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#724 2004 British Grand Prix

2022-02-14 23:00

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#2004, Fulvio Conti,

#724 2004 British Grand Prix

Hands off Formula Ferrari-Schumacher. Michael Schumacher defends the World Championship this year has managed to monopolize even more than the previou

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Hands off Formula Ferrari-Schumacher. Michael Schumacher defends the World Championship this year has managed to monopolize even more than the previous four. And he justifies the lack of overtaking with a bold comparison: 

 

"It makes no sense to compare Formula 1 with the World Championship and say that the bikes are more fun because they overtake. It’s like comparing two sports like football and basketball. Basketball scores more, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be funnier than football. It is only a matter of taste and points of view". 

 

In the traditional rain of Silverstone, Thursday, July 8, 2004 Michael Schumacher talks free wheel. In particular, he wants to defend the triumph at Magny-Cours from an aesthetic critique: a success achieved at a frantic pace, but without a single reckless manoeuvre. Alonso was in front and he, with an extra pit stop, overtook him in the pits. 

 

"It was a fantastic win for the way we got it. Are we really sure that many overtakings are synonymous with entertainment and fun? The rules have changed many times and will change again, but nothing new will please one hundred percent of the viewers. People also enjoy seeing a car and a driver who always win". 

 

Talking about new regulations: skipped the proposal to carry out two 25-minute qualifying sessions with the sum of time, Formula 1 is looking for other alternatives. The latest proposal by Flavio Briatore - reward with 10 points the pole position, then points to climb for the first positions. And on Sunday the grid, at least for the top ten positions, must be drawn - makes Rubens Barrichello smile:


"If we want to play I prefer the roller coaster. I like the current system, with the dry lap, but I would like it to run with a minimum amount of gasoline. Then the audience would know who is the fastest. I don’t understand who is nostalgic for the old mechanism: everything happened in the last 5 minutes, which erased what had happened in the previous 55". 

 

In Montreal the teams had signed up to accept two 25-minute rounds and six laps for each driver, with the sum of the two best times. Then Paul Stoddard and Eddie Jordan pulled back, and nothing has changed. However, Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t get discouraged and comes back. The British manager proposes to assign points for timed laps as in the race and to draw the top ten of the grid on Sunday. But it would be crazy. How to reduce Formula 1 to a roulette wheel, to a real circus. In skiing it is done but it is an individual sport, often having a high number can also favor the athlete. In the car it’s different, in many circuits you can’t overtake. To improve the show, the only valid proposal concerns the rivals of Ferrari: building faster and competitive cars. Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli metabolizes the sorrow for the mistake he made in Magny-Cours which didn’t allows him to the podium at 200m from the finish.

 

"I overstretched the trajectory in the penultimate corner. At that point I had two options: close the trajectory and risk the accident or suffer overtaking, as I did, and gain 5 points that consolidate my fourth place in the standings". 

 

Despite the anger of his bosses (Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, not to name names), the Italian driver should be close to the renewal with Renault. The situation at Williams is turbulent: of the three drivers he is using this year, no one will race in 2005. Juan Pablo Montoya will go to McLaren, Ralf Schumacher will officially transfer to Toyota on Wednesday, 7 July, 2004 and Gene (who also replaces Ralf here at Silverstone) will return to test. 

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"We are pleased to announce that Ralf Schumacher will be our driver in 2005". 

 

Thus Tsutomu Tomita, head of Toyota Motorsport, confirms the engagement of the German driver. No comments on Olivier Panis and Cristiano Da Matta: the two will finish the championship, then they will probably be replaced (David Coulthard and Jarno Trulli are in contention, whose relations with Renault have worsened after Magny-Cours). Ralf Schumacher, now at Williams but resting from a double fracture of the vertebrae, signs a three-year contract for over 7.000.000 euros per season. After the announcement, the German says to aim to win the World Championship: 

 

"Success can’t be bought and Toyota won’t become the winning team with me overnight, but it could come with all the strength and patience that this undertaking requires". 

 

In his place Jacques Villeneuve could arrive in Williams, if he will receive long-term guarantees. One place will remain open: Frank Williams likes Mark Webber, who is now at Jaguar and - fundamental detail - is owned by Flavio Briatore. Rubens Barrichello sponsors the candidacy of Giancarlo Fisichella, while the appointment of some promising young people is not to be excluded.  On the eve of the British Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello remembers what happened the previous year: 

 

"Great race. At one point I was eighth: overtaking after overtaking I won". 

 

The Brazilian driver was eighth, because a mad man had entered the track and had made him lose several positions. But in the end, that lonely invader, Comelius Horan, a 56-year-old former reverend who praised the Bible, had brought him luck. 

 

"I never talked to him. If he’s out of jail, I invite him to see the race". 

 

The Brazilian man is in great shape. Friday, July 9, 2004 marks the best time in the first session and the third overall. He gave a show at Magny-Cours. 

 

"I explained this a while ago. I couldn’t find the right setup with this car at the start of the season. I was running out of time. Once in the tests I found the rain, another time I had to try 200 different tires, then I was training to use my left foot to brake. Now I can do my best. And Silverstone is one of the circuits I prefer".
 

Michael Schumacher marks the fourth time, concentrating most of the work in the morning in the fear that it will begin to rain. But then it didn’t rain and in the afternoon the Ferraris run with used tires. 

 

"I am satisfied. And if it rains on Sunday, there will be no problem: our wet Bridgestones are exceptional, it would be nice to be able to use them at least once". 

 

The British Friday surprises are Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella. For an hour McLaren is back in McLaren and Sauber looks like a Ferrari. The two of them run strong, detached by just 0.005 seconds, and the cars of Maranello finish 0.5 seconds.

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 Michael Schumacher suspects that the two opponents made time with little gas. But it’s a mistake: Kimi Raikkonen runs five consecutive laps, so his car doesn’t have to be very light. The new McLaren grows and soon will be back to be scary, even if in the standings, at most, it can undermine the fourth place of Williams. And Sauber?

 

"We’ve taken a big step forward in aerodynamics. The car now has a lot more grip in the back. Gasoline? I had the same amount of Raikkonen". 

 

Giancarlo Fisichella’s smile suggests that he probably had less, but his time still deserves the compliments of Michael Schumacher.

 

"Thank you and I appreciate it".

 

The bad new is that the failure of the Ferrari engine during the first practice session will cause losing ten positions in the starting grid, whatever its placement in the standing. The good news is that Williams asked Peter Sauber about his contract. Next year Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya will take their places. Also in contention are the Australian Mark Webber and the Canadian Jacques Villeneuve. The two names that Giancarlo would suggest to Frank Williams?

 

"I would suggest only one, mine. I haven’t had any contact yet, but such a team is in my dreams. If there was an offer, there would be no problem, the Sauber would let me free". 

 

How are you gonna get Williams to take it? 

 

"I go as fast as I can. And I’m a good guy, right?"

 

For Jarno Trulli, a veteran of French disappointment, it’s a bad day: 

 

"Renault here is difficult to drive and I will try to limit the damage. Then I learned at my own expense that until the last corner anything can happen".

 

Last year Rubens Barrichello scored the only hat trick of his career at Silverstone: pole position, fastest lap in race and victory. To jump ahead of everyone at the start, the Brazilian of Ferrari had turned in 1'21"209, at an average of 227.900 km/h.

 

Friday, July 9, 2004 Kimi Raikkonen, driving the renewed McLaren, is the best in the first day of practice of the British Grand Prix, scoring a time of 1'18"655, turning at an average of 235,300 km/h. From the two times, obtained after about twelve months, you can understand how Formula 1 continues to progress, as the performance from time to time are always higher.  A gap of 2,554 seconds less than in 2003 and an average top speed of over 8 km/h. Bearing in mind that, rain permitting, the results can still be overcome on Saturday, the concern that has been the subject of many debates and controversies in recent weeks becomes understandable. The figures say a lot about the fact that many drivers and the president of the FIA, the lawyer Max Mosley, are right when they say that somehow it will be necessary to slow down the cars. The real problem is to find an agreement between the teams to look for solutions that at the same time do not mortify the highest expression of motorsport and partially reduce the speed of the cars.

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 We need to explore all areas, especially aerodynamics and tyres. Suffice it to say that until last season the tyres didn’t allow you to ride in full the Woodcote curve, the one that leads to the right of the pits. Now the drivers with the best cars don’t take a moment off the accelerator. However, given these premises, on Saturday, July 10, 2004, Formula 1 lives an hour backwards, in which Michael Schumacher invents a spin, Rubens Barrichello goes purposely on the grass, Juan Pablo Montoya slows down almost to stop a few meters from the finish as a cyclist in surplace, others sail at a tourist pace along the curves of Silverstone, one of the world temples of speed. So the pre-qualifying of the British Grand Prix becomes a challenge to who goes slowly. The weather conditions, classic topic of conversation between English men, agitate the team managers. Rain is announced in the second qualifying session, the one that assigns the pole. Moral; everyone wants to start first, so they are committed to getting the worst time possible in the first session. Ferrari looks for the bluff and simulates two accidents - applauded by the public - not to reveal the strategy to opponents. Michael Schumacher doesn’t even mention the counter steering to avoid the spin and to those who ask him reason for the error answers seraphic:
 

"Can I laugh now?"

 

Jenson Button takes the bait, or perhaps has more accurate weather reports, since the BAR gets information from a helicopter flying on the circuit, or he still wants to make a good impression, he only English in the race; his will remain the best pre-qualifying, ahead of Felipe Massa and Olivier Panis, two who never attend the high parts of the standings. In short, the trick becomes obvious. Everyone slows down. 

After paying between 85 and 310 euros for the ticket, the public sees an unprecedented race of slowness. At least it served something: the rain is not seen all day; a look at the sky would have been enough to guess it. Meteorology is a 50% exact science, in the sense that it gets us right once in two, more or less like a common mortal guessing. 

 

"It isn’t the meteorologists who made the mistake, it is the circuit that is out of place; it rained everywhere except on the track".

 

Michael Schumacher, who is particularly ironic, explains. The only one who benefits from this is Jenson Button, who gets a third place. The pole position, the first this year, third of his career, is by Kimi Raikkonen, who is in front of Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari. Michael Schumacher is fourth: he will start from the dirty side of the track. The Finnish man brings McLaren back to the top: 
 

"The new car is going strong. If it weren’t for my mistake you would have noticed already in Magny-Cours". 

 

But more than his exploit makes discuss the behavior of pilots in pre-qualifying; article 151 paragraph C of the regulation punishes unsportsmanlike behavior. Kimi pulls himself out: 

 

"We did our best, which is not necessarily the best for viewers. The rules? Well, I don’t know them". 

 

At Ferarri, they say:

 

"At least we put on a show". 

 

Jarno Trulli, fifth, adds:

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"Drivers didn’t invent this format. We adapt to get the best possible result. Briatore’s jokes about me? He’s part of his circus, I don’t mind". 

 

The three-time World Champion, 65-year-old Jackie Stewart, cheers his active colleagues: 

 

"They did their duty, that is to seek the best result". 

 

Who had a little fun is Bernie Ecclestone, patron of Formula 1:

 

"A driver should be proud to be the fastest, but today they joked. These pre-qualifying are stupid anyway". 

 

On a day in reverse the starting grid is inevitably upside down: Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner lose ten positions for replacing the engine. But Olivier Panis will start at the bottom of the group: the French driver is penalized because at the end of his qualifying lap he slowly re-enters the pits to end up hindering the next competitor, Felipe Massa. The risk of rain still hangs over the race. Kimi Raikkonen dreams of a moment of glory, Michael Schumacher continues to win even if from four races he fails to win pole position, Rubens Barrichello remembers the victory of 2003 and assures:

 

"If I decided to bet I would bet on me". 

 

On Sunday, July 11, 2004, at the start of the British Grand Prix, Kimi Räikkönen, who keeps the first position, sprints well. Behind him the positions remain almost unchanged, with only Takuma Satō able to conquer a position against Juan Pablo Montoya. After just one lap Kimi Räikkönen already gained 3.5 seconds ahead of the pursuers, led by Rubens Barrichello. The Finnish driver makes the most of the Michelin tires, faster to enter temperature than the Bridgestone with which is equipped the Brazilian’s Ferrari. Michael Schumacher, who started with a two-stop strategy against the three main rivals (as well as Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber), is fine following Jenson Button closely, without ever attacking him. After three laps, Juan Pablo Montoya overtook Takuma Sato, recovering the seventh position; in the lead, after the initial extension of Kimi Räikkönen, the situation stabilized, with the Finnish man maintaining a lead of about three seconds over Rubens Barrichello. The first to refuel is Fernando Alonso, who stops in the pits already during the eighth lap; during lap 9 Rubens Barrichello enters the box, while Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya all pit during lap 11. Michael Schumacher takes the lead, increasing his pace and, after refueling on lap 15, returns to the track ahead of Kimi Räikkönen, slowed by a difficult overtaking on Takuma Sato. The McLaren driver, having a car much lighter than that of his rival, begins to press Michael Schumacher, but without succeeding in undermining him. Behind them there are Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Giancarlo Fisichella, Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard. There will be no major events until the second series of stops, opened by Fernando Alonso during lap 25, during which Rubens Barrichello takes back the third position at damage of Jenson Button. Leading the race, Michael Schumacher continues without Kimi Räikkönen behind him; the tactic of the two stops is also winning for Giancarlo Fisichella, who finds himself in sixth position, behind Jarno Trulli and ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. The Renault driver refuels during lap 32. Then, during lap 37, Michael Schumacher returned to the pits, returning to the track to lead the race. Once again, Kimi Räikkönen tries to put pressure on his rival, but still has to make another stop, unlike his rival. During lap 39, Jarno Trulli’s car gave up the left rear suspension, in a fast curve; the Italian driver lost control of the car, which crashed into the barriers, destroying itself. 

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Jarno Trulli escaped from the accident, but the race management sent the safety car to the track. Several drivers, including Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Giancarlo Fisichella and Kimi Räikkönen, take advantage of the opportunity refueling; the gap between Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher is then zero and the Finnish driver can count on the greater effectiveness of Michelin cold tires. However, between the McLaren driver and the Ferrari driver there are two cars rounded; when the safety car returns to the pits during lap 45, Kimi Räikkönen quickly passes the two drivers rounded, approaching Michael Schumacher in a threatening manner. The Finnish driver leads to 0.2 seconds away from his rival, but without being able to overcome it; after the moment of superiority of the Michelin tires, Kimi Räikkönen has to follow the Ferrari driver, defending himself against the recovery of Rubens Barrichello. Further back, Giancarlo Fisichella undermines the fifth place of Juan Pablo Montoya, but the Colombian defends himself effectively. Michael Schumacher won the British Grand Prix and took his tenth victory of the season. The German driver precedes Kimi Räikkönen, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya, Giancarlo Fisichella, David Coulthard and Mark Webber.

 

"Fear? I didn’t have time". 

 

Jarno Trulli tells us. His face is pale and drawn but not a bruise. He even found his voice. He survived without a scratch to an impact at 250 km/h, four spins and a screwing in the air lasted a whole couple of seconds. It was lap 40 of the British Grand Prix. On July 11, 1999, Michael Schumacher fractured his leg at the Stowe corner. Sunday, July 11, 2004 the accident in which the Italian driver remains involved takes place at Priory, in a stretch in which the escape route is short because there is no likelihood of accidents. Unless there’s mechanical failure. Renault talks at first about a break in the left rear suspension, then Flavio Briatore asks for an extra of tyre investigations. The only certainty is that something collapsed in the left rear of the car. The car escaped the driver’s control and ended up against the protective barriers, which, in addition to cushioning the impact, acted as a pivot and triggered an impressive series of spin. Luckily, the impact wasn’t frontal. 

 

"I remember everything. In my eight years in Formula 1 I never had such a thing happens to me. Of course, I’ve had other accidents, but I hadn’t hit one yet. Because it had to happen sooner or later I wanted to do things right". 

 

The story is detailed: Jarno feels the car skid and tries to correct the trajectory in counter-steering. Then he realizes that he can do nothing more and reacts as per the good driver’s manual by removing his hands from the steering wheel to avoid fractures to the wrists or thumbs. Then he raises his hand to reassure on his health conditions, then comes out of the cockpit. 

 

"I would have needed a couple of seconds to get back on my feet, but a very agitated race commissioner took me by the arm and forced me to run. We were on the sand and we weren’t standing". 

 

The television images show Jarno Trulli at the edge of the track gesturing rather annoyed. 

 

"All the safety systems worked perfectly: frame, belts, the Hans system that protects the neck, protective barriers. The only note that’s off-key is that one. After such an accident a pilot must be helped, reassured for a few seconds, not dragged out by force. I talked to Syd Watkins (the medical manager of the races), they have to calm down". 

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Transported to the medical center of the Silverstone circuit, Trulli is visited. 

 

“First they wanted to know if I remembered the accident. I think I convinced them the head was fine. Then they measured my blood pressure and oxygen. All right. According to practice. they held me for half an hour, so I had time to call my mom and Barbara (the girlfriend, ed). They were both crying. I said: if you cry when I’m well, what will you do the day I get hurt?”
 

His father Enzo, who followed the race in the Renault motorhome, was quieter: 

 

"On television they showed Jarno first that he was fine, then the replay of the accident. Otherwise I would have had a stroke". 

 

After the check-ups, the doctors recommended a week off. Trulli will quietly celebrate his 30th birthday. 

 

"Saving my skin is the best gift I could give. I didn’t see the accident on television. I just lived it". 

 

There were moments of fear even at the Minardi pit, when Gianmaria Bruni left before the refueling man pulled the nozzle out of the nozzle. The mechanic was dragged for a couple of meters, without getting hurt. But the tension went up. Formula 1 is afraid. 

 

"Too many alarm bells, we must act".

 

Flavio Briatore says. The series of thrilling accidents continues: Felipe Massa during a test, Ralf Schumacher in Indianapolis, now Jarno Trulli. The Italian manager proposes engines that last two races to stop the escalation of power and only one set of tires per race to immediately limit performance. Jean Todt praises the Federation: 

 

"Security has been done a tremendous job". 

 

And Pierre Dupasquier, head of Michelin sports management, ensures: 

 

"Reducing performance? We are ready to discuss it". 
 

There has been much talk in recent weeks about the excessive speed (on the lap) achieved by Formula 1 cars. Also at Silverstone the record recorded in the race by Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari is amazing: 1'18"739, at an average of 235,049 km/h. Only 0.029 seconds more than he had done in qualifying on Saturday. But above all about 3 seconds less than the previous limit marked by Rubens Barrichello last year in the same track. With cars too fast the slightest problem can become a terrible risk. At Indianapolis we saw Alonso’s Renault crash and Ralf Schumacher’s Williams crash. Here Jarno Trulli was the protagonist of an almost shocking exit, in which his car not only shattered against the protections, but after being thrown into the air and being turned on itself, turning upside down, to get back into the correct position on the sand, it became a wreck. Well, in these three terrible accidents, Ralf alone had some physical consequences, two mini vertebral fractures and some bruising. Miracle? Perhaps in part, because if fate is adverse, even going to hit at 50 km/h can be fatal. Much depends on the dynamics of the collision. 

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One thing is certain. Although he also has many faults. Max Mosley in these years of FIA presidency has fought for safety, active and passive. Improvements to circuits (widening of escape routes, removal of possible obstacles, increasingly effective protection systems). But it was above all on single-seaters that the Federation poured its attention, imposing strict rules on the construction of chassis. For some years, every season, the thickness of the chassis has been increased, made of carbon fiber, paying particular attention to the arrangement of the fibers themselves. The crash tests that cars undergo before the start of the season are very severe. They are carried out in specialized institutes, one of which is located in Milan (precisely in Bollate). These tests predict very strong impacts, front, side and rear of the car. In essence, the frames are crushed by special presses with high loads or hit by hammers that simulate very destructive impacts. If the survival cell fails the examination, it must be redesigned or otherwise reinforced. There is, of course, talk of forces worth tons. The safety of the drivers is also guaranteed by their physical preparation (Jarno Trulli trains, like Schumacher, for several hours a day, six times a week) and the collar Hans (Head And Neck Support, head and neck support) that was made mandatory last year. The studies were carried out by a German specialist in charge of research from Mercedes. Starting from years ago, Formula 1 has adopted very valid fire protection systems, with tanks of aeronautical origin. The only problem not yet solved concerns the wheels. Despite the adoption of cables that retain them, they still come loose in case of impact. 

 

But their speed of detachment is still slowed down. Renault, after some initial doubts, says that the accident of Jarno Trulli was caused by the failure of the left rear suspension. At first it was also thought the sudden collapse of a tire. The suspension arms and wing connections are still among the weakest points of the single-seaters. Also because the designers do everything to lighten them. Throughout this story Jarno Trulli got off with a good fear. And he was a great gentleman: after being picked up by both Briatore and the technical director of Renault, the Englishman Pat Symonds, for the mistake made at Magny-Cours when he was overtaken at the penultimate corner by Rubens Barrichello, at Silverstone the Italian driver wasn’t allowed to say a single word against his team and its managers. And he would have had many reasons to lash out at his detractors. Speaking of the British Grand Prix, does anyone remember when, in Monte-Carlo, Michael Schumacher was hit by Juan Pablo Montoya and forced to retire? At that moment the German driver, back into pits, strangely lost his patience and threw his helmet against the wall. Many thought he was furious about the accident. But they were wrong: the German driver was angry because he was taken away the chance to win the race. He, Kerpen’s former mechanic student is like that, he likes to come first, in front of everyone. It’s his game, his fun, the rest is unimportant. For this reason, when they ask him where he finds the motivation to continue to commit to the maximum, he always answers that it is natural, that this is his life. But this time it was harder. Perhaps the most difficult and uncertain race of the season.

 

"Really a nice challenge. I had a different strategy than my main rivals. And I was surprised when I found myself in front of Kimi Raikkonen after the first pit stop. Although I had pushed hard in the laps I had to do after the Finnish had stopped in the pits for his first stop. At first he had managed to pull me off, but gradually I had recovered. It was the entrance of the safety car that complicated my life in the last part. It took away the tranquillity that I had conquered in the first part of the race". 

 

The most critical moment was the return to the pits of the race direction car. McLaren could have made a pass. 

 

"I was a bit lucky. The safety car was very slow and I was worried because I knew I had cold tyres. Behind me, however, were Da Matta’s Toyota and Klien’s Jaguar. The two cars were in front of Kimi and this gave me a moment of breathing, I could warm up the tires and I managed not to get too close. I mean, we did it". 

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Once again, with the right and different strategy. 

 

"It was all calculated. We had sacrificed qualifying to be competitive in will. There was more gasoline in the tank of my F2004. And that allowed me to make those four or five quick laps before I stopped for refueling, so I got an advantage over Raikkonen. But these strategies are possible mainly because of what the guys do in the garage and on the track. We at Ferrari have the best Formula 1 package, like technology, organization, team spirit. Perhaps the people who are outside of racing don’t understand how much work and effort is behind these victories". 

 

Anyway, to beat McLaren, he had to go to the limit. 

 

"Sure. I pushed. Then I could control the race. Raikkonen was good. And congratulations also to McLaren. I always knew and said that they would come back to the top. I was right. Since the debut of their new car in Magny-Cours they have made other steps forward". 

 

The Finn had been fighting for the title in 2003 until the last race in Japan. Will he again become a formidable opponent in the challenge for this World Championship? 

 

"At this point of the season, looking at the championship, my most fearsome rival remains Rubens Barrichello. He scored points in all races and is second in the standings. However I must admit that I didn’t expect a Raikkonen so strong, so determined, thanks to a competitive car. I don’t mind. Having good contenders is an extra incentive to improve".

 

Michael Schumacher was able to see Jarno Trulli’s accident? 

 

"I noticed that there was a very damaged car on the track but I didn’t immediately understand who it was. After the race, however, I was able to watch the images on television. I am very happy for Jarno that he didn’t get hurt". 

 

The Italian Renault’s exit reminds us of Ralf Schumacher. Among other things, Williams doesn’t seem to get out of the crisis and has also understood these days the value of his brother for the team. 

 

"There is little to say. Ralf is the starting driver, Marc Gene is good but he is a test driver. There must be a difference".
 

Speaking of differences, have you already prepared a surprise strategy for the next race at the Hockenheim circuit, in the German Grand Prix, in two weeks? 

 

"We’ll think about it. The important thing is to do the right things at the right time. This is vital to win. We are quite sure that we can still do well. But we must beware of opponents who are fierce. McLaren is growing, BAR, Renault. And who knows. Nobody gives us discounts".

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They watched him jump from the lower steps of the podium. Rubens Barrichello, who is the most continuous driver of this year (eleven points, nine in second and third places), and Kimi Raikkonen, who didn’t feel the joy of finishing in the top three from the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. To tell the truth the Finnish driver, always short of words and without any intention to show in public his emotions, doesn’t appear euphoric. Maybe he dreamed of winning, of beating his rival, but he had to postpone the appointment. 

 

"Even if we didn’t win it was an exciting race. But, above all, I’m happy for the team. He did a hard job. And the development of the MP4/19B paid off. I think I made a great start. At the first corner I already had a second lead. I could push as hard as I could. Unfortunately I ran into traffic at the exit of my pit stops. Sport is like that, sometimes it rewards you, sometimes it punishes you. Also with the last set of tires I had problems in the back of the car that wasn’t balanced in the slow corners. That’s why I couldn’t attack Schumacher and pass him in the final. But I’m optimistic for the season finale, we can only improve. The worst is over". 

 

Rubens Barrichello is still looking for the first success of the year. After touching him in Montreal and Indianapolis, Silverstone went - in his opinion - still close: 

 

"A good race, even if difficult. After the start it was clear that the McLaren tyres of Kimi went immediately in temperature. It was impossible for me to keep up the pace. Then I regained ground, detaching Button who was chasing me. After the first stop I felt that the car had become harder to drive and I was in trouble. But the biggest problem is that when I got back on track I found myself behind a series of drivers fighting among themselves. I lost a lot of time. At that juncture I lost second place and maybe even a possible victory. In the final I reached Raikkonen but he was faster in the last sector. In any case once again Michael was outstanding. Bravo".

 

For Giancarlo Fisichella the sixth place is equivalent to a victory. Last at the start, sixth at the finish. The Italian Sauber driver once again proved his qualities as a fast and reliable driver. And he could have done better if he didn’t have a little pressure problem with the pneumatic valves that made him lose some time during his second pit stop. A few seconds left on the road and the Italian driver found himself behind Juan Pablo Montoya who was slower than him, but impossible to overtake. 

 

"I think I had a great race. It wasn’t easy, as you can imagine, to shoot after the whole group. I knew right away that I could keep up a good pace, as I showed in Friday’s practice, before I had the engine problem that forced me to abandon qualifying. By the way, I could have finished in fifth place, but I had to stay behind the Williams of the Colombian for many laps". 

 

Giancarlo Fisichella, as is well known, seems to be at the center of the drivers market, perhaps in the list of Williams and Toyota. But he has a contract with Sauber that binds him until the end of 2005 to the Swiss team, unless to call him is not one of the three top teams: Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. He confirms the rumors in a generic way: 

 

"There are open talks, but I still have nothing concrete to talk about. I only hope I have left Silverstone another positive sign. I’ve been doing my best all my career, so far I’ve collected too little. I always hope to make progress, but we need a strong team". 

 

The Sauber, however, seems to have improved.

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"It is true. With the use of the new wind tunnel the car is more stable and allows me to fight with cars that before had a huge advantage over us. And we also fitted the latest version of the Ferrari engine. I’m very confident for the upcoming races. The rain? Unfortunately it doesn’t happen often, like last year in Brazil. Before the start I had bet that if the track had been wet I would have at least managed to get on the podium. But I’m happy".

 

Michael Schumacher also surpassed himself: 100 points, seven more than last season. Ferrari reached 174 points: in 2003 it closed at 158. Even Jean Todt admits: 

 

"We are favored, but we continue to work without decreasing concentration". 

 

The two cars of Maranello back on track Tuesday, July 13, 2004, for four days. Luca Badoer at Monza will develop an evolution of the engine that should be used at Spa and in the Italian Grand Prix. At the same time, first Rubens Barrichello and then Michael Schumacher will work at Jerez on a series of aerodynamic innovations. The only detail that Ferrari won’t experience before Hockenheim is the party: if Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello win 13 points more than the pair of Renault drivers, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso, the Maranello team will win the sixth consecutive Constructors' World Championship. Drivers will have to wait for at least the next race. If Michael Schumacher scores 13 points more than Jenson Button, the title race will be restricted to him and Rubens Barrichello. And it isn’t difficult to predict how it will end. At Silverstone the two Ferrari drivers at the start of the race were traveling on similar rhythms. The difference was in the weight of the car: that of the German driver had about fifteen pounds more gasoline, which in terms of performance are worth about 0.5 seconds per lap. That’s why with Michael Schumacher any strategy works. Opponents alternate in the role of pursuers: McLaren is quickly returning competitive. Or so it seems, even if Jean Todt thinks differently:

 

"Not so fast, it took 11 races. He has made a great step forward, but on the other hand he is a very good team, supported by a giant of motoring. I am amazed how the little red Ferrari can resist such giants. It shows that we are an extraordinary group, a company that with its suppliers does everything, chassis, engine, at home".

 

Bild calls Michael Schumacher king of the box. The popular German newspaper spends the usual sober words to extol the tenth victory in eleven races: 

 

"The German people bow before Schumi the Great, the monarch of Formula 1". 

 

The British Grand Prix was watched on television by 11.000.000 Germans. In Italy the Auditel has 10.000.000, equal to 63.5% of share. Admits the president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo:

 

"I am very, very happy, how can it not be? It is a demonstration of a team, a spirit, an extraordinary technological ability". 

 

The president also comments on the frightening incident of Jarno Trulli: 

 

"We need to work on reducing engine power. Progress has been made in security over the years, because what happened on Sunday shows that Max Mosley’s policy has rewarded. We need to move forward, because the machines go too fast". 

 

Michael Schumacher cares a lot about the German Grand Prix. 

 

"It’s not a good track, but neither was Silverstone and you saw how I reversed the prediction". 

 

Before arriving in Hockenheim, the German driver has a full agenda: in the Algarve (Portugal) he will be the guest of the All Star Match, a match organized by the Luis Figo Foundation. Like last year, he will play alongside the likes of Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo, Ballack and Figo himself. The following week, in Mannheim, there will be another charity meeting, the proceeds of which will be donated to UNESCO. In addition to Figo who will render courtesy, they will be Hitzfeld, Effenberg, Matthaus, Kohler, Riedle and Reuter.


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