2003 Formula One season
|2003 FIA Formula One World Championship season|
|Previous: 2002||Next: 2004|
|Index: Races by country | Races by season|
After a dominant two years from Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher the 2003 world championship proved to be the most closely contested in decades as for a great part of the season several drivers from several teams had mathematical chances of fighting for the title. Eight different drivers won a Grand Prix, amongst them there were three first time winners.
Notable races include the chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix which was hampered by monsoon conditions, and the British Grand Prix where the track was invaded by the now-defrocked priest Neil Horan, who ran onto the Hangar straight, running towards the 250 km/h train of cars, wearing a green kilt and waving religious banners. Kimi Räikkönen, driving for McLaren-Mercedes, and Juan Pablo Montoya, driving for BMW Williams, had a chance of claiming the 2003 championship right until the end of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix. Another notable race was the Hungarian Grand Prix, which saw a young Fernando Alonso winning his first Formula One race.
After failing to complete the 2002 season due to financial difficulties, the Arrows team had their application for admission to the 2003 season rejected by the FIA prior to the season start date. No reason was publicly given by the FIA, and Arrows subsequently folded after 25 years in Formula One.
Another feature of the season was the introduction of rules and regulations to improve F1's excitement and to help the financial difficulties of the smaller teams. One-lap qualifying was introduced as a way for smaller teams to get more TV time. Optional Friday testing was introduced to help reduce testing costs and to give smaller teams a cheaper alternative to testing in exchange for less testing miles on test days (which were banned in 2004). The scoring system was changed to 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 in an attempt to make the constructors' and drivers' title races closer, and only one type of wet weather tyre was allowed to be used in wet weather races.
Drivers and constructors
Felipe Massa left his Sauber drive to assume the duties of test driver for Ferrari. Jenson Button left Renault to take Panis' seat at BAR. Fernando Alonso moved up from the Renault test driving slot to a full time drive, replacing Jenson Button. Heinz Harald Frentzen joined Sauber to take over from Massa. Frentzen had driven for the Arrows team for part of the 2002 season, but left after the German Grand Prix. The Arrows team folded several days later without contesting another Grand Prix. Takuma Sato left the Jordan team to take the place of several others (Anthony Davidson, Darren Manning, Ryo Fukuda and Patrick Lemarié) as the sole test driver for BAR, being replaced by new driver Ralph Firman.
Toyota announced midway through the 2002 season that both drivers (Mika Salo and Allan McNish) would be replaced. Olivier Panis joined from BAR and Cristiano da Matta signed from the Newman Haas team in the CART series. After being replaced at Toyota, Allan McNish signed with Renault as a test driver. Jaguar replaced both Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa. Their new drivers were Mark Webber and Antônio Pizzonia. At Minardi, Webber's vacated seat was filled by Justin Wilson. Alex Yoong's Minardi contract from 2002 was not renewed and he was replaced in that team by Jos Verstappen.
Results and Standings
|Ferrari 051 V10
Ferrari 052 V10
|2||Williams-BMW||FW25||BMW P83 V10||M||16||4||12||4||4||144|
|3||McLaren-Mercedes||MP4-17D||Mercedes Benz F0110M V 10||M||16||2||13||2||3||142|
|Renault RS23 V10||M||16||1||5||2||1||88|
|5||BAR-Honda||005||Honda RA003E V10||B||16||0||0||0||0||26|
|6||Sauber-Petronas||C22||Petronas 03A V10||B||16||0||1||0||0||19|
|7||Jaguar-Cosworth||R4||Cosworth CR-5 V10||M||16||0||0||0||0||18|
|8||Toyota||TF103||Toyota RVX-03 V10||M||16||0||0||0||0||16|
|9||Jordan-Ford||EJ13||Ford CR-5 V10||B||16||1||1||0||0||13|
|10||Minardi-Cosworth||PS03||Cosworth CR-3 V10||B||16||0||0||0||0||0|
- Pizzonia was offered a test driving role at Jaguar but turned it down, and would later resurface as a test driver at BMW-Williams.
- Williams driver Marc Gené replaced Ralf Schumacher, in Italy.
- Ralph Firman suffered injuries as a result of a crash during practice in Hungary. He was replaced by Zsolt Baumgartner for several races before returning to finish the season in the EJ15.
- Having started the season driving for Minardi, Justin Wilson later joined the Jaguar team and filled in for the under-performing Antônio Pizzonia for the last 5 races of the season.
- Denmark's Nicolas Kiesa took over Wilson's vacated seat in the Minardi.
- After a string of disappointing results in 2003, Jacques Villeneuve was replaced at BAR by test driver Takuma Sato for the Japanese GP. Villeneuve would later drive for Renault in 2004 as a replacement driver, and sign a multi-year contract at Sauber for 2005 (though he was replaced in 2006).
- Renault took part in the Friday testing session. People thought it was not only odd, because not only were they a manufacturer, but also they would get less testing miles. However, Mike Gascoyne the technical director for Renault in 2003 said that not only did Renault save money, Renault also got MORE testing mileage out of their cars.
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