Formula [1980]

The 2004 Formula One season was one for the history books, and this annual Season Review DVD preserves it all for glorious posterity. Not only did Michael Schumacher score his record-setting seventh World Driver's Championship (13 wins in 18 races), but he and Ferrari teammate Rubens Barichello scored 1st- and 2nd-podium finishes throughout the season, taking the Scuderia to the Constructor's Championship by an untouchable margin. Barichello had a stellar and emotionally moving season that also saw the addition of two glorious new circuits (China, Bahrain); the "walrus tusk" nose on the new BMW Williams racer (eventually abandoned mid-season); the amazing Monaco race, where Jarno Trulli won and Schumacher spectacularly failed to finish due to an avoidable tunnel mishap; Ralf Schumacher's near-tragic shunt at Indianapolis (and his late-season recovery); Kimi Raikkonen's mounting frustrations in the unreliable Mercedes McLaren (and partial late-season comeback); the rise of Jenson Button and Takuma Sato as future F1 superstars; and rule-changes in engine use and qualifying that revamped the grid with equal parts controversy and approval. Even with Schumi's dominance, it was a fantastic season by any standard, setting the stage for tumultuous personnel changes in 2005. The 2004 Review is better and longer (3 hours 14 minutes) than 2003's DVD, with such welcome additions as cockpit radio samples, improved camera angles, and throttle/brake indicators. It's still expensive, however, and although the race-by-race coverage is fantastic, one wishes for more interviews, expert commentary, and behind-the-scenes news. This is a no-nonsense summary, so you don't get as much background as you do on ITV or Speed Channel coverage, and some amusing details--like the missing diamond from Jaguar's "Ocean's Twelve" car--are conspicuously absent. Still, there's no better DVD available for F1 fans, and that makes the 2004 Review an absolute must-have for your motorsports video library. --Jeff Shannon

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