2004 Chinese Grand Prix
|Race 16 of 18 in the 2004 Formula One season|
|Date||September 26, 2004|
|Official name||I Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix|
|Location||Shanghai International Circuit
|Course||Permanent Racing Facility
5.451 km (3.388 mi)
|Distance||56 laps, 305.066 km (189.728 mi)|
|Weather||Sunny with temperatures reaching up to 27 °C (81 °F)|
The 2004 Chinese Grand Prix (formally the I Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 26 September 2004 at the Shanghai International Circuit. It was the sixteenth race of the 2004 Formula One season, and the first Chinese Grand Prix. The race, contested over 56 laps, was won by Rubens Barrichello for the Ferrari team, from a pole position start. Jenson Button finished second for the BAR team, with Kimi Räikkönen third in a McLaren.
Conditions were good as Baumgartner started the all-important final session and was just over 1:40. Glock followed on and managed a 1:37.140, which was near enough exactly the same as his pre-qualifying effort. Bruni spun his Minardi in turn three, which ruined his lap and he aborted to the pits.
Klien had reasonable middle and last sectors to clock 1:36.535, six tenths up on Glock but not enough for anything more than a midfield start. Zonta was faster through all three sectors and posted 1:35.410 to take provisional pole by over a second. Heidfeld again had a good lap and put himself ahead of Klien, although a second off Zonta.
Alonso managed 1:34.917 to take over from Zonta by nearly half a second but it was less than one would expect from the Spaniard. Villeneuve slotted into second, four and a half tenths astray but not a bad effort from the Canadian. Coulthard started off well, a tenth up on Alonso, then lost out slightly but it was enough for second, a tenth off.
Webber was fastest through the first sector but had a wobbly moment at turn seven. He kept it going and took third but the slip probably cost him a couple of places. Button was up next and had a flyer to take provisional pole by over six tenths, 1:34.295. Panis followed on and also had a belter of a lap to take third ahead of Coulthard.
Sato finished fractionally behind Panis for fourth but had to drop ten places on the grid from his final position (Engine changed). Montoya seemed rather lacklustre to take sixth, almost a second off Button, but Ralf was better and clocked second, fractionally ahead of Alonso. From Ralf to Coulthard in sixth, there was just 0.13 between them. Massa had a very fast first sector, three tenths up on Button, and although he lost out afterwards it was good enough for second, ahead of the likes of Ralf and Alonso. Barrichello managed to shift Button from the top with nearly a three tenth advantage, 1:34.012, and next was Fisichella. He couldn't match teammate Massa and took sixth.
That left Raikkonen and Michael to run. The Finn was out first and clocked second, a tenth and a half down on Barrichello. Michael set off on his lap and promptly spun into the gravel at turn one. He got back on track but that was it and he had to start the race from the back of the grid.
Following a clean start, Rubens Barrichello won the race with Jenson Button in second and Kimi Räikkönen in third place. Michael Schumacher finished in 12th place after a race with several incidents, including a collision, a spin and a puncture.
At the start, Barrichelo maintained his lead with Räikkönen behind him. Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya dropped a couple of places to 12th, and Toyota's Olivier Panis went from eighth to way down the back. Button set about harassing Massa and the young Brazilian held him off for a while but eventually Button got the upper hand to regain fourth.
Massa suffered badly early on with graining on his tyres and was steadily losing ground. Ralf Schumacher, who had dropped behind Giancarlo Fisichella, was having a go at the Italian, who was in turn homing on his teammate Massa. Down the long straight they closed and Massa succumbed to both at the last corner.
Coulthard decided to try his luck on the struggling Massa and there was nearly contact but they both escaped unscathed. A few corners later Coulthard had another go and made it stick and Zonta got past Massa as well. So the Brazilian dropped to ninth within a few laps when he dived in for his first stop on lap 11.
At the front, Button was homing in on Alonso and snatched third at the last corner. Alonso attacked back but Button wasn't about to relinquish the place. Further down the field Montoya was battling with Renault's Jacques Villeneuve and Michael was strangely subdued in only 17th. He was surely on a heavy fuel load but one would have thought he would have made up more places by then.
Gianmaria Bruni was coasting early on with what looked like a right rear puncture on the Minardi and Jaguar's Christian Klien was next to come to grief. Michael was closing in and at the hairpin made a dive up the inside. Klien couldn't see him until he turned and the pair went wheel to wheel, with the result of Christian being forced to retire with damage to his car. At the front Barrichello and Raikkonen, who had been nose to tail on the track, pitted together and retained formation. Michael had a bit of a wild spin but managed to keep going and homed in on Coulthard. He dispatched the McLaren and brother Ralf was next in his sights. The Williams fought but was similarly made short work of, then after all that effort Michael went in for his first stop.
He rejoined behind Villeneuve and the reigning champion and the former champion spent much of the rest of the race arguing amongst themselves. After the first pit stop shakedown it was Barrichello leading Raikkonen, the two staying relentlessly glued together, then Button, Alonso, Ralf, Fisichella, Coulthard and Zonta. Shortly afterwards Zonta retired with a gearbox problem.
Massa, who was still battling to get back in the points, was the first to stop again and Raikkonen had quite an early stop the second time around. McLaren switched his strategy to a short-hop middle stint in the hope of leapfrogging Barrichello but it didn't work out. Rubens rejoined in the lead after his second stop and Button, who was on a two stopper compared to Raikkonen's three, jumped the McLaren for second.
Next, Michael had a left rear puncture and he scuttled off to the pits for a tyre change. Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner spun but kept going and then Ralf and Coulthard collided at the last corner. Coulthard had a go at Ralf and hit the rear of his car, which resulted in a puncture for the Williams.
Ralf went off track and meandered around a bit randomly, then managed to drive his Williams into the pit entry, with another spin for good measure. But the team was ready for Montoya to come in for his stop so confusion reigned. By the time Juan Pablo had been in and out, it was apparently too late for Ralf to rejoin the race. Reportedly it was Ralf's decision not to rejoin, which the team was not terribly impressed with.
Bruni, who was still going after his early problem, abruptly lost his front right wheel, which went flying off and bounced down an exit road. He limped back to the pits to retire. Barrichello had a very quick third stop to retain the lead ahead of Button, with Raikkonen and Alonso, who had a quiet race, holding station in third and fourth.
Michael was back behind Villeneuve again and finally escaped the Renault at the last turn after the long straight -- only to dive in the pits again. He seemed to be on a very peculiar strategy; it was the second time he pitted immediately after overtaking someone. He then had to suffer the ignominy of being lapped by the leaders.
In the closing stages Villeneuve was determinedly harassing Jaguar's Mark Webber, who also had a quiet afternoon, but couldn't get past. The pair were being caught by the leaders, with Raikkonen starting to close in on Button. The Sauber duo returned to the points after their three-stoppers, Fisichella in seventh and Massa eighth.
Raikkonen was reeling Button in lap by lap but there just wasn't enough time. Barrichello took the chequered flag and the win, with Button and Raikkonen nose to tail behind him. Alonso followed in fourth and Montoya, who had been fairly anonymous, took fifth. Sato had a good race to come home sixth after starting at the back, and the Saubers completed the points.
The bottom 6 teams in the 2003 Constructors' Championship were entitled to run a third car in free practice on Friday. These drivers drove on Friday but did not compete in qualifying or the race.
|2||9||Jenson Button||BAR-Honda||56||+ 1.035||3||8|
|3||6||Kimi Räikkönen||McLaren-Mercedes||56||+ 1.469||2||6|
|4||8||Fernando Alonso||Renault||56||+ 32.510||6||5|
|5||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||56||+ 45.193||10||4|
|6||10||Takuma Sato||BAR-Honda||56||+ 54.791||18||3|
|7||11||Giancarlo Fisichella||Sauber-Petronas||56||+ 1:05.454||7||2|
|8||12||Felipe Massa||Sauber-Petronas||56||+ 1:20.080||4||1|
|9||5||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||56||+ 1:20.619||9|
|10||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Cosworth||55||+ 1 Lap||11|
|11||7||Jacques Villeneuve||Renault||55||+ 1 Lap||12|
|12||1||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||55||+ 1 Lap||20|
|13||18||Nick Heidfeld||Jordan-Ford||55||+ 1 Lap||14|
|14||17||Olivier Panis||Toyota||55||+1 Lap||8|
|15||19||Timo Glock||Jordan-Ford||55||+1 Lap||16|
|16||21||Zsolt Baumgartner||Minardi-Cosworth||53||+3 Laps||19|
|Ret||4||Ralf Schumacher||Williams-BMW||37||Collision damage||5|
- Lap Leaders: Rubens Barrichello 47 (1-12, 16-29, 36-56), Jenson Button 8 (13-14, 30-35) and Ralf Schumacher 1 (15)
- This race saw Michael Schumacher start from the pit lane for the first time due to spinning out in qualifying and finish a race out of the podium positions and points-paying positions for the first time of the season.
- Jacques Villeneuve returned to F1 with the Renault team, replacing Jarno Trulli.
- Ralf Schumacher returned to racing with Williams following his accident at the 2004 United States Grand Prix.
- Giorgio Pantano had been dropped by the Jordan team; his seat had been taken by Timo Glock, who scored 2 points on his F1 debut in the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix.
- This was Rubens Barrichello's last win until the 2009 European Grand Prix.
Standings after the race
- Bold text indicates the World Champions.
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
2004 Italian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2004 Japanese Grand Prix
|Chinese Grand Prix||Next race:
2005 Chinese Grand Prix