24 August 2003
Hungarian GP 2003 - Alonso sweeps the field.
Several laps earlier, the world champion's chances of salvaging points as his title rivals headed for the podium took another hit when his engine cut out as he switched on the pit-lane limiter at his second stop. Restarting only took a second or so, but it was enough to ensure that the Ferrari would be stuck behind Trulli's Renault for the rest of the race.
That would mean that Schumacher was fighting for seventh spot, as David Coulthard moved firmly into contention for a top five spot. The Scot, along with his McLaren team, had taken the decision to add more fuel than most at his first stop, and a second ten-second top-up confirmed the suspicion that DC was switching to a two-stop strategy in order to steal a march on his rivals. The move appeared to be working, too, as Coulthard now mixed it with the lower point scorers - without another stop to make.
All this time, Alonso carried on his merry way, again establishing a near 26-second lead over Raikkonen in time for this third and final stop. Already out of the running, however, Jacques Villeneuve (hydraulics), Barrichello, Fisichella and Baumgartner (both engine) and Olivier Panis (gearbox) were about to be joined by Justin Wilson, whose Cosworth V10 let go in dramatic fashion as he exited the chicane. With Heinz-Harald Frentzen completing the list after apparently running out of fuel, there were just seven retirements, as the blue-and-yellow section of the pit-lane kept its fingers crossed that there would be no untoward dramas at the front of the field.
The closing stages looked like being a straightforward run to the flag, with just Schumacher Sr and Trulli staging anything resembling an on-track scrap - until Montoya decided to add a little spice to proceedings by spinning, unaided, at turn eleven. Although the Colombian kept his Williams out of the waiting gravel trap, the error allowed team-mate Schumacher Jr to close in, setting up an intriguing fight for position as the German attempted to free himself of potential team orders - in whatever legal form they would take - at the next round.
It wasn't to be for Schumacher, who came home a second adrift of the leading Williams which, in turn had lost any chance of challenging Raikkonen for second spot. Behind Schumacher, Coulthard got the better of Webber and Trulli as they made their third and final stops, claiming fifth place after a solid drive.
Michael Schumacher rounded out the point scorers, preventing the plucky Nick Heidfeld from adding to his meagre 2003 total, but having had to suffer the indignity of being lapped. The German has not led a grand prix since winning in Canada and, with the result going the way it did in Hungary, heads into the final three races with just a one-point championship advantage.
At the front, however, there was no question about the identity of the winner - even if he hadn't previously stood on the top step of the podium. Alonso rounded the last corner, resisted the temptation to floor the throttle in celebration, and crawled under the chequered flag in order to savour the moment.
It surely won't be the last.
1. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 70 laps 1hr 39.01.460secs
2. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +16.700secs
3. Juan Montoya Colombia Williams-BMW +34.500secs
4. Ralf Schumacher Germany Williams-BMW +35.600secs
5. David Coulthard Britain McLaren-Mercedes +56.500secs
6. Mark Webber Australia Jaguar-Cosworth +1min 12.600secs
7. Jarno Trulli Italy Renault-Renault +1 lap
8. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari +1 lap
9. Nick Heidfeld Germany Sauber-Petronas +1 lap
10. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda +1 lap
11. Cristiano da Matta Brazil Toyota-Toyota +2 laps
12. Jos Verstappen Holland Minardi-Cosworth +3 laps
13. Nicolas Kiesa Denmark Minardi-Cosworth +4 laps
Rtd Heinz-Harald Frentzen Germany Sauber-Petronas 47 laps completed
Rtd Justin Wilson Britain Jaguar-Cosworth 42 laps completed
Rtd Zsolt Baumgartner Hungary Jordan-Ford 34 laps completed
Rtd Olivier Panis France Toyota-Toyota 33 laps completed
Rtd Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Jordan-Ford 28 laps completed
Rtd Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 19 laps completed
Rtd Jacques Villeneuve Canada BAR-Honda 14 laps completed
Juan Montoya Williams-BMW 1min 22.095secs lap 37
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