In a dry Sunday warm-up, Williams set their cars up for a dry race and started the race with dry tyres. Schumacher set his car for a wet race, and started with wet tyres. By lap 5, Schumacher was ahead by 22 seconds. He won the race by nearly a minute to future team mate and fellow wet weather specialist Rubens Barrichello, while both Williams drivers crashed out.
Sure as hell made up for the embarrassment of crashing out on the first lap the year earlier.
Rubens driving past the scene of his countryman’s “big one” in 2009, Hungary. Felipe’s crash was caused by a spring coming off the back of Rubinho’s Brawn during qualifying striking Massa in the head. Thankfully he made a full recovery, and even used the helmet as a means to beating Rubens at a game of pokey, placing it on the table while the two were taking time off at home in Brazil.
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.
Austria 2002, oh boy, this one was a doozey.
If you aren’t familiar with the event, basically Rubens drove a great race from pole position and after the final corner, allowed his team mate to pass and take the victory to strengthen his title fight - when Michael was 20 points ahead of his closest rival!
The fans were angered, and the Ferrari drivers switched their positions on the podium with Rubens on the top step and each handing the other their trophies so that Rubens got the winner’s trophy. Ferrari was fined $1 million for interrupting the podium procedure, after a similar staged event at the USGP later in the season, caused team orders to be banned out right.
After starting 18th on the grid, Rubens wins his first Grand Prix at Hockenheim. His team mate, Michael Schumacher, was taken out at the first corner and the McLarens of Coulthard and Hakkinen were caught out by a safety car which caught them but allowed all the other drivers to stop without losing time to the leading duo.
Then the heavens opened up and Barrichello did what he does best. A very popular victory.