22 Oct 2000
On 22nd October 2000, Michael Schumacher won the Malaysian Grand Prix. The weekend was a Ferrari apotheosis, coming just a fortnight after Michael had brought the Drivers’ title back to Maranello after an absence of 21 years. Following on from the Suzuka title clincher, the German’s win in Sepang, along with a third place for Rubens Barrichello saw the Scuderia do the double, also taking the Constructors’ crown, repeating the previous year’s performance. That Sunday, the entire team wore red wigs, with President Montezemolo leading the way after the race, before a party that went on until dawn.
Mika Hakkinen chose to leave the grid before all the red lights had gone out and so, a few laps later he had to pit for a stop-and-go penalty. Michael did not have a perfect getaway and apart from being passed by Hakkinen, Coulthard also got ahead. Barrichello was also a bit slow off the mark, but he was able to hang onto fourth place at the first corner. After Hakkinen’s penalty stop, the race continued with Coulthard leading from Schumacher and Barrichello, up until the first run of pit stops. The first to come in was the Scotsman on lap 17. Michael stayed on track for a further 7 laps and this turned out to be winning call: after he had refuelled, the champion elect managed to take the lead. For his part, Rubens waited one more lap and then rejoined in third place.
Meanwhile, having plummeted to eighteenth place, Hakkinen began his usual charge up the order, even though he was carrying a heavy fuel load. In fact, the Finn was planning to make just the one pit stop, which he came in for on lap 35. However, the stop-no-go had ruined his best laid plans, who was unable to finish higher than fourth.
At the second run of pit stops, the Ferrari mechanics confirmed their amazing skills. Coulthard came in on lap 38, followed by Michael one lap later. The two men took the same time for their stops and Michael managed to get out in the lead. Unfortunately, Rubens lost a few seconds when he was driving out from his stop on lap 41 and thus was unable to mount an attack on Coulthard. In the final stint, Michael held off the Scotsman magisterially, to cross the line ahead of the rest. Rubens comfortably maintained his position and Hakkinen was too far behind to worry him.
“The championship could not end better than this, with two drivers on the podium,” said Jean Todt. “The figures from this season speak for themselves: ten wins, nine for Michael and one for Rubens. It was a fantastic year. Today, we needed just three points but we preferred to think big, which is what this team deserves. A thank you to President Montezemolo who is here this evening to be alongside the mechanics, engineers and drivers at this happy time. Thanks also to the fans who have always believed in us. The dream has come true thanks to a dream team!”