Round eleven of the 2003 Formula 1 season took place at the Silverstone circuit in Great Britain, with Michael Schumacher heading into the event with an eight point advantage in the championship over Kimi Raikkonen, with Ralf Schumacher a further three points back after victory in the preceding French Grand Prix.
Qualifying at the 5.141KM circuit saw Rubens Barrichello set the best time of 1m21.209s, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver 0.172s clear of second placed Jarno Trulli of the Renault F1 Team, while McLaren driver Raikkonen and Williams BMW’s Ralf Schumacher qualified on the second row ahead of the second Ferrari of Michael Schumacher in fifth.
Cristiano da Matta was an impressive sixth for the Toyota F1 Team, just ahead of the second Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya, while Fernando Alonso was eighth for Renault but over a second shy of his team-mates time in P2.
Jacques Villeneuve took ninth on the grid for the BAR Honda team ahead of Antonio Pizzonia of Jaguar Racing, who just beat his team-mate Mark Webber to get into the top ten.
David Coulthard was twelfth for McLaren, Ralph Firman seventeenth for Jordan and Justin Wilson eighteenth for Minardi, but Jenson Button was forced to start the race from the back of the grid after failing to set a time during the qualifying session.
Race day saw one of the most exciting races of the season, helped a little by a track invasion from a rogue Irish priest, who ran onto the track waving banners at the oncoming cars, with the safety car being deployed as a result of his actions on lap eleven.
Trulli had made the best start to lead into the first corner of the race, with Raikkonen also slipping by pole sitter Barrichello who had made a slow getaway, while Ralf Schumacher remained ahead of his brother Michael, who defended hard against Alonso in the second Renault down the Hanger Straight, almost pushing the young Spaniard off onto the grass.
The safety car had already been deployed early when the headrest from Coulthard’s McLaren detached itself from the car and landed on the racing line just exiting the first corner, bunching the field up.
Barrichello swept around Raikkonen at Abbey for second just moments before the priest made his appearance. When the safety car was deployed for its second appearance, all bar the two Toyota’s of da Matta and Olivier Panis, plus Coulthard who had already pitted to replace his headrest, headed to pit lane, with Trulli getting out ahead of Raikkonen, while Barrichello once again lost ground and restarted the race down in eighth behind Ralf Schumacher and the non-stopping Jordan of Firman.
On the restart, Raikkonen got the jump on Trulli to move into fourth, and then moved past his team-mate into third, before jumping into second ahead of Panis on the following lap, while Barrichello managed to work his way past Ralf Schumacher in an impressive manoeuvre heading towards Bridge corner.
Once da Matta pitted from the lead, Raikkonen assumed top position, but Barrichello remained on a charge, moving into second during the second round of pit stops, and then closing the McLaren driver down to take the lead in another inspired overtaking manoeuvre that started at Abbey and ended with the pass being completed at the exit of Bridge corner.
A mistake from Raikkonen cost him second late in the race, with Montoya grabbing the place after the Finn ran wide at Stowe.
Barrichello eventually took the chequered flag by 5.462s from Montoya, with Raikkonen completing the podium ahead of Michael Schumacher. Coulthard took fifth, with his early pit stop to repair his headrest a blessing in disguise due to the way the safety cars fell for him.
Trulli dropped down to sixth at the flag, losing fifth on the final lap to Coulthard, ahead of da Matta, with Button climbing from the back of the grid to take eighth place for BAR, and battling hard with team-mate Villeneuve in the early stages, with neither prepared to give an inch to each other.
2003 British Grand Prix Race Result (Top 10)
|2||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||COL||Williams-BMW||+5.462s|
|7||21||Cristiano da Matta||BRZ||Toyota||+45.085s|