In one of the most dramatic Formula One races staged for many years, Jaguar Racing driver Mark Webber earned the team their first championship points of the 2003 season, albeit in a race that was stopped after 57 of the scheduled 71 laps. Mark...
In one of the most dramatic Formula One races staged for many years, Jaguar Racing driver Mark Webber earned the team their first championship points of the 2003 season, albeit in a race that was stopped after 57 of the scheduled 71 laps.
Mark began the race from 3rd place on the grid but the team decided to take advantage of the Safety Car race start and began Antonio Pizzonia from the pitlane thereby giving the team an opportunity to fill his car with fuel and opt for a one-stop fuel strategy. Antonio would otherwise have begun the race from 17th on the grid with a two-stop strategy.
The start of the race was delayed by fifteen minutes because of torrential rain and when it eventually got underway, the first seven laps were completed behind the Safety Car. After eleven laps, Mark was in 4th place and Antonio had climbed up to 14th place. The Interlagos circuit was rain-drenched for most of the race and subsequently claimed many drivers - most notably at Turn Three that saw Jenson Button (BAR-Honda), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and unfortunately Antonio aquaplane off into the safety barrier.
The Safety Car was deployed on no less than four separate occasions in a race that saw only ten drivers finish and to their credit, the Jaguar Racing tacticians took full advantage and called Mark in for pit- stops during two such occasions thereby ensuring that he was capable of running until the end of the chequered flag. By lap 50, Mark was placed in a points-scoring 8th position but as he approached the fast left-hander leading onto the pit- straight, he lost control of his Jaguar R4 and crashed very heavily into the tyre wall and spun several times before coming to a halt against the concrete wall which forms the entry to the pit-lane. The trail of carnage left in his wake unfortunately caused the Renault of Fernando Alonso to collide with a wheel lying on the track and the resulting heavy crash forced the race stewards to abandon the race on lap 53.
In the event of a race being abandoned in such circumstances, the race order from two laps previously is declared as the final result (1st Kimi Raikkonen - McLaren-Mercedes; 2nd Giancarlo Fisichella - Jordan-Ford; 3rd Fernando Alonso - Renault; 7th Mark Webber - Jaguar Racing).
Dr Mark Gillan - Head of Vehicle Performance
"Not a race anyone is going to forget for many a year to come! We were informed on the grid that the race would be delayed by fifteen minutes and given how far Antonio was on the grid, we decided to start his race from the pit-lane with a full fuel-load. Given how bad the track conditions were, we knew that finishing this race alone would probably ensure points and with that in mind, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain by opting for a one-stopper with Antonio."
"With Mark, we suffered from a slight electronic problem on the grid but the team addressed it effectively and we got him away OK. We were running very strongly in the race and everything was going according to plan until lap 24 when Antonio spun off at Turn Three - a corner that cost many drivers their race today because of standing water. Mark, however, was running very well indeed and when the Safety Car was deployed on lap 32, we pitted Mark for the second time and fuelled him until the finish - a strategy that would have seen us on the podium today had we not have suffered from the huge accident on lap 53."
"The Jaguar R4 has performed strongly here all weekend and the race was no different. The sector times were on the pace and even though Mark was carrying more fuel than was necessary to compensate for a fuel pick-up issue, his lap times were very competitive in conditions which, quite frankly, were atrocious. The Michelin tyre worked very here all weekend and while we are obviously pleased with having earned two championship points, it's a shame we couldn't have taken what we really deserved from the weekend."
"Having said that, it's great to see Eddie Jordan get onto the podium with our parent company Ford who provide the horsepower for both our teams! We have clearly demonstrated the potential of the Jaguar R4 this weekend and while we would have liked to have scored our first points under somewhat more positive circumstances, we have at least rewarded our committed parent company, sponsors and workforce with a taste of things to come."
"I don't think races come any tougher than that. We went into the race with a good strategy and even though observers thought we were running a light fuel strategy because of our excellent 3rd place qualifying position, I think we proved many people wrong today by showing otherwise. The pace and balance of the Jaguar R4 has been very good all weekend and even though the race conditions were far from ideal, the car proved very competitive out there today. There was a far amount of surface water lying all around the track but the kink after turn two was by far the most dangerous and caught many drivers out including my team mate Antonio."
"After my first pit stop, I came out behind the BMW Williams of Juan-Pablo Montoya who was holding me up quite a lot and it was quite difficult to find an opportunity to overtake him. Nonetheless, I kept pushing and after my second pitstop, I was fuelled right up to the top and aiming for the end of the race when we would have leap-frogged quite a few runners. Unfortunately, however, that didn't happen and at this stage, I am not 100% sure what caused by accident on the final left-hander."
"Given the unforgiving nature of this circuit combined with the very heavy fuel load I was carrying, I suspect the tyres were struggling with grip - something I'm sure everyone had to contend with today. The accident was pretty big by any standards but thankfully, I'm OK. I want to thank all the Jaguar crew for putting in a sterling effort this weekend and in the process, we've earned ourselves two championship points. We've also shown some phenomenal potential this weekend and there are a lot of positives to take away and exploit over the remaining thirteen races."
"A good day for Jaguar Racing but it could have been better had I stayed in the race and earned some points too. The team made exactly the right call by starting me from the pitlane and as we anticipated, many drivers fell off today, albeit me too! The long kink leading from turn two into turn three was laden with water and there was literally nothing I could do at that speed. The car hit the stream flowing across the track and after that, I was little more than a passenger."
"As I was spinning off, I could see Montoya's BMW Williams sitting the space I was about to occupy in the safety barrier and even though I hit him quite hard, we were both OK. A shame really given how good the car felt on the wet Michelins and combined with the thorough strategy work the team had undertaken, it's disappointing to walk away from my home race with no points. The good news, however, is that Jaguar Racing is on the championship score sheet and we have a lot to be pleased about after the performance of the car this weekend."
Best time: 1.24.956
Best time: 1.27.990