Ecclestone: “It wasn’t necessary, the race was exciting enough without it.”

ecclestone moss

On this day in F1… 20th July 2003

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler BlackJack’sBriefs

London introduced the Congestion Charge; Columbia was the last mission of the Space Shuttle; Netscape died as Mozilla was born; Serbia and Montenegro were officially founded; worldwide protests against the Iraq war; the last ‘real’ VW Beetle was manufactured, in Mexico; Mt. Everest was climbed in a record eleven hours; the highest temperature ever recorded in Britain – 38.5C.; Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor of California; Taipei 101 became the tallest highrise; and Concorde made it’s last flight…

. . . and Rubens Barrichello won the British GP… a resounding victory from pole position after a great struggle with Kimi Raikkonen, and also

Ruben Barichello © FerrariJarno Trulli, who was running light on fuel and subsequently fell back. Rubens was slow off the line and dropped to third but when Kimi made a mistake on lap 42 Rubens just ran away with it as, one by one, all the other potential challengers fell by the wayside without ever getting close to Rubinho.

And that was that… except for lap eleven… when an odd-looking spectator decided it was time to run down the centre of Hanger Straight, towards the on-coming traffic. That he didn’t cause an accident is perhaps a miracle, and he was eventually brought quite literally to his knees, and dragged off the track, by marshall, Stephen Green, who was later awarded the BARC’s Browning Medal for bravery.

Brundle’s dour comments:

The same with wonderfully self-explanatory French commentary:

The sad soul who attempted to disrupt the event, apparently aimed at instructing people to read the bible, because it alone contained the ‘real truth’, was de-frocked (laicized) Irish priest, now ‘nutter extraordinaire’, Cornelius Horan, dressed, Irish-style, in green shirt & socks, and orange kilt – and nobody seems to have enquired why the kilt was quite so short… The theory (for some) that nothing is worn under a kilt was dispelled, at least on this occasion, when there was a further flash of green – a sight I’m sure we could have all done without – as the guy was tackled by Mr Green. [I’m sorry, I’m not making this up…]

Cornelius HoranHoran was charged with ‘aggravated trespass’, and, despite a perfect defense of insanity, pleaded guilty but asserted that the ‘open gate’ was a sign from God… I wonder how many other illegal entrants to a circuit could get away with that excuse… Prosecution claimed the incident was premeditated because he had prepared banners and leaflets before getting on the No.97 bus to Upper Silverstone Junction… and he was jailed for two months. Can you imagine the poor guy who had to share his cell…?

During the subsequent ten years this sad ‘maroon’ has continued to be arrested for similar activities across Europe but seems not to get the help he really needs.

There were additional concerns at Silverstone that Bernie and Max, who had been outspoken against the validity of the circuit as a modern F1 facility, might use this incident to further their claims and drivers and teams were quick to its defense.

Rubens was, “sorry it happened,” but asserted Silverstone, “was better than ever, for traffic jams”… Montoya felt it, “was one of the best races of the year.” Brundle, fount of all knowledge, described it as. “the last thing Silverstone needed.”

Ron said it could have happened at any race, and Sauber rather gruesomely pointed out, “When a man sets himself on fire in the street in Paris, no-one blames Paris.”

The rather wonderfully named Australian blog-site, DownUnderStear was more outspoken. ‘Horan used to be a (crazy) priest who was defrocked (that’s church talk for fired!) for promoting his (crazy) beliefs in his (crazy) sermons and for being all sorts of scarry mental . . . Dressed as a medieval court jester on acid, and waving posters that the drivers were supposed to read, he was eventually dropped, and probably not for the first time in his life, on his head.

The fruitcake was jailed for two months before taking his lunacy on a world tour. He was tackled by police at the 2004 Derby, and assaulted the leader of the men’s marathon in the Greek Olympics. The Greek courts dismissed him. Someone lock this twat up!’

Bernie had the last word: “It wasn’t necessary – the race was exciting enough without it.”

For those who like coincidences… there was a similar demonstration at Nurburgring during the 2000 German GP when a disgruntled ex-Mercedes employee desired to air his grievances by walking along the edge of the track. At the time the race was being contested by Kimi and Rubens… and was subsequently won by Rubens…

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But… this is a motor-racing site so what about the Grand Prix…? Well, while the Safety Car was despatched until the track had been cleared of dim-witted detritus, fourteen of the leading cars dived into the pits leaving the two Toyotas in first and second place with Brazillian newcomer, Cristiano da Matta in the lead, for eighteen laps, in his first season of F1… and this week I found myself wondering, Cristiano da Who…? – I recalled the name but I couldn’t answer, where he came from, and where he went…

Da Matta © ToyotaWell, he was born in Belo Horizonte in 1973, his father was a local 14- time touring-car champion, he won several karting championships until taking the Brazillian F/Ford championship at the age of 20, at 21 he was F3 champion and, at 22, was in Britain and placed 8th in the British F3 championship, and the following year, 1996, was 8th in F3000.

Apparently dissatisfied with this slower rate of success (perhaps the competition was higher than he expected) da Matta moved to the States for 1997 where he was Rookie of the Year in the IndyLights series, which he then won outright in 1998 after a convincing string of seven victories. For 1999 Cristiano moved up to the CART series, had his first race-win the following year, and then joined the Newman/Haas team, with whom he had seven wins, and seven pole starts, on the way to winning the 2002 Championship.

Thus fortified da Matta returned to Europe, and F1, in 2003, with Toyota,
whose engines he had been using since 1999 but… Toyota never quite excelled in this area although da Matta famously hounded Schumacher in the very wet Brazillian GP and scored ten points during his first season, four more than his more experienced teammate, Olivier Panis… but 2004 was less successful and he lost his seat to Ricardo Zonta mid-season – allegedly partly because of his comments about the quality of the Toyota car…

Da Matta Toyota © ToyotaCristiano da Matta returned to CART (now known as ‘Champ Car’) but his star seemed to have waned. Maybe he was unable to get a decent drive (but why, as 2002 champion…?) and in 2005-06 he finished 11th (after one win) and 6th respectively.

Perhaps 2006 might have been better if it hadn’t been for an awful accident when, during a practice session in August, he clipped a wild deer with a front wheel, at Road Atlanta, and the animal was launched back and hit da Matta… Though believed to have been unconscious his foot was still on the brake pedal when the safety guys arrived.

After head surgery he was placed in an induced coma and, after a week, was able to move his extremities and, three weeks later, was able to speak, and walk short distances. For nearly two years he continued to improve and in March 2008 had a two-day test in a Daytona-Prototype after which he said: “I still know how to do this, I remember this very well. The biggest thing I felt after the test was just a sense of relief. For me, it was a big, big relief, bigger than big.”

Cristiano da Matta was partnered with ex-Champ Car champion, Jimmy Vasser, at Laguna Seca… where they finished 32nd…

In 2010 da Matta raced in the Brazillian Truck series and, for 2011, returned to the American Le Mans Series, but the incredible promise he showed until 2003 was cut off, perhaps in its prime… Perhaps he could have been a great star… At least I now know who it was who led that crazy British GP in his first season of F1 racing.

Rubens Podium 2003 © FerrariPS: On the day after the race Rubens dropped his trophy at Heathrow airport and it suffered considerable damage. It doesn’t seem to be recorded how much it cost to repair…

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