Michael Schumacher, the best driver in Ferrari’s history

Michael Schumacher was born in Huerth-Hermuehlheim, Germany, on January 3, 1969, into a family of modest social and economic conditions.

His father Rolf, a passionate mechanic and owner of a Go-Kart circuit in Kerpen, passes on his passion for racing to Michael and his second son Ralf. Following his results in kart racing, in 1984 Michael was contacted by an entrepreneur called Jurgen Dilk, who was impressed by the young German's talent and decided to support him financially.

In the following years he won both the German junior title and the European Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden. The leap in quality took place in 1988 and Michael made his debut on single-seaters with the help of Jurgen Dilk.

The results obtained did not go unnoticed, and the German began to enjoy an excellent reputation as a driver.

In the same year, Michael participated in three championships: in the German and European Formula Ford series, with which he obtained respectively a sixth and a second-place finish, being beaten by Mika Salo; and in Formula Konig, winning nine out of ten races in the latter, becoming champion, thus repaying the efforts made by Gustav Hoecker, the Lamborghini dealer who allowed him to race in this series as well.

Unfortunately, the driver's talent is faced with the problem of budget, which is not enough to compete in the next season in Formula 3. Dilk and Michael seem resigned when - in 1989 - an owner of a Formula 3 team, called Willi Weber, was amazed from the talent of the German, offers him a two-year contract to compete in Formula 3.

At his debut in the German Formula 3 Championship, Michael immediately battled for the title, but was beaten by Karl Wendlinger by only one point, having to be content with a second-place finish.

In 1990 Schumacher continues to compete in the category by winning the title, and obtaining two very prestigious extra-championship victories at the Macau Grand Prix and the Mount Fuji Grand Prix. At the end of the season, the German takes over under the protective wing of Mercedes, which allows him to win the first world championship race of his career, namely the 480 km of Mexico City on the C11 Group C, paired with Jochen Mass.

Initially, Mercedes aims to return to Formula One after retiring in 1955, with Michael as the lead driver. But the high costs made Mercedes abandon this project, and the German thus raced in the World Sports Prototype in the following year.

In 1991 the occasion for the debut in Formula One took place. Jordan needs a driver to replace Bertrand Gachot in the Belgian Grand Prix, under arrest in London due to a fight with a taxi driver due to an accident.

Mercedes hands Eddie Jordan the German driver. But in order for the Irish team to approve this candidacy, first Eddie Jordan gives Schumacher a quick shake-down at Silverstone, and later Willi Weber, manager of the German, assures that Michael knew perfectly the Belgian track, declaring later twenty years later that he was not at all so:

"I told Eddie that Michael knew Spa like the back of his hand, living just a few kilometers from the track. But that wasn't true. Later the lie was exposed, but at that point it didn't matter, as Michael had set seventh time in qualifying".

Michael gets a chance and uses it in the best way possible, stunning the world for the first time with a resounding seventh place in qualifying. Unfortunately, the magic did not have a sequel, the race lasted only a hundred meters due to the breaking of the clutch.

Fatality has it that Schumacher, at the end of the warm-up, had reported a problem of clutch slip, but Eddie Jordan replied to the German driver:

"It costs too much, keep that".

Michael Schumacher is noticed by everyone in the Formula 1 world, and in particular by Flavio Briatore, director of Benetton, who offers him a contract for the following season and the following ones, joining Nelson Piquet. The contractual practice with the Jordan team ended with an exchange between drivers, at Benetton Michael Schumacher, and at Jordan Roberto Moreno.

"I immediately called Willy Weber, we met in London and we closed the deal. It was a big drama for Eddie Jordan, because he thought he had a contract with Schumi, and he was very greedy. The first time he ran with us was in Monza. I proposed. Roberto Moreno to pay him for the whole season, so at the end of the year he would have been out of the team, complete with a bonus to leave the seat to Michael. But he didn't agree, and this was a problem. First of all, with Piquet, with whom I had a big argument, because he didn't want Moreno's dismissal. And I was also close to sending Piquet away to take Zanardi, our test driver at the time. We were able to get Michael into the car, because he didn't have a contract, and he was immediately incredibly fast. The engineers came to me and said: Boss, he was right, this guy is fantastic. I thought: Why, I've been here for three years, these people have been there for twenty years…".

"There was a lot of talk in the newspapers in those days about the Schumacher controversy, and Senna was also against me, again because Moreno was Brazilian. I told Luciano Benetton that having him in the team was the only way for us to win a championship, with a talent that grew with us. Michael was able to motivate everyone, he was immediately faster than Nelson. We realized we had an exceptional driver in the team. I asked the designers to make an honest car, then Michael would have put in those three-four tenths that they would have made a difference. We started building the team and winning races. He never gave up".

"I remember that he was the first with excellent physical preparation. For this reason, I decided to build a gym for him in the factory. He never gave up, if the car had a problem, he thought about how to solve it. Other drivers would have said: The car is shit. He talked to the engineers for hours, putting pressure on him but in a positive way".

"My relationship with him was super. I fought for him. The night before Monza we were at Villa d'Este, with Eddie Jordan and Bernie Ecclestone. It was the first time I saw Bernie drunk, jumping from my sofa to that of Eddie to try and sort it out. This was Formula One. Bernie had no idea who Michael Schumacher was. Nobody was convinced of Michael's choice, they told me he was too young, too much this, too much that. I was very determined, everyone was doubtful".

In the following race at Monza the German collects his first championship points, finishing fifth at the finish. In subsequent races, Schumacher will finish sixth in both Spain and Portugal.

In 1992 the German began to enter the top positions of the standings, giving rise to a heated rivalry with the Brazilian champion Ayrton Senna. The rivalry between the Brazilian and the German started already in the early stages of the season, when in Brazil Michael accused Senna of incorrect behavior (slowdowns actually due to electronic problems in the McLaren Honda engine), and especially in France, when Michael hit the Brazilian on the first lap: following the interruption of the race due to rain, Senna argued animatedly with the German, reproaching him for his behavior in Brazil, and asking him for explanations while they were on the grid waiting for a restart (the German following contact managed to continue the race).

The rivalry also continues at Hockenheim in Germany during the tests, when Senna accuses the German of having dangerously hindered him during a fast lap, finding him in full trajectory. This happens a few days after Magny Cours. The Brazilian, furious, showed up in the Benetton pits and took the German by the collar of his suit.

The 1992 season is undoubtedly excellent for Schumacher, given that with three races to go, with the world championship already awarded to Nigel Mansell, Schumacher is involved in the fight for the second position in the standings: with only three Grands Prix remaining, the German leads Senna and Patrese only one length apart. In the end, Patrese managed to finish second, while Schumacher had to settle for third in the world rankings, ahead of Senna, who was betrayed on several occasions by an often-unreliable McLaren.

Already in the first full season in Formula 1, Schumacher manages to place himself firmly in the leading positions, obtaining his first career podium (third) already at the second Grand Prix, raced in Mexico, up to the first victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.

At Spa, Schumacher starts third, but at the start it is Senna who takes the lead ahead of Mansell and Patrese. The two Williams drivers manage to overtake Senna in the following laps, but after a few laps it starts to rain; most of the drivers immediately return to the pits to mount wet tires, while Senna stays on track until lap 10, hoping that the rain will quickly stop falling. The gamble does not pay and the Brazilian has to stop in the pits, returning to the track far behind. Mansell is therefore in the lead ahead of Patrese and Schumacher. But when the track begins to dry up, Schumacher is one of the first to mount slick tires, while the two Williams drivers hesitate, losing a lot of time.

When Mansell finally decided to change tires, it was too late: Schumacher took the lead. The British driver quickly recovered on his rival, but then he was slowed down by problems with an exhaust and had to slow down, contenting himself with second place.

Schumacher wins for the first time in his career on the circuit where he made his debut the previous year:

"I can't describe my emotions. Today when I was in my motorhome, I felt that I could win this race. And I'm happy I won not because the others had accidents or had car problems. I won this race alone".

In 1993 Michael renewed for two seasons with Benetton, declaring that he had inserted a clause that established the desire not to have teammates like Senna or Mansell, to avoid internal competitions. This season, Benetton gets an exclusive supply of Ford engines, superior to the customer version supplied to McLaren, which instead benefits from the British Grand Prix. This allowed the German driver to obtain a good consistency of results, often finishing the races on the podium and giving good hope for a future competitiveness of the car in order to fit among the contenders for the title.

The 1993 vintage ended with a victory on the Estoril circuit, a circumstance in which Alain Prost became world champion for the fourth time and announced his retirement from racing.

In 1994, all eyes were on Ayrton Senna's Williams, who was a sure winner of the Formula One World Championship. Unfortunately, however, the fate of the two Formula One stars, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna take opposite paths: the German finds the victory of his first world title, while the Brazilian star disappears following the tragic accident in Imola.

Following that event, Flavio Briatore stated that Michael seriously thought about retiring, only to rethink and become president of the Grand Prix Driver Association, which reformed after twelve years by the will of the Brazilian driver himself.

"Schumacher changed after Senna passed away. He had even seriously considered retiring. Fortunately for all of us, however, he has decided to continue".

1994 is the year of the German's first title. Schumacher immediately wins the first four races in Brazil, Japan (Aida), Italy (Imola), and in Monte Carlo, gets a second place in Spain with the gearbox locked in fifth gear, and returns to win in Canada and France. After seven races, the German's advantage over his immediate rival, Damon Hill, is 37 points (66 points against 29 for the English driver).

However, at Silverstone the German driver was disqualified after passing Hill in the reconnaissance lap and failing to serve the penalty imposed on him by the stewards, and suspended for two races. However, the FIA ​​accepts the request not to suspend the German for subsequent races. Briatore, who asks to serve his sentence in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza (a circuit that would have been hostile to the Ford-powered Benetton, against the powerful Ferrari and Renault engines) and Portugal, obtains what is proposed also following the huge following of the public that Michael would get at the next German Grand Prix.

After retiring due to engine problems in Germany, Schumacher returned to win in Hungary and Spa, but at the end of this last race the German was disqualified by the FIA ​​commissioners for excessive consumption of the car's wooden bottom. The victory therefore goes to the second classified Damon Hill, who with this triumph reduces to 21 points away from the summit.

In the following Grand Prix, thanks to the disqualification remedied in Great Britain, Hill reduces the gap from the top to just one point, but at Jerez Schumacher gets another victory thanks to an excellent strategy: in fact, Schumacher took the lead after the stops at box and gave Hill no chance.

Instead, the strategy dictated by the Benetton garage will slow down the German's title race at the penultimate round of the championship. In Japan it rains, and Schumacher, who started from pole, commands the race. However, after a while the safety car enters the track and the drivers follow suit. Martin Brundle, however, goes off the track and runs over a course commissioner. It is then decided for a new start, with the final classification calculated by the sum of the times.

Schumacher is in the lead, but Hill's strategy with one more stop, albeit significantly slower than his rival in the wet, relegates him to second place just four seconds behind. We arrive at the last appointment with Hill and Schumacher divided by a single point.

In Australia the pole position is for Nigel Mansell, but Michael Schumacher, second in qualifying and also unscathed from a bad accident in Friday practice, is the fastest at the start, immediately taking the lead. In the first part of the race the German driver manages to stay in the lead, keeping an advantage over Damon Hill of about a second.

The pace is demonic, and on lap 35, at the East Terrace curve, the German hits the wall with the right front tire and damages the suspension; back on track, at the next corner, he closes the trajectory to the oncoming Damon Hill who tries to brake, but the collision is inevitable. Schumacher flies through the air, then ends up with the nose of his car in the escape route, in front of a stack of tires, while Hill manages to continue.

However, it soon becomes clear that the British car was also damaged. And while Michael, leaning on the safety net, is desperate because he is convinced he has lost the championship, Damon returns to the pits. The mechanics quickly realize that there is serious damage to the left front suspension wishbone arm: it would have taken at least fifteen minutes to replace it.

The accident, at the center of numerous controversies over the alleged intention of the German driver to voluntarily damage his rival, was immediately judged as a normal race contact. Michael Schumacher wins his first title keeping a point behind his rival in the drivers' standings.

"I dedicate this championship to the great Ayrton Senna".

Schumacher then said, stumbling over the sentences and swearing, incredulous at the luck that had happened to him:

"My car was understeering, difficult to drive. However, I thought I would be able to pull off Damon. Instead, I found myself passing some laps and he was always there. I went over a small bump and the car started off to one side. I checked it but ended up on the grass and then against the wall. I felt like I could continue, I took the bend when I saw that Damon was right beside me. We hit each other. I flew into the air and was afraid of It was a terrible moment, because my rival was moving forward. Then I heard on the speaker that he had a problem. When I saw Mansell pass two or three times in front of me without Hill, I understood... ".

"This year I made heavy comments against Damon, I said I didn't respect him. I have to admit I was wrong, because what he has done in the last two races and for what he must have endured before has been exceptional. I was a great opponent and I'm sorry for what I said about him. I want to congratulate him. For my part I don't think I have forsaken the title. Basically, I skipped four races and fought hard all season, even winning when it seemed very difficult. When Senna was there, I thought he would win the title. He was a good driver like no other".

In the 1995 season, Benetton fitted the same Renault V10 engine used by Williams. The first phase of the world championship is controversial: in Brazil the German wins the race, thanks also to Hill's retirement, but the victory is initially canceled due to non-compliance of the fuel used; the final decision of the FIA ​​however is to confirm the drivers 'placement and to subtract the points from the teams for the constructors' championship. After a bad accident in Imola, Schumacher returns to victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, while at Silverstone (as will happen later in Monza) he is hit by Hill while they were fighting for the first place. After eight races Schumacher was leading the standings with 11 points clear of his English rival.

Schumacher makes himself the protagonist of one of his most beautiful victories at Spa-Francorchamps. The German driver wins the race starting from sixteenth place and duelling for several laps on a wet track with dry tires against Hill, equipped instead with rain tires.

After a second place and a victory in the European Grand Prix, the German conquers his second title with two races to spare in Japan, at the Aida Circuit in the Pacific Grand Prix.

For 1996 Ferrari carried out a thorough internal overhaul, starting with the technicians and drivers, with the aim of bringing the titles back to Maranello, which have been missing since 1979 (the drivers one) and since 1983 (the constructors one).

Schumacher’s debut in Ferrari, however, is not easy. Tense weather and an important technical gap compared to the English teams are the conditions the German has to deal with in order to fulfil the arduous challenge of bringing the horse back to glory.

The car has the biggest problem in reliability, as well as not being able to properly manage the wear of the rear tires. Despite this, Michael wins three podiums in the first five races. The German does not give up and gets a pole position in Monaco, while the race sees him retired already on the first lap after slipping on a wet curb that leads him to hit the barriers.

The first victory, almost unexpected, comes at the Spanish Grand Prix, under the flood. Following a bad start, the German is the protagonist of an incredible comeback, gaining almost 5 seconds per lap in the leading group and winning the race with one minute behind Jean Alesi who finished second.

It must be said that bad luck helped Schumacher, since during the race, starting from lap 25, a spark plug, probably also due to the humid conditions, stopped working, favoring better traction control of the car.

After the exhilarating Sunday in the rain, Schumacher celebrates, as soon as he arrives home in Monte Carlo, toasting with a non-alcoholic beer:

"Then I took a walk with my dogs, Jenny and Floh. And I thought about the race. What happened. At that moment, for the first time, I realized I had one of the best races of my career. But it wasn't just the driver's success. We won that first place together, me and the team. However, we are not in place yet, we need to improve. The car is too sensitive and its behavior varies from circuit to circuit".

The success is followed by five races in which the German can only collect 3 points due to the lack of reliability of the F310. Schumacher returns to success on the track that had seen him debut a few years earlier, namely Spa.

The German was the author of a solid and error-free race, despite the fact that the steering was damaged during the race and the steering wheel remained wrong. But the greater power of the new engine that allows greater wing loading and the seven-speed gearbox, the German brings Ferrari back to the top step of the podium.

"I wasn't expecting it. I'm the first to be surprised. The goal was to finish the race and, at most, to get some points. We weren't faster than Williams, but obviously we managed to keep the same pace and we won by guessing everything".

"The start was excellent. Now the clutch system works well. I could have attacked Villeneuve too, but I was on the outside and I was forced to tag along. In the beginning, to keep up with Villeneuve, I hit the curbs of the chicane. At one point I felt that the steering was no longer perfect and the steering wheel was a bit crooked. I was afraid of having to pit, because at Eau Rouge and Blanchimont, the two most dangerous points on the circuit, I felt that I was missing a I had some control over the car. I consulted with the box on the radio and they reassured me, but I could no longer cut corners as I wanted".

"When the safety car went out for the Verstappen accident, I knew it. But we didn't change anything about the strategy, because I was expected to stop right on that lap. The tank told me that it was almost dry. In the second stop we anticipated Villeneuve and at that moment I pushed hard to pass the Canadian. I reached the Source corner, he came out of the garage in front of me, but I was launched and faster. And I stayed in first position. position. Then Jacques attacked me, but my car was fine and I was able to resist".

"We had a really efficient engine and it was possible to fit a wing with more downforce. Then during the race on the asphalt, a lot of rubber landed, and this allowed us to have better grip. So, the rivals were less good than us in strategies. And there is the circuit factor: fast corners are my specialty. The new 7-speed gearbox also helped me, with which I can drive better according to my characteristics. Maybe it's all together. I also ask if there has not been a part of luck. It takes that too in life".

"When I came to Ferrari, I knew exactly that it was going to be a difficult season. As indeed it has proved so far. In fact, I hope, write it down, that the first place at Francorchamps does not create too many expectations for Monza".

"As far as the team is concerned, everything is as I expected. Great potential, very good programs, great progress possible. The fans find them a bit too emotional. In some respects, there is a lack of respect for the person. The joy must never change. in an excess. In Monza everyone tries to touch me, one guy even tried to kiss me on the mouth. At least it was a beautiful girl...".

The success is repeated in Ferrari's home race in Monza, certainly not without some thrills, given that during the race it hits the protective tires placed in the first chicane, to which are added two podiums in the remaining two seasonal races, confirming the growth exponential of the whole team. The season sees Ferrari and Michael in third place with three wins, three second places in San Marino, Japan and the European Grand Prix, and two third places in Brazil and Portugal, for a total of 59 points.

The 1997 saw Williams slightly advantage over Ferrari, which however found the reliability necessary to fight for the title with the F310B, also thanks to the arrival of South African designer Rory Byrne.

Williams at the beginning of the season is faster than Ferrari, but after only 4 races the German's gap from the top is only 6 points. The start of the comeback took place at the Monaco Grand Prix, where Schumacher took a legendary victory, beating Barrichello, second, for almost a minute. Schumacher obtained the same result in Canada, after the race was interrupted due to the accident that occurred to Olivier Panis, and in France where, thanks to the rain, he managed to stretch over his rival in the standings, reaching 14 points ahead.

From the next race, the gap between Schumacher and Villeneuve always remains constant, never exceeding 14 points.

After a retirement at Silverstone, a second place in Germany, and a fourth place in Hungary, Michael gets another victory in Belgium, once again disputing one of the most beautiful races of his career, trimming an abysmal gap towards the second classified (a full 26 seconds). Twenty minutes before the start there is a sudden downpour, but during the race the track dries up as you approach the first series of pit stops. Taking advantage of the changing conditions, Michael Schumacher keeps a pace unapproachable for everyone, mortgaging the victory.

From the Monza Grand Prix onwards, however, Jacques Villeneuve, helped by Schumacher's mistake in Austria, in which he does not realize he is overtaking Frentzen under the yellow flag, and by the error of his brother Ralf who buffers him in the Grand Prix of Luxembourg, recovers the disadvantage and overtakes the German driver in the standings, reaching a good 9 points behind.

At the penultimate round, the Canadian Williams driver has his first world championship match point, but does not take advantage of it due to a post-race disqualification caused by overtaking under the yellow flag during free practice on Saturday morning.

During the session, Verstappen stands still on the straight and the stewards wave the yellow flags of danger. The first six drivers who pass do not slow down and are then sanctioned according to article 4. The penalty, as always, is associated with the conditional until the end of the season: among the six drivers there is Jacques Villeneuve, who already runs with the conditional having undergone a similar provision at the San Marino Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix. Being a repeat offender, the disqualification is triggered, but Villeneuve is still made to run sub judice, only to be disqualified for what happened in free practice. Schumacher thus finds himself at the head of the world championship, with a point of advantage, postponing the assignment of the drivers' championship to the last race in Jerez de la Frontera.

During the qualifying a curious fact occurs: Villeneuve, Schumacher and Frentzen get the same time valid for pole position, 1'27"072, but the start from pole is given to the Canadian as he had set the time first.

The race was dominated for a large part by Michael Schumacher, until the engine of his car accused of problems related to the water pump. The German is joined by Villeneuve, who is in second position after the tire change, and on lap 48 at the Dry Sec corner, the Canadian attacks the Ferrari driver, surprising him. Michael attempts a maneuver similar to the one performed in Adelaide in 1994, but this time the outcome will be different.

The German hit Williams when the overtaking was now complete, damaging the right front suspension and going off the track, compromising any chance of winning the race.

Villeneuve's Williams manages to continue the race, even if the Canadian driver slows down the pace so that the damaged car takes him to the checkered flag. In fact, it will be discovered that the car's battery remained attached only to the electric wires, and that therefore an aggressive driving would have compromised the Canadian's race.

The drivers title is therefore assigned to Jaques Villeneuve, while the constructors title goes to the English team.

In 1998 the team to beat is McLaren, which presents a very competitive car thanks to the arrival of the British designer Adrian Newey. The English team seems indisputable, making two braces in the first two races, while Ferrari wins in Argentina.

This superiority was also given by the third pedal which allowed the braking force to be divided between the right and left side, a solution later defined as illegal and introduced by McLaren with activation by means of a button on the steering wheel.

The technical gap with the Woking manufacturer seems unbridgeable, but Ferrari and the German make an incredible comeback starting from the Argentine Grand Prix, which will last for the whole season.

In Buenos Aires, Ferrari presents various modifications to the car, in particular to the engine, rear and radiators, while the Goodyear increases the width of the front tires, allowing Schumacher to qualify in the front row behind Coulthard. And, despite Coulthard and Häkkinen surprising Schumacher at the start, the German attacks the Finn and passes him back to the variant, then throws himself in pursuit of the Scotsman, forcing him to make a mistake. On the fifth lap, Coulthard misses the corner entry and the German throws himself into the gap left free by his rival. The Scotsman closes the trajectory and the two engage, but the McLaren driver has the worst, who spins and starts sixth again.

At the head of the race, Schumacher is constantly lapping faster than Häkkinen, until the rain turns the track slippery at the end. The German goes long in the gravel but controls the car and returns to the track, winning the race.

After a second place in Imola, and a third place in Barcelona, a contact with Wurz's Benetton in Monte Carlo precludes a good place on the podium. On lap 37, the Austrian driver is slowed down by some laps and is put by Schumacher at the Loews. Wurz resists turning and goes back to the Portier, but Schumacher doesn't give up and tries to overtake again; once again the cars touch each other and the German's suspension is damaged.

Schumacher returns to the pits, getting out of his car, but technical director Ross Brawn invites him to get back in the car while the mechanics carry out the repair, which costs him two laps late.

But finally, after these last few races in the shadows, in the following appointments Michael gets three consecutive victories in Canada, France and Great Britain, where a few minutes from the end, the stewards inflict a Stop&Go on the German driver. However, the communication with the Ferrari garage is rather chaotic and on the last lap, to general amazement, Michael Schumacher crosses the finish line passing into the pit lane to serve the penalty, winning the race. McLaren will file a formal complaint for this action, which will be rejected by the FIA as there was no material time for Ferrari to serve the penalty to its driver for a delay in communicating it.

Following this episode, the sporting regulations will be modified with the imposition of 25 seconds on the final time for non-discounted infractions during the race. Thanks to this victory, the thirty-first in his career, Schumacher reopens the Championship, taking only two points behind Häkkinen.

This is followed by a third place in Austria and again a victory in Hungary. The German, however, fails to overtake Mika Häkkinen in the standings, despite the fact that he could have taken advantage of the Finnish driver's retirement at Spa. In the rain, during the first start, Coulthard's loss of control of the car triggers an accident involving almost all the drivers.

At the restart of the race, Häkkinen and Schumacher touch each other, with the Finn spinning and being hit by Herbert's Sauber. The race continues in extreme conditions, contacts, errors, spin, Verstappen's Ford engine explodes, while in the lead Michael Schumacher laps with times unattainable for any other driver. Indeed, Schumacher is preparing to round Coulthard's McLaren, just stopped in the pits for problems.

It seems like a triumphal day for the German, until on the straight towards Pouhon, the McLaren driven by Coulthard slows down abruptly on a very wet section and the German, having reduced visibility, hits the rear of the Scottish driver's car.

Following this episode, the sporting regulations will be modified with the imposition of 25 seconds on the final time for non-discounted infractions during the race. Thanks to this victory, the thirty-first in his career, Schumacher reopens the Championship, taking only two points behind Häkkinen.

This is followed by a third place in Austria and again a victory in Hungary. The German, however, fails to overtake Mika Häkkinen in the standings, despite the fact that he could have taken advantage of the Finnish driver's retirement at Spa. In the rain, during the first start, Coulthard's loss of control of the car triggers an accident involving almost all the drivers.

At the restart of the race, Häkkinen and Schumacher touch each other, with the Finn spinning and being hit by Herbert's Sauber. The race continues in extreme conditions, contacts, errors, spin, Verstappen's Ford engine explodes, while in the lead Michael Schumacher laps with times unattainable for any other driver. Indeed, Schumacher is preparing to round Coulthard's McLaren, just stopped in the pits for problems.

It seems like a triumphal day for the German, until on the straight towards Pouhon, the McLaren driven by Coulthard slows down abruptly on a very wet section and the German, having reduced visibility, hits the rear of the Scottish driver's car.

The 1999 seems to be a good year, even if the start is not the best. In Melbourne, Michael Schumacher's race was compromised by a series of gearbox problems already during the reconnaissance lap. Problems that force the German to start from the back of the grid similar to what happened in the last round of the previous season.

Schumacher tries to recover, until a cut tire and a bent front wing force him to make an unexpected first stop; a few laps from the end, a second unscheduled stop to replace the steering wheel, due to electronic problems, slows it down further. Schumacher thus closes the race in last place.

The second Grand Prix of the season sees Mika Häkkinen returning to victory, thanks to a winning strategy that allowed the Finn to delay the stop by two laps compared to Michael Schumacher.

But in the next two races, also thanks to a bit of luck, Schumacher returns to victory. At Imola, McLaren is confirmed as the most competitive car and for the third consecutive time, at the end of qualifying, both cars are in the front row.

At the start Häkkinen took the lead and accumulated, lap after lap, a great advantage over his rivals. However, during the seventeenth lap, the Finn skids on the curb of the last variant and crashes into the barriers and retires. Coulthard finds himself in command, followed by Schumacher but the German, thanks to an excellent strategy, manages to get ahead of the Scottish driver at the end of the pinwheel of the stops.

Sixteen years later, the Maranello team returns to win on the Imola circuit.

In Monte Carlo, Ferrari and Schumacher dominate the race, winning a historic double. The German completes his masterpiece with an incredible start. After that, the Ferrari driver begins to gain an ever-greater advantage lap after lap. For the reigning world champion there is nothing to do, also penalized by a race strategy that includes a delayed pit stop, unlike Schumacher's Ferrari, which provided for a refuelling halfway through the race.

In Barcelona, ​​Schumacher was forced to settle for third place, as he finished the race behind the two McLarens of Häkkinen and Coulthard; however, after five races Michael leads the Drivers' Championship standings with 30 points, ahead of Mika Häkkinen, who is still on 24 points.

In Canada, despite the continuous neutralizations, Schumacher is calmly leading the race, which continues to lead the group up to the 30th lap, when he tackles the last corner before the finish too aggressively and crashes into the famous wall of Champions. As a result, he retired and lost championship leadership to the Grand Prix winner, Mika Häkkinen.

In France, the race is conditioned by variable weather conditions: surprisingly, it is Frentzen who, having saved fuel during the race interruption period, manages to reach the finish line without refuelling and to obtain his second career victory, after the one won. in the 1997 San Marino Grand Prix with Williams. Second at the finish is Häkkinen, followed by Barrichello, while Irvine, who is fourth, in the last laps, to give up the position to his teammate Michael Schumacher, loses two positions, also being overtaken by Ralf Schumacher who will precede them both at the finish. At the end of the race, Michael Schumacher unnecessarily argues with his brother Ralf for overtaking immediately, but the Williams driver will reply:

"In Formula 1 there are no brothers".

Now the ranking sees Häkkinen ahead of Michael Schumacher by 8 points.

At Silverstone, Schumacher and Ferrari arrive with the intention of winning at all costs. But qualifying ends with Schumacher obtaining the second place behind Mika Häkkinen as a maximum result.

The following day, July 11, 1999, the German is the victim of a serious accident, the worst of his career, which will affect his season.

Michael starts badly and is paraded by both Coulthard and Irvine. The desire to remedy the error makes the German drive in a really aggressive way, but due to a bleed nut of the rear left brake, which has suddenly loosened, Schumacher goes off the track at the Stowe curve, while performing an overtaking against the teammate. The accident occurred when the race was suspended, as Villeneuve and Zanardi were stuck on the starting grid, but the communication did not reach the drivers quickly.

With the FIA ​​data it turns out that Schumacher reached the braking point of the Stowe corner at 306 km/h, a much higher speed than that of the theoretical lap (293 km/h). He braked and for a moment everything went well (deceleration of 3.1 G), but immediately afterwards the braking power was reduced by a third (2.1 G), not because Schumacher lifted his left foot, which is used to brake: in reality the German blocks the front wheels (at 204 km/h according to the FIA) and then goes off the track and bounces on the gravel, until crashing into the tires at 107 km/h. The excited phases of the rescue, after the accident, leave no doubt: the situation is very serious.

Schumacher gets stuck in the car that has slipped under the guards. Fortunately, the German driver simply has a fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg:

"I thought I was dying. I felt my heart stop. I was sweating, I felt my heartbeat go down, my heart suddenly stopped and everything went black. I don't know exactly how long the unconscious lasted and from what was caused, but that's what I heard".

Excluding serious damage to his body, Schumacher immediately sets to work to recover and get back on track. Meanwhile, however, Eddie Irvine wins in Austria and Germany, and closes the gap to the leader in the standings, Mika Häkkinen.

"If Schumacher is still first driving next year, I'll go away".

"Schumacher is the fastest, no one beats him for the same number of cars, but speed is not enough. We must avoid mistakes and he makes many, too many. This year we made fewer, we exploit those of others, we are lucky, the car is reliable and we are ahead".

"Jean Todt is visibly happier when Michael wins. You can read it in his face. Okay, points count for me. With Jean Todt there is a professional relationship, there is no feeling. He is different from me, as is Ross Brawn: They are crazy about Michael. But I work well with everyone. The friends I have in Ferrari are few. With all the others I just work. And between one thing and another there is a big difference".

This is what Eddie Irvine thunders during an interview in which, in fact, he breaks off relations with Ferrari and his teammate, just before the Hungarian Grand Prix. The response of Willi Weber, Schumacher's manager, is not long in missing:

"If Irvine wins the world title, it will not be a catastrophe for Michael because everyone knows why Ferrari has this opportunity today. Even Irvine's title would be the fruit of Michael's sowing".

However, Schumacher returns in the penultimate round of the season in Malaysia, tasked with helping his teammate Eddie Irvine win the title. After only six races of absence, Schumacher is back on track and both he and Irvine dominate qualifying, occupying the entire front row and relegating Coulthard and Häkkinen to third and fourth position. At the start, the two Ferraris take the lead, and after a few laps, Schumacher lets his mate pass, trying to slow down the two McLarens; Coulthard manages to pass him, while Häkkinen gets stuck behind the German.

On lap 14, however, Coulthard was forced to retire due to an accelerator failure; Irvine can thus comfortably manage his race, going on to win. Schumacher continues to keep Häkkinen behind, who struggles a lot to pass Herbert in the final. After the race, the two Ferraris are disqualified due to a deflector that does not comply with the regulations; in this way Häkkinen would be champion, but the Italian team appealed and managed to prove their innocence, seeing the double win returned. With one race to go, therefore, Irvine is leading the championship with 70 points, against Häkkinen's 66.

As in 1998, the world championship is decided at the last race on the calendar at the Suzuka circuit in Japan. The predictions are in favor of Eddie Irvine, who is on his favorite track four points ahead of rival Häkkinen. However, pole position was won by Michael Schumacher. The result is, however, favorable to Ferrari and Irvine, given that keeping Häkkinen behind, the German could give the world championship victory to his teammate. But when the traffic lights go out, Häkkinen sprints better than Schumacher and flies away.

Häkkinen wins the race and the Drivers 'title, while Schumacher and Irvine finish in the order behind him, granting Ferrari the victory in the Constructors' World Championship after sixteen years of waiting, with 128 points against McLaren's 124. For the third consecutive year, the title victory, which always seems to be within reach, continues to escape from the hands of the German driver and Ferrari.

In the first year of the second millennium, Ferrari produced the F1-2000, a car that is not unbeatable and at times not even the best, but it gives Schumacher the opportunity to open a long series of world victories.

Schumacher obtains five victories in Australia, Brazil, San Marino, in the European Grand Prix and in Canada, and a third place in Great Britain, all in the first eight races, so much so that he commands the world championship with 58 points, while Häkkinen chases with only 32 points.

In Australia, the two McLaren-Mercedes monopolize the front row for the third consecutive year, with Mika Häkkinen in pole position, while the two Ferraris are placed in the second row. But during the race David Coulthard complained of engine problems, which gave way on lap 11 after a long stop in boxing and only seven laps later the same fate fell to Mika Häkkinen: also, for the Finnish the retirement due to the engine failure. The race thus passes into the hands of Michael Schumacher, who accumulates a substantial advantage over Frentzen, who continues to keep Barrichello behind.

Gearbox problems on the German's car will still allow Barrichello to gain second position without any problems. Ferrari therefore won a double in the first race of the season with Michael Schumacher ahead of Rubens Barrichello and his brother Ralf, who completed the podium.

Even at Interlagos the McLarens seem impregnable and monopolize the front row in front of the two Ferraris. For this reason, the Maranello team opts for an aggressive strategy, loading less fuel to attack the silver arrows right away. After the first stop, the two Ferraris are in second and fourth place, but on lap 28 Rubens Barrichello is forced to retire due to a broken engine. Three laps pass and even Häkkinen, who is leading the race, is stopped by an engine problem. The race passes into the hands of Michael Schumacher, leading with a great advantage also because Coulthard is delayed by gearbox problems. Schumacher also wins the second round of the season, while after the race the disastrous McLaren day is completed, as the stewards find an irregular front wing on Coulthard's car and disqualify him from the race.

Mika Häkkinen hits his third consecutive pole also at Imola, in the home grand prix of Ferrari. This time, however, Michael Schumacher manages to snatch second place from David Coulthard. But during the race, while Häkkinen returns to the forty-fourth lap to refuel the pits, giving the top to Michael Schumacher, the latter, with the tanks empty, uses the following four laps to push hard and get back on track, after the stop, ahead of the rival. Conversely, the same maneuver succeeds in Coulthard, who blows the third position to Barrichello. In the final stages Mika Häkkinen tries to put pressure on the tread, but Michael Schumacher makes no mistakes and also wins the third race of the season, ahead of his rival by a second.

Ferrari's streak ends at Silverstone, where the McLarens are the ones to take full advantage. Qualifying is conditioned by variable track conditions and Michael Schumacher is only fifth, while teammate Barrichello takes pole position ahead of the surprising Frentzen and the two McLarens on the second row. At the start, things are further complicated for Schumacher, who starts well but, closed by Häkkinen, ends up on the grass and slips to eighth position, where he will be blocked by Villeneuve for several laps.

Rubens Barrichello keeps his head until the thirtieth lap when he is overtaken by the McLaren Scot; the Brazilian's race ended a few laps later due to a hydraulic problem. At this point the race passes into the hands of the McLaren duo while behind them Michael Schumacher, who started with the strategy of the single stop, manages to get behind all the remaining opponents and then climb up to the third step of the podium. McLaren decided not to give team orders, so David Coulthard went on to win his first grand prix of the season ahead of Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher.

In Spain Michael Schumacher gets his first start at the pole of the season ahead of Häkkinen by less than a tenth, while behind them are Barrichello and Coulthard. The next day, at the green light, despite starting with the reserve car, Michael Schumacher keeps his head in front of Häkkinen. As in Imola, the grand prix is ​​actually decided in the pits: due to a mistake by the mechanic with the shovel, Michael Schumacher leaves the pitch early and overwhelms the chief mechanic Nigel Stepney, refuelling officer, who remedies a distortion to the ankle.

The German driver maintains the lead, but at the second stop Stepney's substitute fails to promptly insert the filler in the tank opening: Schumacher loses ten seconds and with them also the lead, who passes to Häkkinen. In difficulty due to an air leak from a tire, Michael Schumacher is forced to suffer a comeback from Coulthard, who takes away the second place. And then a very heated fight for third place takes place between the Schumacher brothers which Barrichello takes advantage of, overcoming both on lap forty-ninth, making Ralf furious. A little later, Michael Schumacher returns to the pits to change the tires and remains confined to fifth place. McLaren take their second double of the season, this time with Mika Häkkinen as the winner.

After the race, Michael and Ralf Schumacher are close to the fight. They didn't come to blows just out of shame or because they didn't meet immediately after the race. Reason for the dispute, the overtaking three: Ralf and Barrichello, in order, engaged in a personal duel, during the race overtook Schumacher's Ferrari, struggling with the tires and slower by almost two seconds. Michael resisted his brother's attack, unwittingly favoring his teammate:

"In racing I don't do anyone any favours and I'm sorry if Ralf didn't understand it. I was defending my trajectory, the regulations allow it. I'd be stupid if I didn't. Racing is racing and I don't do anyone any favours, not even at my brother. Immediately after they called me to the pits, but at that moment I still didn't know I had to stop".

"I had more serious problems to think about. The left rear tire had lost pressure and in some corners the car understeered. I didn't even know Rubens was back there".

"At this point, however, the race was lost. Now we have to understand why we had problems with the tires. The technicians could not understand the cause of my slowdown, because from the data in their possession the car was working well. I was waiting for news; therefore, I didn't come back straight away. The impression is that performance deteriorated a lot as the laps went by".

Michael, in fact, had problems with the tires throughout the race and especially at the beginning:

"I chose the medium ones, the others had the soft ones. I don't know how I would have gone if I had decided otherwise".

And then he lost time in the pits, due to a mistake by the mechanic in the pits:

"The mechanic who halts and starts raised the paddle and then immediately lowered it, but I couldn't stop anymore. I felt that I had passed over something (the left ankle of the refuelling man, Nigel Stepney), I looked in the mirrors and saw a mechanic on the ground. I asked the radio what had happened, without getting an answer".

At first, Ferrari talked about a puncture. Bridgestone, the tire supplier to all eleven Formula 1 racing teams, attributes the loss of pressure to an air leak between the tire and rim. However, Schumacher is sure of the ransom:

"The Ferraris are good and we are able to win. I would have won again today, without all those problems. After all this mess, fifth place satisfies me. I have always maintained that we would not always have lucky races. Today it went like that. two points are fine, everyone in the team gave their all".

His rage subsides, Ralf toasts with Michael, under his father's watchful gaze. Despite bad luck, Michael Schumacher still has a 14-point lead over Mika Häkkinen in the drivers' championship.

Despite bad luck, Michael Schumacher still has a 14-point lead over Mika Häkkinen in the drivers' championship. On the Nürburgring circuit the rain, which reached the middle of the qualifying session, freezes the situation present at that moment, giving David Coulthard the pole position ahead of Michael Schumacher, Mika Häkkinen and Rubens Barrichello.

The race starts in the dry and Häkkinen sprints very well, overtaking both Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. However, after nine laps of the race it began to rain and Michael Schumacher almost immediately took the lead, passing Häkkinen before the last chicane. After an excited second stop, with operations slowed down by a wheel nut problem, Michael Schumacher retains the first position on Häkkinen and ends the race thirteen seconds ahead of the Finn, returning to +18 on Häkkinen.

In the narrow streets of the principality Michael Schumacher hits pole position ahead of an excellent Jarno Trulli. After three routes canceled, Michael Schumacher takes the lead and gradually begins to gain ground on his pursuers, with Trulli keeping everyone behind him. When the differential on Trulli's Jordan broke on lap 36, Coulthard got the green light, but Michael Schumacher is now unassailable for the Scot, while Häkkinen is delayed by a long pit stop, necessary to remove a cable that had slipped under the brake pedal. The race is in the hands of Michael Schumacher, but on lap 55 the rupture of one of his Ferrari's exhaust pipes, which burned the left rear suspension until it gave way, forced the German driver to retire. On the finish line David Coulthard wins ahead of Rubens Barrichello, who makes the most of the misfortunes of others despite a colourless race. Mika Häkkinen finishes sixth one lap behind the winner.

In Montreal, in qualifying the match is between Schumacher and Coulthard, but the German driver wins by less than a tenth. At the start the first two positions do not change while the host Jacques Villeneuve, who started from sixth place, manages to enter third position starting to slow down the pace of Barrichello and Häkkinen.

Coulthard follows Michael Schumacher in the early laps, but is then punished with a Stop & Go for an irregularity on the starting grid. After about twenty laps, a first shower of rain arrives but the track does not get wet enough and everyone stays on track with dry tires. In the midst of the numerous changes Michael Schumacher firmly maintains the top while Mika Häkkinen risks and remains on the track one more lap with dry tires, but the rain does not decrease in intensity and the Finnish loses a lot of time. Rubens Barrichello in the final comeback on Fisichella and passes him, thus giving Ferrari the second double win of the season.

In the world championship standings Michael Schumacher increases his advantage to 22 points over Coulthard and to 24 over Häkkinen. With such good results, one would think that the championship is now downhill. However, after such a successful start there are three consecutive heavy retirements in France, Austria and Germany, and only a second place in Hungary, which allow the McLaren duo to cancel the gap in the standings.

Also, at Magny Cours in qualifying there is a close fight between Ferrari and McLaren for pole position. As in Canada, it is Michael Schumacher who wins, who places himself in front of Coulthard, Barrichello and Häkkinen. At the start of the grand prix the German keeps the lead and Rubens Barrichello gains the second position. After passing Barrichello, the two silver arrows, with a clear track, begin to catch up on Michael Schumacher, who is in a tire crisis as well as his teammate, and join him. On lap thirty-three Coulthard tries to attack but Michael Schumacher responds by closing every passage; seven laps later, however, the German driver had to give way to the Scotsman and on the fifty-second lap he had to retire due to an engine failure, giving McLaren an easy double.

After the last excellent performances in qualifying, Michael Schumacher confirms his lack of confidence with the Zeltweg circuit: the world leader closes qualifying fourth behind his teammate Barrichello and more than half a second from poleman Häkkinen. In the race, things fell immediately for Ferrari: Michael Schumacher at the first corner was hit by Ricardo Zonta, turned around and was hit by Jarno Trulli, who broke a suspension and forced him to retire.

Mika Häkkinen, without rivals, wins the victory in front of David Coulthard. After the race, the lack of a seal on the ECU of Mika Häkkinen's car is detected, but no sign of tampering with the ECU itself. The federation decides to remove the ten points obtained only from the team, which should have made sure that the control unit was completely sealed, but not from the Finnish driver.

Qualifying for the German Grand Prix was decided by the copious rain that fell a few minutes before the start of the session and allowed Coulthard, who immediately got on the track, to take pole position ahead of Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Mika Häkkinen. For Michael Schumacher the start of the German Grand Prix is ​​a replica of that of the previous race: in fact, at the first corner he is hit again, this time by Giancarlo Fisichella, and ends up against the protective barriers, retiring. Surprisingly, however, Rubens Barrichello won his first Formula 1 race after starting from eighteenth position, preceding Häkkinen and Coulthard at the finish line.

On the Hungaroring circuit, Michael Schumacher takes pole with an apparent good advantage over the McLaren duo. But at the start, Mika Häkkinen is the protagonist of an extraordinary shot which, like at the Nürburgring, immediately takes him to the lead ahead of Michael Schumacher and Coulthard. The Finn's pace is unsustainable for the German driver, who instead has to watch his back from David Coulthard. Michael Schumacher manages to resist until the end and takes home the placement behind the unstoppable Häkkinen.

With this victory, the Finn surpasses Michael Schumacher in the standings and leads the world championship (64 to 62) while David Coulthard loses ground. McLaren also manages to overtake in the constructors' championship, where he now drives 112 to 111 against Scuderia Ferrari.

In Belgium the redemption of Ferrari is expected, however qualifying is dominated by Häkkinen, who conquers the pole position without rival. Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard finished fourth and fifth respectively. The next day the race begins with a start launched behind the Safety Car for safety reasons, due to the rain that fell in the morning. Mika Häkkinen leaves quite quickly before Michael Schumacher gets the better of Trulli and Button and finds himself free track. The track is drying quickly and the drivers return to the pits to replace the tires: Häkkinen keeps his head ahead of rival Schumacher.

On the thirteenth lap, however, the Finnish makes a mistake at the Stavelot curve: he touches the white line and almost spins in the grass, manages to restart but by now Michael Schumacher has passed. Until the pit stop, the German from Ferrari seems to be able to control, but after the tire change the situation turns in favor of Häkkinen, who begins to recover. On lap 40 the Finn attacks Michael Schumacher's first position on the Kemmel straight, but the German closes it decisively forcing him to lift his foot. The next lap, at the same point, the two find themselves in front of Ricardo Zonta's BAR, who was waiting to be doubled. Michael Schumacher passes outside Zonta but Häkkinen, after using all the available slipstream, manages to find a gap inside and surprises the German driver, then overtaking him at braking and going to win the race ahead of Michael Schumacher.

"I didn't expect it, but I couldn't do anything about it. It flew over me, it was faster or I wouldn't have been able to keep it behind for more than one lap anyway. I was convinced that Mika's spin was the decisive episode. hope until overtaking. Congratulations to him, he was very good".

Then Michael talks about the car, which for some races has not been up to the performance level of the title rivals, specifying that:

"It's not enough to work on the aerodynamics and the engine. The whole car needs improvement. But the guys on the team are excited: I'm sure they'll come up with something good. There has been substantial progress. Unfortunately, it was not enough. This week we will be testing in Monza. The circuit has been changed: I am unable to say if we will have an advantage until I am behind the wheel".

The Finn's victory, on Michael Schumacher's favorite track, seems to put an end to Ferrari's world dreams: Häkkinen increases the lead over his rival to six points and McLaren also goes +8 over Ferrari in the constructors.

But in Monza, Schumacher finally returns to win after six fasting races. The race is also remembered for Schumacher's liberating tears worldwide during the conference at the end of the race, after receiving the question:

"Michael, you have reached Ayrton Senna's fourty one wins, does it mean a lot to you?"

In this circumstance, the gesture of Mika Häkkinen is beautiful, who alongside him tries to bring comfort to the German driver and refuses to speak to the microphones, allowing Ralf Schumacher to speak. The victory obtained at Monza allows the German driver to get close to two points from Häkkinen in the drivers' championship, while Ferrari moves to minus four points from McLaren.

From the Italian Grand Prix, Schumacher has been the author of a splendid comeback, also winning in America: the United States Grand Prix returns to Formula 1 after eight years of absence, and does so in front of an audience of over 200.000 people, on the resulting circuit in Indianapolis within that of the 500 Miles.

In qualifying Michael Schumacher signs the second consecutive pole position, ahead of the two McLaren drivers and teammate Barrichello. The race starts on a wet track and David Coulthard clearly anticipates the turning off of the traffic lights, managing to gain the first position ahead of Michael Schumacher. Coulthard, waiting for the inevitable penalty, slows down the Ferrari driver to favor teammate Häkkinen, who is immediately behind, but on lap six Schumacher, with a pass outside the first corner to the detriment of the Scot, gains the command of the race.

Mika decides to anticipate the pit stop to mount the dry tires, but finds himself stuck in traffic and even stuck behind Gaston Mazzacane for several laps. Michael Schumacher, on the other hand, delays the stop and, after having made it, returns to the track with a considerable advantage of sixteen seconds over his rival. On the now dry ground Häkkinen can push his McLaren hard and in just ten laps he manages to reduce the gap from the leader to five seconds, but on lap 26 the engine gives way and the Finn is forced to retire.

Michael Schumacher easily wins the race: the result of the Grand Prix allows the Ferrari men to overtake in both world classifications with two races to go. Now, in fact, Michael Schumacher now leads eight points ahead of Mika Häkkinen in the drivers 'championship, while Ferrari extends the gap over McLaren in the constructors' championship to ten points.

Unlike in previous years, in Suzuka, if he wins, Schumacher can close the championship in his favor with a race to spare. After an exciting qualifying, where both leading drivers compete on the threshold of tenths of a second, continuously lowering the maximum limit, Schumacher gets pole position against Mika Häkkinen, beaten by just nine thousandths of a second. But the duel begins right from the start: Häkkinen burns Schumacher and takes the lead, but his overtaking is made useless by the strategy of the Ferrari garage and Ross Brawn. First Michael Schumacher is loaded with more fuel to allow him to stay on track longer; later, during the pit stop, the German driver managed to pass Häkkinen thanks to a record refuelling: six seconds. The last 13 laps are experienced by all Ferrari drivers with bated breath.

But on October 8, 2000, at 4:03 pm, Michael Schumacher finally and definitively brings the title back to Maranello twenty-one years after Jody Scheckter.

Crossing the finish line, Schumacher claps his palms with all his strength against the steering wheel, releasing all the frustration accumulated over the last three years of waiting. The championship, chased for a long, long time, is finally his. While Schumacher completes the lap of honor, after thanking the team he opens up on the radio saying:

"Give Corinna a big kiss for me".

It is the Schumacher with a human face who comes out of the car, receives the compliments of friends and enemies, and kisses his wife Corinna for a long time, her face streaked with tears and rimmel. The new German champion embraces the whole team, from the cook to the engineers, receives the compliments of his former teammate Eddie Irvine, now at Jaguar, and even those of Jacques Villeneuve, his archenemy in 1997.

Even the McLaren mechanics, sportingly, congratulate the rivals from Maranello. At the Ferrari pits there is the taste of a long-awaited triumph, escaped three times in the last race, suffered up to the checkered flag. It is not just a party, the one in the Suzuka box: it is an outlet.

After the race, Michael lets himself go and finally celebrates his third title.

"Don't ask me what I feel: there are no words to describe it. When I crossed the finish line, I thought I was holding the wheel from the blows I gave it. It is the best sporting moment of my life. The other two titles World Championships had been too easy. This has a special charm for how it arrived, because it was missing for twenty-one years, because we are in 2000".

"Until the last lap I did not listen to the car or my emotions. I was too focused on driving. The new asphalt of the circuit is dark and I could not distinguish the wet sections from the dry ones. In the final I slowed down as a precaution. having won the two laps, I was on track while Häkkinen was making the pit stop. Ross Brawn did a masterpiece of strategy today, but he also scared me. On the radio he kept telling me: it looks ok, it looks ok. And I was afraid that from one moment to the next he would tell me: it's not right. When I got back on track and saw Mika behind I realized I could do it".

"In the end there was some shaking on the track, which was wet at times. And I must admit that my start was bad. On the other hand, I must acknowledge Häkkinen that he is better at the start. It was like that. since the beginning of the championship. We have improved, but it is not enough. We still have to work. To remedy it, the important thing is to adopt the right strategy: thank goodness we succeeded. To tell the truth, when Häkkinen came back for the second I feared the worst when I was in the pits: I found a lot of traffic and before the return lane I dodged a stationary Benetton (Wurz had spun). These are episodes that happen in the race. I remember the year of my debut in Formula 1: at Magny Cours I made a similar mistake. The important thing is that it ended well for us. Now let me enjoy this victory. There will be new goals to reach, I will certainly not lose my motivation and I hope to experience similar moments in the future".

shortly afterwards, the fax of the Chancellor Gerard Schroeder arrives from Germany, and Schumacher can only appreciate:

"I am very pleased. I have to thank many people who have supported me in recent months: my family, the team, the fans in Italy and Germany. I would like to be there with them, but I can't".

Ferrari's winning year also ends with the conquest of the constructors' championship.

Schumacher, after obtaining the fourth consecutive pole position, also hits the fourth victory in a row ahead of Coulthard and Barrichello, while Mika Häkkinen, penalized for the early start, reaches the finish line fourth. For Ferrari, which reaches 170 points, for an average of 10 points per race, this is the tenth victory of the season; for Schumacher the ninth. These records therefore add up to the tenth constructors 'championship, two weeks after the tenth drivers' title won by a Ferrari driver.

The new season opens in a similar way to the previous one: Michael Schumacher and Ferrari dominate the scene after obtaining pole position in qualifying, keeping the lead for the duration of the race. On the second step of the podium the Scottish David Coulthard climbs.

On the occasion of the second round of the season, raced at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, Ferrari obtained the first double and the second consecutive victory at the hands of Michael Schumacher. At the start, the two Maranello cars got off to a good start despite a small contact between Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher, but after a few laps they both went off the track due to the oil lost by Olivier Panis' BAR.

Jarno Trulli took the lead, but a violent tropical storm broke out on the circuit creating confusion, forcing Villeneuve, Heidfeld, Bernoldi and Irvine to retire and the entry of the safety car. Coulthard finds himself in first position, followed by Frentzen, Verstappen, Häkkinen and Trulli, while Barrichello slipped to tenth position, Schumacher immediately behind in eleventh. At the restart, the Ferraris climbed the rankings in a few laps thanks to a happy choice of tires, intermediate for the Italian cars as opposed to the wet ones mounted by the competitors. Favored by the right choice of tires, the two Ferrari drivers are the protagonists of a spectacular comeback, taking the lead as early as the sixteenth lap and quickly gaining a great advantage over their rivals.

At the third round in Brazil, Michael Schumacher gets the third pole position of the season. At the start, Mika Häkkinen remains stationary in his pitch, while Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher come into contact. To allow the marshals to clean the track of debris, the race direction sends the safety car to the track: at the restart Juan Pablo Montoya, taking advantage of the experiences accumulated in the US championship in which the neutralization of the race by a safety car often occurs he immediately stands out by putting Schumacher at the first corner and gaining the lead. Subsequently, a shower of rain forces the drivers to stop in the pits to mount the wet tires. Schumacher, having regained the first position, has many difficulties in keeping the car on the track and is overtaken by Coulthard after a few off the track, who thus wins his first victory of the season.

At Imola, McLaren monopolized the front row during qualifying: Coulthard took pole position while Häkkinen took second position. Schumacher starts fourth, but on the third lap of the Grand Prix he accuses difficulties in engaging the gears at the exit of the Variante Bassa, losing his position to the advantage of Montoya and Panis and being overtaken shortly after by his teammate. On lap 23, Michael Schumacher enters the pits with a flat left front tire. The Ferrari driver returns to the track, but the team realizes that the wheel rim is irreparably damaged by friction with a badly fitted component and decides to have Schumacher retire as a precaution a few laps later.

The race ends with the second place of David Coulthard, who joins Schumacher in the standings, while Häkkinen finds himself 22 points behind in the standings after only four Grand Prix.

From the Spanish Grand Prix, however, the Kaiser obtained a terrifying roadmap, made up of eight consecutive podiums, including four victories in Spain, Monaco, Europe and France, while in the remaining three occasions he obtained three second places in Austria, Canada and England. A positive streak of results that ends with the only retirement of the season at the German Grand Prix.

In Barcelona, ​​in the race that sees the introduction of new rules on the use of electronics, Michael Schumacher gets his third victory of the season, also facilitated by the technical problems in which McLaren has incurred: David Coulthard does not start during the reconnaissance lap and was relegated to the back of the grid, while Mika Häkkinen retired during the last lap due to the failure of the Mercedes engine when he was leading with almost a minute ahead of his closest rival.

Since the Austrian Grand Prix, the fight for the championship has been restricted to just two drivers: Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. Häkkinen, who was still regarded by Schumacher as the most dangerous rival before the race, has so far collected only 4 points in six races.

At the start the procedure must be repeated as the two Jordans of Trulli and Frentzen (betrayed by the gearbox), the McLaren of Häkkinen (stopped due to the clutch) and the Sauber of Heidfeld remain stationary on the grid.

Thanks to the strategy set by the pits, Coulthard refueled only on lap 50, four laps after Schumacher who had brought him behind him and three after Barrichello, who had been the leader of the race until then, and exits the pit lane in first position. At the end of the race Schumacher approaches Barrichello, who is repeatedly asked by radio to let his teammate pass: the Brazilian driver controversially executes the order at the last corner, crossing the finish line in third position.

In Monaco, after taking pole position in Saturday's qualifying, David Coulthard is forced to start from the back of the group as his McLaren dies at the start of the reconnaissance lap. Michael Schumacher took advantage immediately and at the start took the lead ahead of Mika Häkkinen and Rubens Barrichello. The German's race becomes even easier when Mika Häkkinen's McLaren steps away from his driver due to a differential failure: Schumacher and Barrichello with the two Ferraris slow down the pace and manage the conspicuous advantage accumulated, thus setting off to an easy double win.

In Canada, Michael Schumacher dominates the qualifying session, taking only six out of the twelve laps allowed to take pole position. In the race, the Schumacher brothers maintain an unapproachable pace for their rivals, remaining only a few tenths behind each other. Behind them Coulthard, slowed down by a steering problem, struggles to keep up with a train of cars made up of Trulli, Panis, Verstappen and Räikkönen. Towards the middle of the race, Ralf Schumacher, much faster than his brother, begins to put pressure. When the Ferrari driver returns to the pits to refuel on lap 46, the Williams driver sharply raises the pace, obtaining the fastest lap in the race several times. Ralf Schumacher makes his pit stop five laps after his brother, returning to the track in command with a good margin over his rival.

Michael closes the race in second place, but in the Championship Coulthard's retirement, caused by the engine failure, allows Michael Schumacher to further increase his advantage, putting a serious risk on the title.

At the Nürburgring, Germany, Michael Schumacher secured his seventh pole position of the season, followed by an excellent win. At the start, Ralf Schumacher still annoys, as the German driver sprints better than his brother and follows him, but he is pressed against the pit wall by the Ferrari driver and therefore has to brake and follow his rival.

The two remain very close until the first pit stop, which they make at the same time as lap 28. Michael Schumacher maintains command of the race, while his brother, in exiting the pit lane, slightly crosses the boundary line of the acceleration lane, thus incurring a penalty. Thus, Michael Schumacher obtains his fifth win of the season ahead of Montoya and Coulthard, further consolidating his advantage over his rivals in the world rankings.

The fight between the two brothers continues on the Magny Cours circuit, where the two duel for pole position. In this circumstance it is Ralf who wins in his second attempt, lowering the lap record of the transalpine circuit and beating his rival by just one hundredth of a second.

At the start Ralf Schumacher maintains the lead ahead of Michael Schumacher, but the race is decided during the first series of pit stops, which began on the twenty-fourth lap: Ralf Schumacher loses a lot of time due to difficulties in fixing the right rear wheel, while David Coulthard deactivates unintentionally the speed limiter in the pit lane, suffering a penalty. Michael Schumacher thus finds himself alone at the head of the race, managing a growing advantage over his brother Ralf, also slowed down by an ineffective set of tires. Michael Schumacher gets his fiftieth career success in front of his brother Ralf, Barrichello and Coulthard, who in the final race approaches the Brazilian Ferrari driver without being able to overtake him.

Qualifying at Silverstone was held with the track gradually drying up and the best times were therefore set in the final part of the session, which was characterized by intense traffic on the track. Eventually Michael Schumacher scored his fortieth career pole position, beating Häkkinen by about eight cents, while Coulthard placed himself in third position.

At the start Michael Schumacher and Häkkinen maintain their positions. Behind them Trulli tries to overtake Coulthard, but the two come into contact; the Scotsman managed to return to the pits but had to abandon the race two laps later due to the damage caused by a suspension. In the following laps, Montoya approaches Schumacher and on lap eighteenth the Colombian driver overtakes the German, moving into second position. On the thirty-ninth lap Häkkinen and Schumacher stop at the same time in the pits: the former maintains the command of the race, while the German returns to the track behind his teammate and Montoya, recovering the second position after the latter's pit stops. Michael Schumacher therefore concludes in second place and brings Coulthard to 37 points.

At Hockenheim, Michael Schumacher was first slowed down by a gearbox problem, being hit by Burti, who, with the view covered to the last by Panis' car, was unable to avoid contact. While, after the second start, the German was forced to retire due to a fuel pressure problem, which he encountered immediately after refuelling. Luck, however, laughs at the Kaiser, as Coulthard is betrayed by the engine of his McLaren on lap 27.

Incredibly, Michael Schumacher can finish the championship in his favor already at the Hungaroring, should he win the race. The German wastes no time, and right from qualifying he proves to be the most competitive, beating the track record, which belonged to Prost since 1993, and inflicting more than eight tenths of a gap to the second classified, Coulthard.

Averted the danger of a car breakdown during the reconnaissance lap, after going off the track, Michael Schumacher sprints well at the start and keeps the first position, while Barrichello enters behind him overtaking Coulthard. During the race there were no significant events until the second series of pit stops, when Barrichello regained the second position, lost in the meantime, to Coulthard's detriment. The Scottish driver remains close to his rival until the finish, but without being able to overtake him.

Thanks to this victory Michael Schumacher mathematically won the world drivers title, the second in a row and the fourth in his career. The German driver reaches Alain Prost in second place in the ranking of the most titled drivers ever, equalling the record of 51 career victories that belonged to the French driver himself.

"It's really too much, excuse me. Maybe I'm a good driver, but I'm not able to show my enthusiasm. Thanks to all the guys from Maranello, it's great to work with them, very good Rubens, I'd like to hug the fans because they were great. The party is improvised because I don't like to prepare it in advance. Ferrari is particularly capable of this and has already shown it. I will avoid going down in history as a teetotaller who does not toast. The secrets of success? When you work in a fantastic team it's normal to bring out the best in yourself. My lucky charm here in Hungary was Gina Maria's kiss before I left. For me the only thing more important than work is family. I had some concerns during the reconnaissance lap, when I went off the track at a chicane and I feared I had damaged the bottom of the car. I admit, it was a second of terror. The doubts passed after the start and during the race did not have any problems or difficult situations. My and Rubens' first set of tires were not very stable, but the situation was resolved after the two pit stops".

"After the first stop, David Coulthard got back on track in front of Barrichello and did a series of fast laps. I knew that the new tires would give him an advantage for a few laps, but I didn't know exactly his performance because up until that moment. had been behind Rubens. The Hungaroring is a very difficult circuit for overtaking, unless one makes a mistake. I was happy for Rubens, who after the second refuelling returned to second position and with his placement, he would have allowed us to win the constructors' championship. Especially since it acted as a buffer and kept me safe from surprises. It was a perfect scenario. On Friday I said to Jean Todt: I'm afraid this is not the right time. But in the last three laps I thought: I was wrong, it is the right weekend. In the end, my biggest concern was not to make mistakes on the last lap, because there was oil on the track and I would have looked stupid if I had had an accident. Passing in front of the pit wall, I got goosebumps. The team guys are fantastic, human, they work with passion and determination. Driving a Ferrari is wonderful, the best professional experience of my career".

At the same time, Ferrari also became world constructors champion well in advance.

Schumacher wins the world title already in July in Hungary with four races to spare, but anyway he does not quench his desire to win. The German climbs to the top step of the podium also in Belgium and Japan, also obtaining a second place in the United States Grand Prix.

The only discordant note concerns the Italian Grand Prix, ​​given that following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the very serious accident that occurred to Alessandro Zanardi in a Cart championship race on the Lausitzring, in which the Bolognese driver loses both legs, several drivers ask not to take part in the race. Their request, however, is rejected by Bernie Ecclestone, mainly in order not to lose the money from the television rights.

On Sunday morning, as a consequence of the news about Zanardi's accident and of the accident that took place the previous year in which a route marshal had lost his life, during the usual meeting of the drivers it is proposed not to overtake in the first two corners. However, the decision is openly opposed by Flavio Briatore and the managers of BAR and Arrows, who forbid their pilots to join the initiative. therefore, as there is no unanimity on the decision, the race is held regularly.

The pilots, however, observe a minute of silence before the race to remember the victims of the attacks, and they obtain the cancellation of the award ceremony.

For the same reason, Ferrari decides to remove the sponsors' writings and logos present on the suits of all members of the racing team, including other gadgets, both on the cars themselves; the noses of each Ferrari single-seater are painted black, just as each driver also wears a band on one arm in black.

Second part

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