On This Day in #F1: 4th April

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

– 2004: Michael Schumacher wins inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix

Michael_Schumacher_2670828bIn his ever expanding money-hungry vision for Formula One – Bernie Ecclestone’s exotic circus arrived in the Kingdom of Bahrain for the first ever race in the oil-rich Middle East. On this day – Michael Schumacher dominated the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix to secure his third victory of the season and consolidate his title challenge further.

The Ferrari squad had delivered another exceptional package that would go on to dominate the season with 15 wins. Pre-season reports had been dismissive of the Ferrari evolution as opposed to the revolutionary needle-nosed Mclaren MP4/19 and the walrus-nosed Williams FW26 designs.

J_p_montoya_usgp_2004In Australia, unusually cool conditions – which could have been tailor-made for their Bridgestone tyres – were grasped as the reason the Ferraris had dominated the race but the fact that Schumacher’s fastest race lap was over a quarter of a second quicker than his pole position would have proved unsettling.

In Malaysia, again, the fact that Montoya finished fractionally over five seconds behind filled the rest of the grid with hope… hope that would be slowly eroded throughout the season.

In fact, if it hadn’t been for Montoya smashing into the rear of Schumacher’s car in the Monaco tunnel whilst following a safety car – his winning streak would most likely have been thirteen straight wins in 2004.

In Bahrain, Schumacher had qualified on pole position with a time of 1’30:139. His Ferrari team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, trailed on 1’30:530.

Williams commandeered the second row and the BAR team – the third. The first McLaren was Coulthard in tenth position and Raikkonen started from last place due to issues in qualifying.


Schumacher and Barrichello accelerated from the line and navigated the first corner in their respective start positions. On lap seven, Schumacher set a fastest lap that would have qualified him on pole position and two laps later came in for fuel. By the chequered flag the Ferrari’s were split by 1.3 seconds but nearly twenty-seven seconds ahead of the third place BAR of Button.

Bear in mind that Ferrari ‘raced’ until the completion of the fuel stops and then coasted to the line.

The rivals?

Williams searched for hope where there was none with Montoya’s attitude as defiant as ever – even after his gearbox failed towards the end of the race.

Renault had both Jarno Trulli (4th) and Alonso (6th) finish with Takuma Sato sandwiched between them at the line.

Mclaren had chronic issues with reliability once again.

tumblr_mu9mj8zxkc1rb2fzoo1_1280Raikkonen expired with his engine ablaze on lap 7 and Coulthard was the third retiree with pneumatic issues. Once again, the extreme packaging of a Newey designed car was consigning the season to the dumpster truck.

The microcosm that was the Bahrain Grand Prix would be reflected in the end of season results – with BAR and Renault finishing ahead of the Williams and Mclaren teams.


8 responses to “On This Day in #F1: 4th April

  1. Loved the bit about “Bernie Ecclestone’s exotic circus !”

    Those McLaren’s blew up with fire and smoke far too often for my liking…I spend half my time watching them in old races thinking that they’re going to blow up any minute so I’m not too devastated when I see Kimi, yet again, having to pull off the road with smoke pouring from his engine…

    I wonder if what we see this weekend will be snapshot of the entire season as well. Over 60% of the time the winner of the Australian GP is the eventual winner of the season; however, the driver in the lead of the championship after the 3rd GP must also have a high chance statistically…

    Thanks Carlo:)

    • I think it depends on Mercedes being able to maintain the same rate of development as Red Bull to be honest. Possibly Ferrari now that Allison is there as the Lotus was the only one that kept them honest in the second half of the season. But I think the engine is too good for anyone to overhaul them quickly.

      • I can see that once Red Bull get their engine issues sorted they could start challenging really quickly…they’re so good at continuing to develop through the season. Then again 2013 was my first full season to watch every race and by half way through it seemed everyone else was starting to focus on 2014…

  2. Why did Montoya crash into Schumi in the tunnel at Monaco then? I think it was a stupid racing incident with Schumacher locking up with nowhere to go for Montoya.

    • A silly incident behind the safety car when Schumacher braked heavily have miss-judged the pace of the safety car and Montoya went into the back of him.

  3. IIRC, they were following a safety car to clear the wreckage of Alonso’s Renault after the tunnel. They had been informed that the safety car was coming in and they were all braking to warm up tyres, except JPM was too close to MSC and smashed into the back of him through the tunnel..

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