The 2003 Canadian GP: Michael Schumacher’s 68th Career Win
The 2003 Season
After the 2002 juggernaut, Michael Schumacher was playing the catch-up game in the 2003 season. Championship leader, Kimi Raikkonen, was ahead of Schumacher as the teams reached Canada. Schumacher’s triple successive win in San Marino, Spain and Austria brought him closer to Raikkonen, but the reliability of the McLaren cars appeared better than the Ferraris. In such a circumstance, Schumacher needed to take as many wins as possible to neutralise the effects of Ferrari’s unreliability.
The qualifying session put Michael on P3 behind Ralf Schumacher and Montoya, but at least, ahead of Raikkonen. With the grid position as it was, Michael could only hope to get away ahead on race day.
Was it that easy? Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
Michael was finding it difficult to break to the top of the table even half-way through the 2003 season.
This was in contrast to his dominating 2002 F1 season, where Michael was at the top of the table from the very first race and stayed there throughout the season.
The 2003 Canadian Grand Prix
The start of the Canadian GP did not go as planned for Michael as he continued to stay behind Ralf and Montoya. He did make a slight attempt to go ahead of Montoya at the first corner, but then decided against it. The race positions had to be made up during the race, if at all.
Take a look at the race summary:
Suggestion: Music accompanies the commentary of critical encounters. Keep the audio on with low volume.
Despite the third position, Michael stayed with the lead pair and pitted only after the two Williams. The delayed pitstop allowed Michael to put in hot laps to make up time which worked in his favour when he pitted. On the out lap, Michael came out ahead of Ralf by a whisker. That’s how the position stayed until the second pitstop where again Michael just about pipped Ralf.
The only thing Michael had to work hard was against the pressure created by the Williams of Ralf, Montoya and later, even the Renault of Alonso. It was a literal train of cars, as Schumacher was balancing being fast and yet preserving his car. He did an excellent job as he could take the Ferrari past the finish line ahead of the rampaging Williams.
Raikkonen had a punctured rear wheel ,which fortunately happened before the pit entry, and hence he could get away with a slight delay; there was a delay, nonetheless. Raikkonen finished sixth behind the Ferrari of Barrichello in fifth place.
With that, Schumacher added one more win to his career and his fourth overall in the 2003 season.
The Championship at the End of the 2003 Canadian GP
For the very first time in the 2003 season, Michael reached the top spot after the victory in the Canadian GP. The season was at the exact midpoint. Michael was at 54 points to Raikkonen’s 51 points. Given the new points system, there was not enough room to relax as the slender three points lead could quickly dissipate away. Michael, probably, knew that better than the others.
This race was also the fourth instance of Michael and Ralf coming in 1-2, and was the only such occurrence in the 2003 season. A sibling record, so to say!
With the completion of formalities in Canada, Michael and the Ferrari team shifted their focus to the next race in Europe. They had their task cut out in front of them.
Did You Know?
The first time Ralf and Michael Schumacher finished 1-2 was also in Canada in the 2001 season. Only Ralf was the winner back then while Michael was in second place.
The pair are the only siblings to win Formula 1 races competing at the same time.
Back to the Garage
By the end of the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix, Michael had the most wins in the season as compared to any other driver on the grid. The Ferrari’s unreliability was the cause of Michael being just ahead of Raikkonen instead of a big lead.
The team expected to do well in the remaining races and, if possible, bring the drivers’ title back to the Ferrari fold. They had to wait for the remainder of the season to find out how it would all unfold.
© 2020 S K