On 10th October 2004, Michael Schumacher won the Japanese Grand Prix. Having already got the title in the bag in the summer, Michael had witnessed his team-mate take two consecutive wins in Monza and Shanghai. While Rubens’ Italian win had gone down well, the one in China had been harder to digest for the German multi-champion, mainly because Michael had not been on his usual form, especially in qualifying. So there was a great need for redemption and the round at Suzuka would fit the bill, it being a circuit where the talents of the seven times world champion shone even brighter than usual.
Schumacher arrived in Japan keen to show that the title had not sated his desire and he certainly did just that. Because of the arrival of the Ma-On typhoon, the circuit was shut down on Saturday and qualifying took place on Sunday morning. Michael was imperious, beating his brother Ralf to pole by almost half a second. A few hours later, his dominance was repeated, with the Ferrari man leading for all 53 laps. Only right at the end did Michael slow down a bit, allowing those behind to eventually close to within 30 seconds.
“It’s been a historic day,” said Michael after the race. “Pole and the win on the same day, it was definitely exciting, but I have to say that I prefer the normal format for the weekend, in that the pressure was very high on the engineers and the mechanics! We wanted to do well here to thank Bridgestone for the huge efforts they have made for us. And also my poor result in Shanghai, allowed me to do the prequalifying run at a time when the track was improving. We knew we could run at a good pace in the race, but after the start, I had Ralf in my mirrors for longer than I had expected: clearly he was not giving up. Because we didn’t run yesterday, it was difficult to work out the best choices in terms of the strategy and, before the start, I was a bit concerned. But in the end, everything went well and I had a completely trouble free race.”