The 2003 United States Grand Prix, officially advertised as the 2003 United States Grand Prix, was the fifteenth and penultimate round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, on 28 September 2003. The race would see Michael Schumacher sweep to victory for Ferrari, and hence all but secured a record sixth World Championship crown.
Kimi Räikkönen secured pole position in a bid to keep his title hopes alive during qualifying, beating Rubens Barrichello of Ferrari. Olivier Panis was next ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, the man in second in the Championship, while Schumacher would start from a disappointing seventh.
There were dark skies over Indianapolis on race day that would give the circuit a quick shower, a concern for the Michelin shod teams after their tyres had been retooled after a legal challenge by Bridgestone at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix. As a result their tyres would be less suited to wet conditions, and had less overall grip as a result of a reduced contact patch between the grooves.
Regardless, conditions were dry enough and so the field universally started on dry tyres, with Räikkönen claiming the lead from Panis. Indeed, there was such a disparity between the two sides of the grid that Ralf and Michael Schumacher would climb to third and fourth, while Barrichello slipped to fifth.
Räikkönen quickly built a small lead over the #20 Toyota, before rain began to drift across the circuit on lap 2. Fortunately it was light and had very little impact on the race, with Räikkönen extending his lead while Ralf Schumacher pounced on Panis for second.
Behind, Montoya tried to find a way past Barrichello, only for the Brazilian to squeeze the #3 Williams-BMW into the first corner. The two touched and the #2 Ferrari was sent spinning, allowing both the Renaults to dart past as the Ferrari recovered in eighth behind Montoya.
The rain proved intermittent during the early stages, but returned with a vengeance during the first round of stops, although all of the title pretenders stayed on dries. However, Montoya, who was the first to stop, was slapped with a drive-through penalty for causing Barrichello's spin, dumping him back down to eleventh.
The changeable conditions suited BAR-Honda's Jenson Button, who would lead the race on lap 28, with most of the field having stopped for wets. Behind, meanwhile, Michael Schumacher caught and passed Räikkönen for third, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen ahead in second. The German racer then became one of the first stoppers for dry tyres to slip back down the field, and would ultimately leap ahead of both Frentzen and Button.
Button's hopes of a maiden podium finish were eventually written off by an engine failure in the closing stages, leaving Frentzen in second ahead of Räikkönen. The Finn duly caught and passed the #10 Sauber-Petronas with a handful of laps to go to secure second, and hence keep his title hopes alive.
With that the race was effectively over, with Schumacher cruising through the final stages to claim victory and a huge nine point lead in the Championship. Räikkönen claimed second to move into second in the title hunt, but would now have to win the season finale in Japan, with Schumacher failing to score. Third went the way of Frentzen ahead of Jarno Trulli, with Nick Heidfeld, Montoya, Giancarlo Fisichella and Justin Wilson claiming the remaining points.
Victory for Michael Schumacher saw the German ace leave Italy with an enhanced lead in the Championship, and with the potential to claim a record sixth title if he won in Indianapolis. However, second place for Juan Pablo Montoya in Monza ensured that he remained just three points behind the German, and hence could still entertain hopes of taking the crown in the US. Likewise, Kimi Räikkönen had just kept pace with the title fight, leaving Italy seven off the lead, with those three the only title contenders left in the fight.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari had cut the gap to leaders Williams-BMW in half after a double podium on home soil, although they remained four behind. Hence, Williams could win their first Constructors crown since 1997 with a one-two in the United Stats, if Ferrari failed to score more than four points. Behind, McLaren-Mercedes had almost dropped out of the fight, needing two perfect scores in the remaining two rounds to challenge.
The full entry list for the 2003 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
|4||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:11.586||+0.600||49|
|5||18||Justin Wilson||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:12.142||+1.156||55|
|6||11||Giancarlo Fisichella||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:12.263||+1.277||17|
|7||12||Ralph Firman||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:12.762||+1.776||46|
|8||39||Gianmaria Bruni||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:13.129||+2.143||33|
|9||19||Jos Verstappen||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:13.196||+2.210||23|
|10||18||Nicolas Kiesa||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:13.655||+2.669||39|
|11||36||Björn Wirdheim||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:13.678||+2.692||44|
The full qualifying results for the 2003 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|4||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:10.372||1:11.948||+0.278s|
|9||21||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||1:11.949||1:12.326||+0.656s|
|14||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:10.081||1:13.269||+1.599s|
|16||15||Justin Wilson||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:19.491||1:13.585||+1.915s|
|17||11||Giancarlo Fisichella||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:12.227||1:13.798||+2.128s|
|18||12||Ralph Firman||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:19.383||1:14.027||+2.357s|
|19||19||Jos Verstappen||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||—||1:15.360||+3.690s|
|20||18||Nicolas Kiesa||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:21.973||1:15.644||+3.974s|
- 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||10|
The full results for the 2003 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- Kimi Räikkönen claimed the 50th pole position for a car with #6 as its race number.
- 70th career victory for Michael Schumacher.
- Ferrari secured their 166th win as a constructor and engine supplier.
- Eighteenth and final podium finish for Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
- Frentzen also scored his final Championship points.
- Sauber led a Grand Prix for the first time.
Michael Schumacher would leave the US Grand Prix of 2003 with one hand on his sixth World Championship crown after claiming victory, with 92 points to his name. That left Kimi Räikkönen as the only man who could deny the German ace, although with a nine point deficit to overcome in Japan, the Finn faced an near impossible climb, needing to win with Schumacher failing to score. Juan Pablo Montoya, meanwhile, was out of the fight in third, with the Colombian ace only able to match Schumacher's tally at best, but would lose the title on countback.
In the Constructors Championship it would be Ferrari who held an advantage into the final day in Japan, leaving Indianapolis with 147 points. That left them three ahead of Williams-BMW in second, setting up an intriguing duel for the crown at the season finale. Indeed, McLaren-Mercedes were now too far back to overhaul the Scuderia, but could claim the runner-up spot if they had a perfect weekend in Suzuka.
Only point scoring drivers are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'United States GP, 2003', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr712.html, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
- 'USA 2003: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
- 'USA 2003: Friday Testing', pitpass.com, (Pitpass, 2003), https://web.archive.org/web/20211104071118/https://www.pitpass.com/src/seasons/2003/gp/usa/times/fri_test.html, (Accessed 04/11/2021)
- '2003 United States Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2003/races/751/united-states/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
- '2003 United States Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2003/races/751/united-states/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
- 'USA 2003: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/etats-unis/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
- "2003 United States Grand Prix". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2003/races/751/united-states/race-result.html. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
- '2003 United States GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2003&gp=United%20States%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
- '15. USA 2003', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2003/etats-unis.aspx, (Accessed 13/12/2019)
|V T E||United States Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961–1980), Phoenix (1989–1991), Indianapolis (2000–2007), Austin (2012–present)|
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|Non-F1 races||1908 • 1909 • 1910 • 1911 • 1912 • 1913 • 1914 • 1915 • 1916 • 1917–1957 • 1958|
|See also||United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix • Miami Grand Prix|
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