The 2003 Spanish GP: Michael Schumacher’s 66th Win
The 2003 Season
After the near-disastrous beginning to the 2003 F1 season, Ferrari found their footing in the San Marino GP. Ferrari was hoping to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the forgettable earlier races. It was not an easy task with the McLarens and Williams both being competitive at the same time. It was also worth mentioning that a certain Fernando Alonso from the Renault team showed signs of brilliance every now and then. So, Schumacher did not have a shortage of competition; not since 1993 had Schumacher had so many competitors.
The Ferrari team had to contend with all these challenges and take the reigning world champion to where he rightfully belonged. The question was whether it would be an easy task. Ferrari would soon find out.
Let’s find out ourselves too.
Did You Know?
The 2003 season was one of the few seasons which saw eight different race winners. That kind of diverse winners list in a single season was only once before in 1982 when eleven winners took the top spot.
The 1982 (11) and the 2003 (8) number of winners record is something that won't be wiped-off too soon.
The 2003 Spanish GP Start
The qualifying went well for the Ferraris with both the cars on the front row of the grid. It brought back memories of the dominant 2002 season where almost all the time the pole and the front row was reserved for the Ferraris. The start, too, was expected to be as usual with both the cars pulling away. Finally, the team was coming out of the woeful start to the season. Or were they?
Take a look at the start of the race:
Suggestion: The audio is not in English. So, mute it and watch, if you don’t follow the language.
The race started well for the Ferraris until Alonso rocketed past Barrichello and almost caught Michael Schumacher before the first turn. Barrichello immediately clawed back and went past Schumacher. In a funny turn of events, Schumacher and Barrichello found themselves in a wheel-to-wheel before the first three settled down. At the end of the second turn, it was Michael followed by Barrichello and then Alonso.
Back in the field, the championship leader, Raikkonen, did not have a great start. Firstly, he had to start from the back of the grid, and then he ploughed into the back of a stationary Jaguar of Pizzonio. That ended his race for the Spanish GP.
The 2003 Spanish GP in Action
The Ferraris led in the same order until the first pitstop. The Renault of Alonso was quite quick, and it almost kept pace with the Ferraris. After the pitstop, while Michael came out ahead, Alonso managed to relegate Barrichello to the third place.
Here is the race summary:
Recommendation: Loud background music. Please turn down the volume or watch on mute.
Alonso fancied his chance of beating Schumacher too, as he had to put out quick laps until the next pitstop. If he were close enough, the pitstop would do the trick and move Alonso to the top. However, this was one race where the backmarkers were ill-behaved. Alonso got caught up between the backmarkers and their mutual contests. As such, he could hardly reduce the gap between him and Schumacher.
The second stop went as expected, with Schumacher leading from Alonso and Barrichello, and that is how the race ended. The Spanish GP happened to be the second consecutive win for Ferrari and Schumacher in the 2003 season. With the success, Schumacher finally was in the race for the title. Raikkonen still led the table and was four points ahead of Schumacher.
With the Spanish GP win, Ferrari fancied their chances of winning the 2003 season; not a bad thing as just a couple of races before, they were hardly finishing races.
Did You Know?
Michael's six wins in the 2003 season against Raikkonen's one win was only good enough to take Schumacher ahead by two points.
The close finish could be attributed to the new points system introduced for the 2003 season which allowed a consistent second or third-place finisher to amass good amount of points as against an inconsistent first place finisher.
Back to the Garage
The Spanish GP win following the San Marino win set up the title chase between the defending team and the others. The 2003 season with four consistent teams at the top made the work for Schumacher even more difficult.
All the juggernaut of the 2002 season was soon forgotten. The Ferrari team got back to the drawing board to make a practical plan to get to the top and stay there for the remainder of the 2003 season.
© 2020 S K