The second race of
the 2004 Formula 1 season gave us a bit of hope for a competitive season. We
must keep in mind though that the Malaysian Grand Prix was one of the hottest
on the calendar and it is were the Michelin runners were expected to be
strong. With Bahrain expected to be equally hot, it may not be until the San
Marino Grand Prix that we'll get a better idea of the competitiveness of the
Michelin runners under 'normal' race conditions.
A few highlights;
Schumacher once again led from start to finish (apart from the pit stops)
and was never really threatened by Juan Pablo Montoya. Rubens Barrichello
struggled with the harder compound tyre and may have compromised finishing
in 3rd for the sake of holding Juan Pablo's charge against his teammate.
Montoya didn't make mistakes this round and maximised his points finishing
second. Ralf Schumacher on the other hand struggled before retiring with a
finished 3rd. A superb performance from him and his team. BAR
appear to be mixing it with the other top Michelin runners which is always
good to see. Takuma Sato did well running in the points with just a
handful of laps before retiring with a blow engine having started from the
strong for the first half of the race but a change in strategy for both
drivers proved costly and Trulli only managed 5th although he was fighting
with Button early on while Alonso finished 7th after having a stunning
start and moving up very quickly but the switch to a 2 stopper actually
dropped him 1 place!.
stronger but again their star driver retired while running strong and
David Coulthard was lucky to finish 6th (after 2 retirements ahead of him
and Renault's strategy blunder)
appears to have learned to keep his cool during his testing season at
Ferrari. Finishing 8th and ahead of his well respected team-mate Giancarlo
Fisichella is a great achievement.
also improved their pace slightly with da Matta finishing just outside the
points. Panis it seems had a bad day!
qualified superbly in second place but the Jaguar let him down at the
start. Luckily no one crashed into him. Webber though appeared to be
unsettled by the poor start and was a bit too aggressive blocking Alonso
and then failing to trigger his speed limiter after Ralf's incident and
finally spinning out. While he is usually calm, he wasn't then and he
needs to control that. Teammate Klien did a good job finishing in
The 2 part
qualifying is already receiving heavy criticism at all levels. The first
change to be introduced is to increase the gap between the two (assuming
the teams unanimously agree). It doesn't appear much of a change and there
are likely more changes to come later in the season. What do you think of
this format ? And how can it be improved ?
Of course you can comment on other aspects of the race - Have
Your Say (What others are saying)
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What others are saying:
I believe that
Formula 1 fans are going to disappear forever, unless the racing can be made
more competitive. Formula 1 is not big at all in the USA and Canada,
primarily, in my opinion, because of the lack of competitiveness. Other racing
series, like NASCAR and the IRL, are followed much more avidly here. This
year, with the exception of Ferrari, all the teams seem much better matched
than in past years. I really believe that Formula 1 IS the pinnacle of motor
sport, and I would really like to see it do well. But something has to be done
to attract fans, especially on this side of the ocean. My suggestion would be
to introduce a handicapping system, like they do in horse racing. Depending on
how well a particular car/driver has done in the preceding races, a penalty
would be imposed (or reduced) on that driver in order to make him more on a
par with the rest of the field. The penalty could be a rev limit, or it could
even be additional weight added to the car, just like in horse racing ! I
welcome your comments on this - Gordon F - Canada
An avid fan, I
haven't seen much, but what comes over on BBC, and DW (a very good
broadcasting group from Germany) on my cable. Locally (USA) ESPN and ESPN2
give F1 short-shift only, being stuck on Nascar, and IRL, a little.
I would so WELCOME more of F1 and CART. I am left to discover what I can on
the internet. Thank you for helping in this worthy endeavour.
PS I still cry when I think about Senna. The Schumachers are excellent, but I
think when Montoya cools down, he can beat them - Christine E - USA
Webbo) and Happiness (for Jensen)!
After running for an hour and a half in very trying conditions for drivers and
machines the race ended with the podium finishers separated by just over ten
seconds. And there were three separate marques on the podium, as well. All
three finishers are to be congratulated for having shown, to all but the
blind, how IMPORTANT the driver is in F1.
I think a fair minded viewer will admit that had Jensen been in the red car
the race might well have been his --and had Michael been in the BAR, JPM would
have been pushing a lot harder than he was at the end! Had JPM been in the Red
machine, Michael would have been harassing him whether he was in the Beamer or
The "other Ferrari" was NOT on the podium. Wise heads are saying
it's because his tyre compound was different than Michael's. Well that sounds
more like an excuse to me than an explanation.
I think it's more likely that the Ferrari is simply not that much better.
Michael is. Indeed, it sounds odd to me that whenever Michael wins, his
success is attributed to his machine or his tyres or his team or his money or
his luck OR ANYTHING BUT HIS DRIVING. And, conversely, when he loses, the
blame is always squarely on his shoulders.
On the other hand, JPM drove one of his more impressive races. And I don't
like the man very much. But he was driving well on Sunday. I didn't see a
wheel put wrong whenever they showed him. I'd like to see a film of his entire
race; I'm thinking he'd have been "dead on" for most of it.
Unfortunately, for him, so was Michael.
Kimi? He will overcome this spot of trouble. I expect he's already apologized
to the marshal. And I agree with Adam: when Kimi and JPM are driving together
next year they are going to be a lot of fun to watch! But don't count the
Maclaren's "out" this year yet. I think we could well have another
three marque podium in Bahrain!
When you've got not two, not three, but four and maybe FIVE machines with a
shot, you've got all the parity and excitement you need. But I think you need
more than parity to beat Michael! The guy's a genius at finding a way to win.
What I'm saying, folks, is that Michael is the man to beat, not the machine.
And that's as it should be: a championship needs to be taken away, not
inherited. - Jim W - USA
Hi Cooky! I agree
that we will see more from the 14 car, but I will like to see Mark in a better
car and get what he deserve. He is a quality driver... better then Kimi,
Montoya, Alonso. He breathe F1 all the time - Yuri - USA
Well, at least
this race was a little more entertaining. Before the race, Speedvision showed
one of their "decade" shows, a race from Japan in 1994. And Senna
spun in the first turn, while Schumacher drove off into the sunset. Some
things never change.
The only things that surprised me in this race are as follows.
- Jenson Button on the podium. I guess Honda has finally designed a reliable
- Mark Webbers start. Act like you've been there before Mark!
- Ralf Schumacher's exit. His race seemed a mess. Breaking part of his front
wing, and finally blowing an engine.
- And finally Massa beating Fisichella. You don't have an excuse this year
I wonder what the deal was with Alonso and Renault. I understand that they
opted to change engines after Alonso spun during Qualifying. Under the new
rules, you lose 10 grid spots for the race start. But since he was 19th, he
only could lose 1 spot. I wonder how often we will see this happen in coming
races ? Can the engine be changed without it blowing up first?
And then we have Toyota. During the off-season, there was discussion of low
cost engines, for customers like Jordan or Minardi. And Toyotas' name came up.
A short time later, Toyota came out with an official statement explaining they
would not be able to provide that service. It's probably a good thing they
didn't, because it would be pretty embarrassing to get beat by an opponent who
uses your engine, but has a better car with better drivers.
Bahrain should be fun - John N - USA
Just a few
thoughts... the race was ok. Good enough to keep me awake from 4am until
almost 6am (I'm in Brazil you know).
Regardless what has been said by Ferrari/Bridgestone I think that the idea of
using soft tires in one car and hard tires on the other was strategic. So they
would cover all the possibilities. The temperatures were not as high as
expected so the soft ones made it.
It's a shame that Montoya complained about Barrichello. He was never close
enough to pass him and Michael was saving the equipment, just to give the
watchers some hope until the end of race...
What was that driving by Webber? What he did to Alonso was very
Kudos to Button! Do you remember a guy called Ville-something?
Serious sources assure me that Coulthard finished reading Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix during the race.
Kimi USED to be cold... well, who can blame him?
The Renaults were just too heavy... a lesson to remember in the future.
Massa 1 X 0 Fisio, but he should concentrate in keeping the car on that black
thing - Andre B - Brazil
again, much more than was obvious. Had Rubens been on soft tyres it would have
been an easy 1-2 for the Scuderia. Michael could have left Montoya 20sec.
behind had he pushed his car to the limit.
RENAULT would have been possibly second best again but for a string of errors,
beginning with the qualifying.
WILLIAMS were running really well and it could have been a major battle
between Montoya and Alonso, had the latter reached the front row on
BAR are deservingly doing finally well,
MCLAREN improved much more than obvious - don't write them off.
JAGUAR shouldn't throw away chances like this, sorry for Webber.
Generally the talented young drivers like Massa, Heidfeld, Sato, and Bruni
showed their potential as well.
As said before, considering a very tight situation between RENAULT, WILLIAMS,
BAR and MCLAREN there is going to be an easy champion 2004 - MS again.
Greetings, Tomas - Czech Republic
quite entertaining. Looking back, did you notice who pitted first? How
interesting that the large gap Michael had in qualifying was due to his light
fuel load, not his wonderful Bridgestones.
In fact, everyone had been running lighter than Williams, except B.A.R.
Did Montoya set the fastest lap of the race? Williams had at least two
problems (I'm not even counting Ralph's scorched earth' Schumacher) One,
a flawed pit strategy, - look for this to change in Bahrain - and two, a
driver who (not for the first time) wants to blame the car in front of him for
not being able to go fast enough. Wouldn't a real driver overtake that
Raikonnen..what can you say? Give the boy a car that works before it's too
late.............Tom H - USA
Malaysia are normally hot races but both tracks WHERE NOT AT THEIR WARMEST,
BOTH BEING OVERCAST SO we haven't seen a race in hot conditions yet so the
Michelins may be running out of time.
Bahrain though may be different. Michael had to go to soft tyres to stay out
front of Juan Pablo so things are hotting up. I would say Bahrain will sort
out the best from the rest on race day (no data), I won't elaborate, those of
you who know me know my who's who list.
Good on you Jensen, bad luck Kimi and Webber.
Yuri what is wrong with the R5, I believe we will se a lot more from the 14
car - Cooky - Australia
Hi All, Well just
as I have said before; Ferrari are Number #1. The Bridgestone Tires are much
better now. I do not know if the Bridgestones are better than their French
tire rivals but they are close enough. The Ferrari has very good power, an
excellent chassis, great reliability and two very good drivers!
It was a bad move by Rubens to use the Harder Compound as the weather played
against him. But the "Hard" tires still produced a 4th place finish.
If Ferrari continues to win and stay close to the front with both cars working
well; both titles are their's.
Bahrain will be another hot one but after that it will be European races. No
abnormal heat this year. It could be many back to back 1 & 2 finishes for
Oh, yeah, by the way, the BMW engine blew-up!!!!!!! Kimi's engine blew-up
too!!!!!! We Ferrari Fans could not ask for better.
I said Button and Bar are a gem. More Power to them.
MS obviously knows not to lose track of preserving the sport. He backed off a
bit at the end to make it close and did not make another runaway laugh of
Ferrari knows what it is doing. "Measured Victories" and don't make
the competition look too poor will preserve the sport, the rules and worldwide
interest. Talk to you soon, Frank P - USA
What a class of
team work with Ferrari; they have shown how good there are and how much the
tires have worked together with the package: MS/BS tires/Ferrari.
Michael Schumacher show why he is the champion and why Ferrari is so
The race was good and more close then the last one, but if you see a year ago
and BS in the heat didn't work that well, and now the Escuderia have a good
chance to do better. why? well if they have a good tire in not so cool
conditions like in Australia and a good tire in the heat and a good wet tire
and the package keep improving... Ferrari have an excellent chance to get the
Championship one more time.
During the race you see a great champion running (MS) making the adjustment's
that he need to make for the car work well and never make it work hard so he
can bring it home. It so great to see that professionally in a race driver
that make you wonder many thoughts.
Button make an excellent race and I think that him and the team deserve it,
and we will see more of that during this season.
I feel sad for Webber, but he has so much potential that he deserve a better
car... I think that will happen next year. Until then...
Go Ferrari!!! Michael Schumacher Champion once more!!!! Seven... big
Just 16 races to go! - Yuri - USA
I don't agree with
your comment Martin, I think its unfair to say that Montoya may be regretting
his move. Remember what everyone said about Schumacher moving to Ferrari for
96, it has turned out to be a stroke of genius.
I truly believe Montoya is the next Senna and will lead McLaren to many titles
he has so much skill and raw speed he will take McLaren to great heights.
Remember there has only been to two races and there are 16! to go.
Personally I can't wait for Raikkonen and Montoya to be racing in the same
team - Adam - England
Malaysia was much
more interesting and enjoyable than Australia.
Well done to Jenson on his maiden podium, lets hope he can score a win by the
end of the season.
It has been surprising how few engine failures there have been with the new
one engine rule, but it must be worrying for Mclaren to have problems in both
races so far.
I wonder if Montoya is beginning to wonder if signing with them was the right
move? - Martin - UK
The race was definitely
more interesting than Melbourne, simply because we had a race this time! When
Montoya passed Barrichello, I thought he was going to overtake Schumacher and
had he been on the same hard tyre as Barrichello he would have done.
Schumacher was a genius to realise this and his gamble payed off. Montoya was
never more than 5 seconds behind him and he is going to be Schumacher's main
title rival this season.
I was DELIGHTED to finally see Button on the podium, he's been so unlucky not
to have been there before now, but very disappointed that Mclaren's Kimi
Raikkonen did not finish due to ANOTHER engine failure. I believe had he been
in a Williams he would have really raced Schumacher as hard as Montoya.
Lets hope the next race in Bahrain will be even closer! - Adam - England
strike on Jenson appeared deliberate and potentially dangerous on the first
lap. Trulli moved about a metre and a half across the track to complete the
manouvre. I was surprised that the commentators did not pick it up sooner.
The race stewards also missed a flagrant and cynical misuse of the rule book.
- Tony H - England
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