as well as Schumacher in the FW25. “It wasn’t quite as complicated back then as it is now, but I still knew everything that had to be done, knew the switches and the like.” It was an “incredible and a very nice feeling” to experience all that again.
However, with differences from back then: In 2003, Formula 1 drove with grooved tires and V10 combustion engines. In 2022, Schumacher competed with slicks and throttled performance. Result: “The car had an incredible amount of grip, it was unbelievable, unimaginable.” And Schumacher literally flew.
Of course, the stopwatch was running during his demo laps on the Red Bull Ring. Times were not published, but Schumacher reveals: “I was faster [als die aktuelle Formel 1]but I won’t say by how much.”
He was even on the “overdrive” at the Legends Parade. “My engine had a little over 950 hp back then, here we had almost 850 hp available,” says Schumacher. “We also shifted gears earlier at 2,000 rpm. The engine should also last a bit longer. That’s a big difference.”
Cars in Formula 1 are significantly heavier today
But the comparison to the current Formula 1 lags, not only because of the engine. “The current cars are almost 200 kilograms heavier,” says Schumacher. His FW25 still weighed 600 kilograms in 2003. The Grand Prix vehicles now weigh 798 kilograms.
“We’re also talking about system performance,” says Schumacher. “I have my 850 hp available all the time. You shouldn’t underestimate that.” The classic V10 sound was the icing on the cake during his demo laps.
All of this made an impression on the fans, but also on those involved in the Formula 1 paddock. Above all, the speed of the 2003 car was convincing. Schumacher: “There were a few team bosses who visited me on the grid [und sagten]: ‘This is embarrassing for us.'”
Incidentally, McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl himself put his hands on the Williams FW25 and started the car – as a former BMW engineer who was involved in the Formula 1 project when Schumacher was active. Back when Formula 1 cars were much more agile.
“But you mustn’t forget one thing,” says Schumacher. “Safety is what makes cars so difficult today. But: When it comes to e-fuels, some systems will also become obsolete. I could imagine that people are talking about a small engine, the e- Fuels burns efficiently. Possibly a battery.”
“Now Formula 1 is much more technical”
Either way: Schumacher is of the opinion that “you have to learn a bit from it because it’s interesting” how technology from 20 years ago is selling compared to the current state. However, under completely different circumstances.
Schumacher: “I think my brother and I really had a good time, where development was also carried out. If such a V10 could do 20,000 revolutions conventionally, then that’s something really, really great. Now Formula 1 is a lot again technical.”
According to Schumacher, what bothers him much more about the current Grand Prix sport is “this management”. He explains: “We used to have sprint races. Racing was more up to the driver.”
“Now everything is determined from the outside, watch out for the tires, pay attention to this and that. When do I charge my battery? I actually think that’s a shame. I think in the long run it should go back to how it used to be.”