Ralf Schumacher is hoping that he can produce a strong result in the weekend's Canadian Grand Prix to lay to rest the increasing speculation that his future with Toyota is under threat.

The German is rumoured to have been given two races to prove his worth to the Cologne-based team, despite senior Toyota sources continuing to claim that they have yet to provide him with a car that suits his driving style. Schumacher was a notable visitor to the team's HQ between the Monaco and Montreal races, but there have been denials from both sides that the meeting amounted to talks over his future as Jarno Trulli's team-mate.

"My visit was merely to solve some technical questions, how to prepare the car optimally for the coming races, and especially Canada - one of my favourite events," Schumacher insisted to Germany's Express newspaper, "We just want to improve the car."

Schumacher continued his theme in the team's pre-race bulletin for Canada.

"I always look forward to the Canadian Grand Prix," he said, "I have a good record in the race - I won in 2001 and was second in 2003 - and the circuit itself is one of the best of the season. It is technically challenging as it has long straights followed by heavy braking, which really takes it out of the car. But the team has taken this into account and we have made changes for this race, with a totally different aero package compared to Monaco.

"Obviously, Monaco was a bad weekend for the team but we are working hard on the issues we had there and I hope we'll see an improvement in Canada."

Technical chief Pascal Vasselon has admitted that part of Schumacher's problem stems from a lack of confidence with the TF107, and that, despite making encouraging strides in recent tests, the German appears to have been set back by his Monaco disappointment.

"After Barcelona practice, Ralf had made a step in terms of confidence but, for different reasons, there were problems in Q1," he explained, "In the Barcelona race, he was capable of running competitively, but he was hit on the first lap after he had already made up some places. His pace was good when he was free and that was confirmation that we had made a step. Monaco we are looking into, but the track is a bit of a one-off. Usually, if you've made a step at Barcelona, it translates to other circuits.

"From the very beginning [in Monaco], we were struggling to give Ralf a car which was comfortable over bumps and kerbs and that affected his confidence. He felt very low grip as well. It was connected with general grip and confidence but there was no obvious limitation of one parameter. We can actually go a long way with a lot of parameters. We have a very wide window in terms of weight distribution, camber and suspension stiffness and we are not really limited."

Team president John Howett also remains in support of Schumacher, a man he insisted on bringing to the team at the expense of a large retainer, telling Austria's Kicker magazine that the driver could still win races for Toyota, and revealing to Express that he was not planning to offload his charge.

"Ralf's contract runs out at the end of the season, and we have a two-year option beyond that," he said, "We recently began talks with Ralf and his management, and these discussions are ongoing."

Schumacher's manager, Hans Mahr, confirmed that he was in touch with the team, and that he was happy with the situation concerning his driver.

"Toyota has rejected all this speculation, and we have nothing to add on the matter," he insisted, "Ralf does not listen to such rumours and his focus, instead, is on Montreal in order to get a good result there. That is all that is important to Toyota, and all that is important to Ralf."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...