2004 Formula One season
|2004 FIA Formula One World Championship season|
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|Index: Races by country | Races by season|
The 2004 Formula One season was the 55th FIA Formula One World Championship season, running from March 7 to October 24 2004. The season was dominated by Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. Also notable were the success of BAR and Renault, as well as the poor performance of Williams and McLaren.
For the fifth and sixth seasons Ferrari won both drivers and constructors titles respectively. Michael Schumacher dominated the beginning of the year by winning a record 12 races in the first 13, eventually winning a record 13 races in a season, beating his previous record in 2002, and also easily cruising to a record seventh and his final drivers' championship. Rubens Barrichello came in a solid second place, winning two of the last four races. Jenson Button, though failing to win a grand prix, finished third, securing ten podium finishes and one pole position. Along with Japanese team mate Takuma Sato, BAR impressed by finishing second behind Ferrari.
Four of the ten teams were subsidiaries of major car companies (Ferrari, Renault, Jaguar, and Toyota) and one was a division of a tobacco company (BAR). Williams and McLaren, both privately owned teams, had engine-production agreements with major car companies, BMW and Mercedes-Benz respectively, and Honda produced engines for BAR. The final 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 was privately owned, but received Ferrari engines badged under the Petronas name, and also received sponsorship from Petronas.
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 scoring points. Especially, Timo Glock scored 2 points on his F1 debut. Then came right before the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, Giorgio Pantano was dropped by the Jordan team and the Timo Glock replaced him at the last 3 races.
Ralf Schumacher had a tough 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 turned sour after his first victory at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. He did not complete the season and left the team after the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, where that race was also Pantano's last race for the Jordan team as well. Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve replaced Jarno Trulli for the final 3 races. He missed 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, but he returned in the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix and 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 teams had scored at least one World Championship point.
From the 2004 season onward, all teams who did not finish in the top four of the previous year's World Constructors Championship were allowed to run a third car on the Friday practice before a grand prix for testing purposes. Other teams have test drivers as well, though they are not allowed to compete in Friday practice. Sauber chose not to run its third driver in practice because of the added expense.
Drivers and constructors
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 Montiero 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.
Results and standings
The 2004 Formula One calendar featured two new events, in Bahrain and China, with two newly-built circuits in Sakhir and Shanghai. The only exit is the Austrian Grand Prix, after seven years raced in A1-Ring, the modified circuit old Osterreichring. The grandstands and pit buildings were demolished during this year, rendering the track unusable for any motorsport category. In later 2004 and early 2005, there were intense discussions whether the owner, Red Bull, would find another use for the site or even bring back motor sports. However, as of January 2005, this seems more unlikely than ever, as Dietrich Mateschitz publicly announced that he had no intention to waste money on a deficitary circuit.
- 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 German 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 replaces Da Matta in Hungary, Belgium, Italy, China and Brazil.
- 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.
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