The new F2003GA collects the heavy legacy of the noble F2002, facing a troubled start to the season. The addition of the initials GA is given by the commemoration for the death of Gianni Agnelli shortly before the official presentation of the car, which took place on February 7, 2003.
The F2003GA looks very similar to its progenitor F2002, and continues with the aim of optimizing the car's aerodynamic efficiency: in this regard, the major intervention done is identified in the further lowering of the car's center of gravity.
To optimize the internal and external aerodynamic flows of the car, the design of the bellies of the car that house the radiators has been completely revised, in particular the front part of the side is strongly hollowed, in such a way as to generate a greater aerodynamic load by working together at the bottom stairway.
The wheelbase of the car is increased compared to that of the F2002, not so much for weight distribution needs as to reduce the harmful effects of wheel turbulence on the car body. The radiators are further advanced and widened as well as the reduction of the maximum width of the body in the area of the petrol tank, which is now slightly narrower and longer than the F2002, with the aim of improving the performance of the engine.
The center of gravity is further lowered when compared with that of the F2002 thanks to the work on the engine head, made lighter thanks to the reduction in size and working on new aluminium alloys that make up the base.
Small, light and powerful, the 052 reaches the 900-horsepower mark at 19.000 revolutions per minute in its latest evolution at the end of the season, without ever showing any failure. The engine is miniaturized thanks to the offset of the cylinders, the angle between the banks is reduced by a few degrees compared to the classic 90° of the previous versions, given the need to contain the dimensions of the new drive unit without affecting the weights and consequently the balance, and the transmission is also reduced to a minimum to free the aerodynamic flows towards the rear diffuser in the rear.
In addition, the rear suspension anchored to the engine causes a sensation, and it is surprising that it was a lower triangle arm that pivoted on the cylinder head, proving how miniaturized the V10 signed 052 was. Also, from the point of view of the use of materials, the F2003GA is at the forefront, in fact, the titanium casting box contains new gears.
When the GA project has already been completed, the FIA launches a regulatory revolution with the ambition of reshuffling the cards. Max Mosley, president of the FIA, has two declared goals: to reduce the costs of the Circus and to give the spectacle back to the Grand Prix.
The intentions are commendable, but more than one analyst sees in the Federation's attempt the desire to put a spoke in the wheel at Ferrari, to avoid that its excessive power also heavily influenced the outcome of the 2003 season.
Thus, the world championship score of each race is changed, halving the margin of advantage between the winner and the second from four to just two points, and according to the new rules, points will be awarded to the first eight drivers, unlike the previous six.
In addition, the qualifying format is also reorganized: two one-hour sessions on Friday and Saturday. Qualifying on Saturday will be considered part of the race, so the single-seaters will have to start the race with the tires and fuel loaded for the timed lap. In addition, the bi-directional telemetry from the garage to the car is abolished, while for reasons of preventive diagnostics in favor of safety, the one from the car to the pits is maintained. In addition, the radio communications between the driver and the pit wall can no longer be encrypted, but must be accessible by the FIA and the television stations.
An unexpected victory
In the first three Grands Prix of the season Ross Brawn prefers to race the F2002.
"With the revolution of the rules it made no sense to deploy a completely new car immediately: it was better not to take risks of reliability, since we had to understand what the effects of the many innovations would be on the race strategies" - Jean Todt explains.
The first three races are won by the two McLaren-Mercedes of Raikkonen and Coulthard, while under the flood of Interlagos the winner is Giancarlo Fisichella, who grabs the first victory in his career.
The F2003-GA, however, in development tests proves unquestionably superior to the glorious F2002. In Maranello they know that the momentary supremacy of silver arrows would have been swept away with the arrival of the F2003-GA, and they keep their nerve. The new car outperforms the competition, but the run-up turns out to be more difficult than expected, as the regulations will favor points finishes almost as much as the winners.
The first race held on May 4, 2003, is the Spanish Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finish in first and third position respectively, replicating the result also in Austria, where the championship leader until then, Kimi Raikkonen, is forced to give way to the German driver. Once the usual hierarchical order has been re-established, at the Racing Department you can begin to breathe a sigh of relief.
But Formula 1 runs fast, and Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams number 3 comes out on the Monte Carlo roulette wheel. Already in qualifying it was understood in the Principality that Michelin-wheeled single-seaters could be a serious threat, if ambient temperatures exceeded the 26° threshold. Ferrari returned to win in Canada with Schumacher, who also took third place in France, while Barrichello took third place at the European Grand Prix.
The Brazilian driver took his first win of the season in Great Britain, but was forced to retire in the following two Grand Prix in Germany and Hungary. As for Schumacher, however, there is a strong lack of competitiveness, so much so that in Hungary he even finished eighth and lapped by the Renault driver Fernando Alonso.
This question mark is revealed because, following an in-depth investigation by the FIA, it turns out that Michelin tires interpret the regulation by going well beyond the limits of the rules that require a footprint of the front tire of no more than 270 millimetres.
Since the marshals' measurements are made with the new tire, the Clermont Ferrand technicians are studying a tire that increases the contact surface with the asphalt as the aerodynamic pressure increases. Following the ratification of the FIA on the pressure measurements, specifying that they can be verified at any time, Ferrari is once again competitive.
The Prancing Horse conquers two victories in the Italian and United States of America Grand Prix with Schumacher, while the teammate takes third place in the Italian stage and the victory in the final round in Japan, in which Michael Schumacher wins his sixth world title, against the Finnish contender Kimi Raikkonen.
The Ferrari F2003GA conquers a total of seven wins, six podiums, five pole positions, and five fastest laps, totalling 126 points, 75 by Michael Schumacher and 51 by Rubens Barrichello, which allow the team from Maranello to conquer both the drivers' title and that reserved for constructors’ teams.