With Michael Schumacher back to full strength the prospect for 2000 was another fascinating battle between him and Mika Hakkinen. One crucial change among the top teams was the departure of Eddie Irvine from Ferrari to Jaguar, effectively in a swap with Rubens Barrichello, who had drove for the team when it was Stewart.
After the departure of Alessandro Zanardi, Williams put 20 year-old Formula Three driver Jenson Button in the car alongside Ralf Schumacher. The team would be using BMW power for the first time.
Following their most successful season ever Jordan recruited Jarno Trulli to partner Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Jacques Villeneuve remained at BAR despite their point-less debut in 1999.
Schumacher began the season strongly, winning at Melbourne, Interlagos and Imola to seize the advantage in the championship. Hakkinen slowly began to take points off him, his campaign gathering pace as Schumacher crashed out at the first corner at the Hockhenheimring and A1-Ring.
At the former a lone spectator ran onto the circuit and a safety car period was called. This was a gift for Barrichello, whose early disadvantage from starting in 18th was wiped away. He ten gambled on staying on dry tyres as train fell and won his first Grand Prix.
Spa-Francorchamps was the venue for the greatest showdown between the pair of them. Hakkinen led early on but spun off, allowing Schumacher past. In the dying stages the McLaren was all over the back of the Ferrari. Approaching Les Combes Schumacher squeezed Hakkinen hard to stop him from passing, the two almost colliding at 200 mph. Hakkinen came back and passed the Ferrari brilliantly at the same spot, the two going either side of Riccardo Zonta’s BAR.
The Italian Grand Prix was marred by a terrible crash at the second corner that claimed the life of marshal Paolo Ghislimberti. Over a quarter of the race was spent behind the safety car, and Schumacher won from Hakkinen.
F1 returned to America for the first time in nine years on a road circuit set within the Indianapolis oval. Hakkinen suffered engine failure and now Schumacher was almost unstoppable. At Suzuka he narrowly beat Hakkinen to the flag and finally won his third title, and Ferrari’s first drivers’ championship since 1979.