Brazilian wins arguably the best race of the season
In a great season, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone stood out for the quality of the racing, a great victory by Rubens Barrichello and the antics of one Father Neil Horan, who ran on to the fastest part of the track on the 12th lap.
Renaults Jarno Trulli led for the first five laps until the safety car was deployed for two laps on lap six while debris, the headrest from David Coulthards car, was cleared away from Copse corner. Then came the Horan incident. Carrying a placard, he began running down Hangar Straight into the path of the cars exiting Chapel curve. The safety car was immediately redeployed as a marshal tackled Horan, and stayed out until lap 15.
On lap 12 Trulli, Barrichello (who had overtaken Raikkonen at Abbey curve on the 11th lap), Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher, Michael Schumacher, Montoya, Alonso, Villeneuve, Webber, Heidfeld and Button all dived for the pits to refuel. Some lost time as their team mates were serviced. Alonso and M Schumacher suffered most, and though the Spaniard passed the German, both were leapfrogged by Montoya. Incredibly, Schumacher remained trapped in the midfield traffic for another 20 laps, frustrated by the never-say-die fight of Jacques Villeneuve.
When the safety car pitted on lap16 the two Toyotas led. Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis had refuelled on lap six under the first safety car, and now led Coulthard, Trulli, Raikkonen, R Schumacher and Barrichello.
Raikkonen soon disposed of Panis, but had to wait until da Matta stopped to refuel on the 30th lap to move ahead of the Brazilian. Meanwhile, Barrichello had been busy making up ground after a slow stop, passing and moving ahead of Coulthard when the Scot made his second stop on lap 28. Schumacher Snr, however, was still trapped in 13th place.
Raikkonens next stop on the 35th lap handed Barrichello the lead for the first time. They switched again when the Ferrari refuelled four laps later, but it was clear the Italian car was quicker. Under pressure from Barrichello on lap 42, Raikkonen slid wide at Bridge corner and the Brazilian pounced. Six laps later, Raikkonen lost second to Montoya after a similar incident at Abbey.
Michael Schumacher worked up to fourth by lap 48, leaving Trulli to fend off Coulthard and da Matta. Closing in on them, Button, Alonso and Villeneuve waged a great battle which was resolved when Alonsos car lost its electrics, and Villeneuve spun trying to catch Button.
The victory boosted Ferraris points lead and pushed Barrichello closer to the leading quartet in the driver standings, while Schumacher extended his lead over Raikkonen, and Montoya jumped to third ahead of his team mate.
The 2003 British Grand Prix will certainly be remembered for the errant spectator and the rash of pit stops his appearance prompted. But the excellence of the racing was also memorable. There were more overtaking moves than in all other 2003 races put together; Barrichello v Raikkonen, Raikkonen v Trulli, Button v Fisichella, M Schumacher v Alonso, Barrichello v Trulli, Pizzonia v Webber, Button v M Schumacher, M Schumacher v Villeneuve, Webber v Firman, Montoya v Trulli, Button v Villeneuve, Barrichello v Raikkonen again, Montoya v Raikkonen, M Schumacher v Trulli, and finally, Coulthard v Trulli. And it all took place, not in the pits, but in full view of a highly appreciative crowd.
It was a superb win for the beleaguered Barrichello. Coincidentally, the last time anyone got on to a track during a race was at Hockenheim in 2000. The Brazilian won that one as well.