The 33rd Foster's United States Grand Prix, otherwise known as the 2004 United States Grand Prix, was the ninth round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, USA, on 20 June 2004. The race, which saw Michael Schumacher secure his eighth victory of the season, would be overshadowed by a huge accident for his brother Ralf that left the German racer in hospital.
Qualifying had been a Ferrari benefit, with Rubens Barrichello beating teammate Michael Schumacher to pole position, three tenths clear of the rest of the field. Takuma Sato was best of the rest alongside his teammate Jenson Button, while Ralf Schumacher shared the third row with Williams-BMW partner Juan Pablo Montoya.
It would be formation flying at the head of the field at the start of the race too, with Barrichello easing ahead of Michael Schumacher to lead into the first corner. Behind, however, there would be some changes, and Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso both made stunning getaways to leap past the Williams-BMWs and the BAR-Hondas, before an early accident caused the Safety Car to appear.
The cause would be the two Toyotas, who went for the same piece of tarmac when fighting at the back of the top ten, before Cristiano da Matta realised he had no room and slammed on his brakes. That caught Christian Klien out and hence saw the Jaguar-Ford Cosworth slam into the Toyota, which duly spun into Giorgio Pantano and Felipe Massa. Nick Heidfeld avoided the melee but hit Gianmaria Bruni, breaking the Italian's suspension, leaving four broken cars on the exit of turn two.
The safety car period ended at the end of lap five, with the restart seeing Michael Schumacher ease past Barrichello to claim the lead. The German ace quickly broke away to leave his Brazilian teammate to fend off Räikkönen and Alonso, until the latter suffered a Michelin tyre failure on lap nine, before an even more dramatic failure ended Ralf Schumacher's day.
Rounding the banked final corner Schumacher's #4 Williams suddenly lost pressure in its left-rear tyre, which pitched the car straight into the outside, concrete, wall. The Williams-BMW duly demolished itself as it skidded along the wall and across the circuit, before coming to rest on the start/finish straight. The SC was called with Schumacher not visibly moving in the cockpit for several tense moments.
The majority of the field took the opportunity to pit, which resulted in Räikkönen jumping ahead of Barrichello for a de facto second. Sato, Button and Montoya, meanwhile, would gamble on not stopping, but emerged from the pits behind race leader Michael Schumacher.
On lighter fuel loads the two BAR-Hondas were able to harass Schumacher's Ferrari for several laps, until they had to stop on laps 24 and 25, ending their hopes of challenging. Sato would, however, make a series of excellent overtakes in the following laps to move back into the points, with Räikkönen beginning the second round of stops for the three-stop drivers on lap 29.
Yet, it was not until the final round of stops that the race got interesting, with Räikkönen falling out of the fight for victory, while Barrichello mounted an assault on teammate Schumacher. Indeed, several near-misses resulted from the fight, inevitably resulting Ferrari boss Jean Todt ordering the Brazilian to hold position behind the #1 Ferrari.
With that the race was over, with Schumacher able to relax in the closing stages to claim his eighth win of the campaign ahead of Barrichello. They were joined on the podium by Sato as he completed his charge back up the field, becoming only the second Japanese driver to finish on the podium. Jarno Trulli, Olivier Panis, Räikkönen, David Coulthard and Zsolt Baumgartner claimed the remaining points.
A seventh win of the season left Michael Schumacher as the overwhelming favourite for the title as the halfway point in the season rapidly approached, the German ace leaving Canada on 70 points. That translated into a sixteen point advantage over Rubens Barrichello in second, while Jenson Button was the first non-Ferrari driver in the Championship, 26 behind. Jarno Trulli was next ahead of Fernando Alonso in table, with Timo Glock having become the seventeenth driver to score.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari, unsurprisingly, would enter the second half of the season as the team to beat, hitting 124 points before the halfway point. Renault were their largest threat, although with a 63 point gap between them it was a matter of when, not if, the Scuderia would claim the 2004 crown. Elsewhere, BAR-Honda were just nine behind the French manufacturer in third, Williams-BMW were in fourth, while Sauber-Petronas had kept hold of fifth ahead of McLaren-Mercedes.
The full entry list for the 2004 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 2004 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5||3||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:09.824||1:11.062||+0.839s|
|10||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:11.444||1:11.286||+1.063s|
|11||16||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||1:10.108||1:11.691||+1.468s|
|13||15||Christian Klien||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:11.777||1:12.170||+1.947s|
|16||18||Nick Heidfeld||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:12.329||1:13.147||+2.924s|
|17||19||Giorgio Pantano||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:12.017||1:13.375||+3.152s|
|18||20||Gianmaria Bruni||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:13.776||1:14.010||+3.787s|
|19||21||Zsolt Baumgartner||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:14.396||1:14.812||+4.589s|
- 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.
|Cristiano da Matta||12|
- * Montoya started the race from the pitlane after swapping to his spare car.
The full results for the 2004 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|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-Ford Cosworth||70||+3 Laps||19||1|
|Ret||14||Mark Webber||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||60||Engine||10|
|DSQ*||3T||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||57||Disqualified||5|
|Ret||18||Nick Heidfeld||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||40||Engine||16|
|Ret||16||Cristiano da Matta||Toyota||17||Gear Selection||11|
|Ret||15||Christian Klien||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||0||Collision||13|
|Ret||19||Giorgio Pantano||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||0||Collision||17|
|Ret||20||Gianmaria Bruni||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||0||Collision||18|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Montoya was disqualified from the results of the race for switching to his spare car without the stewards' permission.
- Olivier Panis made his 150th Grand Prix start.
- 25th entries for Felipe Massa and Cristiano da Matta.
- Tenth pole position for Rubens Barrichello.
- 75th pole for a car issued with #2 as its race number.
- 78th career victory for Michael Schumacher.
- Ferrari secured their 175th win as a constructor and engine supplier.
- 50th podium finish for Barrichello.
- Maiden (and only) podium finish for Takuma Sato.
- Zsolt Baumgartner secured his first (and only) points finish.
- First (and only) points finish for a Hungarian racing driver.
- Minardi earned their first points finish since the 2002 Australian Grand Prix.
Unsurprisingly an eighth win of the season had allowed Michael Schumacher to extend his title lead to eighteen points with half the season to run. Furthermore, his closest challenger was teammate Rubens Barrichello, and the latest spat of "team orders" in the US had made it clear that the Brazilian was not allowed to fight the German ace for race victories, let alone the crown. Jenson Button was therefore Schumacher's closest competitor, albeit with a 36 point deficit at the halfway point.
In the Constructors Championship Ferrari continued to ease away at the head of the pack, leaving North America with a huge 142 point tally. That left them with over double the number of points of second placed Renault, meaning the French squad were realistically in a fight for second with BAR-Honda. Eight points split the pair at the halfway point, while Minardi-Ford Cosworth were on the scoresheet for the first time, after a pointless run extending back to the 2002 Australian Grand Prix.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'United States GP, 2004', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr722.html, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
- 'USA 2004: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
- '2004 FORMULA 1™ United States Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/761/united-states/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
- '2004 FORMULA 1™ United States Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/761/united-states/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
- 'USA 2004: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/etats-unis/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
- "2004 United States Grand Prix - Race Results". Formula1.com. Formula1.com Limited. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2004/races/761/united-states.html. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
- '9. USA 2004', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2004/etats-unis.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
- '2004 United States GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2004&gp=United%20States%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 21/12/2019)
|V T E||United States Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961–1980), Phoenix (1989–1991), Indianapolis (2000–2007), Austin (2012–present)|
|Formula One Races||1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981–1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992–1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008–2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020|
|Non-F1 races||1908 • 1909 • 1910 • 1911 • 1912 • 1913 • 1914 • 1915 • 1916 • 1917–1957 • 1958|
|See also||United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix|
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