The 2004 Belgian Grand Prix, otherwise advertised as the LXI Foster's Grand Prix de Belgique, was the fourteenth round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Spa, Belgium, on 29 August 2004. The race would see Kimi Räikkönen claim a surprise victory for McLaren-Mercedes, as Michael Schumacher finished second to secure his seventh World Championship crown.
Qualifying had seen a wet circuit rapidly dry, resulting in Jarno Trulli emerging on pole position ahead of Schumacher. Fernando Alonso claimed second ahead of David Coulthard, while Räikkönen started in a lowly tenth due to the conditions.
Fortunately it was dry and warm on race day, meaning everyone would start on slick tyres for the sprint to La Source. Trulli would ultimately lead that charge in the fast starting Renault, followed by Alonso and Coulthard as Schumacher was elbowed wide, while several drivers were forced to scatter after Mark Webber put himself into a spin by smacking into Rubens Barrichello.
Webber would recover with his rear wing missing, and duly tagged the back of Takuma Sato exiting Eau-Rouge to send the BAR-Honda into a broadside slide. The field once again scattered around the BAR, although Gianmaria Bruni would get pushed into the barriers by teammate Zsolt Baumgartner, before Giorgio Pantano wrote his Jordan-Ford Cosworth off on his compatriot's Minardi-Ford Cosworth.
With debris and a quartet of terminally wounded cars the Safety Car was called to allow the circuit to be cleared. Six drivers would duck into the pits, with Jenson Button taking a new front wing, while Ferrari stunningly managed to change Barrichello's rear wing without the Brazilian losing a lap.
The restart came at the start of lap five, with Trulli instantly blasting clear from Alonso, while Coulthard fended off a potential lunge from Schumacher. Behind, the big winner of the opening lap chaos was Räikkönen, up to fifth having survived a brush with Felipe Massa, with the Finn soon scything past Schumacher to secure fourth.
Indeed, Räikkönen was the man to watch as the early laps ticked away, darting past teammate Coulthard, before charging off the catch the fast disappearing Renaults. Trulli then stopped early to suggest that both the yellow-blue cars were running on very light fuel loads, although Alonso stayed out.
Ultimately, however, Alonso would be the master of his own downfall, spinning while under no immediate pressure at Les Combes. A spin two corners later signalled the end of the Spaniard's race, with a post-race investigation finding that he had been sabotaged by oil from his own engine.
With that Räikkönen was away, and duly made his stop without issue to rejoin in the de facto lead. The remaining round of opening stops left the Finn ahead of a yet-to-stop Button, while Schumacher had completed an excellent series of late laps during his first stint to jump to second.
With that the race became a battle of strategy between McLaren and Ferrari, with Räikkönen making his second and final stop first, only for the safety car to appear once again. This time it was for a huge accident at the top of Raidillon, with Button and Baumgartner having come together to leave bits of their cars spread across the circuit.
Räikkönen led the field after Schumacher bailed into the pits to make his second stop, and would duly ace the restart to build a small lead. However, his hopes of a clean run to victory were ended by a third SC period, this time caused by Coulthard attempting to remove Christian Klien from the race.
Yet, there would be no further changes to the field, with Räikkönen able to again break clear to claim his first win of the season. Schumacher, meanwhile, would secure his seventh World Championship by claiming second, while Barrichello recovered well to claim third.
Victory for the twelfth time in 2004 left Michael Schumacher on 120 points out of a maximum 130, with five rounds to go in the Championship. With teammate Rubens Barrichello slipping 38 points behind, it meant that the German ace would claim the Championship in Belgium if he out-scored the Brazilian by two points. Indeed, Barrichello was now the only driver able to beat Schumacher to the crown, with third placed Jenson Button slipping 55 points off, with 50 left to fight for.
The Constructors Championship, meanwhile, was already over, with Ferrari leaving Hungary with 202 points and a huge 111 point lead. Renault were therefore confirmed to be in a fight to finish as runners-up, with BAR-Honda once again managing to chip away at the French squad's advantage. Williams-BMW were also in the hunt but would need a drastic improvement in form, while McLaren-Mercedes looked set to finish a distant fifth.
The full entry list for the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|7||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:59.437||1:58.729||+2.497s|
|11||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:56.842||1:59.681||+3.449s|
|13||15||Christian Klien||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:59.997||2:01.246||+5.014s|
|16||18||Nick Heidfeld||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||2:00.166||2:02.645||+6.413s|
|17||20||Gianmaria Bruni||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||2:03.226||2:02.651||+6.419s|
|18||21||Zsolt Baumgartner||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||2:01.195||2:03.303||+7.071s|
|19||19||Giorgio Pantano||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:59.442||2:03.833||+7.601s|
- 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.
|12||Juan Pablo Montoya|
The full results for the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Zonta was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- Michael Schumacher declared as the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship Champion.
- This was Schumacher's seventh Championship title.
- Ferrari made their 700th Grand Prix start as a constructor.
- 350th race for Renault as an engine supplier.
- Jarno Trulli recorded the 140th pole position for a Renault engine.
- This was also the 25th pole for a car registered with #7 as its race number.
- Kimi Räikkönen scored his second career victory.
- McLaren registered their 138th win as a constructor.
The 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship was over with four races to go after the Belgian Grand Prix, for Michael Schumacher had built an unassailable lead of 40 points. Indeed, while Rubens Barrichello could mathematically match his German teammate's 128 point tally, the Brazilian would miss-out on countback courtesy of Schumacher's twelve victories. Barrichello would hence spend the rest of the campaign fighting to hold second, and would leave Belgium with a 23 point advantage over Jenson Button.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari had once again extended their title winning tally, moving onto 216 points. It was status quo behind as Renault, BAR-Honda and Williams-BMW all failed to score, with Williams running out of time to catch their former engine partners. Indeed, McLaren-Mercedes had closed onto the back of their Anglo-German rivals, with just five points splitting the pair.
Only point scoring drivers are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'Belgium 2004: Raik returns as Schumi seals seven.', crash.net, (Crash Media Group, 29/08/2004), https://www.crash.net/f1/race-report/49895/1/belgium-2004-raik-returns-as-schumi-seals-seven, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- 'Belgium 2004: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/belgique/engages.aspx, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- 'FORMULA 1™ Belgian Grand Prix 2004 - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/766/belgium/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- 'FORMULA 1™ Belgian Grand Prix 2004 - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/766/belgium/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- 'Belgium 2004: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/belgique/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- 'Belgium 2004: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/belgique/classement.aspx, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- '14. Belgium 2004', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/belgique.aspx, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
- '2004 Belgian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2004&gp=Belgian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 24/12/2019)
|V T E||Belgian Grand Prix|
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