Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Race Rewind: Silverstone 2003

In the first article of this new feature, I take a look back at the 2003 British Grand Prix

The teams arrived at Silverstone for round 11 with the championship finely poised after a season that had seen 6 different winners in the first 10 races. There were several changes for this year with one lap qualifying introduced in place of the 60 minute session and the points system adjusted so that the top 8 finishers could now score. Early season highlights included Kimi Raikkonen taking his first win in Malaysia as well as Giancarlo Fisichella in a chaotic grand prix in Sao Paulo. Reigning world champion Michael Schumacher then had a dominant spell, taking 4 of the next 5 races before brother Ralf took 2 in a row.

The Grid:

1. Rubens Barrichello
2. Jarno Trulli
3. Kimi Raikkonen
4. Ralf Schumacher
5. Michael Schumacher
6. Cristiano Da Matta
7. Juan Pablo Montoya
8. Fernando Alonso
9. Jacques Villeneuve
10. Antonio Pizzonia
11. Mark Webber
12. David Coulthard
13. Olivier Panis
14. Heinz-Harald Frentzen
15. Giancarlo Fisichella
16. Nick Heidfield
17. Ralph Firman
18. Justin Wilson
19. Jos Verstappen
20. Jenson Button

Rubens Barrichello took pole position but was swallowed up at the start by Jarno Trulli in the Renault, which usually made places at the start, as well as Kimi Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso hounded Michael Schumacher down Hangar straight but was squeezed onto the grass by the German and was subsequently passed by Juan Pablo Montoya. The safety car was deployed on lap 5 after the head rest around David Coulthard flew off at Copse, leaving debris on the racing line. The Scotsman pitted for a new one as well as the Toyota's who were running light on a 3 stop strategy. When racing resumed, Barrichello was immediately onto Raikkonen's tail and made a superb move around the outside of the Finn into the Abbey chicane.

The Brazilian was now chasing Trulli down but then a moment of madness as a man ran onto the track with cars passing him down Hangar straight. Most cars gave Neil Horan a wide berth though Antonio Pizzonia, in what would prove to be his last race for Jaguar before being replaced by Minardi driver Justin Wilson, caused him some concern. The safety car was immediately deployed and the pitlane was absolutely crowded. However the early stoppers stayed out and took full advantage, meaning Toyota were now 1-2. Raikkonen was also able to jump Barrichello. Some drivers, including the Schuamcher brothers had to quene and lost out badly.

Cristiano Da Matta used his experience of racing in the USA well to stay in front when the race went green again but it was Raikkonen on the move as he passed both Trulli and team mate Coulthard on lap 15. He then overtook Oliver Panis but could not get close enough to challenge Da Matta and this was crucial as it meant the field behind remained within striking distance and particularly Barrichello who was recovering positions and closing in. The 3 stoppers would drop back after their 2nd stops and it Barrichello v Raikkonen round 2. Rubens tried at Abbey again but Raikkonen defended hard. The cars were side-by-side into Bridge and Raikkonen carried too much speed into the corner, the McLaren going onto the grass and the Ferrari was through.

It got worse for McLaren as Raikkonen went wide at Stowe, allowing Montoya to nip past. Coulthard did improve things, recovering to take 5th behind Michael Schumacher as both men passed Trulli late on. Da Matta converted his surprise early lead into 2 points while Jenson Button had a great drive from the back of the grid after suspension failure in qualifying to get the final point in 8th. Giancarlo Fisichella had a spectacular suspension failure through Becketts, fortunately the Italian hit nobody in a high speed off. The day belonged to Barrichello though as he crossed the line 5 seconds clear of Montoya for a superb win after a great show of overtaking

The summer would see Europe hit by a heatwave and this hurt Bridgestone and Ferrari in particular. However controversy would follow when Michelin had to make changes to the design of their tyres. Williams and McLaren fumed at this and suddenly Schumacher was back in the title hunt. He went to Japan for the final race just needing a point to secure the title whilst Raikkonen needed a win to have any chance. Schuamcher had a poor and scrappy race but managed to get the point needed to take his 6th world championship while Barrichello took another victory in the far east.


  1. Thanks for this nice reminder :) Good season by the way

  2. Good article. Although I watched that entire season I have no memory of Ralph Firman what-so-ever. Strange. Had to look him up.

  3. Yeah, Jordan were slipping away competitive-wise and then Firman had a big crash at Hungary which didn't help either