Schumacher's bad dream continues 23 Mar 2003
Schumacher's nightmare. Once a headline in FORMULA 1 Magazine, that was precisely what Kimi Raikkonen proved to be in Sepang today.
With a faultless performance, the Finn avenged Magny-Cours last year and Melbourne a fortnight ago. Now he not only leads the world championship, he also has twice the points of Schumacher.
Schumacher proved to be Jarno Trulli's nemesis for the race, punting the Italian at the second corner, then dropping back after a pit stop to replace his Ferrari's nose. The stewards also awarded him a drive-through penalty for the incident, one of a total of four visits he made to the pits during the race, which effectively put him out of contention for the race. In the circumstances his point-scoring sixth place finish was a remarkable achievement.
Though the Renaults had started from the front row, by lap 14 Alonso's early pit stop turned the race into a contest between Raikkonen and Barrichello, the high track temperatures obviously benefiting the Michelin-shod McLaren, Kimi taking victory by a margin of almost 40 seconds.
Alonso scored the podium finish that Renault had expected despite suffering from a fever throughout the race after a smooth, mature driving performance. Ralf Schumacher kept out of trouble to finish fourth (from 17th on the grid), Jarno Trulli and Michael Schumacher completed the top six - both overtaking a practically slick-shod Jenson Button on the final lap.
Once again, a Grand Prix appeared to endorse the regulation changes.