With the Hungarian Grand prix coming up this weekend, we have been looking at classic races from the events past. This time it’s the 2003 edition of the race, where Fernando Alonso won the race to become the youngest Grand Prix winner ever at the time, breaking a record that had stood since 1959.
Going into the race there seemed to be a three way title fight between Montoya in the Williams, Raikkonen in the Mclaren and Schumacher in the Ferrari. After three consecutive championships for Ferrari and Schumacher, in the 2003 season there finally seemed to be a decent level of competition between the teams with Ferraris aura of dominance broken. This was the case perhaps more so than usual going into this race, as although they lead both championships, Schumacher had only scored one podium in his last four races.
In this somewhat unpredictable season, where there had already been seven different winners, young Spaniard Fernando Alonso had been breaking records all the while. Earlier in the season he had become the youngest ever Pole sitter and the youngest ever person to stand on the podium, both at the Malaysian Grand Prix. coming in to the Hungarian Grand prix, with two further podiums to his name, it was the spaniard looking for his first F1 win. In qualifying he duly performed grabbing pole position for the second time in his career. He was followed on the grid by Ralf Schumacher, and an impressive Mark Webber in third and Montoya fourth. Raikkonen and Schumacher were lower down the grid in seventh and eighth, giving the Williams’ the best opportunity to attack and make up points on their championship rivals.
Moving into the race, Alonso got a fabulous start from pole position, whilst the williams both had a poor start from the dirty side of the grid, slipping down the order, which was further compounded by Ralf Schumacher’s spin sending him to the back of the field. In the opening laps Alonso pulled away by huge amounts each lap on low fuel, taking advantage of the struggling Webber in second, and Raikkonen not being able to pass the Australian. By the time he pitted on lap 13 he had amassed a 21 second lead to the cars behind, and was able to come out just behind Raikkonen in second place as Webber pitted on the same lap. Raikkonen pitted on lap 16, leaving Alonso to retake the lead. This would be the last time Alonso would lose the lead, sailing off into the distance at the front of the field.
Behind him an almighty battle was taking place for fourth place after the first round of pitstops with Trulli, (perhaps predictably given his reputation for causing Trulli trains) proving the cork in the bottle. He was holding up montoya and both Schumachers, Ralf having recovered superbly to be right up behind his brother after his first lap spin. Trulli eventually had to stop on lap 30 giving the Williams’ free space to set fast laps in order to do the overcut on him to get ahead. Ralf pitted first, managing to jump Trulli in the stops, but Montoya who stayed out a further lap managed to jump Trulli and Webber for provisional third place, with Michael Schumacher and Coulthard ahead yet to pit by the halfway point.
By the time Schumacher had pitted he again came out behind Trulli, the extra laps not quick enough to jump the second Renault. However Coulthard, who stopped tremendously late on lap 43, indicating a two stop, came out in between the Renault and Ferrari, seemingly in the best place to come out on top in that battle, with one less stop to make.
By lap 46, Ralf Schumacher had finally passed Mark Webber for Fourth place, but with his teammate already a long way down the road, the order looked to be settling, with it being Alonso, Raikkonen, Montoya, Schumacher, Webber, Trulli, Coulthard, Schumacher. The third round of stops did little to change the top order, with only Coulthard being propelled up to fifth thanks to his two stop strategy.
Alonso out front was serene all weekend, even lapping Michael Schumacher in the process of taking his first ever win, a statement of intent if ever there was one. It was the first of many for Alonso and in the immediate term put Raikkonen and Montoya both within two points of the championship lead with three races to go, Schumacher seemingly looking on the ropes.