To win in the top flight of motorsport, you can’t just have a powerful engine, an ultra-quick car, a genius driver, or a well-oiled team; you need it all. These are the factors that combined in 2000 when Ferrari won the Formula One Constructor’s Championship and Driver’s Championship with the legendary Michael Schumacher behind the wheel of this unrivalled Ferrari F1-2000. This holy relic from Ferrari’s most dominant era in modern Formula One could now be yours as it goes under the hammer from the 3rd to the 12th of April with Sotheby’s Sealed: Schumacher - The Making of a Legend.
One must experience a form of clairvoyance when on the verge of greatness. Engineering genius and Ferrari’s Technical Director, Ross Brawn, seemed to have a functioning crystal ball ahead of the 2000 Formula One season. He’d been hard at work during the off season, concocting what would turn out to be one of the greatest racing cars of all time — the Ferrari F1-2000 you see here — but often a great car isn’t enough to win the championship (just look at the Mercedes W12). Despite the unpredictable nature of racing, Brawn confidently stated at the start of the season: “I think we’ve probably had the best car we have ever had at the beginning of the season, since the present group has been working together here at Ferrari.”
The bleeding-edge prancing horse boasted an arsenal of weapons to give it the edge on the competition. A redesigned 815 horsepower 90-degree V10 subtly lowered the car’s centre of gravity, while an advanced aerodynamics package would help the F1-2000 remain stuck to the tarmac at higher cornering speeds than any other. Capable of revving to a heavenly 17,300 RPM, the F1-2000 not only looked the part, it was also capable of making men, women, and children alike buckle at the knees with its 10 cylinder scream.
As mentioned earlier, the driver wasn’t half bad either. Widely considered one of the greatest ever to step into an F1 car, Michael Schumacher put together a hell of a performance to become Ferrari’s first Driver’s Champion in 21 years. Schumacher started the season in top form, quickly dispatching 58 laps under the Australian sun to bring home gold for the Tifosi. Next up was this car’s maiden race, the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix, which Schumacher also promptly dominated. In the end, he hustled his F1-2000 first to the finish line no fewer than nine times that season, even winning the final four races back-to-back to clinch the title, despite a mid-season slump that saw three consecutive retirements for the German driver.
However, the car offered here, chassis 198, wasn’t originally destined for the limelight. Serving initially as Scuderia Ferrari’s spare car, it would step out from the shadows and into the history books at Brazil after Schumacher ran wide during qualifying at Interlagos, badly damaging the undercarriage of his first car in the process. Schumacher and chassis 198 then lined up to the starting grid in third place, but thanks to a combination of Michael’s generational talent and the F1-2000’s reliability, the duo managed to outcompete the rival McLarens (Häkkinen was forced to retire after blowing his engine, while Coulthard was disqualified for excessive wear on his front wing end plates).
Reflecting on his win, Schumacher had this to say: “We made an obvious improvement to our starting strategy. I was able to catch Mika but I didn’t want to take a risk too soon, and of course he was not keen to let me pass. I enjoyed our battle — it’s been a long time since there was a good fight and overtaking for the lead.”
Chassis 198’s next outing was at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, where it helped Schumacher secure his first pole position of the season. Things were looking good for the race too, with this Ferrari leading the field for the first 24 laps. However, despite regaining the lead after a pitstop and another 22 laps in first place, a combination of a refuelling error and a slow puncture meant Schumacher had to settle for fifth.
Next up for Chassis 198 was Monaco, where this F1-2000 proved to be lightning quick yet again, qualifying at the top of the timing charts in what would be Schumacher’s final Ferrari pole in Monte Carlo. Yet again, the F1-2000 with Schumacher at the wheel was a deadly combination, amassing a 35 second lead by the time he pitted on lap 49. Sadly, misfortune reared its ugly head once more for the pair as a broken pushrod forced Schumacher to retire just six laps later.
Chassis 198’s final race with Schumacher took place at the A1-Ring in Austria, but a fairy tale ending it was not. Schumacher qualified in 4th, right behind his teammate Rubens Barrichello, and things weren’t to improve from there. At the start of the race, Ricardo Zonta in a BAR-Honda struck Schumacher from behind, forcing both to retire. Thankfully, damage to both the car and driver was light, and chassis 198 was subsequently repaired by Ferrari and brought to all of the remaining Grand Prix that season, but it never took to the track in F1 again.
Following the season, chassis 198 returned to Maranello, where it was completely rebuilt. In March 2001, the car was sold to Ferrari collector Kevin Crowder of Texas, who had the car Ferrari Classiche certified in 2005, and prepared it for use in F1 Clienti events. The current owner purchased chassis 198 in 2016, and has given this F1-2000 some exercise since, taking to the track at Ferrari F1 Clienti events held in Monza in 2017 and at Austin, Texas, in 2020. You can now experience the rarified thrill of revving out one of Ferrari’s most spectacular race cars of all time as you sit in the same cockpit as one of the greatest F1 drivers ever to grace the sport.