Ferrari was raring to go at the start of the 2000 Formula 1 season, fully aware of its highly competitive package. Eddie Irvine had joined Jaguar, and the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was set to race alongside Michael Schumacher. The team made a blistering start.: Schumacher won the first three races of the season, with McLaren coming back into the picture with victories in Britain and Spain and Ferrari triumphing again in the European and Canadian Grand Prix. The lead was remarkable: Schumacher was on 56 points, followed by Coulthard with 34 and Hakkinen 32.
It was a very busy July, with the French, Austrian and German Grand Prix. Schumacher had a very unlucky month: at Magny-Cours, Michael led for two thirds of the race before his F1-2000’s V10 engine broke down. It was even worse in Austria and Germany. At the A1 Ring he was bumped by the BAR of Ricardo Zonta sending him into a spin and into the path of the Jordan of Jarno Trulli who he couldn’t avoid, while in Germany the Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella collided with him. With zero points from three races Coulthard and Hakkinen were just two points behind the Ferrari driver. The Scuderia was kept afloat by Barrichello who at Hockenheim, after starting in 18th, won his first victory in Formula 1 racing with dry tyres despite the rain falling on half the almost seven kilometres of track. Hakkinen won at the Hungaroring beating Michael and taking two-point lead on him in the standings. The next race was at Spa-Francorchamps. The Finn dominated in qualifying and took command at the start of the race on a drying track. On lap 13 Hakkinen spun after his wheels slid on a wet white stripe: Schumacher took advantage to move into the lead. At that point, the McLaren driver launched a furious comeback and was right on the tail of the Ferrari with eight laps to go.
Hakkinen attacked a couple of times, but Schumacher held him off, helped by the Ferrari’s top speed. On the 40th lap the pair were about to lap the BAR of Zonta: Schumacher chose the fastest path down the Kemmel straight and attacked on the outside. But Hakkinen went for broke down the other side. Zonta saw a red sliver shoot by to his left and a silver lightning overtake on the right. Hakkinen pulled off the best overtake of his career to cross the finish line first and establish a six-point lead in the standings. The McLaren driver sought to seal the deal at Monza, while the Ferrari had to get a result. Schumacher won pole position, victory and the fastest lap in a sad race marred by the death of the CEA fire fighter, Paolo Gislimberti, hit on the head by a wheel of the Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen. It was Michael’s 41st career-win and the German was moved when he realised he had equalled Ayrton Senna’s record. The World Championship was still open: two points separated the Ferrari from McLaren’s two-time world champion.
The first US Grand Prix on the new circuit in the Indianapolis basin raised great hopes for Ferrari. With a one-two and the withdrawal of Hakkinen, Schumacher moved into an eight-point lead. Michael took pole on 8 October in Japan, but Hakkinen pulled ahead at the start. He needed to remedy the situation with strategy because it is nigh on impossible to overtake on the track. Ross Brawn put in extra fuel at the first pit stop to give Schumacher three laps of clear track before the second stop. The McLaren went into the pits and Michael drove at a frenetic pace. When the Ferrari left the pits after the break, Hakkinen was just starting out on the straight and the deal was done! Fans worldwide spent the last 13 laps with their hearts in their mouths. In Italy it was 6:59 am: it marked the end of a 21-year barren spell dating back to Jody Scheckter’s victory in 1979. In Maranello, the bells rang and everyone was celebrating in the streets: it was dawn but the traffic outside the Scuderia headquarters was like rush hour. Two weeks later, in Malaysia, Schumacher and Barrichello, first and third, confirmed Ferrari’s win in the Constructors’ World Championship.