Race Results 2003


Round 16 - Japan, Suzuka - Race Results

Conditions: cloudy, dry; Temperatures: track 26C, air 23C

Position  Driver  Car (Tyres)  Time/Retirement Laps Pitstops
1  Rubens BARRICHELLO  Ferrari (B)  1h 25:11.740 53 3
2  Kimi RAIKKONEN  McLaren Mercedes (M)  + 0m 11.085s 53 2
3  David COULTHARD  McLaren Mercedes (M)  + 0m 11.614s 53 3
4  Jenson BUTTON  BAR Honda (B)  + 0m 33.106s 53 2
5  Jarno TRULLI  Renault (M)  + 0m 34.269s 53 2
6  Takuma SATO  BAR Honda (B)  + 0m 51.692s 53 2
7  Cristiano da MATTA  Toyota (M)  + 0m 56.794s 53 3
8  Michael SCHUMACHER  Ferrari (B)  + 0m 59.487s 53 3
9  Nick HEIDFELD  Sauber Petronas (B)  + 1m 00.159s 53 2
10  Olivier PANIS  Toyota (M)  + 1m 01.844s 53 3
11  Mark WEBBER  Jaguar Cosworth (M)  + 1 lap 52 3
12  Ralf SCHUMACHER  BMW Williams (M)  + 1 lap 52 4
13  Justin WILSON  Jaguar Cosworth (M)  + 1 lap 52 3
14  Ralph FIRMAN  Jordan Ford (B)  + 2 laps 51 2
15  Jos VERSTAPPEN  Minardi Cosworth (B)  + 2 laps 51 2
16  Nicolas KIESA  Minardi Cosworth (B)  + 3 laps 50 2
 Not classified
Ret  Giancarlo FISICHELLA  Jordan Ford (B)  Ran out of fuel (rig fault) 33 1
Ret  Fernando ALONSO  Renault (M)  Engine 17 1
Ret  Heinz-Harald FRENTZEN  Sauber Petronas (B)  Engine 9 1
Ret  Juan Pablo MONTOYA  BMW Williams (M)  Hydraulics 9 0


Verstappen started from the pitlane. Clean start by everyone, although I think I spotted a Sauber doing a spot of rallycross! Montoya's engine was puffing smoke during the first lap, hoped it was just oil overfill, but later events perhaps indicate otherwise.

Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, starting at the back, were up to 13th/14th by lap 2. Then Ralf suffered his first setback of the afternoon when he spun in the chicane and dropped back to 19th.

Montoya took the lead from Barrichello on lap 2 and pulled out a 4.5s lead. Raikkonen climbed to 5th, with Coulthard in 6th protecting his rear, but got bogged down behind da Matta and failed to make the progress he needed if he was to pull off the miracle of winning the Championship.

Michael Schumacher lost his front wing after contact with Sato in the final chicane, dropping to 19th after pitting for a new nose.

Montoya slowed and with a spluttering engine limped back to the pits to retire with a hydraulic leak. Williams' chances of the Constructors Championship looking bleaker by the lap. Frentzen stopped on the same lap with a blown engine.

Ralf Schumacher ran into trouble at the chicane for the second time, half-spinning but recovering without difficulty.

Button and Sato, both on 2 stop strategies, found themselves running running at the front when the first round of pitstops got underway. Barrichello, on a 3 stop strategy compared to Raikkonen's 2 stopper, regained the lead after the first round of stops.

Raikkonen was way off the pace in the second stint, coming out in 3rd behind Coulthard, he not only failed to close the gap but instead dropped further back. With Michael Schumacher up to 10th, Raikkonen was not showing the pace or commitment needed to win the title.

Fisichella retired when a refuelling problem led him to run out of fuel before his second pitstop.

Ralf Schumacher had his third "moment" at the chicane, nearly taking his brother out of the race in the process - Michael locked up to avoid running into the back of da Matta, Ralf locked up and didn't quite avoid running into the back of Michael, his front wing end plate coming into contact with Michael's left rear. Ralf pitted for a new nose and Ferrari held their breath waiting to see if Michael had suffered a puncture.

With nine laps to go - Barrichello was leading by 15s, Raikkonen was in 2nd with a clearly faster Coulthard in 3rd and Michael Schumacher was in 8th - positions which were to remain unchanged until the end of the race.

So, Michael Schumacher takes a record-breaking 6th Drivers Championship and Ferrari the Constructors Championship. While some might be surprised to hear me say it, the title was well-deserved - not only did he have 6 wins to Raikkonen's 1, but he, more than any other driver, pulled out the results when he really needed to. Congratulations to Michael ... although I can't help hoping that he will now seriously consider hanging up his gloves!

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