Michael's magnificent seven
If rival teams started the 2004 season hopeful of continuing the gains made on Ferrari the previous season, it proved a false dawn as Ferrari dominated in spectacular fashion, winning a record 12 out of the first 13 races.
The die for the season was cast in Australia where Michael Schumacher led home a Ferrari 1-2.
He followed that up with another victory at Sepang although team-mate Rubens Barrichello finished a surprising fourth behind the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and Jenson Button's BAR Honda.
Normal service was resumed with another Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain before Jenson Button threatened to upset the apple cart by taking pole position in San Marino. And although Button initially built a healthy lead on a lighter fuel load, the German emerged ahead after the first round of pit stops and held on to win on the 10th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death.
Schumacher dominated the Spanish Grand Prix by winning comfortably from pole and more of the same was expected in Monaco, where the German usually reigned supreme. But Renault's Jarno Trulli had different ideas, the Italian winning brilliantly from pole after surviving intense pressure from Jenson Button after Schumacher uncharacteristically crashed out.
Shocked by his Monaco disappointment, Schumacher then put together a seven race winning streak that put the title beyond his rivals. He led home a Ferrari 1-2 at the Nurburgring, Canada and Indianapolis in a dramatic race that saw only eight cars cross the finish line.
In France, Schumacher beat heir apparent Fernando Alonso in a strategic battle before seeing off the challenge of McLaren's Kimi Räikkönen at Silverstone to take his 10th win of the season. Raikkonen seemed set for revenge in Germany before a rear wing failure dashed his chances, leaving Schumacher to win from Button and Alonso.
Schumacher led another Ferrari 1-2 in Hungary to secure Ferrari the constructors' trophy and although Raikkonen finally beat Schumacher to the chequered flag at Spa, second place was enough to guarantee him a seventh drivers' title.
The title in the bag, Schumacher played second fiddle to team-mate Barrichello in the next two rounds, the Brazilian winning in Italy and China, where Schumacher could only manage a 12th place after starting from the pitlane. The Japanese GP weekend was somewhat spoiled by a Typhoon that caused widespread damage to parts of Japan and which saw the postponement of qualifying to the morning of race day. Michael Schumacher took his 13th win when the rain stayed away on race day.
And so to the season finale in Brazil, where Juan Pablo Montoya won on his last outing for the Williams team, securing their last victory to date.
So at the end of a dominant campaign, Schumacher topped the standings with 148 points from Barrichello on 114 points. Jenson Button finished third with 85 points.
The season also marked Olivier Panis's last year in Formula One as a race driver and the Jaguar Racing team and engine manufacturer Ford's final season in F1.