Visitors to the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf can always discover the latest and most unusual campers on their way through the halls of the world's largest camper and caravan exhibition.
However, a particular highlight in the field of converted panel vans for 2022 could be found in Hall 14, which ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher had designed, and he himself accompanied the presentation during the trade fair.
Ralf Schumacher often on the switchbacks in the Alps
What certainly not every motorsport fan has on their radar: Ex-Formula 1 star Ralf Schumacher is actually a real outdoor fan who particularly likes touring the serpentines in the Alps, making various stops at particularly beautiful views and with pleasure stayed there longer.
Ralle's answer to our question is that this is more possible in the relatively anonymous camping vehicle than in populated locations.
Of course, there was already a connection to camping when I was a racing driver, because before I could become a Formula 1 star, I had to endure tough years of apprenticeship that didn’t take place in the luxury accommodation. Camping is also one of Schumacher's passions.
Some highlights in the life of Ralf Schumacher
Successes in the Japanese Formula Nippon brought Ralf Schumacher his first contract for Formula 1. After initial tests at McLaren-Mercedes, he nevertheless made his debut with Eddie Jordan's team, where he achieved the required racing speed right from the start in Jordan, which was then powered by Peugeot engines, but also, to the chagrin of his team boss, showed his willingness to have a conflict with his own teammate.
Already in the third race in Argentina there was a collision with Giancarlo Fisichella, who wanted to defend his second place and spun off the track. But Ralf Schumacher, who fell back to third place due to an unfavourable pit stop, was able to celebrate his first podium finish.
Years later, Eddie Jordan stated that it was better to delay said stop in order to maintain a chance of victory. The team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship with 33 points, with Fisichella being the more consistent driver with 20 points.
For the 1998 Formula 1 World Championship, Jordan got a new drive unit in the form of the Mugen Honda, and Schumacher had a new teammate and former world champion in Damon Hill to compete with. Hill won the chaos race in Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the younger Schumacher, but after the race it became known that Jordan did not want to risk his drivers colliding in the pouring rain and that Hill, who was leading the race and was driving with defective brakes, achieved his first victory by directing the stable helped for his team.
But this year, too, Ralf Schumacher lost to his teammate, this time by 20 to 14 World Championship points. Although the team had finished fourth in the constructors' championship with 34 points, Jordan was unhappy behind the scenes with the German, who had openly criticized the team's technical reliability and safety criteria. To the surprise of many journalists, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Schumacher swapped cockpits at the end of the season. What many observers initially thought was a bad trade for both drivers turned out to be the right move in hindsight. Both careers, which had faltered somewhat, got off to a better start.
In 1999, Schumacher switched to the Williams F1 team, which was in transition, and claimed to become world champion in the medium to long term. But the Renault engine, with which Jacques Villeneuve became world champion in 1997, was at best a second choice as a customer Mecachrome engine. Nevertheless, Schumacher drove a courageous season and, favored by many retirements, had a good chance of victory at the Nürburgring, which was thwarted, however, by a tire defect. Schumacher was able to leave his teammate and Formula 1 returnee Alessandro Zanardi, who had dominated the American Champ Car series almost at will in previous years, well over the course of the season.
When Williams became a works team in 2000 due to the entry of BMW and had a much more competitive engine, the situation for Schumacher became significantly better. He achieved three podium finishes and a year later Schumacher was able to claim his first victory at the Imola GP. This success was followed in the same year by two more race victories in Montreal and Hockenheim. While Jenson Button was Ralf's teammate until the end of the 2000 season, Juan Pablo Montoya joined Williams in 2001 and, according to the specialist press, together with Schumacher formed the strongest driver team in Formula 1.
In 2002, Schumacher won the Malaysian GP and at the end of the year – like in 2001 – finished fourth in the world championship. A year later he achieved two victories: at the European GP and at the French GP.
On June 20, 2004, Schumacher was seriously injured in an accident at the US Grand Prix. The acceleration or deceleration of the impact was given as 78 g (765 m/s²), one of the highest ever measured in Formula 1 history. This ended with a concussion and two minor spinal fractures. He was immediately transported to a nearby hospital and spent about four days there and in bed at home for several months. In the USA itself, however, a misdiagnosis was made, since initially only a severe concussion and bruises in the back area were found. The correct diagnosis was only made in the sports clinic in Bad Nauheim. After this race he drove only three of the remaining nine races. He ended the season in 9th place overall with 24 points.
In 2005, Ralf Schumacher then switched to Toyota F1. During the pre-season, the press speculated that Schumacher would switch to another team. Because of the dissatisfaction with his previous employer (quote: "Williams used to be a top team!") and the lack of prospects for the world championship driver's title, Schumacher decided to switch to the Toyota team based in Cologne. This decision was initially controversial, since the Japanese team was at best in the middle of the competition at the time; Schumacher himself saw his signing at Toyota as a “long-term sporting action”. The racing team had the largest budget, which, in addition to intensive development opportunities for the car, also enabled one of the highest salaries of any driver.
The first year with the Japanese racing team went much better than expected for Schumacher. The Toyota proved to be more competitive than the year before. In Hungary and China he was able to win third place; At the Japanese GP, he even achieved pole position in an eventful qualifying session. His team-mate Jarno Trulli initially seemed to get along better with Toyota, particularly due to the very good qualifying results. Towards the end of the year, however, the car did more justice to Schumacher's driving requirements, so that he was able to outperform his team-mates in terms of points.
Toyota seemed to be on the upswing since the Nürburgring race. Advanced aerodynamic parts on the cars made them more competitive, which Ralf Schumacher was able to implement better than his teammate Jarno Trulli. After a long dry spell, Ralf won three more points at the Hungarian Grand Prix. After the Japanese Grand Prix, when he had to retire due to electronic problems, Schumacher nevertheless announced that he would no longer drive for Toyota from the following season, but would remain in Formula 1. The trade press subsequently associated Schumacher with the Force India team. An engagement at McLaren was also discussed in the media after ex-world champion Fernando Alonso had cleared his cockpit there; however, it proved unlikely. During winter tests in Jerez, Spain, Schumacher drove a few test laps for the new Force India racing team, whose team owner he is friends with. After he was not able to achieve fast lap times and fell well short of the expectations of the public and the media, Ralf Schumacher announced the probable end of his F1 career due to a lack of alternatives.
Back to the presented Robeta in the Schumacher Edition
Ralf Schumacher already owns a Ducato-based Robeta Apollo, which has also been completely upgraded and which, at 6.40 meters in length, was his previous companion in the Alps. With the now presented Mercedes Sprinter in the Schumacher Edition, the next luxury van is coming onto the streets, because together with the Slovenian campervan manufacturer Robeta, based on their own experience, they developed a new, independent motorhome, which is based on the 7.36 meter-long Mercedes Sprinter with 9-speed automatic transmission and dual tires. Ralf had all the technology installed that the Mercedes product range has to offer right from the factory. The Sprinter was also raised, equipped with its own JL Audio sound system and given a significantly wider front.
The higher Mercedes Sprinter from Robeta will also be available with all-wheel drive as an option in the future. Inside, one feels more like standing on board a modernized sailing ship. A yacht builder was called in to build the furniture and give the boat a high-quality look. Black Kerrock was used in the kitchen unit – a material that looks like marble but is significantly lighter. It forms a strong contrast to the warm wood, the white fabric on the walls and the white marble-effect floor.
The kitchen not only has an induction cooker, but also a dishwasher and a wine fridge. Quite normal for large liners in the Morelo & Co category, but very unusual for a campervan.
The bathroom has moved completely to the rear of the Mercedes and makes room for a large sofa with a pull-out function at the height of the sliding door. Sure, space is limited in the campervan, but the bathroom is surprisingly large. A private shower with a glass partition, a black sit-on sink, a ceramic toilet and a large illuminated mirror are on board.
The highlight at the end: there has never been a fold-down bed like this before
The fold-down bed above the center section of the vehicle adapts to the roof of the Mercedes, which runs upwards when lowering or raising, by automatically extending and retracting the side sections. It offers a surprisingly large sleeping area (1.70 m x 2.10 m). A customizable motif was attached to the underside, which is embedded in the striking but harmonious lighting concept of the camper with a surrounding LED strip.
We wish a lot of fun in camping, wherever the journey takes you.
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