By Dan Knutson
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
After seven races in this Formula One season, just four points separate Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher in the Drivers World Championship. Raikkonen leads Schumacher, 48-44.
And only four points separate Fernando Alonso (29 points), Rubens Barrichello (27), Juan Pablo Montoya (25), David Coulthard (25) and Ralf Schumacher (25), who are locked in a battle for third place in the championship.
In the Constructors Championship, the West McLaren-Mercedes team now leads Ferrari by two points, 73-71.
Statistics show that this season has been intensely more competitive than the 2002 season.
In 2002, Michael Schumacher held a 60-27 lead over second-place Ralf Schumacher after seven races. And Ferrari led the Constructors’ points, 72-54, over Williams.
There were only three different winners through seven races last season: Michael Schumacher with five victories, and Ralf Schumacher and Coulthard with one apiece.
There have been five different winners in seven races this year: Coulthard, Giancarlo Fisichella, Montoya, Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher.
Elite company for Montoya: The unofficial “triple crown” of motor racing’s most historic, prestigious and well-known races consists of the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The late Graham Hill is the only driver to have won all three events. And now Hill and Juan Pablo Montoya are in the history books as the only two drivers who have won the “500” and Monaco.
Tazio Nuvolari, Maurice Trintignant, Mike Hawthorn, Bruce McLaren, Phil Hill and Jochen Rindt won at Monaco and Le Mans.
Montoya’s picks revisited: Before this year’s 87th running of the Indianapolis 500, 2000 Indy winner Juan Pablo Montoya was asked who he favored in the race. He picked Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and, because Mo Nunn is a master at strategy, anybody driving for Nunn.
Montoya’s drivers ended up doing very well, indeed. Castroneves led 58 laps and finished second, just 0.299 of a second behind his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Gil de Ferran. Kanaan took third, and Nunn drivers Tora Takagi and Alex Barron finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Da Matta happy for de Ferran: Panasonic Toyota driver Cristiano da Matta is happy with the outcome of the 2003 Indianapolis 500.
“I was cheering for Tony Kanaan to win,” said da Matta, who said he is a huge fan of the Indy 500, “but I am happy the Gil de Ferran won. He really deserved it.”
Button misses race: Jenson Button crashed heavily during Saturday morning’s practice in his Lucky Strike BAR-Honda. While he was uninjured, he felt a bit groggy and spent the night in the Princess Grace hospital.
Doctors recommended that Button did not take part in the race, so he watched the action from the pits Sunday.
Wirdheim throws away win: Bjorn Wirdheim led all 45 laps of Saturday’s FIA International Formula 3000 race but was passed by Nicolas Kiesa just meters from the line in a bizarre finish.
Wirdheim slowed to wave to his crew, hanging on the pit wall, after thinking he had crossed the finish line. Wirdheim misjudged the finish line, letting Kiesa speed past for the victory. Wirdheim speeded up again to finish second ahead of Raffaele Giammaria.
Four drivers from the United States took part in the race: Townsend Bell drove an aggressive race to finish fifth while former IRL IndyCarTM Series driver Will Langhorne, taking part in his first F3000 race, ended up 10th. Derek Hill and Phil Giebler failed to finish.
New engine: Renault will abandon its wide angle V10 engine and replace it in 2004 with a new engine that has a smaller V angle.
“The wide V engine has a low center of gravity and good horizontal stiffness,” said Renault’s Bernard Dudot. “But the concept of the wide V creates a few technical difficulties.
“At certain engine speeds, oscillations in the crankshaft cause vibrations that are hard to control. This is one of the causes of the restricted engine speed we are suffering in comparison to some of our competitors. The width of the airbox, induced by the V angle, delivers an acoustic response, which deprives us of performance at low and medium engine speeds. The engine lacks torque.”
Renault will continue to develop this year’s engine while it works on next year’s design.
USGP tickets: Tickets for the 2003 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis are on sale, and the IMS ticket office encourages customers to place orders early to ensure the best possible opportunity to acquire good seats.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.imstix.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.