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The Ferraris would be approaching the 2004 Hungarian GP hoping to nail down the constructors’ championship. They hadn't been able to do it at the German GP, but they might complete the formalities in Hungary.
Michael Schumacher was in high spirits as always, and there were no signs of him going slow on his juggernaut. He had already equaled his record of eleven wins in a season, and from the looks of it, he could win all the remaining races too. But the talk of the weekend was something else.
Although Button was doing quite well with the BAR-Honda team, some talk about soured relations, legal actions, and the like was traveling the grapevine. The talk concerned Jenson, his current team, BAR-Honda, and the team he planned to join in 2005, Williams-BMW. Not much information was available on those developments, but enthusiasts were glued on to find out more. In a way, the rumors provided more entertainment than the actual races.
Coming back to the Hungarian GP, Michael was the one to beat, and the top constructors looked strong. Despite all the hullaballoo, BAR-Honda was a force to reckon with. At the same time, Renault and Williams kept challenging the Ferraris, not to forget the resurgent McLarens and Kimi Raikkonen, who wanted to have a go at Michael in every race.
Could the Ferraris win and get the constructors’ title? Or would the competing drivers have something to say about the proceedings?
Let’s find out.
The 2004 Hungarian GP: Qualifying
With Michael’s sterling qualifying performance at the German GP, there was hardly any doubt left about Ferrari’s Hungary strategy. Michael would once again go for the top spot, and it was for the other teams to go better. The only chink in Ferrari’s armor was that they had not been strong at Hungary in the recent past.
As the session started, Williams and BAR-Honda put up some great lap times. By the time the Ferraris came in, it was amply clear that the front row would again be reserved for the prancing horses. Barrichello was quick, while Michael was quicker.
Take a look at Michael’s pole lap:
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Note: The timer is not shown. Enjoy the Ferrari’s roar onboard with Michael.
Michael qualified about two-tenths of a second faster than Barrichello on P2. The second row belonged to the Hondas as Sato and Button qualified P3 and P4, respectively. Fernando Alonso was on P5 while the Williams newcomer Antonio Pizzonia qualified sixth to complete the top six.
The 2004 Hungarian GP: Race Day
Both Michael and Rubens were hardly challenged through the season while they were in the front row, so to expect anything different at Hungary would be expecting too much. But the fun was down the order where the Hondas, BMW, Renault, and McLarens would have a go at each other, and maybe even at the Ferraris.
At the turn of the lights, the Ferraris got a regulation start, pulling away from the others. Fernando Alonso, as he did many times in the season, got an explosive start and took the third position. He almost got Barrichello too, but for the superior Ferrari getting away after the first turn. From there, it was a story which fans had grown used to—Ferraris pulling away with ease. Take a look at the start and the race highlights:
Note: Race starts at the 2:54 minutes mark.
Michael pulled away from Barrichello too at a blistering pace. It was as if he was in a race of his own. Such was his run at the front that he could pit and yet come out ahead of Barrichello.
It was odd that a track where Ferraris were not so dominant or had to rely on pit strategy to win (like in 1998 when Michael got the better of Mika and David’s McLaren) turned out to be easy for the Ferraris this time. There was absolutely no challenging Michael at the 2004 Hungarian GP, and he cruised to his twelfth victory of the season. Barrichello followed around four seconds later. The duo had lapped all cars up to sixth place during the race.
The Ferrari domination continued unabated, and in the process, team Ferrari secured their sixth constructors' championship on the trot. Now, it was all down to the drivers’ title, and if Michael could win the next race, then that championship would be sealed too.
Back to the Pits
Michael won yet again and created a new record for the most wins in a season. Until the 2004 Hungarian GP, Michael had won twelve times, breaking his eleven wins in a season record. Michael was on track to win more, and only the end of the season would confirm how dominant he had been.
The Next Win..
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