Ever since Enzo Ferrari’s death in 1988, the team he founded had been in a state of chaos. Luca di Montezemolo’s decision to hire Jean Todt to run the team in 1993 took six years to pay dividends, such was the magnitude of the task, but pay off it did, with the constructors’ title in 1999 and the double in 2000.
Backed by di Montezemolo, Todt overcame resistance as he transformed the team, one day coming home to find burglars had deposited a broken pair of scissors on his pillow. When he joined Ferrari, chassis designs were faxed over a page at a time from John Barnard’s office near Guildford in the UK. By 1997 Todt had poached the star driver and the chief technical architects of Benetton’s mid-1990s success – Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne – but there was still work to be done. Ferrari didn’t even have a windtunnel on site, and tumbleweed was blowing through the design office.
With Byrne installed as chief designer and Brawn as technical director, Ferrari’s form improved to the extent that Schumacher could have challenged for the drivers’ title in 1999 had he not broken his leg at Silverstone. In different circumstances, the technical team would have chosen to evolve their already competitive offering for the next season, but with the recently completed Maranello windtunnel commissioned and ready, they went for a clean sheet.
As Brawn said: “With the aerodynamics I think we have a very good facility here and a very good group of people, so normally when they say something is better, it is better. We don’t get any surprises these days from the windtunnel.”
The F1-2000 was brand new, as was its V10 engine, a wider unit than before to promote a lower centre of gravity. The outer skin followed some design philosophies of 1999, but inside it was very different. The chassis benefitted from a closer tie-up with parent company Fiat’s vehicle dynamics research centre in Turin.
Schumacher and his new team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, could now take the fight to Mclaren more regularly, and Schumacher won the first three races of the season. Mclaren, for their part, suffered poor reliability. The F1-2000 had its flaws – the rear suspension was too flexible, stressing the tyres, and the engine sometimes ran too hot – but Brawn and Schumacher could stitch up their rivals strategically even when racing on the proverbial back foot. Carbon-fibre composite monocoque Double wishbones, pushrod-activated torsion arms, front and rear Ferrari Type 049 V10 2,997cc 770bhp Ferrari 7-speed semi-automatic 600kg 3,010mm Bridgestone Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello Rory Byrne