Mark would end this race in the wall, Kimi would win only to have to give his trophy back later, and Fernando scored his second ever podium but didn’t get to stand on it after hitting an errant tyre from Mark’s crash.
2003 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton had blown a chance to clinch the title weeks before in China, but he was still in prime position to become the first man to win the world title in his first Formula One season since Farina did it in Formula One’s inaugural season. Team mate Alonso trailed in second, and a distant third was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who was a rank outsider. Raikkonen needed to win and Hamilton to score less than three points. McLaren had great reliability, the only way for Hamilton to finished lower than his grid spot of second is if Raikkonen, third, made his way pass as well as four other players to finish seventh, with defending champion Fernando Alonso to finish 3rd or lower.
Hamilton locked his brakes and dropped to eight at the third corner, then an electrical fault slowed him for 30 seconds and the Brit was in last. He did all he could to fight back but finished only seventh, a lap down.
Massa, who had dominated the race from the start, relinquished his lead to team mate Raikkonen to guarantee the victory for the Ferrari driver. Alonso finished third, Hamilton seventh. Raikkonen, after being 26 points down after seven rounds, had won the title in his first season with the Scuderia and, while standing on the podium listening to the national anthems, the usually sombre Finn actually smiled.
2003 title decider. Schumacher had moved his lead to 9 points following victory at the previous grand prix in the US, but Raikkonen out qualified his rival by 6 positions but still only eight. The McLaren of Raikkonen was supposed to be a transitional car but was more consistent, reliable and most important faster than the planned MP4-18. The Ferrari of Schumacher was the fastest, but not as fast as it had been in years prior. Schumacher had to work for this title and from down the grid.
Montoya took the lead from pole sitter Barrichello but then his car gave way. Barrichello sat about doing his all to protect the lead from the resurgent Raikkonen and team mate Coulthard who, a dual-retirement from Ferrari willing, could together clinch the driver’s and constructor’s titles for McLaren.
Schumacher slowly picked off driver after driver, but on lap six tangled with Takuma Sato, losing his wing. The title was in Ruben’s hands, but Raikkonen and Coulthard kept up the pressure albeit from a distance.
Schumacher slowly built up his way to the point he needed to but with ten laps remaining had to avoid an incident and gave himself a set of flat spots. He feared the suspension would give way, the vibrations so bad he could barely see in front of him, but he made his way home taking the solitary point that would clinch victory, even if his team mate had given up the lead to Raikkonen. Which he didn’t.
The young Finn would have to wait four more seasons for his first title, in the most dramatic of circumstances. Schumacher would not even have to wait 12 months for his seventh. As for the photo:
Sometimes, luck comes to the rescue… When Rubens Barrichello came out of his car after winning tne 2003 Japanese GP in Suzuka, he fell into the arms of Michael Schumacher, who had finished only eighth, but was World Champion for the sixth time! Standing at a distance, with a 600 mm lens, in very low light conditions, it looked like pretty grim, and then someone fired off his flash behind the drivers, just as the shutter was being released for 1/250th of a second… Magic.