Ferrari F2003-GA - Shark With Which Schumi Broke Fangio's Record
The Ferrari F2003-GA had a hard task to surpass or be as good as F2002 which was one of the best F1 cars ever but F2003 did a good job and won both titles in 2003.
After the brilliant year of 2002 when Ferrari won Constructors’ Championship and Michael Schumacher became a champion for the 5th time, Scuderia wanted to continue the winning stream. Team principal Jean Todt, chief designer Rory Byrne and technical director Ross Brawn decided to rely on a highly successful F2002 and they weren’t in a hurry because the old car was still competitive enough.
Same in design but with many new elements
That’s why the new Ferrari F2003-GA (as a mark of respect to Giani Agnelli, head of FIAT) was ready for the fifth round of the championship. The new car was pretty similar to its predecessor in the terms of design, but many elements of the car were changed.
The main change was done on the aerodynamics – the smaller bulbous sidepods and lengthened wheelbase. Because of its air-outlet ‘fins’, Ferrari F2003 quickly became known as the ‘shark’. The approach in engine and gearbox design were also new and proved to be very successful. Their weight and size were reduced by using new materials. The front and rear suspension elements have been revised, to maximize the performance of the Bridgestone tires and to improve the efficiency of the aerodynamic package.
The exhaust system remained the same like the one on F2002 but the center of gravity was lower than on the previous model which produced a further improvement in weight distribution for both chassis and engine. With the new car, Ferrari took a further step forward by using innovative materials and design which resulted in better performances, reliability, and safety.
Late but good debut on the track
Ferrari kept the same driver line-up from the previous season. Michael Schumacher was near the peak of his career, while Rubens Barrichello proved to be a perfect support and valuable team member.
With a new car, they continued where they left off with F2002. Ferrari F2003-GA debuted in the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya Circuit and Schumacher won the race. Brazilian driver finished 3rd in that race and the same outcome was in the Austrian Grand Prix.
After the 6th round of the season, Schumacher was 2nd in the standings, two points behind McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen, while in the Constructors’ championship Scuderia was a point ahead of the British team.
Ups and downs in the middle of the season
Schumi’s winning streak has ended in Monaco where he finished 3rd, while Barrichello was 8th. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Schumacher scored the third victory driving a Ferrari F2003 and took the lead in the Drivers’ championship after the first half of the season, three points ahead of Raikkonen.
In the next two races, the results weren’t as good. At the European Grand Prix, Brazilian driver for the first time outperformed his teammate driving a new car. Brazilian driver finished 3rd and Schumacher was 5th. At the French Grand Prix, the reigning champion was 3rd, while Rubens ended 7th. The following race was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone where Barrichello scored his first win of the season, leaving his teammate in the 4th position.
With five races remaining, Schumacher still topped the standings with an advantage of 7 points to Raikkonen and 14 to Juan Pablo Montoya. In the Constructors’ championship, Ferrari was 10 points ahead of Williams and 23 ahead of McLaren.
Turbulent finish of the year
The races at Hockenheim and Hungaroring were the worst for Ferrari that year. Barrichello retired from both, while Schumacher finished 7th and 8th respectively. With only three races to go, Schumacher’s advantage melted to only one point to Montoya and two to Kimi. At the same time, Ferrari lost the lead in the standings to Williams team which was eight points clear of Scuderia.
However, the team and Schumacher proved their strength when it was the most important. Michael won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and Barrichello finished 3rd. It was followed by another Schumi’s win in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Before the last race of the year in Japan, the reigning champion was 9 points ahead of Raikkonen and 10 ahead of Montoya. Ferrari also gained back the lead in the Constructors’ standings but was only 3 points ahead of Williams.
The season-closing race at Suzuka was really exciting. Barrichello won the pole position and eventually won the race, while Schumacher started from the 8th place. Raikkonen did everything he could to win but Rubens drove perfectly and won the race, clinching the title for his team as well as for Schumacher who finished 8th in the last season of the year. German driver snatched his sixth Drivers’ title breaking a record of Juan Manuel Fangio after 46 years.
What do the numbers say?
The Ferrari F2003-GA entered just 12 races but scored 7 wins (Schumacher 5), 13 podiums, 5 pole positions (Schumacher 3) and the same number of fastest laps (Schumacher 3). The drivers of Ferrari F2003 scored a total of 132 points.
This car wasn’t as superior as its predecessor but still was able to resist attacks of Williams and McLaren. At the same time, F2003-GA was more than a solid foundation to Ferrari F2004 which will dominate Formula 1 World Championship next year.
Video – Ferrari F2003 onboard in Austria
Ferrari F2003-GA technical specifications
|Chassis||Moulded carbon fiber and honeycomb composite structure|
|Engine||Ferrari Tipo 052 3.0 l V10 90°, 2.997 cc, mid-mounted, naturally aspirated|
|Power||880 – 950 hp (660 – 710 kW) at 19.000 RPM|
|Gearbox||Ferrari 7+1 speed longitudinal gearbox operated by semi-automatic sequential electronically controlled gear change|
|Suspension (front and rear)||Independent pushrod activated torsion springs front and rear with|
|Brakes||Ventilated carbon discs|