The 2003 European Grand Prix, officially advertised as the 2003 Allianz Grand Prix of Europe, was the ninth round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Nürburgring in Nürburg, Germany, on 29 June 2003. The race would see Ralf Schumacher lead a Williams-BMW one-two across the line, albeit after dominant race leader Kimi Räikkönen retired with an engine failure.
Indeed, the Finn had been in fine form throughout the weekend, sweeping to his first pole position for McLaren-Mercedes during qualifying. He would be joined on the front row by Championship leader Michael Schumacher, while Ralf Schumacher shared the second row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.
Räikkönen likewise aced his start to claim an early lead from Michael Schumacher into the first corner, leaving the German ace to fend off the attentions of his brother for second. Behind it was a remarkably clean getaway for the rest of the field, with no major issues or contact to cause an early retirement.
With that Räikkönen was away, quickly building a ten second lead over the #1 Ferrari, which was otherwise occupied defending from the #4 Williams. Montoya, meanwhile, would slip away from the fight for second, and hence allow Räikkönen to stop on lap sixteen and rejoin in third, just a few seconds behind the Schumachers.
During their stops Ralf Schumacher would get the jump on his elder brother, his Michelin tyres proving superior to the Ferrari's Bridgestones when it came to delivering a late-stint blast. Furthermore, Ralf was able to gain ground on Räikkönen during the first round of stops, although the reason for that was soon to be revealed.
Indeed, on lap 25, with a five second gap to Ralf in second, Räikkönen's Mercedes engine blew itself apart, destroying his hopes of victory and regaining the Championship lead. The #4 Williams duly flashed past to claim an unopposed lead, while Montoya was left to slowly close in on Michael Schumacher for second.
The fight for second would take over as the main interest for the following laps, until it was ended by a clash of wheels into the chicane on lap 43 leaving Schumacher's Ferrari in the gravel. Schumacher duly received some help from the marshals to escape, avoiding a penalty as his car was in a dangerous position, although he had slipped to sixth.
That left Montoya in a lonely second ahead of Rubens Barrichello, enduring a quiet race, while Fernando Alonso and David Coulthard had also moved up. They duly had a late race squabble for fourth as Schumacher slowly caught back up to them, until Coulthard's race was ended by a spin into the gravel at the chicane when he got caught out by Alonso braking early.
With that the race was run, with Ralf Schumacher cruising across the line ahead of Montoya to claim victory, and undercut rumours that BMW were looking to end their partnership with Williams. Barrichello was a lonely third to complete the podium, Alonso fended off Michael Schumacher's late charge to secure fourth, while Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld claimed the remaining points.
Victory propelled Michael Schumacher into the lead of the Championship for the first time in 2003, overhauling Kimi Räikkönen to establish a three point advantage. Indeed, the damage to the Finn's title ambitions could have been a lot worse, with the pair set to be the main title pretenders heading into the second half of the season. Behind, Fernando Alonso was twenty off the lead in third ahead of Ralf Schumacher, with Rubens Barrichello in fifth.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari moved back ahead of McLaren-Mercedes, and had established a nine point lead. The Scuderia hence started the second half of the campaign as the favourites, although both Ferrari and McLaren had been drawn in by Williams-BMW. Indeed, the second of the Anglo-German alliances was now just twelve off of McLaren after their double podium, setting up a potential three-way fight for the crown.
The full entry list for the 2003 European Grand Prix is outlined below:
|3||15||Antônio Pizzonia||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:32.965||+0.880||41|
|4||12||Ralph Firman||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:33.019||+0.934||45|
|5||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:33.174||+1.089||38|
|7||11||Giancarlo Fisichella||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:34.579||+2.494||35|
|8||19||Jos Verstappen||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:34.857||+2.772||31|
|9||18||Justin Wilson||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:35.455||+3.370||30|
The full practice results for the 2003 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:32.590||11||1:32.477||4||1:31.366||2||1:32.252||4|
|11||Giancarlo Fisichella||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:32.692||13||1:35.332||18||1:33.214||12||1:34.229||14|
|12||Ralph Firman||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:33.643||18||1:34.967||17||1:34.827||17||1:34.373||15|
|14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:31.224||2||1:34.564||13||1:33.635||14||1:34.164||13|
|15||Antônio Pizzonia||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:31.794||6||1:33.127||8||1:33.076||11||1:34.746||16|
The full qualifying results for the 2003 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
|4||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:30.378||1:31.765||+0.242s|
|10||21||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||—||1:32.949||+1.426s|
|11||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:35.972||1:33.066||+1.543s|
|13||11||Giancarlo Fisichella||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:32.196||1:33.553||+2.030s|
|14||12||Ralph Firman||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:53.893||1:33.827||+2.304s|
|16||15||Antônio Pizzonia||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:57.435||1:34.159||+2.636s|
|18||19||Jos Verstappen||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:55.921||1:36.318||+4.795s|
|19||18||Justin Wilson||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:54.546||1:36.485||+4.962s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
|______________||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|______________||Cristiano da Matta|
- * Heidfeld start the race from the pitlane.
The full results for the 2003 European Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Coulthard was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- David Coulthard started his 150th Grand Prix.
- Jos Verstappen started his 100th race.
- Maiden pole position for Kimi Räikkönen.
- Ralf Schumacher claimed his fifth career victory.
- 110th win for Williams as a constructor.
- Rubens Barrichello scored his 40th podium finish.
With Kimi Räikkönen failing to score it was advantage Michael Schumacher in the Championship hunt after F1's first trip to Germany in 2003, with the German ace leaving the Nürburgring with 58 points. Räikkönen had therefore slipped seven off the lead, while Ralf Schumacher had closed in on both, moving onto 43 points for the campaign with his victory. Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso were also in touching distance, tied on 39 points, with seventeen drivers having registered points.
Ferrari, meanwhile, had surprisingly managed to extend their lead in the Constructors Championship, despite lacking the outright pace in Germany. Indeed, what had started as a strong afternoon for McLaren-Mercedes had ended miserably, meaning they dropped to third behind Williams-BMW after their one-two. The latter partnership hence left Germany thirteen behind the leaders, while McLaren were a further six behind.
Only point scoring drivers are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'European GP, 2003', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr706.html, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
- 'Europe 2003: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/europe/engages.aspx, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
- 'Europe 2003: Friday Testing', pitpass.com, (Pitpass, 2003), https://web.archive.org/web/20211104040452/http://pitpass.com/src/seasons/2003/gp/europe/times/fri_test.html, (Accessed 04/11/2021)
- '2003 Allianz Grand Prix of Europe - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2003/races/745/europe/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
- '2003 Allianz Grand Prix of Europe - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2003/races/745/europe/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
- 'Europe 2003: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/europe/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
- 'Europe 2003: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/europe/classement.aspx, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
- '9. Europe 2003', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/europe.aspx, (Accessed 11/12/2019)
|V T E||European Grand Prix|
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