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The winners and losers of 2004 26 Oct 2004

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR Honda 005 finished in 2nd place.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 25 July 2004 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, 8 May 2004 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams BMW FW26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Practice, 28 May 2004 Bjorn Wirdheim (SWE) Jaguar Test Driver.
French Grand Prix, Rd 10, Practice, Magny Cours, France, 2 July 2004

Who was on the up, and who was heading down...

Which teams have gained ground and which have gone backwards this season in relation to their 2003 performances? We take a look.

Ferrari
2004: 1st, 262 points
2003: 1st, 158 points
Position – no change, points – plus 104

A near perfect campaign for the world champions, with a record sixth consecutive constructors’ title and drivers’ crown number seven for Michael Schumacher, though they didn’t quite manage to beat McLaren’s 1988 record of 15 wins in a season. After being pushed all the way last year, they responded in crushing fashion, adding over 100 points to their 2003 tally.

BAR
2004: 2nd, 119 points
2003: 5th, 26 points
Position – plus 3, points – plus 93

The surprise of 2004 and arguably the biggest winners. They had looked good in pre-season testing, but no one expected them to be quite so strong in race form. Unlike closest rivals Renault, they went from strength to strength as the year progressed, taking a total of 11 podium finishes and scoring more points than in all their previous seasons put together.

Renault
2004: 3rd, 105 points
2003: 4th, 88 points
Position – plus one, points – plus 17

As Ferrari’s traditional challengers McLaren and Williams faltered, Renault continued where they left off in 2003, taking the fight to the champions. Jarno Trulli scored a well-deserved maiden win in Monaco, but then the team’s fortunes began to wane – or at least Trulli’s did, culminating in his departure before the year was out. But despite their progress slowing, the team did better their target of a top four finish. However, being beaten by BAR was not part of the Renault script.

Williams
2004: 4th, 88 points
2003: 2nd, 144 points
Position – minus 2, points – minus 56

Major disappointment for the BMW-powered squad, who found themselves overshadowed by upstarts BAR and Renault. They worked hard to improve a fundamentally flawed car and eventually that work paid off, with victory in Brazil. It was too little too late though and couldn’t prevent them dropping to their lowest championship position in five years.

McLaren
2004: 5th, 69 points
2003: 3rd, 142 points
Position – minus 2, points – minus 73

A disastrous start to the season, from which no one expected them to recover. Confounding the critics, however, they went from zeroes to heroes, becoming only the second team of the season to beat Ferrari at Spa. From there the strong form continued, but the similar revival in Williams’ form meant fifth place was as high as they would go. Year on year, the biggest losers of 2004.

Sauber
2004: 6th, 34 points
2003: 6th, 19 points
Position – no change, points – plus 15

No move up the table, but real progress from the Swiss team, reaping the benefits of their new wind tunnel facility. Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella both put in some sterling drives, the highlight being fourth and fifth places in Belgium. They had McLaren worried for a while and were definitely in a different league to the four teams behind them.

Jaguar
2004: 7th, 10 points
2003: 7th, 18 points
Position – no change, points – minus 8

Hard to draw positives from Jaguar’s season, given owners Ford’s decision to pull the plug at the end of the year. There were some though – they stayed ahead of the far-better financed Toyota squad, and were not upstaged by fellow Ford team Jordan. And Mark Webber’s second on the grid in Malaysia and his third at Suzuka were simply inspired.

Toyota
2004: 8th, 9 points
2003: 8th, 16 points
Position – no change, points – minus 7

Not the move up the grid the Japanese had hoped for, but some would say it’s still early days for Mike Gascoyne’s technical team. Five different race drivers in the course of the season did not make for great continuity and they came agonisingly close to matching Jaguar’s ten-point haul for the year. Had it not been for a disqualification in Canada, they would have done it.

Jordan
2004: 9th, 5 points
2003: 9th, 13 points
Position – no change, points – minus 8

Given that Eddie Jordan’s team unexpectedly won a race in 2003, they were always going to struggle relatively this season. And so it proved. Nick Heidfeld’s seventh at Monaco was well earned, while Williams’ and Toyota’s disqualification in Montreal helped lift both cars into the points.

Minardi
2004: 10th, 1 point
2003: 10th, 0 points
Position – no change, points – plus 1

Just a single point, but as is often said, at Minardi, scoring a point is the equivalent of winning the world championship at Ferrari. It came courtesy of Zsolt Baumgartner and eighth place at the US Grand Prix and was the first for the team since the start of 2002 when Mark Webber finished fifth in Melbourne.