The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, otherwise known as the I Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, was the third round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on 4 April 2004. The race would see Michael Schumacher claim a third straight victory of the season, as Bahrain made its F1 debut as a host nation.
Qualifying had seen track temperatures spike at almost 60°C, although that was not enough to deny Schumacher his familiar spot on pole position. Teammate Rubens Barrichello would complete the front row for Ferrari, with the two Williams-BMWs sharing the second row, and the BAR-Hondas claiming the third.
However, while high temperatures were no issue for Ferrari over one lap, they had played havoc with their Bridgestone tyres in long runs, and hence were a huge concern ahead of the race. Fortunately for them a twenty degree drop on Sunday brought the Bridgestones back into a more comfortable operating window, and hence destroyed the hopes of any anti-Ferrari challenge.
As such the two Ferraris were able to pull away smartly from the front of the grid at the start, although both Schumacher and Barrichello locked up into the tight right-hander. Behind, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher worked to fend off Takuma Sato, while Jarno Trulli streaked past Jenson Button to claim sixth.
The race for victory was soon over as Schumacher and Barrichello checked out at the head of the field, with the German ace dancing away from the Brazilian as well. Behind, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Kimi Räikkönen were storming their way up through the field after having poor runs in qualifying, although Räikkönen soon lost out to Christian Klien as the McLaren-Mercedes faded towards the end of the first stint.
Räikkönen's race ended a few moments later as his Mercedes engine blew itself apart, leaving David Coulthard to head their challenge at the lower end of the top ten. Up ahead, meanwhile, Sato would find himself having to defend heavily from Ralf Schumacher as the first stops loomed, only for an over ambitious move from the German ace to send the Williams-BMW spinning at turn two.
Ralf would limp back to the pits for checks, just as brother Michael swept into the pits to make his first stop. That handed the lead to Barrichello, Montoya and then Sato as they made their subsequent stops, before Schumacher was promoted back into the lead for the rest of the afternoon.
Elsewhere, Button was up to fourth as the Sato/Ralf Schumacher duel unscrambled itself, while Coulthard and Webber caused a stir, exiting the pitlane side-by-side. Klien, meanwhile, would continue his strong run by bullying Felipe Massa into a mistake, before putting himself into the gravel traps while chasing a spot in the top ten.
The race would calm down until the final round of stops, where Sato managed to claim sixth from Coulthard, while Button and Jarno Trulli fought for fourth. They were both catching third placed Montoya as the final laps ticked away, with the Colombian ace struggling with his brakes.
Indeed, with several laps still to run the BAR-Honda dived past the Williams to claim third, followed by Trulli a lap later. Montoya's plummet continued as he slipped behind Sato, Alonso and teammate Ralf Schumacher, with another train of cars closing in on the back of the Williams as they started the penultimate lap.
Out front, meanwhile, Michael Schumacher cruised through the final stint to secure another impressive victory, while teammate Barrichello secure second to hand Ferrari a one-race advantage in terms of points. Button, meanwhile, secured his second successive podium finish ahead of Trulli, with Sato, Alonso, Ralf Schumacher and Webber claiming the remaining points. Montoya, meanwhile, would retire at the start of the final lap with a gearbox failure, stopping alongside the pitwall.
Michael Schumacher continued his perfect start to the 2004 season with victory in Malaysia, leaving the second round with a full points tally of twenty points. Teammate Rubens Barrichello was second, seven behind already, while Juan Pablo Montoya had moved up into third after his second place finish. Jenson Button had also moved up courtesy of his podium finish, with Felipe Massa having been the only driver to add their name to the score sheet.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari had almost secure a whole race weekend's advantage in terms of points, leaving the second round with 33 points to their name. That translated into a sixteen point lead over Williams-BMW in second, while Renault were in third, a further three behind. BAR-Honda were next ahead of McLaren-Mercedes, while Sauber-Petronas completed the scorers list.
The full entry list for the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:30.247||1:30.581||+0.442s|
|9||16||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||1:31.329||1:31.717||+1.578s|
|12||15||Christian Klien||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:31.868||1:32.332||+2.193s|
|14||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:31.945||1:32.625||+2.486s|
|15*||18||Nick Heidfeld||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:32.640||1:33.506||+3.367s|
|16||19||Giorgio Pantano||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:33.598||1:34.105||+3.966s|
|18||20||Gianmaria Bruni||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:34.879||1:34.584||+4.445s|
|19*||21||Zsolt Baumgartner||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:35.632||1:35.787||+5.648s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Heidfeld, Baumgartner and Räikkönen were awarded ten place grid penalties for changing their engines.
|Juan Pablo Montoya||4|
|Cristiano da Matta||10|
- * Bruni would start the race from the pitlane.
The full results for the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Montoya was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- First Bahrain Grand Prix to be staged.
- 73rd career victory for Michael Schumacher.
- Ferrari secured their 170th victory as a constructor and engine supplier.
Michael Schumacher continued his charge towards the title with his third win in three races in 2004, ending the weekend on a maximum score of 30 points. Rubens Barrichello was now the only driver within a win's worth of points of the German ace, making the German the favourite for the title already. Jenson Button, meanwhile, had moved into third after a second successive podium, with Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso completing the scorers.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari looked to be in a class of their own, having dropped just three points across the opening three rounds. They therefore had a crushing 29 point lead over second placed Renault, while Williams-BMW slipped to third, three of the French manufacturer. BAR-Honda, meanwhile, had drawn level with the Anglo-German alliance, with McLaren-Mercedes completing the top five.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'Bahrain GP, 2004', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr716.html, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- 'Bahrain 2004: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/bahrein/engages.aspx, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- '2004 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/755/bahrain/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- '2004 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/755/bahrain/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- 'Bahrain 2004: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/bahrein/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- 'Bahrain 2004: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/bahrein/classement.aspx, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- '2004 Bahrain GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2004&gp=Bahrain%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
- '3. Bahrain 2004', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/bahrein.aspx, (Accessed 17/12/2019)
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