Rubens Barrichello drove a brilliant, aggressive race to take victory at the British Grand Prix, in what was an action-packed thriller. From start to finish it was madness, with safety cars, a complete lunatic running down the track and so much ...
Rubens Barrichello drove a brilliant, aggressive race to take victory at the British Grand Prix, in what was an action-packed thriller. From start to finish it was madness, with safety cars, a complete lunatic running down the track and so much overtaking it was impossible to keep up. The best race Formula One has seen in years had Barrichello triumphant, with Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen second and third.
The weather behaved for race day, sunny and warm, and the intriguing grid line-up -- four different marques on the first four positions -- promised a good start. It was action right from the red lights going out: pole sitter Barrichello lost out to second placed Jarno Trulli, the Renault shooting off the line to take the lead.
Raikkonen also had a great start to take second, relegating Barrichello to third. Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Sauber spewed out clouds of smoke and crawled off the grid, but eventually he got going, while the second Renault of Fernando Alonso harassed the Williams of Ralf Schumacher in the first few corners.
Ralf and Montoya both had good starts, back-of-the-grid Jenson Button took five places to fifteenth and David Coulthard up to ninth. At the front it was Trulli, Raikkonen and Barrichello from Ralf, Michael Schumacher and Montoya while there were fights aplenty in the midfield. Jordan's Ralph Firman and Minardi's Jos Verstappen were arguing like mad, Justin Wilson and Frentzen doing the same.
Frentzen homed in on Firman and dispatched him and Verstappen in quick succession. At the front, Barrichello was catching up to Raikkonen but on lap six the safety car was deployed due to debris on the track at Copse. Part of Coulthard's cockpit bodywork, the head support, detached and flew off, leaving carbon fibre on the extremely fast corner.
It was too dangerous to send a marshal out so the safety car hit the track and Coulthard dived into the pits along with Firman. After a couple of laps racing recommenced, the pack bunching up behind leader Trulli. Montoya had a go at Michael into Copse but missed it and went off, managing to keep it together. Button was up to eleventh, Michael closing on Ralf and Barrichello on Raikkonen. The Brazilian got past the McLaren when Raikkonen made a slight error and then an astounding act of sheer madness occurred.
A lunatic, for want of a politer word, got onto the circuit and ran down the middle of the track at Hangar Straight -- the fastest part of the track. There were cars everywhere, many having to swerve to avoid him, it was unbelievable. The same happened at Hockenheim in 2000 and luckily this time the outcome was similarly without injury. The consequences could have been horrific; it really doesn't bear thinking about.
A marshal tackled the idiot to the ground fairly swiftly and the safety car appeared again. Not a good thing to happen when Silverstone's future is already on rocky ground. How the man got onto the track is unknown, it was appalling.
The end result was the grid being turned upside down and what followed was the finest motor race in F1 for a very very long time. Just about the whole pack leapt into the pits and Toyota's Cristiano da Matta was the leader from teammate Olivier Panis, Coulthard and Trulli. Overtaking by the bucketful followed, you didn't know where to look for fear of missing something.
Raikkonen was on a charge, taking Trulli at the restart, then teammate Coulthard, and not even bothering to wait for Copse as he stormed past Panis on the pit straight. Brilliant stuff! Barrichello was similarly determined, fighting with Ralf for corner after corner until finally making it stick, then homing in on Trulli.
Jacques Villeneuve was having a go at Mark Webber and Michael was stuck back in fourteenth. Montoya got past Ralf and there was three abreast between a Sauber, BAR and Jordan, although which drivers was impossible to tell it was all happening so fast. Ralf pitted unexpectedly after one of his barge boards fell off, while Michael had a go at Alonso at Club but couldn't get past.
Barrichello had a similar go at Trulli at Stowe, equally unsuccessful as his teammate, and Alonso shot past Villeneuve. Michael had a brief off at turn 14 that dropped him back a few places and Webber dispatched Firman at Copse, with Alonso following on. Montoya overtook Trulli at Stowe and Michael got frustrated behind Villeneuve, stuck in a BAR sandwich with Button behind.
Villeneuve held the Ferrari off for many a lap, the old sparring partners occupying the same track space for some time. Montoya and Barrichello got past Panis then leader da Matta pitted. Michael finally got past Villeneuve at Abbey and Button had a go too but Jacques wasn't having that. Michael closed in on Firman and breezed past while Ralf was cutting his way through the field after his unscheduled stop.
Antonio Pizzonia was the first retirement, what looked like an engine failure at Stowe. Raikkonen, who had inherited the lead, dived in for his second stop, leaving Barrichello to belt out fastest lap after fastest lap as he tried to gain the advantage for his own stop. Alonso had some electronic problem that caused him to stall on his stop, then the Renault ground to a halt on the pit straight later on.
Barrichello's pit stop did not put him out in front of Raikkonen, so the Brazilian stormed up behind the Finn and harassed him. The pair fought for a few corners but eventually Kimi had to go wide after blocking Rubens, otherwise he would have thrown it all away risking an accident. Barrichello reclaimed the lead.
Giancarlo Fisichella was the second of only three retirements; the Jordan broke a push rod going into Becketts and flew off track, bouncing wildly over the grass and narrowly missed collecting a Sauber as it hurtled back out. By then the top three were Barrichello, Raikkonen and Montoya.
Michael was having a go at Trulli and eventually got him to take fifth then Raikkonen had a bit of a moment at Stowe, leaving Montoya to barrel past. Coulthard was harassing da Matta and got past after Stowe to take sixth. Button, meanwhile, had clawed his way back to eighth and set about giving da Matta a hard time.
Coulthard closed in on Trulli and dispatched the Renault fairly swiftly and Villeneuve had a random act of madness, careering off into the gravel on the last lap. Suddenly, after all the action, it was abruptly over. Barrichello took his sixth F1 victory and the first of this year from Montoya and Raikkonen in what was a truly exciting afternoon of motor racing.
One hell of a race. Barrichello was the man of the day, a superb drive with some excellent overtaking moves -- although there were many, many other worthy performances, too many to mention. Raikkonen drove brilliantly until the latter stages, Coulthard did well to get up to fifth and da Matta led the race in calm and collected style in his laps of glory. Button too was noteworthy for finishing eighth after starting from the back.
Michael retains his lead of the Driver's championship by seven points from Raikkonen and Ferrari by ten points from Williams in the Constructors'. Whether it be the regulation changes, the on-track unexpected or even completely insane people wandering into the action, Silverstone 2003 was definitely one to remember. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, Montoya, Raikkonen, M. Schumacher, Coulthard, Trulli, da Matta, Button.