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Michael Schumacher started the 2004 season by winning five races on the trot. Though the opposition liked to think that the Monaco GP put the brakes on his domination, it was not the case. Right after the Monaco GP, Michael got another five straight wins. That took his tally to ten wins from eleven races. Michael was crazy close to win his eleventh race of the season and matching his record for most wins from the 2002 season. And, to add to that, nobody knew how many more he could win.
The opposition was good at different points in the season. BAR-Honda seemed to be consistently good, while the Renault was were competitive in some races and were the only team to win other than the Ferraris. The biggest comeback of the season was the McLaren team, especially Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi had a strong race at Silverston, though Michael’s superb drive and Ferrari’s uber-awesome strategy put Michael in the front.
Kimi fought tooth-and-nail to the finish, which raised hopes of more such challenges in the remaining races. The other constructors would continue to fight, though Michael appeared so far ahead. Would the season witness some strong challenge to Ferrari's domination like that of Kimi at Silverstone? Or would Michael once again paint the podium red?
Let’s find out.
The 2004 German GP: Qualifying
Before the session began, the pundits wondered if the Ferraris would qualify slower and carry more fuel for the race or go outright fast and get the pole. Everything pointed towards a heavier fuel load, and therefore, a down-the-order qualifying time. Besides, Kimi showed in the previous qualifying that he could go as fast as any other driver on the grid. So, competition couldn’t be ruled out.
However, the qualifying session had many surprises. Ruben Barrichello did a lap of 1 minute 14 seconds, and it was assumed that Michael would end up around that time or a little slower. But that’s where Michael rocketed through the lap to storm past Rubens.
Have a look at the incredible qualifying run:
Michael was so fast that he bettered Rubens' time by nearly a second. In fact, the run was so good that Michael could not break that time himself. Obviously, no other driver could do either.
So, it was Michael at pole, followed by the familiar Williams of Montoya at P2. Jenson Button in a BAR-Honda took P3 while the ballistic Kimi at P4 brought up the top four cars.
With the Williams, McLaren, and BAR-Honda positioned around Michael, fireworks could be expected on race day. Not to forget the possibility of the Renaults in the third row upsetting the front runners with their jet-paced start. Race day would indeed be a fun day for fans!
The 2004 German GP: Race Day
Michael’s qualifying domination did suggest he would be fast off the block too. Montoya, Kimi, and Button surrounded Michael while Alonso wasn't too far from the pole position. Each of those drivers was good enough to get on with proceedings quite quickly. So, would Michael be able to hold them back, especially with no Rubens around to divert attention? Many would hope for that.
At the turn of the lights, there were surprises in store but not for Michael. Michael got a good start, but Montoya was passed by three to four cars in no time. At the first turn, it was Michael, followed by Alonso, who gained four positions. It was a phenomenal start by the Renault driver.
Take a look at the start and the race highlights:
Note: Race starts from 1:50 minute mark.
Michael was able to pull away from the rest of the pack pretty fast, and just when Barrichello appeared to be coming up the order, he ended up losing his nose wing. A stop at the pits put him down the order, which disallowed him a finish in the points. The best part of the race saw Kimi attack Michael once again. It was a déjà-vu moment but for his rear wing failure. Kimi was quite fast and had he prevailed, the race could have taken a different complexion.
The day, though, belonged to Michael, and he got to the chequered flag eight-seconds ahead of Jenson Button. Jenson, too had a good race, fighting Alonso all the way. Alonso finished in third place, thereby completing the podium.
Back to the Pits
With Alonso finishing in third place, Ferrari couldn’t bring in the constructors' title yet. They would have to wait for another race to attempt closing the constructors' championship. As far as the drivers' title was concerned, Ferrari had a firm grasp on the championship, but it would take a few more races to decide if Michael would take the honours or Rubens would have something to say about it. Either way, it was one more win for Michael Schumacher!
The Next Win..
Want to know the story of Michael Schumacher's eighty-second win? Click here to find out:
© 2020 S K