DECEMBER 23, 2001
Willi and Williams
WILLI WEBER has written on Ralf Schumacher's web site demanding that issues within the team should be straightened out man-to-man rather than through the media, which might strike some as the pot calling the kettle black...
As hard as it is to imagine Patrick Head or Sir Frank Williams not expressing their opinions as freely within their own team as they do when in conference with journalists, it remains to be seen how the festive friction between the Schumacher camp and that of the Williams team develops once testing is underway in the New Year.
At the end of 2000 Jenson Button appeared to have the measure of the younger Schumacher brother within the team - and as a result Ralf came out of the blocks at full speed in 2001. One must suspect that there might be a little gamesmanship going on by the Englishmen to ensure that Ralf repeats that kind of form at the start of 2002 - it netted victory in San Marino and Canada after all.
Weber, who manages both Ralf and his illustrious brother Michael, does however appear to feel partly responsible for any note of antipathy in the Williams leadership. This is not a team accustomed to paying the kind of sums out to a driver that Weber negotiated on Ralf's behalf, and if he was therefore outpaced by his team mate then the forthright Head and Williams might, Weber conceded, feel justified in pressuring him.
"I succeeded in extending Ralf's contract, this was unique including the amount (although I won't provide the value) which Williams committed to pay," Weber said. "Frank may have regretted this afterwards - I don't know. It is assumed that it no longer pleases him as much. But it is now a signed contract. Both parties are obliged to stick to it."
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