2004 United States Grand Prix
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|Race 9 of 18 in the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship|
|Date||June 20, 2004|
|Official name||XXXIII Foster's United States Grand Prix|
|Location||Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||4.195 km (2.606 mi)|
|Distance||73 laps, 306.016 km (190.238 mi)|
|Weather||Fine with temperatures reaching up to 75 °F (24 °C); wind speeds approaching speeds of 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)|
|Time||1:10.399 on lap 7 (lap record)|
The 2004 United States Grand Prix, officially the XXXIII Foster's United States Grand Prix, was a Formula One motor race held on June 20, 2004 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was the ninth round of the 2004 Formula One season.
Rubens Barrichello started from pole position in his Ferrari ahead of team mate Michael Schumacher. However, following a start-line incident between five cars, four of whom retired as a result, Schumacher overtook Barrichello on the safety car restart on lap six, and despite a threat from Barrichello after the final pit stops, Schumacher held on to take his eighth win of the season. Takuma Sato became only the second Japanese driver to achieve a podium finish.
The race is most remembered for two Michelin tyre failures in what would be a precedent for the 2005 United States Grand Prix. First, Fernando Alonso's Renault speared off the track at the end of the pit straight on lap nine, before Ralf Schumacher's Williams suffered the same fate, but in the most dangerous part of the track, causing him to hit the wall at a ninety-degree angle rearwards. The impact concussed Schumacher and prevented him from racing until the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix.
Heading into round nine, the season had so far belonged to Michael Schumacher, driving for Ferrari, winning all but one race, in Monaco, owing to a crash with Juan Pablo Montoya, and so had 70 points out of a possible 80. However, Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher's team mate at Ferrari, was only 16 points behind him, having taken six podiums and two other points finishes. In the Constructors' Championship, however, Ferrari were dominating, with 124 points: more than double that of second-placed Renault, the only other team to win a Grand Prix that year so far, with Jarno Trulli triumphing in Monaco. Third-placed BAR had a quick car, but had trouble getting both cars to the finish, with lead driver Jenson Button, like his future team mate Barrichello, picking up six podiums and two other points finishes. However, of the eight races so far, Takuma Sato, in the other BAR, had suffered no less than five spectacular engine failures, three of which had occurred in the last three Grands Prix in Monaco, Europe, and Canada.
Williams and Toyota had been embarrassed after being disqualified from the last event in Canada for illegal brake ducts, even though, in Williams's case, this proved to be a manufacturing error and had not given them any aerodynamic or cooling gain.
Practice and Qualifying
Four practice sessions were held before qualifying - two 60-minute sessions on Friday and two 45-minute sessions on Saturday. All of the teams, with the exception of Ferrari, Williams, McLaren, and Renault, were permitted to run three drivers on Friday. Rubens Barrichello topped the timesheets in practices one, two, and three, with times of 1:11.354, 1:10.365, and 1:10.911 respectively. Jenson Button, driving for BAR, however, prevented Barrichello from a clean sweep in the second Saturday session: his time of 1:10.056 was 0.143 quicker than second-placed Michael Schumacher. Third was Takuma Sato, Button's team mate, whilst Barrichello languished in fourth. However, despite the pace of the Ferraris, their Bridgestone tyres had grained in the long runs, meaning that balls of rubber would form on the surface of the tyre, reducing mechanical grip.
Qualifying was split into two sections. In the first season, dubbed "pre-qualifying", each driver took turns to record one lap at a time. The order the cars ran in was the reverse order to the classified results at the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix. For example, Michael Schumacher won the race, so would be the last car to run in pre-qualifying. The second qualifying session (dubbed "qualifying") repeated this process (with the drivers running in reverse order to the pre-qualifying results), but with the caveat that the drivers would not be allowed to alter their fuel loads between then and the race. The fastest time in the second session would take pole. As in 2003, setups and fuel loads could not be altered between the end of the second qualifying session and the race. Rubens Barrichello started from pole from team-mate Michael Schumacher after setting a time of 1:10:223. Michael Schumacher started second, making it an all-Ferrari front row. BAR locked out the second row, with Takuma Sato lining up ahead of team leader Jenson Button. Williams locked out row three, with Juan Pablo Montoya in fifth, ahead of Ralf Schumacher. A gearbox issue prevented Jarno Trulli in the Renault from setting a lap, meaning he started last. Jean Todt had told the media that Barrichello would be allowed to race Schumacher and would not be forced to concede to him, as in the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.
As the formation lap began, Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams failed to start its engine, causing Montoya to jump out of the car and run to the spare car. The spare car was set up for Montoya, as he was higher up on the grid than his team mate. Montoya started the race from the pit lane.
Rubens Barrichello started well from pole position and led into the first corner. Michael Schumacher retained second place. Fernando Alonso had a brilliant start from ninth place on the grid, and went round the outside of the similarly fast-starting Kimi Räikkönen in the McLaren. His momentum gave him the inside line for turn two, enabling him to muscle past Takuma Sato and was up to third place. However, Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button did not start well: Button dropped from fourth to sixth, whilst Schumacher dropped to seventh. The biggest mover was Jarno Trulli, who moved up to eleventh place, having started last, partially helped by a big crash in turn two. A gear selection issue for Cristiano da Matta meant that he lost momentum. An unsighted Christian Klien ploughed into the back of him and speared across the track, hitting Giorgio Pantano's Jordan and Felipe Massa's Sauber. Nick Heidfeld in the other Jordan attempted to avoid the chaos, and squeezed Gianmaria Bruni's Minardi onto the kerb, terminally damaging the suspension of the Minardi. The safety car was deployed and pulled in at the end of lap five.
As the safety car came in, Michael Schumacher jumped Rubens Barrichello and went into the lead of the race. Further back, Räikkönen attempted, although unsuccessfully, to overtake Sato for fourth place. On lap nine, Fernando Alonso, in a Michelin-shod Renault, crashed out from third place at the end of the main straight after his right rear tyre deflated under braking, destroying the front end of the Renault and some polystyrene boards at turn one. Double yellow flags, but not the safety car, was deployed, meaning the drivers were not allowed to overtake in that zone. At the end of lap ten, the Williams of Ralf Schumacher, also, crucially on Michelin tyres, in an alarming precedent for the 2005 United States Grand Prix, suffered a tyre failure in turn thirteen, the only banked corner at the time in Formula One, backing the car into the wall at a ninety-degree angle. The car skidded several hundred metres down the race track before coming to rest. Schumacher sat motionless in the car for two minutes, unable to talk to his team over the radio, as the radio had been smashed in the incident. The safety car was deployed, and so many people opted to make an early pit stop. Michael Schumacher pitted, as did his team mate Barrichello, but Barrichello had to queue behind Schumacher, and also struggled to get going from the stop, costing him track position to Kimi Räikkönen, who also pitted. As he left the pit lane, David Coulthard ran over a piece of debris from Alonso's Renault. Michael Schumacher now led the race from Takuma Sato, Jenson Button, and Juan Pablo Montoya, none of whom had made a pit stop. Kimi Räikkönen was now fifth, ahead of Barrichello in sixth, Trulli in seventh place, and Olivier Panis in the last points position in eighth.
The safety car pulled in at the end of lap nineteen, and as the BARs had not stopped, they were all over the back of Michael Schumacher's much heavier Ferrari: the top three were within two seconds of each other for a long period of time. Takuma Sato was very quick through the first and second sectors of the lap, but Michael Schumacher's Ferrari had good traction off turn eleven, the only overtaking opportunity, and so Sato was unable to pass. On lap twenty four, Button was the first BAR to make a pit stop. Button's arrival in his pit box was messy, causing him to lose a couple of seconds whilst his mechanics readjusted their positions. Sato pitted one lap later, and had a clean stop, rejoining in eleventh place, just in front of Button in twelfth. Sato had good traction, however, out of turn seven on his out lap, and overtook Mark Webber's Jaguar to move up to tenth. On the same lap, he overtook David Coulthard through turn thirteen, finishing off the move into turn one on lap twenty seven. Mark Webber ran wide at turn one, gifting a place to Button. However, BAR's fortunes suddenly took a downturn, as their reliability gremlins continued: Button retired at the end of lap twenty seven with a gearbox issue. On lap twenty nine, Sato repeated his move on Webber on Giancarlo Fisichella, and moved into a points position. A few corners later, he breezed past Nick Heidfeld and moved into seventh.
Räikkönen made his second stop of the race at the end of lap twenty nine, rejoining in eleventh place, behind Webber. On lap thirty one, he moved past Webber, and into tenth place, behind David Coulthard. One lap later, the McLarens swapped positions, as Räikkönen moved into ninth. However, Räikkönen had to make yet another pit stop at the end of lap thirty four due to an electronics problem on his car. The stop lasted fifteen seconds and he rejoined last. Montoya made his first pit stop at the end of lap thirty five, rejoining in sixth.
Michael Schumacher now led the race by thirteen seconds from Rubens Barrichello, and continued to pull away. Jarno Trulli, now in third place, drove sharply over the kerb at turn eight and lost a piece on his car on lap thirty eight. Nick Heidfeld pitted at the end of lap thirty eight and rejoined the race in eleventh. Takuma Sato, meanwhile, had caught up to the back of Olivier Panis's Toyota, and overtook him on lap forty for fourth place. Schumacher pitted at the end of lap forty two with a fifteen-second gap to his team mate, and Barrichello assumed the lead. Schumacher's 10.3-second stop fuelled him to get to the end of the race. Barrichello then pushed very hard, attempting to leapfrog Schumacher. Heidfeld retired on lap forty five, and Sato pitted on the same lap for his second and final pit stop. Sato rejoined in sixth place, behind Montoya. Jarno Trulli pitted on lap forty six and rejoined in fifth place, behind Olivier Panis, although that quickly changed when Panis pitted at the end of lap forty seven. Panis rejoined behind Sato, and Coulthard pitted on the same lap for McLaren, rejoining in ninth.
Fisichella, on Bridgestone tyres, then suffered a left rear puncture on lap forty nine. He took the opportunity to make his final fuel stop, rejoining near the back of the field. Barrichello had been pushing hard, and so when he finally stopped for fuel on lap fifty one, the gap between the two Ferraris had been cut to approximately two seconds - Barrichello had cut the gap by approximately thirteen seconds. On lap fifty two, Barrichello went up the inside of Schumacher in turn four, but Schumacher cut across the front of his team mate. The two cars nearly collided, and Barrichello then, contrary to Todt's earlier statements, was told to remain behind Schumacher. The battle between the two Ferraris meant that Montoya and Trulli were catching them. Sato was, in turn, catching Trulli for fourth place. David Coulthard pitted on lap fifty five, and, similarly to Button, had a messy arrival. Montoya pitted on lap fifty six, but as he left the pit lane, he was disqualified from the race due to him changing cars too late on the grid, making that his second disqualification in as many races. Mark Webber's engine expired on lap sixty, and coasted down the pit straight, pulling off at turn one. Takuma Sato went down the inside of Jarno Trulli on lap sixty one, and although they both ran on the grass, Sato moved up into third position. In attempting to recover from the excursion, Trulli spun. With just eight laps to go, Fisichella retired with a hydraulics problem.
Michael Schumacher held off the threat of Barrichello to win the race, his eighth win of 2004. Barrichello finished second, and Takuma Sato became only the second Japanese driver to achieve a podium finish after Aguri Suzuki, a feat not repeated until Kamui Kobayashi in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix. Jarno Trulli finished fourth, Panis fifth, Räikkönen sixth, Coulthard seventh, and Zsolt Baumgartner rounded out the points scorers.
Christian Klien did not claim responsibility for the crash on lap one, claiming that he had "nowhere to go". Barrichello was disappointed to have conceded the lead on the safety car restart and criticised the Ferrari technicians for indecision regarding his first pit stop, which lost him position to Kimi Räikkönen.
Juan Pablo Montoya was frustrated to have lost points for the second race running due to a disqualification beyond his control. However, he said that the pace of the car was positive and allowed Williams to push on for the rest of the season.
|6||6||Kimi Räikkönen||McLaren-Mercedes||72||+1 Lap||7||3|
|7||5||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||72||+1 Lap||12||2|
|8||21||Zsolt Baumgartner||Minardi-Cosworth||70||+3 Laps||19||1|
|Ret||16||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||17||Gear Selection||11|
|DSQ||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||57||Disqualified||5|
Championship standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- "Weather information for the "2004 United States Grand Prix"". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
- F1: Grand Prix USA, ITV, 20 June 2004.
- "What's new for the 2004 season?". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. 3 March 2004. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Friday Practice 1 Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Friday Practice 2 Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.comm Limited. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Saturday Practice 1 Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Saturday Practice 2 Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- Jones, Bruce (2005). Grand Prix 2005. Carlton. p. 82. ISBN 1-84442-578-9.
- "United States GP, 2004 Race Report - GP Encyclopedia - F1 History on Grandprix.com". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Saturday Qualifying Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Race Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2004 United States Grand Prix.|
2004 Canadian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2004 French Grand Prix
2003 United States Grand Prix
|United States Grand Prix||Next race:
2005 United States Grand Prix