CHINESE GRAND PRIX RACE REVIEW- Barrichello victorious, Button finishes second to confirm BAR’s second spot in Constructors’

20120412122255728  26 September 2004

Rubens Barrichello trotted home to record his second consecutive win of the season here at Shanghai International Circuit. After securing his first win of the year at one of the oldest and most historic tracks on the calendar, that is Monza, this time he secured an historic win at the newest and most modern circuit in the world. It was also an historic moment for China, as the grand prix is the biggest international event ever staged in the country.

The race itself was thrilling and action packed and Barrichello had to fight every inch of the way to take the win. Rubens was under considerable pressure as he was really the Scuderia’s only chance of victory. Having spun in Saturday qualifying and failed to set a time, the team opted to change the engine on Michael Schumacher’s car, as it had developed a slight coolant leak, prior to qualifying.

This meant he was relegated to the back of the grid, but the team chose to start him from pit lane, meaning they could refuel the car before he started, switching him to a two stop strategy, as opposed to the three adopted for Barrichello. The German eventually finished one lap down in 12th after an eventful afternoon.

Rubens led away from the start, chased by Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren-Mercedes, while Alonso charged up from sixth to third in his Renault. Immediately, the nature of the circuit meant there was plenty of overtaking to keep the 150,000 crowd entertained, first of all with Button’s BAR-Honda and Massa’s Sauber, swapping places several times.

Excellent grip from the Bridgestone tyres saw Rubens maintain his lead, but not by much as Raikkonen managed to keep in touch. The two men made their first pit stops on lap 12, rejoining in the same order, allowing Button to lead, as the Englishman had dealt with the slower Alonso, who was two stopping. One lap before that, Schumacher had his first moment of the afternoon, when he clipped the Jaguar of Klien, fortunately without damage to the F2004.

Three laps later and Michael Schumacher’s afternoon took a turn for the worse as he spun at turn 13, having got caught in Alonso’s slipstream, which dropped him from 10th to 12th. By lap 20 Michael had moved up to sixth passing his brother Ralf, just before coming in to refuel for the first time. For several laps, Michael then fought a fascinating duel with his old rival, Jacques Villeneuve in the Renault.

With Raikkonen still in touch with Barrichello, his McLaren team decided to try and get him into the lead by going for a very short second pit stop. The Finn however was slightly delayed coming into pit lane by Bruni’s Minardi and when Barrichello himself also made a short stop, just one tenth of a second slower than the McLaren, Raikkonen’s bold move had failed. Indeed, worse than that, it meant that Button was able to get ahead to go second and as the BAR-Honda man was on a two stop strategy, he was definitely going to stay ahead of the McLaren.

Schumacher, who had got as high as sixth place now saw any chance of a points finish evaporate, as he suffered a puncture and had to drive a long way round the track very slowly to rejoin his pit. As this occurred several laps before he had been due to refuel for a second and final time, the team had to switch his strategy once again, bringing him in again on lap 48, just after he passed Villeneuve. The world champion rejoined 12th and stayed there to the end.

Meanwhile, Barrichello made his third and final stop on lap 42 of the 56 lap race, rejoining with a comfortable lead. From then on, he eased the pace slightly to ensure the finish, but the final laps were no cruise. Traffic was one of the factors that saw the top three all close up again and Rubens had to push to ensure the victory. It was certainly a close finish with the top three – Barrichello, Button and Raikkonen, covered by just 1.4 seconds at the flag.

Rubens Barrichello: “I have spent much of this season trying to catch up Michael and now I am going through a good phase and here in China, everything has gone well all weekend. I must thank the team for giving me a good set-up that allowed me to push hard when I needed to. The reception we have had from the Chinese people has been fantastic. I had a very good start and I was amazed at the amount of grip I had on the first lap. Kimi pushed me quite hard but I was able to keep a gap.

I was not sure I had command of the race until my final pit stop when Ross told me that I should be okay. So, as I left the pits I still pushed flat out and then at Turn 3, I looked in my mirrors and saw no one behind me so I knew I was okay. Towards the end, when I had a lead of about eight seconds, the team told me to back off a bit, but then I had to step up the pace again when Jenson got closer.

Also at one point, I had to lap Villeneuve who did not see me at first as he was fighting for position but then he let me through correctly. This track has been really challenging, but with a variety of possible lines through the corners overtaking is possible and that is all we need for a good race.”

Jenson Button BAR Honda 2nd: “It’s fantastic to finish on the podium in the first-ever Chinese Grand Prix and to achieve my fourth 2nd place finish this season. We came here needing to keep Renault at bay for second in the Championship and a nine-point lead is exactly what we were looking for. It’s a great result for the whole team and well done to them for a great job. I didn’t get a good start; in fact losing two places off the grid was disastrous.

Today proved again that our first win is getting closer but starts are something we’ll need to look at before we can take the next step up. Our strategy was good but it was so hard to push versus the three-stoppers, so in the end I had to concentrate on keeping Raikkonen behind me. It’s been a great race for B·A·R, China and F1 and I’m looking forward to keeping up the fight in Japan in two weeks’ time.”

Kimi Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes 3rd: “From where I was sitting that was a close and exciting debut race and hopefully the Chinese fans agree. I was able to keep up with Rubens but just lacked that final speed to get past and take the lead. As always we are here to win races and decided to change my strategy in an attempt to get past Rubens with a short middle stint.

However it didn’t work out and we lost second place to Jenson, but I’m not too disappointed. The car has felt good throughout the weekend and once again my Michelin tyres were working well. My times were consistent during the race and I’m looking forward to the last two races where we will continue to go for victory.”

Results:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
Rubens Barrichello
Jenson Button
Kimi Raikkonen
Fernando Alonso
Juan Pablo Montoya
Takuma Sato
Giancarlo Fisichella
Felipe Massa
David Coulthard
Mark Webber
Jacques Villeneuve
Michael Schumacher
Nick Heidfeld
Olivier Panis
Timo Glock
Zsolt Baumgartner
BR
GB
FIN
E
COL
J
I
BR
GB
AUS
CDN
D
D
F
D
H
Ferrari
BAR-Honda
McLaren-Mercedes
Renault
Williams-BMW
BAR-Honda
Sauber-Petronas
Sauber-Petronas
McLaren-Mercedes
Jaguar
Renault
Ferrari
Jordan-Ford
Toyota
Jordan-Ford
Minardi-Cosworth
29:12.420
+1.035
+1.469
+32.510
+45.193
+54.791
+1:05.464
+1:20.080
+1:20.619
-1 lap
-1 lap
-1 lap
-1 lap
-1 lap
-1 lap
-3 laps
DNF
Gianmaria Bruni
Ralf Schumacher
Ricardo Zonta
Christian Klien
I
D
BR
A
Minardi-Cosworth
Williams-BMW
Toyota
Jaguar
-18 laps
-19 laps
-21 laps
-45 laps
OVERALL STANDINGS:
Drivers
Constructors’
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
Michael Schumacher
Rubens Barrichello
Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso
Jarno Trulli
Juan Pablo Montoya
Kimi Raikkonen
Takuma Sato
David Coulthard
Giancarlo Fisichella
Ralf Schumacher
Felipe Massa
Mark Webber
Olivier Panis
Antonio Pizzonia
Christian Klien
Cristiano da Matta
Nick Heidfeld
Timo Glock
Zsolt Baumgartner
D
BR
GB
E
I
COL
FIN
J
GB
I
D
BR
AUS
F
BR
A
BR
D
D
H
Ferrari
Ferrari
BAR-Honda
Renault
Renault
Williams-BMW
McLaren-Mercedes
BAR-Honda
McLaren-Mercedes
Sauber-Petronas
Williams-BMW
Sauber-Petronas
Jaguar
Toyota
Williams-BMW
Jaguar
Toyota
Jordan-Ford
Jordan-Ford
Minardi-Cosworth
136
108
79
50
46
46
34
26
24
21
12
11
7
6
6
3
3
3
2
1
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Ferrari
BAR-Honda
Renault
BMWWilliams
McLaren-Mercedes
Sauber-Petronas
Jaguar
Toyota
Jordan-Ford
Minardi-Cosworth
I
GB
F
GB
GB
CH
GB
J
GB
I
244
105
96
64
58
32
10
9
5
1