2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
|Race 3 of 16 in the 2003 Formula One season|
|Date||6 April 2003|
|Official name||XXXII Grande Prêmio Marlboro do Brasil|
|Location||Autódromo José Carlos Pace
São Paulo, Brazil
|Course||Permanent Racing Facility|
|Course length||4.309 km (2.667 mi)|
|Distance||54 laps, 232.686 km (144.558 mi)|
|Scheduled Distance||71 laps, 305.939 km (189.357 mi)|
20 °C (68 °F)
|Time||1:22.032 on lap 46|
The Grand Prix was a controversial race decided by a court case, and when the final result was announced, it emerged that none of the drivers were standing on the correct steps of the podium, as the 1st and 2nd place drivers were in each other's position, while 3rd place Fernando Alonso was receiving medical attention at the time of the ceremony. The race was eventually won by Giancarlo Fisichella from Jordan, demoting McLaren driver Kimi Räikkönen, the initial winner, to second place. The race, which was Jordan's final victory, was on the team's 200th 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 race was started under the safety car and 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 admitted 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 team-mate 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. Barrichello put in a consistent performance to re-pass Coulthard during the race. Barrichello then set several fastest laps and lead the race by twenty seconds. On lap 47 Barrichello's 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.
After race leader David Coulthard was called for a pit-stop, his team-mate 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, effectively blocking the track and making continuation of the race, even behind the safety car, impossible. The race was subsequently red flagged, ending the race immediately for safety concerns.
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, adding to the confusion. 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 an 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 a protest. Since Alonso had been unable to take his place on the podium due to injury, it thus emerged that the Brazilian podium ceremony had proceeded without any step occupied by the correct driver.
Had Räikkönen been able to retain the win, he would have finished level on points with Michael Schumacher in the final standings, however Schumacher would have taken the overall title based on the countback of races won throughout the season.
|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||1||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||27||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.
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