Race review - Barrichello wins in Britain 20 Jul 2003
The last time that a deranged spectator invaded a race track during a Grand Prix, the winner's name was Rubens Barrichello. Three years ago, at Hockenheim, a German protester made his point by foolishly walking along the side of the track. Barrichello won his first Grand Prix that afternoon.
At Silverstone today, history repeated itself, right down to the identity of the man on the top step of the podium.
Initially, Barrichello was beaten off the line by Jarno Trulli, who led for the first five laps until the safety car was deployed on lap six while debris - the headrest from David Coulthard's McLaren - was cleared away from Copse corner. When racing resumed on lap eight Trulli set about rebuilding his lead, chased by fast-starting Kimi Raikkonen and Barrichello. But on lap 12 came the incident when a spectator making an apparently religious protest - he carried a banner with the words 'Read the Bible, the Bible is always right' - began running down Hangar Straight - the fastest part of the course - into the path of the cars exiting Chapel curve. The safety car was immediately redeployed, and stayed out until lap 15.
However, its redeployment prompted a rash of pit stops on the 12th lap - in came Trulli, Barrichello (who had sneaked by Raikkonen at Abbey Curve), Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher, Michael Schumacher, Montoya, Fernando Alonso, Jacques Villeneuve, Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld and Jenson Button (who made swift progress from the back of the grid). Inevitably, the second cars in each team lost time as they waited for their team mates to be serviced. Particularly affected by this were Alonso and M Schumacher, though both Montoya and the Spaniard slipped ahead of the world champion in the pit stop process.
When things settled down on the 16th lap Formula One was treated to a unique sight: two Toyotas leading the field. Cristiano da Matta had refuelled on lap six when the safety car first came out, as had Olivier Panis. Now they were running 1-2, ahead of Coulthard (who had a new headrest fitted on lap six), Trulli, Raikkonen, R Schumacher, Barrichello, Ralph Firman (who didn't pit), Webber, Villeneuve, Pizzonia, Montoya, Alonso and M Schumacher.
Raikkonen soon disposed of Panis, but da Matta was a different proposition and the Finn had to wait until lap 30, when the Brazilian pitted for fuel, to take the lead. Now he was chased by Barrichello, who had tigered his way through the traffic after a big fight with Trulli and Coulthard's second stop on lap 28. Behind him, Montoya was looking strong as Alonso moved up to chase Trulli. But for Michael Schumacher it was a nightmare for many laps as he sat in 13th place, trapped behind the crocodile of Firman, Webber, Pizzonia, Villeneuve and Alonso. The Spaniard and the French-Canadian proved particularly resistant to his attempts to pass, and at this stage the amount of time he lost would seal his fate.
When Raikkonen pitted on lap 35 Barrichello went into the lead for the first time, chased by Montoya and the Renaults. Raikkonen went back ahead when the Ferrari was refuelled on lap 39, but it was immediately obvious that the red car was faster than the silver one on this occasion. Raikkonen led laps 40 and 41, but on lap 42 while fending off pressure from Barrichello at Bridge corner, he slid wide and in a flash the Ferrari moved into a lead it would never surrender. Worse still for Raikkonen, another off-course moment at Abbey let Montoya into second place.
Way back down the road, M Schumacher had worked his way up to fourth, leaving Trulli to fight with Coulthard and da Matta. A bit further back Button, Alonso and Villeneuve were also embroiled in a fine battle, which went the Briton's way as he closed in on da Matta at the end. Alonso stopped with electrical problems (he'd been without traction control since his second stop on lap 38), and Villeneuve spun while trying to catch Button.
For Barrichello it was a great victory and vindication after all the criticism he has had to endure in 2003, and for Montoya second place was enough to boost himself to third place in the title chase after team-mate Ralf Schumacher struggled to make up the time lost in his initial pit stop and then another to clear debris out of his radiators. Michael Schumacher continues to lead with 69 points to Raikkonen's 62, but Montoya now has 55 to Ralf's 53 and Barrichello's 49. In the constructors' stakes, Ferrari extended its lead with 118 points to Williams' 108 and McLaren Mercedes' 95.
Altogether, the 2003 British Grand Prix was a fantastic race. Besides the incident with the spectator, as yet unnamed by police who were still questioning him, there was more overtaking in this one event than in all the other 2003 races put together, following fabulous battles between Barrichello and Raikkonen, Raikkonen and Trulli, Button and Fisichella, M Schumacher and Alonso, Barrichello and Trulli, Pizzonia and Webber, Button and M Schumacher, M Schumacher and Villeneuve, Webber and Firman, Montoya and Trulli, Button and Villeneuve, Barrichello and Raikkonen again, Montoya and Raikkonen, M Schumacher and Trulli, and finally, Coulthard and Trulli. And all of this happened on track, not in the pits!
For race results in full click here.