Schumacher breaks through

Race Rewind 2000

Victory in Australia had proved frustratingly elusive for Michael Schumacher until a breakthrough 2000 triumph set the tone for a spell of Down Under domination.

The German driver did not even finish six of his first nine races in Australia, two frustrating second-place finishes and an eighth his other results in the country.

But everything changed for Schumacher in 2000, sparking a memorable run of victories at the iconic Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit.

Ferrari entered the now-traditional season opener in Melbourne buoyed by their 1999 Constructors’ Championship triumph, secured after they finished just four points ahead of McLaren.

It was Ferrari’s first title of any sort since 1983 and the Maranello-based team hoped it would lead to further success in 2000.

Schumacher had a new teammate, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, while Mika Hakkinen – aiming for a third world title in a row - again paired up with David Coulthard for McLaren.

Despite finishing just two points behind Hakkinen in the 1999 title race, Eddie Irvine lost his seat at Ferrari due to Barrichello’s arrival and crossed to the newly formed Jaguar team.

The practice sessions were full of incident but there was a similar theme to qualifying as Hakkinen and McLaren dominated once again.

The Finn would start from pole for the third year running, joined on the front row by Coulthard, with the Ferrari pairing just behind them.

Hakkinen started brightly and the McLaren duo were one-two after Turn 1 as the usual carnage occurred further back in the field, with Johnny Herbert, Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa all early casualties.

Then came the first shock of the day, as Coulthard pulled out of the race with engine issues having completed just 11 laps.

It allowed Schumacher to close the gap and the Ferrari man must have thought his Australian luck was about to change when Hakkinen’s day came to an end just seven laps later after he also suffered engine problems.

It became a battle between Schumacher and Barrichello and the latter even briefly held the lead on lap 46 before he had to enter the pits again.

And that helped the German record an overdue Australian triumph, the start of a hat-trick of wins to begin the 2000 campaign.

He also won the last four in an outstanding season that saw him claim his maiden title with Ferrari and the third championship of his career.

He topped the standings by 19 points, with Hakkinen and Coulthard finishing second and third respectively.

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