So who was the best team of 2003? Easy - yeah, you're probably right. But what about which team was the biggest disappointment? Or how about the tyre war and re-interpretation prior to the Italian GP? Controversial? You bet, and who better to ask than Mark Blundell.

He's been there, done it, and bought the T-shirt. So want to know what he thought? Well, what are you waiting for - get reading folks, Mark's on fire and Crash.Net was there to record his thoughts...

Q:
Mark, focusing on the teams, if you had to pick out your top six, who would they be and why?

Mark Blundell:
Ferrari would have to be number one again for me. I think they showed everybody what they are made of. They struggled at the beginning of the season, but they just put their heads down and got on with it and that's a testimony to those guys.

McLaren, meanwhile, also did a sterling job with a car which was really over a year out of date by the time we got to the end of the season. So, they would be second for me.

Third, I'd have to go for Renault, as they came out with a very tidy car and the base package was very sensible. They've got a great baseline to go on into next season, and who knows what they can achieve.

Williams have to be there as well, don't they? For me, though, they are only fourth, for also developing a car which, at the beginning of the year, came out of the box in a very poor way, performance-wise. Everybody was scratching their heads but, again, they turned it around, and it took off. It was definitely one of the best packages at the end of the season.

Toyota made good steps too, so fifth, but they've still got a lot more work to do.

Q:
Which team was the biggest disappointment?

MB:
Jordan were the biggest disappoint for me. To gradually see them get weaker and weaker as the season went on, not be the Jordan of old, with the fighting spirit that we have seen them have before, was very sad. I think they slightly lost focus, took their eye off the ball. Eddie [Jordan] got entangled in a few other scenarios and, at the end of the day, it was not too positive a grand prix season. But, knowing Eddie, I'm sure he will have his say, put things in motion, and make sure they come back as strong as ever. But it won't be an easy task, that's for sure.

Q:
Which team surprised you most?

MB:
I think biggest surprise, actually, was Williams. I think all of us, when everybody looked at things at the beginning of year, said they've got a tough time ahead, because the car just didn't look like it would deliver. However, once they got halfway through season, and realised what they had underneath them, and got in tune, it was an incredibly strong package. But it's only a top team what can deliver that, and I think they showed that.

Q:
Of all the cars, which was your favourite in terms of design and livery?

MB:
Ferrari, no doubt - the detailing, colour, styling of the F2003-GA just looked... lovely.

Q:
Which race or races were the most memorable this season?

MB:
Silverstone - and Hungary. Silverstone because it was an incredible race, with loads of action on the circuit. Hungary for seeing Alonso lap the rest of the field basically - and look like he was completely in a class of his own. He made everybody else look like they were in a playground, and he was the headmaster. He took it to them and nobody could touch him.

Q:
What did you make of the tyre war, and Ferrari and Bridgestone's tactics prior to the Italian GP that got the FIA to re-interpret how it measured tyre widths?

MB:
I think that was always on cards... there was always going to be something in the background, something that they had up their sleeve, if they needed to try and de-stabilise the situation. I think Michelin did an outstanding job, though, and, there again, I think Bridgestone did an outstanding job to pull through and get back and attack. The problem is that Bridgestone only really have Ferrari to fight with now, and that is going to be a tough challenge to see if they can carry on at that level of performance. Michelin are getting stronger, with more cars on the grid. That means more information coming back to them, which could lead to more development and a faster rate of progress. But, we will have to wait and see...

Q:
How big a loss was BAR for Bridgestone? Quite big, one would assume?

MB:
I think it's a loss, for sure. It's a team that's got a sensible amount of resources and some good people in the mix there. To lose a team like that is a loss but, when you get such a close relationship between a manufacturer and the tyre company, and tyres pretty much designed around one car, it's not hard to see why the people at BAR felt quite strongly that they needed to jump ship. They weren't getting quite the tyre they needed for their package.

Coming soon: The third and final part of Mark Blundell's 2003 F1 season review.

 

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