|2004 Italian Grand Prix|
Race 15 of 18 in the 2004 Formula One Season
|Date||12 September 2004|
|Official name||LXXV Gran Premio Vodafone d'Italia 2004|
|Location||Autodromo Nazionale Monza
5.793 km (3.6 mi)
|Distance||53 laps, 306.720 km (190.58 mi)|
|Weather||Wet track at the start, dry later on|
|Driver||Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)|
|Driver||Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)|
|Time||1:21.046 on lap 41|
|First||Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)|
|Second||Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)|
|Third||Jenson Button (BAR-Honda)|
The 2004 Italian Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on September 12, 2004 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Ferrari took a 1-2 in front of the delighted Tifosi, with Rubens Barrichello ahead of team mate Michael Schumacher. Both cars had to make their way through the field from the back, Barrichello having made an early pitstop after choosing the wrong tyres at the start and Schumacher having spun on the first lap. The race was perhaps best known for speed records set during the race.
In the first part of qualifying (which did not count towards grid positions), Juan Pablo Montoya lapped Monza in his Williams FW26 at an average speed of 262.242 km/h (162.9 mph), the fastest ever qualifying lap in the history of Formula One. The next day in the race, Montoya's team-mate Antônio Pizzonia reached a top speed of 369.9 km/h (229.9 mph), the fastest speed ever recorded in Formula One at the time (it was to be exceeded by Montoya in 2005). Rubens Barrichello’s qualifying lap of 1’20.089 (161.820mph) failed to surpass Juan Pablo Montoya’s record-breaking effort in practice of 1’19.525 (162.968mph), but it put him on pole position.
It doesn’t often rain on the Italian Grand Prix. But the 2004 race began on a greasy surface that played to the strengths of Michelin’s dry weather rubber and exposed the only real flaw in Ferrari’s Bridgestone armour. Starting from first position Barrichello played it conservatively and opted for intermediate tyres. Michael Schumacher, third, opted for dry-weather grooves. That was his first mistake. Mistake number two came on the run down to the first corner. He braked too late, cut the chicane, and had to yield third place to Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya’s Williams struggled so badly for traction that Kimi Räikkönen and Takuma Sato also passed Schumacher as they sprinted towards the della Roggia chicane. Mistake number three saw the German understeer into the side of Button at the chicane, spinning to a halt and watching the entire field pass him. Was this the same man who had won 12 of the last 14 rounds? From that moment on he certainly was, as he carved his way from the back of the pack into contention for the lead.
Up front Barrichello’s intermediate tyres were proving the better Bridgestone choice – but not half as good as Michelin dry tyres. Fernando Alonso pinched the lead off him at Ascari on lap four, and Barrichello dived into the pits for dry weather rubber. By lap six Barrichello was ninth, Schumacher was 11th, and Alonso and Button were up front – Alonso’s early pit stop on lap 10 handing the initiative to the Englishman. He held the lead for 24 laps until his final pit stop. But by two-thirds race distance the Ferraris were back at the sharp end. The track had dried quickly and the F2004s instantly assumed their usual crushing advantage, Schumacher cutting a second per lap off Button’s lead.
When Barrichello made his last stop on lap 42 he resumed in the lead. As he returned to the track, had he looked in his mirrors he would have seen Schumacher flying past Button so quickly the BAR driver couldn’t even catch the Ferrari’s slipstream down the Monza straight. The opening laps had been an illusion. Able to lap up to 1.5s faster than any other driver on the track the Ferrari decimated their opponents despite their early handicap.
During the race there was chaos in the Minardi pit garage as the car of Gianmaria Bruni caught fire after fuel escaped from the hose onto the hot bodywork during a routine pit-stop, fortunately it was put out without any serious injury. However, Bruni inhaled some of the extinguishant and was having trouble breathing and so the team decided to retire the car.
* Nick Heidfeld was demoted to 20th place after receiving a ten-place penalty for an engine change in Friday practice.
Lap leaders Edit
- Lap Leaders: Rubens Barrichello 21 (1-4, 37-53), Fernando Alonso 6 (5-10), Jenson Button 24 (11-34) and Michael Schumacher 2 (35-36)
Standings after the raceEdit
Drivers' Championship standingsEdit
Constructors' Championship standingsEdit
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- Bold text indicates the World Champions.