SIMPLY THE BEST

Michael Schumacher: World Champion for the 7th time in his Living Room Spa-Francorchamps

The pit board was unique: 7 VOLTE CAMPIONE DEL MONDO - SIMPLY THE BEST. Michael Schumacher just had crossed the finish line of his Living Room Spa-Francorchamps second position behind Kimi Raikkonen to win his seventh drivers´worldchampionship, the fifth in a row and for Ferrari. It was the 700th time for Ferrari to compete in a Grand Prix event. In Schumacher´s home town Kerpen, only 100 kilometres apart from Spa, and auf course in Italian Maranello the crowds were celebrating. After many days of rain the camp sites at the rim of the world´s most beautiful natural race course were made sodden, but the parties with thousands of cans of beer were as good as ever.

One and a half year after Sepang 2003 Kimi Raikkonen had scored his second career Grand Prix win to keep the old and new world champion close behind him until the chequered flag. Both Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya (retired of a suspension damage caused by a puncture) had been able to overtake Michael Schumacher on the track and not in the pits! The turbulent race weekend had begun with the third free practice session on Saturday cancelled caused by the typical heavy rain of the Ardennes mountains. Then Jarno Trulli (who had married his girl-friend Barbara in the week before the Belgian Grand Prix) had put his Renault onto pole position in a moment he had got a little less moisture on the track than his direct rivals Schumacher and team mate Alonso. Trulli had lead the Belgian Grand Prix until his first pit stop in lap 9, a good final result was taken away from him by being rammed by Montoya in the bus stop chicane at about half time. The other leaders were Alonso, Montoya, Michael Schumacher, of course Raikkonen, and Antonio Pizzonia, who again had replaced Ralf Schumacher with showing a fine performance. Sadly the Jungle Boy had to retire with a broken gearbox. Very soon the natural track of Spa had been surrounded by a lot of wrecks as so often in his history, threetimes the Safety Car had to come out. Already in the starting lap Webber (Jaguar Cosworth), Sato (BAR Honda), Bruni (Minardi Cosworth) and Pantano (Jordan Ford) were missed caused by collisions. Massa (Sauber Petronas) und Barrichello (Ferrari) had to come in for extra pit stops for getting their cars repaired after touching rival vehicles. Button (BAR Honda) and Montoya (Williams BMW) had to retire caused by punctures, Toyota test driver Ryan Briscoe had had a spectacular accident on Friday for the same reason and during the race also Coulthard (McLaren Mercedes) suffered under the same problem: Hit was always the right back Michelin tyre, because of the ultra-fast Eau Rouge and Blanchimont a more than potential danger. Later in the race DC had also cut off his front wing when touching the back of Christian Klien´s Jaguar Cosworth at 320 km/h at the end of Kemmel straight. Inspite of that the Scot finished a fine seventh place to bring two additional points to McLaren Mercedes bitterly needed after the bad season start of the Silver Arrows. Fantastic performance also came from Christian Klien scoring his maiden worldchampionship points on position 6, while Sauber Petronas did very well with coming home 4th (Massa) and 5th (Fisichella).

The circuit of Spa-Francorchamps presented in modified shape. The bus stop chicane had been revised, great asphalt run out areas were installed in Blanchimont and Eau Rouge. Several prominent photographers were involved in a conflict with the Belgian police, whose methods were compared with the Gestapo, the brutal secret police of the Nazis, by star photographer Mark Sutton.

Very bad luck had Ricardo Zonta (Toyota): Three laps before the chequered flag the Brazilian was stopped by a blown engine lying on place 4. Between Budapest and Spa Toyota had presented all their competion cars of the last decade during an event called Toyota City Grand Prix, 40 000 spectators were attending it in the streets of Cologne, where the Japanese have got their racing headquarters. Their former employées Norbert Kreyer and Cristiano da Matta meanwhile have taken legal action against the company working under German law. Sweet beginning, bitter end.

Jutta Schmitt

 

Results
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Starting Grid

1 J Trulli 1:56.232

2 M Schumacher 1:56.304

3 F Alonso 1:56.686

4 D Coulthard 1:57.990

5 G Fisichella 1:58.040

6 R Barrichello 1:58.175

7 M Webber 1:58.729

8 F Massa 1:59.009

9 O Panis 1:59.552

10 K Raikkonen 1:59.635

11 JP Montoya 1:59.681

12 J Button 2:00.237

13 C Klien 2:01.246

14 A Pizzonia 2:01.447

15 T Sato 2:01.813

16 N Heidfeld 2:02.645

17 G Bruni 2:02.651

18 Z Baumgartner 2:03.303

19 G Pantano 2:03.833

20 R Zonta 2:03.895

 

Race

2004 Belgian Grand Prix, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, 44 Laps á 6.976 km = 306.944 km, Weather: Air 20°C Track 22°C Humidity 60%

1 K Raikkonen 1:32:35.274

2 M Schumacher +3.123

3 R Barrichello +4.371

4 F Massa +12.504

5 G Fisichella +14.104

6 C Klien +14.614

7 D Coulthard +17.970

8 O Panis +18.693

9 J Trulli +22.115

10 R Zonta* +3 Laps

11 N Heidfeld +4

*retired (engine) but classified

 

Retirements

JP Montoya, Lap 38: Puncture

A Pizzonia, 32: Gearbox

J Button, 30: Puncture

Z Baumgartner, 29: Accident

F Alonso, 12: Spin

M Webber, 1: Accident

T Sato, 1: Accident

G Bruni, 1: Accident

G Pantano, 1: Accident

 

Fastest Lap

K Raikkonen 1:145.108 (Lap 42)

 

Worldchampionship Standings
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Drivers

1 M Schumacher 128

2 R Barrichello 88

3 J Button 65

4 J Trulli 46

5 F Alonso 45

6 JP Montoya 38

7 K Raikkonen 28

8 D Coulthard 21

9 T Sato 18

10 G Fisichella 18

11 R Schumacher 12

12 F Massa 10

13 M Webber 7

14 O Panis 6

15 A Pizzonia 4

16 C Klien 3

17 C da Matta 3

18 N Heidfeld 3

19 T Glock 2

20 Z Baumgartner 1

 

Constructors

1 Ferrari 216

2 Renault 91

3 BAR Honda 83

4 Williams BMW 54

5 McLaren 49

6 Sauber Petronas 28

7 Jaguar Cosworth 10

8 Toyota 9

9 Jordan Ford 5

10 Minardi Cosworth 1

 

Photos
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Photos © sutton-images.com, graphic by project * 2000

 

© 2004 by researchracing

 

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