A TYPHOON NAMED MICHAEL

Schumacher brothers winning in Suzuka after weather conditions causing trouble

It had been in December 2003, when Michael Schumacher had been competing against a Typhoon Eurofighter jet plane at an Italian airbase and the German had won one of three races. Exactly ten months later the typhoon Ma-on threatened the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. After a rainy free practice day on Friday the complete programme for Saturday (another two free practice sessions and both the qualifyings) had been cancelled for safety reasons by the organizers. Everything moveable (team and television equipment, advertisement banners etc.) had been dismantled, then the circuit was closed. But the weather god must be a Grand Prix fan, Ma-on did not hit Suzuka as the prognosis had said before. The typhoon went some one hundred kilometres eastward to Japan´s capital Tokio, flooding streets and cutting trees, one person was missed.

On Saturday evening BMW´s engine guru Dr Mario Theissen was jogging around the track becoming more and more dry: "The weather makes everything change at the day´s schedule." For the first time in history the qualifying took place on Sunday morning (without further free practice on a dry track). Jarno Trulli, returning into the business with his new team Toyota after beeing sacked by Renault some weeks before, was fastest in the first qualifying, in the second, more important session, Michael Schumacher put his Ferrari onto pole position ahead of the Williams BMW of his brother Ralf. No doubt, the younger of the Schumachers is in the same good shape as he had been before his high speed crash at Indianapolis some three months before. Then Typhoon Michael was dominating the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix under nearly tropic weather conditions to bring his Ferrari home for his 83rd career victory. At the chequered flag Michael and Ralf were separated by 14 seconds. " Ralf had returned faster and more perfect, than I had exspected," said Niki Lauda.

Olivier Panis drove his last Grand Prix so far, but he will stay with Toyota as their test driver for 2005 and 2006. In Interlagos his cockpit will be given to local hero Ricardo Zonta at the side of Jarno Trulli. Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella, Felipe Massa, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello were involved in fierce battles for points in the middle of the field. But as in Shanghai Villeneuve, whose task had been to support Renault against his old team British American Racing in the struggle for second place in the 2004 constructors´worldchampionship, again failed scoring points on 10th place finally. Jenson Button (third) celebrated his tenth 2004 podium finish, native Takuma Sato on fourth place also made BAR Honda come pretty close to secure the second place after the final Grand Prix in Brazil with now 16 points ahead of their French rival. Jaguar´s Mark Webber had showed an excellent qualifying performance being third on the grid for the team with the big cat as the company´s symbol in their last but one Grand Prix. But after losing several places already at the start, in lap 21 the Australian was the first retirement of the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix with hot gas entering the cockpit burning his hip. In lap 39 David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello had collided at the entrance of the chicane, when the Brazilian 2004 vice champion had tried to overtake the Scot. Both the Silver Arrow and the Ferrari came into the pits with collapsed front suspensions being impossible to be repaired.

Fernando Alonso and Toyota were competing in their 50th Grand Prix, British American Racing celebrated 100 races called Grand Prix at Suzuka. There the Midland Group announced to enter Grand Prix Racing in 2006, their boss Alexander Shnaider, a native Russian, is only 36 years of age. The cars are already under construction at Dallara in Italy, whose founder had designed the 1970 by Sir Frank Williams entered de Tomaso Ford driven by Piers Courage and later by Tim Schenken. Courage died in Zandvoort 1970 under circumstances not be clear until the present. At the grave the widow of Courage (who had been a relative to the Royal Family also belonging to the Courage Brewery dynasty), Sally, said to young engineer Gianpaulo dall`Ara (as he was written in the old days): I want to thank you for constructing such a beautiful car for Piers.

Jutta Schmitt

 

Results
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Starting Grid

1 M Schumacher 1:33.542

2 R Schumacher 1:34.032

3 M Webber 1:34.571

4 T Sato 1:34.897

5 J Button 1:35.157

6 J Trulli 1:35.217

7 G Fisichella 1:36.136

8 D Coulthard 1:36.156

9 J Villeneuve 1:36.274

10 O Panis 1:36.420

11 F Alonso 1:36.663

12 K Raikkonen 1.36.820

13 JP Montoya 1:37.653

14 C Klien 1:38.637

15 R Barrichello 1:38.637

16 N Heidfeld 1:41.953

17 T Glock 1:43.533

18 G Bruni 1:48.069

19 Z Baumgartner no time

20 F Massa no time

 

Race

2004 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka Circuit, 53 Laps á 5.807 km = 307.573 km, Weather: Air 28°C Track 33°C Humidity 80%

1 M Schumacher 1:24:26.985

2 R Schumacher +14.000

3 J Button +19.600

4 T Sato +31.700

5 F Alonso +37.700

6 K Raikkonen +39.300

7 JP Montoya +55.300

8 G Fisichella +56.200

9 F Massa +1:29.600

10 J Villeneuve +1 Lap

11 J Trulli + 1

12 C Klien +1

13 N Heidfeld + 1

14 O Panis + 2 Laps

15 T Glock + 2

16 G Bruni + 3

 

Retirements

Z Baumgartner, Lap 42

D Coulthard, 39: Accident

R Barrichello, 39: Accident

M Webber, 21

 

Fastest Lap

R Barrichello 1:32.720 (Lap 30)

 

Worldchampionship Standings
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Drivers

1 M Schumacher 146

2 R Barrichello 108

3 J Button 85

4 F Alonso 54

6 JP Montoya 48

7 K Raikkonen 37

8 T Sato 31

9 D coulthard 24

10 G Fisichella 22

12 F Massa 11

13 M Webber 7

14 O Panis 6

15 A Pizzonia 6

16 C Klien 3

17 C da Matta 3

18 N Heidfeld 3

19 T Glock 2

20 Z Baumgartner 1

 

Constructors

1 Ferrari 254

2 BAR Honda !!$

3 Renault 100

4 Williams BMW 74

5 McLaren Mercedes 61

6 Sauber Petronas 33

7 Jaguar Cosworth 10

8 Toyota 9

9 Jordan Ford 5

10 Minardi Cosworth 1

 

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

 

© 2004 by researchracing

 

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