20 July 2003
British GP 2003 - Rubens races away in Britain.
Drama, excitement, overtaking, multiple leaders including Cristiano da Matta, Michael Schumacher working through the field and battles seeming at every corner for the duration of the race, what a race the British Grand Prix 2003 was. At that's before you mention a man in an orange skirt...
Rubens Barrichello started the race from pole, but this was to prove to be far from one of those races where the polesitter storms off into the distance; Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen saw to that. Trulli, second on the grid at the start, flew off to a great start, the Renaults being the only runners on the super-sticky Michelins on the grid. Almost in acknowledgement of this - or was he on a heavy fuel load? - Barrichello had not even tried to defend his lead from the Renault, instead concentrating his efforts on keeping the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen behind him. But the storming Finn was not to be resisted and Rubens was third.
Further down the field everyone else had got away without issue, save for Heinz-Harald Frentzen whose Sauber was engulfed in a cloud of smoke before trundling away along the start straight. Nothing seemed to be wrong from that point on for the veteran German, who was to have another trademark solid, but no particularly exciting race.
Back to the front and Trulli looked comfortable in front, moving away at the head of the field. The Renault has looked good so many times this year and this was certainly one of them. By the end of the first lap the field lined up Trulli, Raikkonen, Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alonso, Cristiano da Matta, Coulthard with Antonio Pizzonia completing the top ten.
Come lap two and Trulli was cementing his place atop the field, setting the fastest lap. The Italian had made the most of his fine start and was comfortably unchallenged. Two places behind however Rubens Barrichello was merely finding his groove and who go on to set the next fastest lap, and from then many more during the course of the race.
By lap five Trulli was 1.6 seconds to the good from the normally fast-flying Finn behind, could it be a low fuel load for the Renault? After all Silverstone invites either a two or three stop strategy, so Trulli could be opting for the more stops. His lead soon became academic however, as the Safety Car took to the track. David Coulthard's McLaren, which had stormed up from twelfth to ninth at the start, had lost its head bolster sides, the carbon piece having flown off and landed on the track, and this was adjudged sufficient to bring about a period under yellows behind the pace Mercedes.
Coulthard himself had to take to the pits for a new piece - as it is part of the car's safety makeup so the McLaren boys took advantage to fuel and tyre the car. Also deciding for an early in was the Toyota duo of Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis and Ralph Firman in the Jordan.
Lap seven saw the restart, everyone was back racing cleanly and only Juan Pablo Montoya - restart veteran that he is from his CART days - looked dangerous as he sniffed around the rear-end of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, though ultimately to disappointment.
Starting last at the first start had been Jenson Button and the Brit was now up to eleventh place. From the grid he had got up to fifteenth place and was then behind Nick Heidfeld's Sauber with both then benefiting from the early pit-stoppers.
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