Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

Schumacher has made last F1 circuit stop moot

October 19, 2000


— For a race only one year old, the Malaysian Grand Prix already has a lot of history.

Last year, Michael Schumacher made a spectacular return to the Formula One season following a three-month break to recover from a broken leg. He won the pole position, gave up the race lead to then-Ferrari-teammate Eddie Irvine, was disqualified after the race, then reinstated.

Now Schumacher returns to the Sepang course near Kuala Lumpur as the newly crowned world champion.

His manager says that new souvenirs, labeled "World Champion 2000," are already being prepared, possibly for sale by Sunday's season-ending race in this Southeast Asian country.

Schumacher clinched his third Formula One title by winning the Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 8, moving past two-time champion Mika Hakkinen on the second pit stop.

That gave Schumacher an uncatchable 12-point lead in the season standings and a third world driving title to go with the pair he earned with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.

Since then, Schumacher had pursued a third crown for Ferrari, coming close twice. After starting the season brilliantly winning five of the first eight races he slumped, allowing Hakkinen to overtake him.

Then Schumacher recovered to win on three continents Europe, North America and Asia as he won the Italian, U.S. and Japanese races.

He returns to Malaysia in triumph. Last year, after missing six races following a crash at the British Grand Prix in July, he returned to racing in Sepang amid speculation over when even whether he could come back.

He gained the pole position and then led the race before moving aside to allow Irvine to go ahead. The Ferraris finished first and second and gave Irvine a temporary lead in the season standings.

Then the Ferraris were disqualified for a technical violation. Less than a week later, the decision was overturned and Ferraris' 1-2 finish was reinstated.

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