FEBRUARY 22, 2004

Ralf draws a line in the sand

Ralf Schumacher says that he will be sad to leave Williams at the end of the 2004 but he will do so unless the team improves its financial terms for a new contract.

"It would be sad but I can't allow myself to be treated like that by Williams," Schumacher told Bild am Sonntag in Germany. "I find it hard to understand certain things that have happened these past few months."

Schumacher is upset because Williams has made it clear that it will not pay him anywhere close to the $15m that he thinks he is worth. Ralf is currently being paid $12m a year but Williams is believed to be offering considerably less for 2005 and beyond. The team believes that driver salaries have risen too far in recent years and that a driver must be worth his salary. Ralf Schumacher has had good weekends and bad weekends in recent years but has not shown himself to be of World Championship winning calibre to date. Williams appears to believe thatt it can get good drivers cheaply if it has the best equipment. This theory has always worked well in the past with a string of drivers earning their spurs at Williams before moving elsewhere to make a lot of money.

If Schumacher thinks that he has a strong bargaining position it is worth remembering that Williams dumped Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Alain Prost when they were World Champions - because they wanted more than the team was willing to offer...