The 2000 Italian GP: Schumacher Equals Senna’s Record of 41 Wins
The 2000 Season
The Ferrari team came back strongly in the 2000 season, dusting off the gremlins of the 1996 to 1999 seasons. The start of the season appeared pretty solid for Ferrari with Michael Schumacher winning four of the six races; however, the McLaren team caught up with the Ferraris as Mika took the lead in the drivers' standings before the Italian Grand Prix. Incidentally, 2000 was the season which saw Mika overtake Michael Schumacher at the Spa circuit; an uber-awesome overtake which will remain alive forever in the annals of Formula 1.
Remember the overtake?
Despite all that happened prior to the Italian GP, Schumacher and Ferrari team had to get their heads together to win and catch up with Mika on the points table. Otherwise, the 2000 season very well seemed heading towards the 1998 and 1999 finish. Could Michael Schumacher do it?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
Despite the general notion of the 2000 championship being a battle between Schumacher and Hakkinen, there were four contenders to the title right up to the Italian GP – Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello.
Italian GP being fourth from the last, the four-way battle was right up to the wire.
Only after the end of the Italian GP did it come out conclusively that the battle remained only between Michael and Mika.
The 2000 Italian GP
The Ferrari did a fabulous job getting on the front row of the grid. The start was perfect with Michael getting out in the front; however, Barrichello lost ground and Mika came into the second position closely following Michael. But there was carnage in the first corner with several crashes. If that was not enough, the collision continued another two turns later, and all this was within half a lap from the start.
Have a look:
This race was a bit of a tragedy for one of the race marshals as he passed away due to one of the tires of the crashed Jordan hitting him. You can watch the tire flying at 0:28 minutes towards the marshals’ area. Soon after, the safety car was deployed with the lead cars of Michael and Mika in first and second position, respectively.
Safety Car Leaves – 2000 Italian GP was a Go
Schumacher at the front of the trail of cars, tried to control the pace by braking hard before accelerating out to start the new lap free of the safety car. This action sent one of the cars in the line-up out on to the grass. That event notwithstanding, the race started without any more delays, and Michael and Mika put up hot laps after another. They were most of the times adrift of each other by five to eight seconds but were way clear of the rest of the cars.
Coming fresh from the Spa overtake where Ferrari lost in the closing laps, Michael did not take any chances and kept on with the pace till the very end. Very soon, he was home and thus started the celebration for the victory and for bringing Schumacher just two points behind Mika Hakkinen.
Just Another Schumacher Victory
The Italian GP win was Schumacher’s 41st victory bringing his tally equal to the late triple-world champion, Ayrton Senna. It was an emotional moment for Schumacher, and he was in tears during the post-race press conference.
For a man who had been thought to be quite robotic and devoid of emotions, Michael was just the opposite. He just chose when to express himself, and this was one moment where he couldn’t control his feelings.
On the funny side, though, the interviewer just doesn’t stop. Mika gestures, asks and keeps hinting for a break but it just doesn’t happen. Well, not all share the same emotions. Also, I presume, it would be only Mika, Senna’s former teammate, who would have understood Michael at that point. Guess, maybe that was also one of the many reasons that despite their rivalry, they both had enough understanding and mutual respect.
Did You Know?
As ironic as it may sound, Senna entered heavenly bliss in Italy in 1994, thereby bringing an untimely end to his F1 career.
And it was in the same country that Michael Schumacher equalled Senna’s record of 41 wins, six years later.
Back to the Garage
While Michael continued to win more races and ended his career at the very top of the F1 list, there were moments like the 2000 Italian GP, where he paid respect to a great driver in his own emotional way.
Not many know this, but Schumacher was also the one heading the drivers’ safety program since Senna’s death, and many of his work was responsible for ensuring driver and even spectator safety; a point worth remembering about Michael!
© 2020 S K