After helping move the team towards success after joining in 1996, the Ferrari F1-2000 was the first car to reward Michael Schumacher with championship glory in red.
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Michael Schumacher had moved to Ferrari in 1996 off the back of his title success with Benetton two years previously. The main intention was to push the team back up the order to the front of the grid. With the help of Schumacher, as well as Jean Todt, who was fundamental to Peugeot’s success in the WRC in the eighties, the next few years would see the team getting closer and closer.
Schumacher’s first podium with Ferrari (1996).
Despite the team improving as each year went by, as well as bringing on Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne in 1997, it was not enough to secure either world championship. Williams would go on to take the glory in 1996 and 1997 with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, as McLaren dominated 1998 and 1999 with Mika Häkkinen.
1999 would turn out to be a successful year for Ferrari. Despite Schumacher missing half of the season after breaking a leg in a crash at Silverstone, the team claimed its first constructor's championship since 1983. Eddie Irvine stepped up to lead the Scuderia while Schumacher recovered, but it was not enough to deny Häkkinen a second title.
Numerous improvements were made to the Ferrari F1-2000, including much improved aerodynamics compared to the previous years’ F399. The chassis was designed by Rory Byrne, which included smaller, more rounded side pods to aid cooling of the engine. Aldo Costa, Nikolas Tombazis and Ross Brawn was also part of the production and development of the car. Brawn also held the role of Technical Director at the team as Paolo Martinelli led the engine design.
The F1-2000 was initially a direct development of the previous years’ F399 and F300, using the same seven-speed gearbox found in these cars. The engine was also the same 3.0-L Tipo 049 V10, which was mounted at a 90-degree angle for 2000. This allowed the centre of gravity to be both lowered and improved in the F1-2000.
With the added improvements in aerodynamics over the F399, the F1-2000 also benefited from a new front nose layout, which allowed a flatter underside over the nose layout. This in turn massively aided the airflow over the front of the car.
The 2000 Season
For 2000, Eddie Irvine left the team as Rubens Barrichello joined after positive 1999 season with Stewart that saw him taking three podiums. In the opening three rounds, Schumacher dominated in the new car after McLaren drivers Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard were struck with reliability issues. The team started off perfectly in Melbourne, as Schumacher and Barrichello started the season with a 1-2 finish.
However, the issues would not just be confined to McLaren, as Schumacher retired out of three straight races throughout the middle of the season, allowing Häkkinen and Coulthard to claw back some ground in the points’ standings. At that year’s German Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello took the F1-2000 to his emotional first victory in F1. A dominating drive from 18th enabling the Brazilian to take the chequered flag in top spot in a mixed-conditions race.
After the team overcame its woes at Schumacher’s side of the garage, four straight wins for the German in the final four rounds allowed Schumacher to take the title at the penultimate race in Japan. It was an emotional championship win that saw Schumacher become the first Ferrari champion since Jody Scheckter in 1979.
The season marked the first of five straight driver’s championships for Schumacher at Ferrari and the second of six consecutive titles for Ferrari as a constructor in F1. Schumacher won nine of the 17 races.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.