Formula 1’s 13 May Classic: 2003 British Grand Prix

This week for its Classics feature Formula 1 will be showing the 2003 British Grand Prix to celebrate 70 years of the championship which began with the 1950 British Grand Prix held on 13 May 1950 at Silverstone.

The 1950 British Grand Prix and Season

The 1950 edition of the British Grand Prix had 26 entrants fielding Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, English Racing Automobiles (ERA), Altas and Talbots.

Qualifying was dominated by Alfa Romeo who secured a 1-2-3-4 with Italian Giuseppe Farina claiming pole position ahead of compatriot Luigi Fagioli, Juan Manuel Fangio and Briton Reg Parnell.

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Parnell was one of nine British drivers to qualify for the race. Thai driver Prince Bira was the first of the non-Alfa Romeo cars in fifth, driving a Maserati. A total of twenty one drivers qualified for the race.

The Grand Prix itself would be won by Farina ahead of Fagioli and Parnell making it an Alfa Romeo 1-2-3. The final two points positions were occupied by Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Louis Rosler, both driving Talbots.

Fangio would be one of ten drivers failing to be classified which included Prince Bira.

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The 1950 season itself consisted of seven rounds with all but one being contested in Europe. The one that wasn’t was the Indianapolis 500 which was not run to Formula One regulations and wasn’t contested by any of the regular Formula One teams or drivers.

It meant that after the Indianapolis 500 there were three drivers tied for the lead of the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship with Farina, Fangio and Johnnie Parsons, the winner of the 1950 Indianapolis 500, all tied on nine points.

Farina led most of the championship, being momentarily deposed from first by Fangio after the penultimate round of the championship in France. Farina (pictured below, right) prevailed however and finished three points ahead of Fangio (pictured below, centre) in the championship to become the first Formula One World Champion.

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Fagioli would finish third with Rosler fourth. By winning the 1950 Indianapolis 500 Parsons finished sixth in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship while Prince Bira finished eighth, Parnell finished joint ninth and Giraud-Cabantous finished joint thirteenth.

There was no Manufacturer or Constructor championship at this point in the sport and although there were only seven championship rounds a further 18 non-championship events were contested across the 1950 season.

The 2003 British Grand Prix and Season

The 2003 edition of the British Grand Prix was also held at Silverstone which was contested by 20 drivers across ten different constructors.

Rubens Barrichello qualified on pole position for Ferrari with Renault’s Jarno Trulli alongside. David Coulthard was the first of three British drivers on the grid, qualifying down in twelfth place with Justin Wilson eighteenth and Jenson Button starting twentieth.

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It would be an eventful race with Trulli leading from Kimi Raikkonen and Barrichello after the Ferrari driver had a poor start.

Coulthard would be forced into a pit stop to replace his head restraint which had come loose and disintegrated while there was also a track invader which brought out the safety car and mixed up the order. It meant that despite starting from pole position and being in the top three in the early parts of the race Barrichello had to work his way through the field in order to eventually claim victory.

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He was joined on the podium by Juan Pablo Montoya and Raikkonen with the remaining five points finishes filled by Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli, Cristiano da Matta and Jenson Button.

There would be only three retirements from the race with Antonio Pizzonia in the Jaguar being the first followed by Giancarlo Fisichella in the Jordan and Fernando Alonso in the Renault.

The 2003 British Grand Prix was the eleventh round of a 16 round season and was one of 10 rounds held in Europe.

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There were three leaders in the Drivers’ Championship across the season with David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen both leading before the title was eventually clinched by Michael Schumacher, who secured his sixth title in the sport. Raikkonen finished the season second with Montoya third while Coulthard finished down in seventh.

There was also the Constructors’ Championship that was contested during the season having been introduced into the sport for the 1958 season. Ferrari would go on to win the title in 2003, their thirteenth title in the sport.

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