THE RETURN OF THE SILVER ARROWS

David Coulthard wins thrilling race at Melbourne´s Albert Park

Scotland´s David Coulthard is the first winner of the 2003 Grand Prix season. The McLaren Mercedes driver succeeded like he had done back in 1997 and drove his Silver Arrow to the 13th overall victory of his career. With the race started under wet conditions Coulthard decided to begin on wet weather tyres, while his team mate Kimi Raikkonen entered the pits after the formation lap for a change on grooved tyres. The Iceman using a new helmet design in Melbourne brought the second McLaren Mercedes home third place to complete the triumph of the Woking based team. That had not been expected, because of the bad grid positions of the McLarens qualifying only 11th (Coulthard) and 15th (Raikkonen). Mclaren had entered the latest version of the MP4/17 contender of 2002, the so-called D-type. Also Ferrari brought modified 2002 cars to the Albert Park Circuit, while Williams BMW was the only top performance team to decide for their 2003 car, the FW25, that brought both their drivers into the points with Montoya second and Ralf Schumacher eighth. For the first time the contoversial new regulations of the F.I.A. came into action. The world´s automobile association´s president Max Mosley did not come to Melbourne for the first round of the 2003 worldchampionship and watched the exciting race at home via television.

Pole sitter Michael Schumacher had taken the lead from the start but the five times world champion was on wet weather tyres forcing him to come in very early for a change. David Coulthard had come into the pits only in lap 2 for grooved tyres giving him the decisive advantage in a race, that took part under Schuey weather conditions. All drivers on the podium used the French Michelin rubber, best finisher on Bridgestone was Michael Schumacher on fourth position. The German had been involved in a fierce battle with Finland´s Kimi Raikkonen, when he drove over a kerb, left the track for a moment to cut off both his bardge boards. Schumacher was black flagged for taking away the rests of them by the mechanics. That was a double mistake, because Raikkonen ahead of him meanwhile had a received a drive through penalty for a small pit lane speeding (1.1 km/h).

Two times, in lap 7 and lap 15, the safety car had to come out. Rubens Barrichello had crashed the second Ferrari very early in the race in lap 5, because he had got problems with his HANS system, that is demanded by the regulations from the 2003 Australian Grand Prix on. One lap later novice Ralph Firman followed the same place to bump his Jordan Ford into the wall making the safety car neccessary for the first time. When Mark Webber´s Jaguar rear suspension had collapsed in lap 15 it came out again.

A fine performance again showed Juan Pablo Montoya, who had been on a two stop strategy, leading the race for a lot of laps. But the Colombian made a big mistake in lap 48, when he spun in turn 1. David Coulthard took the lead from him with only 10 laps to go. A very hard battle between him Montoya, Michael Schumacher and Raikkonen developed, but the Scot did not let himself get irritated to keep the lead until the finish line. When 400 metres gold medalist Cathy Freeman put the cheqeured flag over the Silver Arrow, Melbourne had shown excellent Grand Prix Racing with a superb strategy of the West McLaren Mercedes team.

Jutta Schmitt

 

Results
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Qualifying

1 M Schumacher 1:27.173

2 R Barrichello 1:27.418

3 JP Montoya 1:28.101

4 HH Frentzen 1:28.274

5 O Panis 1:28.288

6 J Villeneuve 1:28.420

7 N Heidfeld 1:28.464

8 J Button 1:28682

9 R Schumacher 1:28.830

10 F Alonso 1:28.928

11 D Coulthard 1:29.105

12 J Trulli 1:29.136

13 G Fisichella 19:344

14 M Webber 1:29.367

15 K Raikkonen 1:29.470

16 C da Matta 1:29.538

17 R Firman 1:31.242

18 A Pizzonia 1:31.723

19 J Verstappen no time

20 J Wilson no time

 

Race

Foster`s Australian Grand Prix 2003, Albert Park Circuit, 58 Laps à 5.3003 km = 307.574 km, Air 17°C, Track 21°C, cloudy, rain, later dry, 120.000 spectators

1 D Coulthard 1:34:42.124

2 JP Montoya 1:34:50.799

3 K Raikkonen 1:34:51.316

4 M Schuma. 1:34.51.606

5 J Trulli 1:35:20.925

6 HH Frentzen 1:35:052

7 F Alonso 1:35:27.198

8 R Schuma. 1:35:27.869

9 J Villeneuve 1:35:47.660

10 J Button 1:35:48.098

11 J Verstappen +1 Lap

12 G Fischichella + 6 Laps

13 A Pizzonia + 6 Laps

 

Retirements:

G.Fisichella, Lap 52: Gearbox

A Pizzonia, 52: Suspension

O Panis, 31: Fuel Pressure

N Heidfeld, 20: Suspension

J Wilson, 16: Radiator

M Webber, 15: Suspension

C da Matta, 7: Spin

R Firman, 6: Accident

R Barrichello, 5: Accident

 

 

 

Worldchampionship Standings
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Drivers

1 D Coulthard 10 Points

2 JP Montoya 8

3 K Raikkonen 6

4 M Schumacher 5

5 J Trulli 4

6 HH Frentzen 3

7 F Alonso 2

8 R Schumacher 1

 

Constructors

1 McLaren Mercedes 16

2 Williams BMW 9

3 Renault 6

4 Ferrari 5

5 Sauber Petronas 3

 

 

 


© by Schlegelmilch Photography

The 2003 drivers generation

 


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13th Grand Prix victory for DC

 


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Beauty and future star: Kimi Raikkonen

 


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Start at Melbourne: Michael Schumacher leading into the 2003 season

 


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Fifth place and four points for Jarno Trulli in the Renault

 


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New man at Toyota: Olivier Panis from France

 


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The sexy side of Foster´s

 


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The first podium of 2003

 

 

 

© 2003 by researchracing

 

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