The 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, otherwise known as the 2004 Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix, was the sixteenth round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, on 26 September 2004. The race, which was the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, would see Rubens Barrichello claim victory from pole position, fending off Jenson Button and Kimi Räikkönen.
Indeed, the Brazilian was the man to beat throughout the weekend, beating Räikkönen in qualifying by 0.116s to claim top spot on the grid. His main rival for second in the Championship, Button, would claim third ahead of Felipe Massa, while freshly declared Champion Michael Schumacher would start from the pitlane after an engine change.
It was a fairly even start for both Barrichello and Räikkönen off the grid, meaning the Brazilian was able to sweep inside to prevent the Finn from diving past. Behind, Button made a poor getaway and so was instantly jumped by Massa and Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard also taking the #12 Sauber-Petronas on his way past.
Barrichello soon set about trying to build a lead, although Räikkönen remained glued to his tail as the first few laps ticked away. Behind Button stormed past Massa to secure fourth prior to sending his BAR-Honda scything past Alonso for third, while Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher moved in to attack Massa.
At the back, meanwhile, Michael Schumacher was making little ground, with Ferrari having opted to fill the #1 car completely to try and go as far as possible on his first stint. That ultimately resulted in him getting caught behind Christian Klien for numerous laps, only to smash the Jaguar-Ford Cosworth out of the race, before a spin dumped him back down the field.
Massa sparked the first stops on lap ten, with race leaders Barrichello and Räikkönen, both on three-stop strategies coming in two laps later. Button assumed the lead for two laps before making his stop, rejoining in third behind the former duo, with no changes to the gaps between the trio.
Back with Schumacher and the #1 Ferrari was now fully up to speed, with a series of fastest laps carrying the German ace through the midfield to run shy of the points, prior to making his first stop of the afternoon. Button, meanwhile, was dropping away from the leaders as the fight for victory continued, signalling that BAR had adopted a two-stop strategy.
That curve-ball ultimately allowed the Brit to pass Räikkönen when the final round of stops began, while also ensuring that Barrichello had to push hard towards the end of his third stint. Ultimately the #2 Ferrari would emerge ahead of the BAR but right into traffic, allowing both Button and Räikkönen to latch onto his tail with time running out.
Yet, there would be no late changes for victory, with Barrichello able to keep both at arm's length to claim victory, and the runner-up spot in the Championship. Button and Räikkönen were half a second apart to complete the podium, with the rest of the points heading to Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya, Takuma Sato, Fisichella and Massa.
Michael Schumacher had seen his lead in the Championship cut for the first time since he crashed out in Monte Carlo, although he had already claimed the crown. Indeed, race winner Rubens Barrichello had closed the gap to 38 points, but with three races to go was unable to challenge his teammate. He had, however, all but sealed the runner-up spot, needing to outscore Jenson Button by four points across the remaining races.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari continued their record points haul chase, leaving their home race on 234 points. BAR-Honda, meanwhile, had overhauled Renault to claim second place as the European season drew to a close, moving three ahead of the French squad. Williams-BMW, meanwhile, were set to fall out of the fight for second, and had only just kept McLaren-Mercedes at bay for fourth.
The full entry list for the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix are outlined below:
|11||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:34.016||1:35.245||+1.233s|
|12||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:34.334||1:35.286||+1.274s|
|15||18||Nick Heidfeld||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:34.808||1:36.507||+2.495s|
|16||15||Christian Klien||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:35.447||1:36.535||+2.523s|
|17||19||Timo Glock||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:37.143||1:37.140||+3.128s|
|18*||21||Zsolt Baumgartner||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:37.510||1:40.240||+6.228s|
|NC||20||Gianmaria Bruni||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:36.623||—|
- 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.
- * Sato, Baumgartner and Schumacher all received ten place grid penalties for engine changes.
|______________||Juan Pablo Montoya|
- * Schumacher would start the race from the pitlane.
The full results for the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- First Chinese Grand Prix to be staged.
- First-ever Formula One Grand Prix to feature in-race team radio.
- Ninth career victory for Rubens Barrichello.
- Ferrari secured their 181st win as a constructor and engine supplier.
- Ferrari set a new record for most point scores in a single season - 29.
- Michael Schumacher registered the 180th fastest lap for a Ferrari chassis and engine.
Michael Schumacher had failed to score for only the second time in 2004, although as he had already secured the crown that was of little concern. Behind, teammate Rubens Barrichello used his second victory in a row to secure second in the Championship, moving 29 points clear of Jenson Button with just twenty left to fight for. The Brit himself, meanwhile, was guaranteed third in the Championship, while Fernando Alonso held fifth place by four points.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari had moved onto 244 points for the season after securing their fourteenth win of the season, leaving them just one shy of the record for most wins in a single campaign. The fight for second, meanwhile, was moving more in BAR-Honda's favour with just two races to go, with the Anglo-Japanese squad moving nine ahead of Renault. They would therefore take the runner-up spot if they outscored the French manufacturer by nine in Japan, with third the worst that either squad could finish the season.
Only point scoring drivers are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'Chinese GP 2004: Rubens' takeaway.', crash.net, (Crash Media Group, 26/09/2004), https://www.crash.net/f1/race-report/50186/1/chinese-gp-2004-rubens-takeaway, (Accessed 27/12/2019)
- 'China 2004: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/chine/engages.aspx, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
- '2004 FORMULA 1™ Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/768/china/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
- '2004 FORMULA 1™ Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/768/china/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
- 'China 2004: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/chine/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
- 'China 2004: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/chine/classement.aspx, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
- '16. China 2004', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/chine.aspx, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
- '2004 Chinese GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2004&gp=Chinese%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 28/12/2019)
|V T E||Chinese Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Shanghai International Circuit (2004–present)|
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