2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
|2003 Brazilian Grand Prix|
|Race 3 of 16 in the 2003 Formula One World Championship|
|Date||6 April 2003|
|Official name||XXXII Grande Prêmio do Brasil|
Autódromo José Carlos Pace|
São Paulo, Brazil
|Course||Permanent Racing Facility|
|Course length||4.309 km (2.677 mi)|
|Distance||54 laps, 232.656 km (144.566 mi)|
|Scheduled distance||71 laps, 305.909 km (190.083 mi)|
20 °C (68 °F)
|Time||1:22.032 on lap 46|
The race was scheduled to run for 71 laps, but was stopped on lap 56 after two major crashes blocked the circuit. Due to confusion about the timing of the red flag, the win was initially awarded to Kimi Räikkönen of McLaren, with Giancarlo Fisichella of Jordan in second and Fernando Alonso of Renault in third. However, following a post-race appeal by the Jordan team, eventually heard in court, it was established that Fisichella was leading when the race results were declared, and he was awarded the win with Räikkönen demoted to second. Alonso remained in third place; he had missed the podium ceremony at the time as he was receiving medical attention. The race, which was Jordan's final victory, was the team's 200th Grand Prix. This was the first victory for a Ford engine since the 1999 European Grand Prix.
Due to a 2003 regulation change aimed at cutting costs, teams were only allowed to bring one wet-weather tyre compound to the race. All the teams on Bridgestone tyres had only brought an intermediate tyre, and this was deemed unsuitable for the torrential conditions. The start was delayed by ten minutes and took place under the safety car. Due to several accidents caused by the wet weather, the safety car deployed several times throughout the race.
Originally scheduled for 71 laps, the race saw several storm fronts make their way across the circuit, leaving the track with very little grip. Even when the rest of the track was relatively dry, the third corner remained extremely wet. Numerous drivers spun off the track at this point, including defending world champion Michael Schumacher, who nearly collided with the stalled Jaguar of Antônio Pizzonia (who himself made slight contact with the stalled Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya) and a nearby crane. On lap 26, the reigning World Champion spun off while taking the 'S' Senna turn. It was Schumacher's first race retirement since the 2001 German Grand Prix. There were also several accidents, as drivers fought the weather as well as each other. Mark Webber (Jaguar) was the only driver to spin out at this corner and recover to continue racing—Webber's later crash contributed to the race being stopped early.
Several teams adopted a pit strategy whereby they filled their cars with fuel early in the race, attempting to save enough fuel under the safety car to avoid having to stop again. This was successful for Giancarlo Fisichella, whose Jordan went from last in the field after an early pit stop to an eventual first place after the race was prematurely stopped. Fisichella said after the race he would have been unlikely to complete the race on that fuel load had the race continued to its full distance. "Honestly, it was on the limit", he later said after being asked about his strategy. Fisichella nearly had an accident when his teammate Ralph Firman suffered a suspension failure while running immediately behind him; Firman's car missed Fisichella and crashed into Olivier Panis.
Rubens Barrichello secured pole position, but lost the lead following the start. He put in a consistent performance to re-pass Coulthard during the race. He then set several fastest laps and lead the race by twenty seconds. Barrichello posted the fastest lap of the race on lap 46, but on the following lap, his Ferrari slowed and stopped, due to a fuel system fault. After Barrichello's car stopped, he watched the remainder of the race from a marshal's post. It was the first Ferrari double retirement since the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix and Barrichello's ninth retirement from a Brazilian Grand Prix in a row.
After race leader David Coulthard was called for a pit-stop, his teammate Kimi Räikkönen led the race on the 53rd lap, but a mistake allowed Giancarlo Fisichella to assume the lead on lap 54. Near the end of his 54th lap, Mark Webber crashed while exiting the final corner, bringing out the safety car. Fernando Alonso failed to slow for the waved yellow flags, and hit one of Webber's tyres at full speed on the 55th lap; his Renault crashed into a tyre wall protecting a guardrail, the impact damaging the barrier and sending car tyres across the circuit, blocking the track and making continuation of the race, even behind the safety car, impossible. The race was red flagged as a result, and as more than 75% of the race distance had been completed, it was declared over.
At the lap of the red flag being shown, there was confusion over whether the result should be taken from the order on lap 53 or lap 54. Ordinarily, this would be relatively academic, but with Fisichella taking the lead on lap 54, the decision was critical, and needed to be decided in order for the podium ceremony to take place. The circumstances of the race conclusion meant he would not necessarily win the race according to FIA rules. The circumstances also meant the post-race ceremonies were marked by considerable confusion on the part of the race stewards, organisers, the teams and drivers. Fisichella believed that he had won; he and his team boss, Eddie Jordan were shown initially celebrating victory before being informed that Räikkönen and McLaren were being awarded the win. Amidst all this, Fisichella's car caught fire in the pit lane. Under Formula One regulations in place at the time, article 154 stated that, if 75% of the race distance had been completed—in this case 54 completed laps, 76% of race distance—it was "deemed to have finished when the leading car crossed the line at the end of the lap two laps prior to that lap during which the signal to stop was given". The stewards, believing that Fisichella was on his 55th lap and had completed the 54 laps required for a full result, awarded the victory to the race leader at the end of the 53rd lap, namely Räikkönen. Fisichella was awarded second place and Alonso third. Coulthard, who had been leading shortly before the race was stopped, dropped to fourth place after pitting, just ahead of Frentzen, the only driver not to pit.
Several days after the race, the official scoring evidence showed that Fisichella had just started his 56th lap before the red flag signal was given; this meant that the race results should not have been determined as of the end of the 53rd lap, but the end of the 54th lap, at which point Fisichella was leading.
Oral arguments and timing evidence were presented to a Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) court in Paris, which, on April 11, awarded victory to Fisichella. It was his first Formula One win and the last for the Ford engine and Jordan team. McLaren declined to file an appeal. Since Alonso had been unable to take his place on the podium due to injury, it thus emerged that the Brazilian podium ceremony had taken place without any step occupied by the correct driver. An unofficial ceremony was held during the next race weekend at Imola, where Räikkönen and Ron Dennis handed over the winning driver's and constructor's trophies to Fisichella and Eddie Jordan.
Had Räikkönen been able to retain the win, he would have finished the year level on points with Michael Schumacher in the final standings, but Schumacher would still have taken the title by virtue of having won more races.
|Pos||No||Driver||Constructor||Q1 Time||Q2 Time||Gap|
|9||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:27.961||1:14.223||+0.416|
|11||17||Jenson Button||BAR-Honda||no time||1:14.504||+0.697|
|18||21||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||1:26.554||1:15.641||+1.834|
|10||21||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||53||+1 Lap||18|
|Ret||2||Rubens Barrichello||Ferrari||47||Fuel system||1|
|Ret||17||Jenson Button||BAR-Honda||33||Accident/Spun off||11|
|Ret||1||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||26||Accident/Spun off||7|
|Ret||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||25||Accident/Spun off||9|
|Ret||15||Antônio Pizzonia||Jaguar-Cosworth||25||Accident/Spun off||17|
Championship standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- The podium ceremony featured Räikkönen in 1st place, Fisichella in 2nd and no-one in 3rd, as Alonso was receiving medical attention at the time. The FIA later reversed 1st and 2nd place.
- "Weather History for Sao Paulo, Brazil". Weather Underground. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- "200th race for Jordan". formula1.com. Formula One Administration. 3 April 2003. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- Benson, Andrew (12 October 2011). "Tonio Liuzzi's classic F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix 2003". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- "2003 Australian Grand Prix". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. Archived from the original on 11 January 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- "Brazil 2003 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
2003 Malaysian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2003 San Marino Grand Prix
2002 Brazilian Grand Prix
|Brazilian Grand Prix||Next race:|
2004 Brazilian Grand Prix