ABOUT THIS SEASON
There’s something special about Spa-Francorchamps. It’s a challenge for both man and machine, one of the last few circuits constructed around a genuinely natural landscape with corners such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont where real courage is called for. And to Michael, it means even more.
It’s the place where he made his GP debut, where he won his first GP race and where he always seems to be writing his name in the history books. One such date being 29th August 2004, the day he claimed his seventh world title.
A very special victory
The safety car emerges three times to interrupt a nerve-wracking Grand Prix. Michael is involved in a prolonged pursuit of Kimi Räikkönen’s McLaren but is unable to find a way past. However, even second position is good enough to secure him his fifth title in succession. “You can’t always be the winner, but in my eyes, I also emerged a winner today by taking the world championship,” he comments afterwards. “It means a lot to me to win my seventh title here in Spa-Francorchamps of all places and especially as this is Ferrari’s 700th GP. Quite remarkable really.”
Which just about sums up the season too. As early as the Melbourne curtain-raiser, the omens are good for Ferrari: the first race of the season and a podium one-two. The opposition are shell-shocked and the effect is to linger for some time. Malaysia, Bahrain, San Marino, Spain: in the first five races, the name of the winner is always the same – Michael Schumacher. To the extent that a young pretender can be identified, that person is called Jenson Button and he’s driving a Honda. The Briton claims a podium spot twice at the start of the season and chooses Imola of all venues, the Ferrari home turf, to bag the first non-Schumacher pole position of the year. He is still unable to stop Michael cruising to victory, though.
Dream Start and hunting for the record
A dream start in Monaco ends with a loud bang. On lap 40, Juan Pablo Montoya shunts into the back of Michael’s Ferrari during a safety car phase as they are going through the tunnel. “I wanted to keep my tyres and brakes up to temperature,” says Michael. “It’s the driver in front who sets the speed. Juan’s reactions weren’t as they should have been.” The dream of 18 victories in 18 races is over. In the long run, though, this proves to be the only hiccup in his season: from the Nürburgring through to Budapest, Michael occupies the top rung on the podium seven times in a row. This amounts to an incredible 12 victories out of 13. And before the season is over, he is to add one more.
In the French GP, the battle for the lead briefly threatens to become exciting. Then Michael and Technical Director Ross Brawn spring their surprise of a four-stop strategy to turn the tables. “Incredible how successful that was,” says a delighted Michael. “This four-stop victory will go into the record books. No risk, no fun – just perfect.” Michael’s former race engineer and new chief strategist Luca Baldisserri hits on the idea of a four-stopper in the week leading up to the race. “At first, Ross couldn’t believe I was being serious. But then we looked at the idea a bit more closely and saw that there were circumstances where it could work.” The eleven laps after Fernando Alonso’s third pit stop and before Michael’s fourth prove that it really does work.
Courtesy by motorsport-magazin.com
2004 Saison Figures
GRAND PRIX WINS
ALL GRAND PRIX
The races of 2004