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After five races and five wins, Michael was surely disappointed with his run at the Monaco GP. He would have hoped to finish in the points even if he couldn't win the race. But that was not to be: a freak accident behind the safety car put him out of the race at Monaco. Take a look:
Note: Video not in English. Jump to 1:40 minutes to see the accident.
Interestingly, Montoya, who crashed into Michael, went on to finish fourth. It was an odd day for Michael.
The Monaco GP also witnessed Michael not qualifying in the front row of the grid; he did not even qualify in the second row.
Renault and BAR-Honda became better and better with each race of the season, with Jarno Trulli of the Renault team taking the pole and the win for the very first time in the 2004 season. The tyres were one of the reasons the Michelin cars did than the ones on Bridgestone. It would be interesting to see if that advantage continued at the European GP.
In any case, the drivers put Monaco behind them. The European GP at Nurburgring was another race. Would that kind of competition be repeating itself there? It would be pretty exciting if that happened.
Fans would be prudent not to underestimate the Ferraris based on just one race, especially when the lead driver was Michael Schumacher. The good part, though, was that for the first time in the season, there was uncertainty on how the race would pan out. It was a lot mor fun than knowing that it would be Michael taking the win all the way.
In the end, it would all boil down to that particular race day and how each team performed.
The 2004 European GP: Qualifying
Much like Monaco, Trulli once again took provisional pole, and it looked like the qualifying saga might repeat itself. However, Michael came in for his qualifying run and put all of that story to rest. He was so fast that he took nearly eight-tenths of a second off Trulli’s provisional pole time.
Take a look at Michael’s pole run:
With that run, Michael had set up the final pole time with none of the other drivers being able to catch up. The only one was Takuma Sato, who was one-tenth of a second faster than Trulli but still six-tenth of a second slower than Michael. No other car was able to come any closer to Michael’s pole time.
Kimi Raikkonen came close to catching up on Trulli’s time, but was slower by two-thousandths of a second and thus qualified P4. Jenson Button in the other BAR-Honda was P5, while Fernando Alonso in the Renault was P6; these were the top six cars of the qualifying session.
The 2004 European GP: Race Day
The start to the European GP would be exciting just from the presence of a Renault close to the front grid. It was Trulli’s Renault, with its uber-awesome launch control which could take away the fresh air from Michael’s car. Trulli had done that before, and there was no reason to doubt that he could do it again. Besides, there was also Sato on P2 who could challenge Michael.
At the turn of the lights, Trulli did get a strong start and went past Sato and almost had Michael, but at the first turn, he fell back behind Sato, and therefore, the race order for the first three returned to their grid order. The odd start was the Williams cars, which crashed into each other and led to Ralf Schumacher retiring.
The McLarens seemed faster, especially with Coulthard starting from the last position and rising to ninth in just one lap. However, both the McLarens once again faced reliability issues as both their cars ended up with blown engines.
Sato was driving strong until his collision with Barrichello and subsequent pitstop to change his front wing. His stint thereafter did not last for long as the Honda ended up with a blown engine, promoting teammate Jenson Button to third place. The Ferraris had another good finish, with Michael Schumacher taking the chequered flag and Barrichello ending in second place.
Back to the Pits
Michael won yet another race and made it five out of five. By the Spanish GP, Michael looked invincible. Though there were good competitors, no one seemed to be able to stop Michael from taking the chequered flag. Michael’s domination continued and so did Ferrari’s.
The Next Win...
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