Race report - Spain 04 May 2003
Michael Schumacher put his world championship challenge firmly back on track in Spain on Sunday by becoming the first man to win two Grands Prix this season. For the reigning champion it was a perfect debut victory in the new Ferrari F2003-GA.
Schumacher's sole real problem was team-mate Rubens Barrichello, with whom he brushed briefly in the second corner, edging the Brazilian on to the dirt as they ran side by side. Behind them, chaos reigned.
On the grid, Antonio Pizzonia's Jaguar failed to get away for the second race in succession. Behind him, Justin Wilson jinked round the stricken Jaguar, but Kimi Raikkonen, starting at the back of the grid, was unsighted and ran straight into the back of the R4. The McLaren Mercedes lost its right-front wheel, while the Jaguar's rear end was damaged. The safety car was deployed while the wreckage was cleared away.
Meanwhile, in Turn Two, Jarno Trulli tagged the rear end of David Coulthard's McLaren Mercedes, putting the Renault out of commission and delaying the Scot. Later, Coulthard went off after a collision with Jenson Button, on the 18th lap.
After five laps behind the safety car the field was racing again, and as Fernando Alonso took the fight to Rubens Barrichello in the second Ferrari, Schumacher slipped away. Both teams opted for three-stop strategies, and though the gap between Schumacher and Alonso fluctuated, especially in traffic, Michael had this one taped. Barrichello, his car less well set up than Schumacher's, could not hold the fleet Spaniard - who twice led for a lap during Schumacher's pit calls - and had to settle for third.
Behind them, BMW Williams went for harder compound Michelins and two-stop strategies and garnered fourth and fifth places courtesy of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. The latter held Alonso up as they fought for track position after pit stops, and later when the Spaniard was lapping him, leading to an off-course moment for the German when he slid wide and got into the dirt on lap 41. That enabled Montoya to catch him, and after some side-by-side running, to overtake on lap 46. At the flag Schumacher Jnr was only fractions ahead of an aggressive Cristiano da Matta, who scored his first world championship points and Toyota's overdue first of 2003 after an excellent drive.
Mark Webber two-stopped home to seventh and Jaguar's first points of the season, ahead of a delighted Ralph Firman who kept his Jordan ahead of Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld despite considerable pressure.
The result puts Schumacher within four points of Raikkonen in the title chase, with Alonso third another three adrift of Schumacher. McLaren Mercedes is three points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' points table, but the Italian team's title challenge is now firmly back on track.