2004 Formula One season
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The 2004 Formula One season was the 55th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, which was contested over an eighteen event series which ran from 7 March to 24 October 2004. The championship was dominated by Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro with the German driver winning the Drivers Championship for the fifth consecutive year and the Italian constructor winning the Constructors Championship for the sixth straight season. Also notable were the success of BAR and Renault, and the relatively poor performance of Williams and McLaren.
Michael Schumacher won 12 of the first 13 races and eventually scored 13 race victories, breaking his own record of 11 race wins in a season, set in 2002. He also won a record seventh Drivers' Championship with his teammate Rubens Barrichello winning two of the last four races and finishing second in the title. Jenson Button, though failing to win a grand prix, secured ten podium finishes and one pole position to finish third in the Drivers Championship. Along with Japanese team mate Takuma Sato, Button delivered BAR an impressive second place in the Constructors Championship behind Ferrari.
Four of the ten teams, Ferrari, Renault, Jaguar, and Toyota, were subsidiaries of major car companies and one, BAR, was a division of a tobacco company. Williams and McLaren, both privately owned teams, had engine supply agreements with major car companies, BMW and Mercedes-Benz respectively, and Honda produced engines for BAR. The other three teams, Jordan, Sauber and Minardi, were also privately owned but received little substantial sponsorship, and consequently tended to end up toward the back of the grid. Sauber received Ferrari engines badged under the Petronas name, and also received sponsorship from the Malaysian oil and gas company.
The 2004 Canadian Grand Prix was a very dramatic race. First, Timo Glock replaced Giorgio Pantano in this race, due to personal circumstances for Pantano. Then, Williams and Toyota were excluded from the race due to an irregularity in the brake ducts. That meant the Jordan team was the main beneficiary of the disqualifications, with Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock both scoring points, Glock in his debut Formula One race. Immediately before the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, Giorgio Pantano was dropped by the Jordan team and Timo Glock replaced him for the last 3 races.
Ralf Schumacher had a difficult season. He suffered a massive accident during the 2004 United States Grand Prix and was out of action for 6 races. Marc Gené and Antônio Pizzonia replaced him during his absence.
Jarno Trulli's relationship with the Renault team deteriorated after his first victory at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. He left the team after the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, which was also Pantano's last race for the Jordan team. Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve replaced Jarno Trulli at Renault for the final 3 races. Trulli missed the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, but he returned in the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix and the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix with the Toyota team. That meant the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix was Jarno Trulli's first race with the new team.
Cristiano da Matta's string of disappointing results during the season led to his replacement by test driver Ricardo Zonta from Hungary onwards except the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix. Da Matta did not race for Toyota again and in 2005 he returned to Champ Car racing claiming that F1 was not competitive enough.
This season saw all ten teams score at least one World Championship point.
From the 2004 season onward, all teams which had not finished in the top four in the previous year's Constructors Championship were allowed to run a third car in the Friday practice session before each grand prix, for testing purposes. Other teams were also permitted to have test drivers, although they were not allowed to compete in Friday practice. Sauber chose not to run its third driver in these sessions because of the added expense.
Drivers and constructors
† All engines were 3.0 litre, V10 configuration.
The 2004 season featured several driver line-up changes prior to the season, and more changes during the season proper. Three teams (Minardi, Jordan and Sauber) started 2004 with completely new driver line-ups.
At BAR, following Jacques Villeneuve's departure from the team before the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix, former test driver Takuma Sato was permanently given the second race seat alongside Jenson Button; after serving in a temporary capacity during 2003, Anthony Davidson became the permanent test driver replacing Takuma Sato.
At Minardi, Nicolas Kiesa was unable to keep his seat and was released; Jos Verstappen left the Italian team as a result of sponsorship problems, and an unwillingness to spend another year competing with other backmarkers in the uncompetitive team, and Gianmaria Bruni who had performed a limited amount of testing in 2003, was signed to a full-time drive. Zsolt Baumgartner was confirmed as the second full-time driver after the Hungarian government provided sponsorship. Baumgartner had performed replacement duties at Jordan in 2003 after Ralph Firman suffered injuries from a crash in Hungary. Completing the all-new lineup Bas Leinders and Tiago Monteiro were signed as test drivers for 2004. Leinders was signed from the ranks of the World Series by Nissan, while Monteiro was signed from the American Fittipaldi Champ Car team.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Sauber mutually parted company at the end of 2003, and Frentzen moved out of F1 and joined fellow ex-F1 drivers Mika Häkkinen and Jean Alesi in the DTM. Nick Heidfeld was also released by Sauber, and appeared to have no drive for 2004. However several successful test drives at Jordan landed him a seat there. Fisichella left Jordan after 2003 having signed a drive for Sauber. This meant that Heidfeld and Fisichella effectively swapped seats. Sauber's other new driver was Felipe Massa who left his test position at Ferrari and returned to the team where he had raced in 2002. As Sauber used Ferrari engines in 2003, Massa took considerable knowledge of Ferrari components with him.
Choosing not to extend Justin Wilson's contract, Jaguar signed up Christian Klien to partner Mark Webber in the R5. Wilson turned down a test drive and departed Jaguar to join the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team in Champ Car racing in America. Björn Wirdheim was signed as their Friday test driver. The other Friday test drivers are Franck Montagny, was rewarded for a championship year in the World Series by Nissan with a permanent test drive at Renault, Ryan Briscoe joined Ricardo Zonta as a test driver at Toyota, and Pedro de la Rosa returned to F1 as a test driver for McLaren.
As part of a global restructuring and cost-cutting exercise, Ford announced during the season that they would not be entering into the F1 championship in 2005 via their Jaguar team. They also announced that their Cosworth motor and engineering divisions were being sold. The Jaguar team was eventually bought by Red Bull and effectively continued to compete as Red Bull Racing in 2005.
Formula One 2004 race schedule
The 2004 Formula One calendar featured two new events, the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Chinese Grand Prix, held at two newly built circuits in Sakhir and Shanghai. The season featured the most races outside Europe to that point, with eight Grands Prix in the Americas, Asia and Oceania. The Brazilian Grand Prix moved from its traditional early season slot to become the season finale, whereas the United States Grand Prix moved from its previous date in late September to late June as a back-to-back race with the Canadian Grand Prix.
The only exit was the Austrian Grand Prix, after seven years raced at the A1-Ring, the modified circuit old Österreichring. The grandstands and pit buildings were demolished during the year, rendering the track unusable for any motorsport category. The circuit eventually reopened in 2011 as the Red Bull Ring.
Results and standings
The season started in Australia at Albert Park and Michael Schumacher led a Ferrari 1–2. He followed that up with another victory at Sepang and led another Ferrari 1–2 at Bahrain. Jenson Button scored his maiden pole in San Marino but Michael Schumacher beat him to the line. Thereafter Schumacher dominated the Spanish Grand Prix by taking a Grand Chelem (Fastest lap, pole, lead from start to finish and a win). In Monaco Jarno Trulli won from pole after surviving intense pressure from Jenson Button in a race that saw Michael Schumacher crash out. Schumacher won the European GP at the Nurburgring and won the Canadian GP in a strategic battle. The US GP was a dramatic race with a high attrition rate that saw only 8 cars cross the finish line in a race dominated by accidents and saw Ralf Schumacher make a massive accident. That race was also won by Michael Schumacher. In France Schumacher beat Fernando Alonso in a strategic move. In Britain he overpowered polesitter, Kimi Räikkönen, to take his 10th win of the season. In Germany he won after his main opponent, Kimi Räikkönen, suffered a rear wing failure after setting faster laps than Schumacher. Schumacher led another Ferrari 1–2 in Hungary to secure Ferrari the constructors trophy. The Belgian GP was also dominated by accidents and safety car periods and Kimi Räikkönen eventually won the race from a low 10th place on the grid. Michael Schumacher finished second and thus secured himself the world title. In a rain affected Italian GP Barrichello led a Ferrari 1–2 in front of the loyal tifosi. The Chinese GP was also won by Barrichello with Button and Räikkönen finishing within 2 seconds of him while Michael Schumacher could only manage a 12th place after starting from the pitlane. The Japanese GP weekend was somewhat spoiled by a Typhoon that caused widespread damage to parts of Japan and which saw the postponement of qualifying to the morning of race day. Michael Schumacher took his 13th race win in a dry race that saw the rain hold off. The Brazilian GP was won by Juan Pablo Montoya on his last outing for the Williams team scoring their last victory until the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. In the end Schumacher was on top with 148 points followed by Barrichello on 114 points and Ferrari on top in the Constructors' Championship with 262 points.
Bold - Pole
† Drivers did not finish the Grand Prix, but were classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.
Drivers Championship points were awarded on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for the first eight positions at each event.
Constructors Championship points were awarded on 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for the first eight positions at each event with the results from both cars being taken into account.
Note: Official FIA classifications for the 2004 Constructors Championship listed the constructors as Scuderia Ferrari Malboro, Lucky Strike BAR Honda, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team etc.
- Williams driver Marc Gené replaced Ralf Schumacher, injured at 2004 United States Grand Prix, in France and Great Britain.
- After being unceremoniously dumped from a Jaguar full-time drive half way through the previous season, Antônio Pizzonia reverted to his testing role with Williams which he had in 2002. Pizzonia replaced Ralf Schumacher from Germany to Italy.
- Jacques Villeneuve replaced Trulli at Renault for the final three races in China, Japan and Brazil.
- Cristiano da Matta's string of disappointing results during the season led to his replacement by test driver Ricardo Zonta from Hungary onwards. Da Matta did not race for Toyota again and in 2005 he returned to Champ Car racing claiming that F1 was not competitive enough.
- Jarno Trulli's relationship with Renault, and Team Principal Flavio Briatore in particular, soured markedly after it was made clear that he would not be retained after 2004. After agreeing to terms with Toyota for 2005, Trulli and Renault agreed to part ways after the 2004 Italian Grand Prix and 14 races disputed. This allowed Trulli to drive for Toyota for the final three races of 2004 and Ricardo Zonta therefore found himself demoted to test driver once again.
- Ricardo Zonta replaced Da Matta from the Hungarian to the Brazilian Grand Prix.
- Toyota driver Olivier Panis indicated during the season that he was not interested in driving full-time for Toyota due to personal reasons. He did express interest in working as a test driver and was consequently signed by Toyota on that basis at the end of the season. Panis raced at Sunday with three different team-mates: da Matta from Australia to Germany, Zonta in Hungary and China, and finally Trulli in Japan.
- Robert Doornbos was hired as a replacement test driver for Glock's position at Jordan.
- Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano raced from Australia to Italy. After this race Pantano and Jordan parted ways after poor results and sponsorship problems created issues.
- Timo Glock was contracted to finish the year in the Jordan having already performed testing duties with the team that year. He was a third driver on Friday in Canada and also the race driver on Sunday, replaced Pantano at the last three races.
- FIA Formula One World Championship Season Guide 2004 Retrieved on 9 February 2012
- 2004 Formula One Sporting Regulations Retrieved on 9 February 2012
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 2004 in Formula One|
- formula1.com – 2004 official driver standings
- formula1.com – 2004 official team standings
- 2004 Formula One Sporting Regulations Retrieved from web.archive.org on 4 June 2012
- 2004 Formula One Technical Regulations Retrieved from web.archive.org on 11 August 2009
- 2004 Formula One World Championship Entry List Retrieved from web.archive.org on 11 August 2009
- 2004 Formula One World Championship Classifications Retrieved from web.archive.org on 11 August 2009
- Images from the 2004 Formula One season at www.motorsport.com
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