Michael Schumacher - even if you don’t follow Formula 1, you’ve heard the name. The German megastar from Kerpen transformed Formula 1 in the early 2000’s with five back-to-back World Titles with the iconic Ferrari Formula 1 team. However, the journey to those five world titles was long and challenging.
The Timeline & 1998 Season
Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 after back-to-back world titles with Flavio Briatore and the Benetton team. His first campaign with Ferrari was a difficult one as the team hadn’t developed the fastest car, but despite this Schumacher won the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix and proved to everyone that his new venture with Ferrari had promise.
After a controversial 1997 title fight with Jacques Villeneuve and Williams which saw the Canadian become world champion, the German’s main challengers for 1998, following a change in the regulations and design of the cars, was the McLaren Mercedes team. 1998 saw the two teams and their number one drivers, Michael Schumacher and Mikka Hakkinen.
The 1998 Spanish Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher started the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in third position but a poor start allowed his Irish teammate, Eddie Irvine and the Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella to shoot past on the run down to turn 1. It wasn’t long though until the double world champion was back into third position and by staying out for two laps longer during the first round of stops, Schumacher got the jump on both Irvine and Fisichella. From there on it should have been plain sailing, but the German received a ten second stop go penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
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Once again the Ferrari team managed to help leapfrog their number one driver back into the podium positions after he dropped to fourth place behind Alexander Wurz’s Benetton as a result of the penalty.
The German wouldn’t endure any more dramas for the rest of the race and scored his fifth podium finish of the season. By claiming a podium finish Ferrari also proved their new radical exhaust system, which now exited from the top of the engine cover, protecting the rear wing structure and giving the F300 more throttle stability.
Photograph credits go to Steve Etherington/LAT Photographic
Schumacher and Ferrari fans wouldn’t have to wait much longer for championship glory as in 2000 Ferrari finally developed the right car and Schumacher put together a fantastic campaign with nine victories to become world champion. The rest is history.