As for the new cars, unlike in the previous season, Ferrari fielded the new F2004 from the first race, largely a direct evolution of the 2003 car. The first race of the season sees an absolute domination of Ferraris: after setting the new record on the lap of the circuit in free practice and after taking pole position in qualifying, Michael Schumacher dominates the Australian Grand Prix with authority, gaining, lap after lap, on all opponents starting with the combative Montoya, who pays dearly for his enthusiasm being slowed down by numerous duels in the belly of the group. The final classification therefore sees Schumacher in first place, closely followed by his teammate Rubens Barrichello, while the Spanish talent of Renault Fernando Alonso is in third place.
Ferrari repeats the Australian success also in Sepang, Malaysia, successfully passing the test of heat and having conquered the second consecutive pole position. Michael Schumacher clearly dominates the qualifications, inflicting heavy gaps to all rivals (more than six tenths per second, Mark Webber, and almost a second to Juan Pablo Montoya, fourth). Before the start, the track was wet with a light rain, but none of the riders chose to start with wet tires. At the start Michael Schumacher sprints well, keeping the lead until the ninth lap. The German returned to the pits, leaving the lead for three laps to his direct rival, Montoya. Schumacher and Montoya start a long-distance duel, scoring the fastest lap of the race several times: in this phase, the Colombian approaches his rival but the advantage oscillates all the time between three and four seconds.
Montoya and Michael Schumacher return to the pits together on lap twenty-six: the Colombian's stop is faster, but the gap between the two remains virtually unchanged. The race continues without further twists, and even in the last laps both Schumacher and Montoya raise the pace a bit, given that the positions are now frozen. Michael Schumacher thus wins on the anniversary of Ayrton Senna, who would have turned 44 years old. Montoya and Michael Schumacher return to the pits together on lap twenty-six: the Colombian's stop is faster, but the gap between the two remains virtually unchanged. The race continues without further twists, and even in the last laps both Schumacher and Montoya raise the pace a bit, given that the positions are now frozen. Michael Schumacher thus wins on the anniversary of Ayrton Senna, who would have turned 44 years old.
The third Grand Prix of the season confirms the great competitiveness of Ferrari, which brings both cars to the podium after a race that was always led in the lead. As in the opening Grand Prix in Australia, Ferrari placed its drivers on the front row on the new Bahrain circuit, with Michael Schumacher in pole position ahead of Barrichello. On Sunday morning the circuit is wet with light rain, an extremely rare event in Bahrain; the lowering of temperatures favours the teams equipped with Bridgestone tires, less effective than their Michelin rivals in high temperatures. In the afternoon the weather improved and the race took place with the track completely dry.
At the start Michael Schumacher starts well from pole position, keeping the lead of the group ahead of Barrichello and Montoya. The two Ferraris quickly gained a good margin over their rivals and during the race maintained an unsustainable pace for their pursuers, who were increasingly distanced. With about ten laps to go, while the two Ferrari drivers manage the advantage over their rivals without problems, Montoya begins to slow down due to gearbox problems. In the absence of further events, Michael Schumacher crosses the finish line in front of Barrichello, thus obtaining the third victory out of three seasonal races. Ten years after the accident in which Ayrton Senna disappeared, the reigning world champion Schumacher scores his fourth consecutive success by insinuating in the minds of many operators in the sector that the Formula 1 World Championship can already be said to be concluded due to the great strength of the house of Maranello, although it is only the fourth round of the season.
At the first race in Europe after the long trips to Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain, the majority of the teams introduce new features on their cars. In particular, Ferrari fitted Schumacher and Barrichello's F2004s with a new bonnet, narrower and lower especially at the rear. However, in Saturday qualifying the pole position is the prerogative of an excellent Jenson Button, who makes the most of his Honda powered BAR. The English rider, fifth in the session with empty tanks, sets an excellent time by inflicting seven tenths of a gap to Barrichello, the fastest up to now. Schumacher scores a time in line with that of his rival in the first sector, then being faster in the second by just under two tenths, but the German driver makes a mistake in the third part of the track, losing almost half a second compared to Button.
At the start Button starts well and keeps the lead, also taking advantage of Schumacher's difficulties, forced to defend himself rather roughly from Montoya's attack, also pushing him on the grass and thus maintaining the second position. After the initial phase, the first two impose an unsustainable pace for the pursuers, with Schumacher scoring the fastest lap in the race several times. In the following laps Button, despite the pressure from the German driver, made no mistakes and kept his first position firmly until the ninth lap, when he stopped to refuel. In the meantime, with a clear track, Schumacher pushes hard, returning to the pits two laps later clearly ahead of his rival. At the head of the race, in the following laps Michael Schumacher digs a wider gap between himself and Button, and after completing the second and third refuelling, Michael Schumacher manages the advantage over his rivals without worries and wins the fourth consecutive race ahead of Button and Montoya.
On the Catalan circuit Schumacher obtains his fifth consecutive victory, after having engaged in a good long-distance duel with the Italian Trulli in the early stages. The German Ferrari driver confirms himself more and more leader of the standings by extending his closest rivals. the German imposed his superiority right from qualifying, obtaining pole position and inflicting more than six-tenths of a gap to the closest rival, Montoya. But at the start of the race, Trulli took off very well and managed to overtake Montoya, Sato and Michael Schumacher, taking the lead. At the end of the first lap, Trulli leads in front of Michael Schumacher. Like in Imola, the first two outdistance the group, with the German driver threateningly pursuing his rival, scoring the fastest lap of the race several times. However, no overtaking occurs until the first set of pit stops. The race leader returns on lap ninth, while Michael Schumacher makes his first stop on lap 10, returning to the track in front of his rival and immediately distancing him.
On lap 23, Trulli stopped again in the pits, and was imitated two laps later by Michael Schumacher. The German driver, despite having made one more stop, returns to the track in the lead, ahead of team mate Barrichello. Twenty laps from the end, Montoya was forced to retire due to a brake problem that had already slowed him down previously. The last laps do not reserve any twists and turns and Michael Schumacher easily wins the fifth consecutive race since the start of the season. After just five races, Schumacher leads the standings with 50 points, against 32 for team mate Rubens Barrichello and 24 for Jenson Button. The fiercest rivals, on the other hand, are stuck at 18 points for Montoya and only one point for Räikkönen.
Michael Schumacher's streak of victories ends in the narrow streets of the Principality: the victory goes to Jarno Trulli's Renault, author of a great start on a par with his teammate Alonso. Since qualifying Jarno Trulli proves to be very fast and conquers the first pole position of his career, beating Ralf Schumacher by about three tenths. The German driver, however, was relegated ten places on the grid for having replaced the engine on his car. Second place is then assigned to Button, followed by Alonso and Michael Schumacher. Ferrari, which in Monte Carlo introduces new radiator vent chimneys on the F2004s of Schumacher and Barrichello, oriented towards the outside and having the function of improving the air flows in the rear area of the car, as well as venting heat, they seem not to be at ease on the street circuit. At the start Trulli took off well, keeping the first position. At the end of the first series of pit stops Trulli continues to lead in front of Alonso and Michael Schumacher, also author of the fastest race lap in the successful attempt to overtake Button and Räikkönen.
However, there are no further changes of position until the fortieth lap, when Alonso, during a dubbing attempt against Ralf Schumacher, slowed down by gearbox problems, goes out of line under the tunnel, losing control of the car and crashing violently into the barriers. The accident scattered debris on the track, to the point of requiring the safety car to enter the track. All the drivers except the two of Ferrari take the opportunity to make the second refuelling. Michael Schumacher is thus in the lead, followed by Montoya, fourth and dubbed, Trulli and Button. But during the forty-fifth lap, while the safety car is preparing to step aside, to warm the tires, the German driver brakes abruptly at the exit of the tunnel, catching Montoya by surprise, who collides with him. The German driver's car flies in, crashing into the barriers and irreparably damaged. At the end of the Grand Prix, Montoya and Schumacher are both summoned to the race direction, but neither are penalized for the accident.
Michael Schumacher returns to victory on the Nurburgring circuit, followed by Rubens Barrichello, signing the Ferrari double that is dedicated to the recently deceased Umberto Agnelli. In fact, the Maranello team did not celebrate on the podium and only Jenson Button, third at the finish line, uncorked the bottle of champagne. Michael Schumacher's dominance starts from qualifying, obtaining the fifth pole position of the season with an advantage of over six tenths on the second-best time, scored by Sato. At the start Michael Schumacher keeps the lead and gives life to a series of unrepeatable laps for anyone, so much so that the German driver gains almost two seconds per lap. Kimi Räikkönen, second, in this phase slows down the group of pursuers, who, although significantly faster, are unable to overtake him, thus accumulating a consistent delay from Schumacher. Thanks to an unsustainable pace for anyone, Michael Schumacher wins the sixth race out of seven since the start of the season.
In Canada, Ralf Schumacher took pole position in qualifying ahead of Button, Trulli and Montoya. Ferrari, on the other hand, seem to be in sensational difficulty, with Schumacher and Barrichello respectively obtaining the sixth and seventh time, more than a second behind the Williams driver, despite the Maranello team making its debut on the B version of its engine on the fast Canadian circuit, with an increased power of about fifteen horsepower compared to the basic version. However, the reigning world champion says he is confident for the race, given that the Ferrari technicians, knowing that Bridgestone tires are less effective than their Michelin rivals on the flying lap but guarantee a good consistency in race performance, have opted for the choice to load a substantial quantity of petrol on his car, sacrificing the starting position in favor of the possibility of making one less stop than his rivals. Ralf Schumacher gets off to a good start, while Michael Schumacher immediately recovers two positions. In the following steps the German Williams driver gains a margin on his pursuers while Michael, taking advantage of the problem in the pits accused by Alonso, gains another position and reaches third place.
The race proves to be very tactical and places a great emphasis on refuelling stops: Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button, in an attempt to exploit the lower fuel load, they have, try to distance the rest of the group but the more loaded Alonso and Michael Schumacher they manage to keep their pace. The German, among other things, tried several times to overtake Montoya but was unable to do so. On lap 29 Montoya, who has been following Michael Schumacher for several laps, enters the pits for his second stop. Then follow Räikkönen, Button and Ralf Schumacher, respectively in the thirtieth, thirty-first and thirty-second pass, leaving the lead to Michael Schumacher, followed by his teammate and brother. Michael Schumacher will refuel on the forty-sixth lap, returning to the track in front of Button, while two laps later Ralf Schumacher will also return to the pits, leaving the race command definitively to Michael, who wins for the seventh time this season ahead of Ralf Schumacher, Barrichello, Button and Montoya (Williams and Toyota will be disqualified at the end of the race due to the irregular dimensions of the front brake vents).
At the Indianapolis circuit, Ferrari returns to dominate qualifying, with Barrichello in pole position ahead of team mate Michael Schumacher. The two Ferraris get off to a good start, with Rubens Barrichello keeping the lead ahead of Michael Schumacher, but an accident in the rear forces the marshals to let the safety car in. After cleaning the track from debris, Michael Schumacher attacks his teammate at the restart, alongside him on the finish straight and overtaking him at the first corner. It is incredible that the German driver manages to pass under the finish line just thirteen thousandths of a second from Barrichello, thus not violating the rule that requires drivers to keep their positions up to the finish line after the safety car leaves the scene.
The two Ferraris began to gain several seconds over their pursuers, but their advantage was again neutralized due to an accident involving Schumacher's Williams as well as a tire blowout on Alonso's Renault. Refuelling sees Barrichello exploit the greater fuel load of his car to recover positions, coming to take the lead and then sell it following his pit stop: at the exit he finds himself behind Schumacher, with whom he engages in a duel that lasted a couple of turns. But Michael Schumacher resisted the attacks and took his eighth win of the season ahead of team mate and Sato. Upon returning to Europe after the double trip to North America, Renault conquered pole position in France thanks to Fernando Alonso, just under three tenths faster than Michael Schumacher. But in the race, we witness the great test of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari who, similarly to what they did in 1998 in Budapest at the end of which they were the first to win a race by making three stops, taking advantage of the short time lost in the pit lane, they set up a strategy of four stops, one more than those expected of the opponents, obtaining the victory with a fairly substantial advantage.
At the head of the race, Alonso seems able to control Michael Schumacher, despite the German having set the fastest lap in the race several times. The two quickly gain a decent margin over their rivals. At the end of the eleventh lap Michael Schumacher returns to the pits to make the first pit stop, and three laps later it's up to Alonso. At the head of the race, Alonso took advantage of some laps to keep Schumacher at a distance, but he was faster than the Spaniard and during the second series of pit stops he passed in front of his rival, taking the lead. At this point Schumacher stretches on Alonso, given that in an attempt to get the better of the Spanish driver, failing to overtake on the track, Ferrari has changed the strategy of the German driver, providing even four stops. The Ferrari driver already refuelled on lap 42, making a short stop and returning to the track in second position, while Alonso returned to the pits four laps later, once again giving the lead of the race to his rival. At this point Schumacher pushes hard to have enough margin over the Renault driver to make another stop and get back on track in front. He succeeds in the maneuver and on lap 58 Schumacher, after making the fourth stop, returns to the track in command, with a consistent advantage over Alonso, and wins the ninth Grand Prix out of ten so far.
At Silverstone, Finnish Kimi Räikkönen on the starting grid, one year after the last time, starts from pole position ahead of Barrichello, Button and Michael Schumacher. Qualifications are determined by an abnormal situation. In fact, as usual, the qualifications are divided into two sessions of one hour each, in both of which the drivers have a single attempt at a flying lap, and the starting grid is determined by the times of the second session, in which the drivers take to the track in reverse order to the classification of the first session, held with empty tanks. Under normal conditions, making your attempt last is considered advantageous, as it allows you to run on a clean, rubber-coated track. But at Silverstone several drivers deliberately set high times in the first session, slowing down at the finish line or, in the case of the Ferrari drivers, simulating driving errors, in order to be able to take to the track in the early stages of the decisive session and avoid the rain expected in the second half of the session itself. Following this episode Bernie Ecclestone returns to propose changes to the qualification system, already questioned in the first part of the season.
But the actual qualifying session was held entirely on dry ground. Kimi Räikkönen thus conquers the third pole position of his career, leading Rubens Barrichello by just seven hundredths of a second. During the first laps of the race, Räikkönen, taking advantage of the great competitiveness of Michelin tires, managed to build a good margin on the closest rival, the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello: the Ferrari driver began to reduce the disadvantage before having to stop to refuel similar to Jenson Button. Michael Schumacher, whose stop is expected later due to a greater fuel load, inherits the lead and thanks to a series of fast laps as well as the traffic encountered by his pursuers, he manages to keep it even after the pit stop without giving it up and despite the entry of the safety car, due to a frightening accident that occurred to Jarno Trulli.
In this phase, the gap between the Finn and Schumacher is zeroed and Räikkönen could count on the greater effectiveness of the cold Michelin tires, were it not for the fact that between the McLaren and Ferrari drivers there are two lapped; when the safety car moves aside, on lap 45, Räikkönen overtakes them immediately, approaching Schumacher in a threatening way, but without being able to overtake him; when the moment of superiority of the Michelin tires is over, at Räikkönen all that remains is to follow the German driver, defending himself from the recovery of Barrichello. Easily controlling the rest of the race, Michael Schumacher takes the tenth victory of the season out of eleven races disputed and the eightieth in his career. Michael Schumacher's dominance also continues on the Hockenheimring, where he wins the pole position ahead of Montoya, slowed down by an error in the last sector. The race is spectacular, despite Michael Schumacher able to manage the advantage over the rest of the group skilfully after Kimi Räikkönen, the only driver who seems to be able to keep up with the world champion, is left on the thirteenth lap due to a broken wing. rear right on the finish straight.
For Michael there are eleven victories out of twelve participations, and in the championship the gap on his rivals increases: now the German has 110 points, against the 74 accumulated by Barrichello and the 61 by Jenson Button. Continuing like this, the seventh world affirmation really seems a step away. In the meantime, Ferrari dominated and won the constructors' championship in Hungary, thanks to yet another double win. At the end of the Hungarian race, the advantage of the Maranello team over its rivals is abysmal: 202 points against only 91 of its direct competitor, Renault, for another only team capable of winning a Grand Prix over Ferrari. Schumacher's dominance also continued in qualifying, taking pole position ahead of teammate Barrichello. The race begins with a moment of suspense due to a brief indecision by Barrichello on the starting line but he starts immediately regularly. At the start both Michael Schumacher and the Brazilian driver took off well, but he had to defend himself from Alonso, who started very well from fifth position. The race does not give any reason of great interest, other than the records that the Ferraris set lap after lap on the Hungarian track.
Refuelling does not bring big changes and Michael Schumacher gets his twelfth win of the season ahead of team mate Barrichello and, as anticipated, thanks to this double, Ferrari is mathematically World Constructors Champion for the sixth consecutive time and with five races to spare. Furthermore, Jenson Button definitively comes out of the fight for the Drivers' Title, therefore restricted to only Schumacher and Barrichello. At Spa, on the much-loved circuit, Schumacher already has the opportunity to close the championship of the drivers' world in his favor, but the qualifications are held with intermittent rain: Trulli takes advantage of this and, taking advantage of a moment in which the rain calms down, conquers pole position ahead of Michael Schumacher, trailing by only seventy-two thousandths.
At the start, Schumacher's cue is not good and therefore the two Renault and Coulthard are able to overtake the Ferrari driver. Behind them Webber crashes Barrichello damaging the front wing of his Jaguar and giving rise to a major accident at Eau Rouge that requires the use of the safety car. Due to the contact with Webber, the Brazilian has to pit twice during the four laps spent under the safety car regime. At the restart, the Michelin tires manage to reach the optimum temperature faster than the Bridgestones, affecting the performance of Schumacher's Ferrari, which is therefore overtaken by Räikkönen and Montoya. The race continues, however, fragmented by the numerous entrances to the safety car: the second entry of the day occurs following the accident involving Button, on whose car the right tire suddenly explodes, and Baumgartner, who is hit in full by the Englishman, without control of his car; the third entry is instead a consequence of the contact between Coulthard and Klien, which sees the Scotsman collide with the Austrian at the top of the Eau Rouge climb; the Scot will then have to return to the pits to replace the nose of his McLaren.
Räikkönen gets his first success of the season to crown a race conducted impeccably, but while in third place Barrichello closes, author of a great comeback after the difficulties he had in the first laps, behind the Finnish driver is Michael Schumacher, thanks to the points earned thanks to the second place, he mathematically ensures his seventh drivers' world title, the fifth consecutive with Ferrari. This time on the podium Schumacher celebrates not with the classic jump, but with a champagne shower, around a choreography present on the Belgian circuit: a fan exhibits a Schumacher mannequin with the number seven:
"Yes, everything happened. I slipped back, it could have been compromised. It went well. If you imagine what happened to Barrichello, swept away in traffic, stopped in the pits for three minutes and then third at the finish. an exceptional result, on the day of the team's 700th race. Raikkonen won and deserved it. He was the best. This time he couldn't stop, he had an unbeatable pace. Even if I had approached him I probably wouldn't have been able to overcome it. Of course, I would have preferred to win the title with a first place. But I can't help but be happy. A truly special, moving, touching moment. I don't have the qualities of a poet to describe what I felt. A different title from the other six, for many reasons. I remember that when the F2004 was presented in Maranello, they told me it would be It was impossible to win again. Look at what we have done. After the first tests and on the eve of the opening race in Australia I was confident. But knowing that I could have struggled I had even more desire to prove the opposite. I'm happy for Luca Montezemolo, our president. On Tuesday he will be able to celebrate his birthday in the best possible way. I think with great joy. In the next races, even if I have the title in my pocket, we will always try to win. In fact, we will do it without having to pay attention to the classification. In Monza we will be free to compete as much as possible. And also to have fun. We will try to celebrate with the fans. which means trying to win. I can't assure you, but I promise we'll try".
Maranello is once again celebrating. In the streets of the Ferrari homeland, the celebrations immediately began: trumpet blasts, carousels and the traditional bells of the church of San Biagio that the parish priest Don Alberto Bemardoni always plays for the victories of the Rossa (just a few minutes late: was engaged in a baptism).
"Ferrari owes him enormous thanks".
Comments Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, after yet another world championship triumph for his driver, who follows the extraordinary one of the team.
"A champion like there will be few in the history of automobiles, even in the future. A champion who has won like no other in the world and who has always known how to be one with the team in good times, as in less beautiful ones. Michael won the title with intelligence, precision, courage and great determination, demonstrating authentic human skills even in difficult moments. For this Ferrari must say a huge thank you".
With twelve wins out of fourteen starts, Schumacher takes the title and closes a circle of victories that have a completely different added value than any domination that was or has already been performed, or that will take shape in the future. Schumacher was able to bet on a team that hardly won a Grand Prix a year, due to a difficult moment of confusion and restoration, contributing with his immense charisma and his professionalism to reach levels of perfection otherwise achievable, in an era in which the opponents were many and fierce, starting with Mika Häkkinen, then moving on to Juan Pablo Montoya, his brother Ralf, Kimi Räikkönen and the emerging Fernando Alonso.
Michael was able to suffer, wait, cry, sacrifice himself and even transform an environment torn apart by endemic political and social difficulties such as those living in Maranello, within the sports section, but in the end he was right, winning a bet that only he could win, getting what so many other past champions like Ascari, Surtees, Lauda, Villeneuve or Prost had not been able to achieve. Winning the Formula One world championship five times in a row with Ferrari.
Entering history forever.