Japanese GP: Mercedes-Benz race notes

Kimi Raikkonen Second in World Championship Kimi second at season's final. West McLaren Mercedes team-mate David Coulthard third. West McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen is the runner-up in the 2003 Formula 1 World Championship. The Finn ...

Kimi Raikkonen Second in World Championship
Kimi second at season's final. West McLaren Mercedes team-mate David Coulthard third.

West McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen is the runner-up in the 2003 Formula 1 World Championship. The Finn finished second at the final Grand Prix at Suzuka ahead of team-mate David Coulthard. Kimi crossed the finishing line of the Japanese Grand Prix after 53 laps 11.085sec behind winner Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) whose team-mate Michael Schumacher came home eighth and clinched his sixth World Championship title with 93 points. Kimi ended up two points behind in second place, David being seventh with 51 points. West McLaren Mercedes finished third in the Constructors' World Championship with 142 points behind Ferrari (158) and BMW Williams (144).

The start: In Saturday's qualifying David set seventh fastest time with light rain falling on the circuit. Kimi was eighth. Both improved by two positions at the start of the race and completed their first lap in fifth and sixth places respectively.

The race: On lap three Kimi overtook David to take fifth place, but found himself boxed in behind Cristiano da Matta's Toyota. On lap eight Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW Williams) retired from the lead and Barrichello's Ferrari went ahead. Kimi was then fourth with David fifth. On lap ten da Matta came in for his first stop followed two laps later by Barrichello, second place man Fernando Alonso (Renault) and David (7.5sec). Kimi was now in the lead until pitting on lap 13 (9.2sec). He resumed behind his team-mate. On lap 16 Barrichello led the race ahead of Alonso, David and Kimi.

Alonso retired on lap 18, elevating the West McLaren Mercedes to second and third positions. David, who was on a three stop strategy, came in for his second stop on lap 26 (7.6sec). Kimi came into the pits on lap 33 for his second and last stop (9.1sec) whilst David stopped again on lap 41 (6.4sec). The Scot accelerated back into the race directly behind Kimi. Both then ran the last ten laps in close company, less than a second apart. Kimi, who had taken one victory this year like David, crossed the finishing line second for the seventh time in 16 races.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"Obviously I'm a bit disappointed not to win the World Championship, but whilst we were close, we were not close enough - however at least we took the battle to the last round. I want to thank everybody in the team, both here and back at base, who have worked so hard during the season. I made an OK start, but I struggled with the handling on my last two sets of tyres. I continued to push as hard, but it was not enough. I am already looking forward to next year."

David Coulthard:

"I experienced a few handling problems with my second set of tyres, but at the end of the day third was what we could do today. Congratulations to Kimi on finishing second in the Championship."

West McLaren Mercedes Team Principal Ron Dennis:

"Kimi and David performed well, and we had a good strategy for both cars. We were able to fight until the very end. The entire team is already working hard on planning our 2004 season.”

Norbert Haug , Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"Kimi is runner-up in the World Championship two points behind, which is a good result at the end of an exciting season. The whole team did a great job and worked very hard to keep Kimi in contention for the title until the last race. David showed a strong drive coming home in third today. Congratulations to Michael Schumacher on his sixth World Championship title - at least he can't say we made it easy for him. Thanks to all our team members for their hard work during 2003. We will all continue our efforts in order to finish one better in 2004."

-mercedes-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Norbert Haug , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams