23 year old Fin
Props to well to Ol’ Nando for being able to drive around the outside of Ralf through Turn 9 a lap later, supreme confidence.
Meanwhile at the front, after 15 or so laps of sustained pressure, David Coulthard ran wide and Rubens Barrichello was finally able to get past him! The Brazilian fans go potty, Rubens destroys David, cheered on by the Brazilian fans as he leads his home GP! It’s too good to be true! So of course, his fuel system completely shut down, and after just 2 laps in the lead, Rubens, was out, continuing his curse of Brazilian GP finishes. At this point, the last time Rubens even finished a Brazilian GP, was back in 1994. Nine consecutive retirements. Holy shit.
The third turn of poor judgement had tried to claim Mark Webber as a 6th victim, but somehow managed to avoid the wall and keep going. The final corner didn’t like that, so Mark Webber spun out down the hill and hit the wall hard. Luckily unhurt. Oh yeah, and guess what? ANOTHER Safety Car. Number 5 now, if you’ve not been keeping count.
Turns out this one was a bigger deal. For some stupid reason I’ve still not been able to fathom, Fernando Alonso hit one of the detached tyres from Webber, lost control, and went straight into the tyre wall at over 120 mph. He badly winded himself and his car was utterly destroyed. Red Flag, and because of the barrier damage, race over, Alonso leaving the track in a stretcher.
But here’s the deal, who won? Fisichella was leading the Grand Prix, but the red flag procedure meant no-one was sure who won. The FIA made Raikkonen the race winner, but who actually won? And Fisichella’s car caught fire in Parc Ferme, because why the hell not?
So, who won? Fisichella? Raikkonen? Coulthard? Well, according to the rulebook, if a race has been stopped from a Red Flag after 75% race distance (Which it was, just), the result is taken when “deemed to have finished when the leading car crossed the line at the end of the lap two laps prior to that lap during which the signal to stop was given”. So, the issue became, do you take the result from Lap 53, or 54? This was important, as on Lap 53, Raikkonen was leading, over the line on Lap 54, Fisichella had passed him after Raikkonen ran wide in Sector 2.
The stewards thought that Fisichella was on Lap 55, so they counted back to 53, hence Raikkonen being declared the winner. But a week later, Jordan put in new timing evidence to prove that Fisichella was 5 seconds into Lap 56, hence the Lap 54 countback, so Fisichella was later given his win. Props to McLaren and Raikkonen being sporting enough to give Jordan and Fisichella their winners trophies during the next round at Imola.
So Fisichella won, Raikkonen second, and Fernando Alonso finished 3rd. Ironically, no-one was on the podium was in the right spot from the original result, with Kimi and Fisichella swapped, and Alonso busy having the tyre removed from his stomach. David Coulthard was very unlucky to have finished 4th given the timing of the Red Flag.
Also, what’s kind of crazy, was that if the original result had stood, Raikkonen would have tied Michael Schumacher for the Championship in 2003. Michael would have still won on countback though.
Well, this was quite the race. I must admit, the first time I saw it, I didn’t dig it that much, feeling that the Safety Car breaks actually killed the enjoyment a little bit with all the stops and restarts in the action. But then when I watched it again for this review, it didn’t bother me as much, second time around.
Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think this is the all-time classic many hail it as, but for sheer drama, this is a pretty gnarly race. Has there EVER been another race with 5 Safety Cars, a Red Flag finish, and an incredible ending where no-one was sure who won?! Turn 3 claiming half a dozen victims, and just 10 cars making the finish? Yeah, even if it’s not the most entertaining, for sheer attrition and craziness, this is still definitely worth a watch.
If you want to see more classic reviews, send me some suggestions in the comments! Until next time, thanks for reading folks!
Dre’s Race Rating: 8/10 – Great