Formula One 2004
"Turn up the volume button and enjoy the sound of twenty Formula One cars throwing themselves down towards the first corner... And the 2004 World Championship begins...... NOOOOOOOOW!!!" "Cracking start by Alonso! Look at Alonso on the grass! He's attacking Montoya, but Montoya's fighting back and Alonso has to yield! The two Ferrari's are one and two at the corner......."
That's how the first race of the 2004 season began. I can't forget how awesome that moment was. The adrenaline-pumping, heart-throbbing, fuel-filled bonanza that was making Ferrari so successful that the FIA had to change the rules in 2005 to prevent Ferrari from winning again. And those rules were mostly about the tires and their suppliers.
First, I'd just like to say up front that I'm a massive fan of Ferrari. Which brings me to warn you, dear readers, that most of this blog will be Ferrari-biased. I don't mean to intimidate or look down on other teams, like Williams and McLaren, and their fans. I just personally prefer Ferrari. For me, they are the best. They are simply the best. And if the chance comes that I'm allowed into the doors of Ferrari, I'd take it without a moment's hesitation. That is, of course, if I had a tiny ounce of a chance.
Formula One logo
It's often been said that you're not a car fanatic or a petrol head if you've never heard about or seen a Formula One race. Mind you, Formula One has been around since 1950 and so has Ferrari. Ferrari has been considered inseparable to F1 and it's history and some say that Ferrari is the lifeblood of the sport. It has the most wins (222). Most constructor's championships (16) and driver's championships (15). It has most starts (892). Most fastest laps (231). Most pole positions (207). Most races competed (894).
For crying out loud! If you could think of another team (other than Williams, McLaren, BMW-Sauber, BAR-Honda, Toyota or Mercedes) to come close to Ferrari, I challenge you. And in the spirit of respect, I'd be willing to listen to any team that came close. Just remember to be polite, courteous and respectful.
Have you, dear readers, heard of the high-pitched scream of the 3.0L V-10 engine? Have you heard the quick-shifting (60 milliseconds), 7-speed semi-automatic gearbox? Have you seen the hypersonic accelerations? And have you seen how fast they can go? If not, please see any Youtube video you can of the 2004 season. It is fantastic. It is glorious. It is superb. It is marvelous. I'm running out of words to describe the 2004 season.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? For those of you who don't know, Ferrari was originally founded in 1929 as Scuderia Ferrari by Enzo Ferrari and it was founded as a racing team. Ferrari was officially making street legal cars in 1947, as a strategy to fund the racing team. The company is now owned by Fiat, which holds a massive 90% stake of the company while Piero Ferrari, Enzo's second and only living son, holds a mere 10%.
With $2.3 Billion in revenue in 2012 and about 2,700 employees, average yearly output is 7,000 sports cars. They are currently partnered with Shell Fuels and Pirelli Tires.
An interesting note is that in the 2004 season, the F2004's used Bridgestone tires. Or at least, Reubens Barichello used Bridgestone and Michael Schumacher used Michellins interchangeably between races.
Another interesting little ding-dong is that Lamborghini, Ferrari's eternal rivals, haven't really made a mark in Formula One. Sure, they competed only in one season in 1991 under the preposterous name of Modena Team SpA and an even more preposterous car called the Lambo 291, but have never been heard of since then. I'm also a large fan of Lamborghini and I think it'd be spectacular to watch the eternal rivals in battle, wouldn't you agree?
Prepare the popcorn and soda!
Now, to the Scuderia Ferrari F2004. It is considered by many to be the best and fastest F1 car in the sport's history. Apart from the F2002, which looks almost exactly the same as the F2004, the cars performed almost the same. I actually thought once that the F2002 was just renamed F2004. If you look at their results, it's very similar and identical to one another. Minus a few noticeable differences in lap times here and there, of course, but similar and identical nonetheless.
Some say that the 1,000 horsepower 3.0L V-10's were the best engines of F1. Some say it's the 2.4L V-8 and some even say that the 3.5L V-12's were the best. I don't know what to say about that, but I will tell you something. If you compare the exhaust sounds of the 3 engines, the V-10 just sounds better. Even if the V-8's could rev up to 24,000 rpm and the V-10's were slaved to 20,000 rpm.
And I'm so terribly sorry, but the 1.6L V-6 is just utterly useless and pathetic. Yes, it has 800 horsepower like the V-8's but it's highly dependent on a turbo and an ERS package that makes it's power limited to high revs. The other engines, on the other hand, have a constant power output. And if you listen to the V-6 engines downshifting, bloody hellfire and Holy Mother of Christ, it sounds like an asthmatic breathing through a straw.
The V-6's claim they can rev up to 15,000 rpm, but in an actual race, they rarely go beyond 12,000 rpm. The speeds are noticeably slower. The fastest speed during the 2014 season I saw was 345 km/h. That's only 214 mph. Compare that to the 2004 season and cars could reach 400 km/h or 248 mph. Bar Honda tested their 2004 car somewhere in the desert and had a speed of 413 km/h (256 mph). Some say that Formula One speeds are now blasphemous because they're unbelievably slow.
And now, the gearbox. A powerful 7-speed, plus-one-reverse semiautomatic-sequential, electronically controlled, longitudinally mounted Limited-slip differential. I heard it could shift gears in 60 milliseconds and that's faster than you blinking your eye. And acceleration times? I heard it could accelerate the car from 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in one second flat. Think about that while you're eating Lays or are on a beach in a bikini soaking the sun and sand.
Fun fact: The F2004 was so fast and so powerful that 8 lap records were set in 2004 and still stand to this day. All thanks to Ferrari's engineering pizzazz and reliability and a German named Michael Schumacher.
The 7-time F1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, was arguably the best driver to have raced in the sport. He had the strategy. I had the tactics. He was able to mentally calculate how much fuel was needed, how much time in the racetrack before a refuel, how long the tires would last at speed, when to refuel and how much time to spend refueling all while driving like a bat out of hell. F1 drivers' heartbeats increase from 80-90 bpm to about 140-150 bpm because of all the adrenaline and G forces involved. How he's able to concentrate and multitask while having a heart that's ready to explode is phenomenally superhuman.
I was just saddened when Mike, who's also my childhood hero, ended up in a coma for about a year after the skiing accident in the French Alps. It came with perfect timing too. About two or three weeks after Paul Walkers' tragic death, Schumi nearly died. "Strike two" was what I thought. Bloody damn well scared the daylights out of me. Thankfully, he's alive and well but isn't able to return to the track. That's alright with me. He's made his mark, is part of history and has an enormous legacy. Formula One, Ferrari and Michael Schumacher are inseperable. Last year, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton won. This year, though, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel seem to be showing promise.
As for me, well, the 2004 season will always be the best season. Ever.