There have been many periods in Formula 1 when one team has dominated the action. At the start of the new millennium, Ferrari completely ruled the roost, reiterating the supremacy of its team, drivers and technology season after season. The team of mechanics that assisted Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello most definitely added more than a few extra horsepower too, endlessly sending the cars back out on the track ahead of their rivals after blisteringly fast tyre changes and refuelling stops.
However, if there was one perfect season from that perfect period, it has to be 2002 when Schumacher sealed the deal in July, a feat never before achieved in Formula 1 history. Ferrari was so ahead of the game, in fact, that the Scuderia fielded the previous year’s F2001 in the first round of the season in Australian. At that point, the team was still lapping the F2002 back at Fiorano to improve its reliability. But on the performance front there was no issue at all. It was already delivering. And how… Schumacher won the Australian Grand Prix and was second in Malaysia in the F2001 before debuting the new car which proceeded to win its maiden race at the demanding Interlagos Circuit . At Imola, Barrichello, who’d had a very unlucky season thus far, was also given an F2002, and he and Schumacher immediately delivered their first one-two finish of the season. The German champion then went on to win in Spain, Austria, Canada and Great Britain, while his rivals took turns standing beside him on the podium, nabbing points from each other in the process. Barrichello, for his part, won the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. By the time the French Grand Prix came around, Michael had a 54-point lead over Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams. The race started out as a three-pronged sparring match between Montoya, Schumacher and a young McLaren driver called Kimi Räikkönen. Michael attacked Montoya but the Finn passed him at the Adelaide hairpin. Räikkönen looked set for victory when, five laps from the finish, he locked up and went wide after hitting oil from Olivier Panis’Toyota. Schumacher took very shrewd advantage and shot past the McLaren to be first over the line. That victory combined with his rivals’ results, gave him his fifth World Drivers’ title, equalling the record set by 1950s racing hero Juan Manuel Fangio. It was still only July 21 but the game was over. Ferrari had to wait until the Hungarian GP on August 18 to secure the Constructors’ title. At the end of the season, Ferrari had tallied 15 wins, 10 pole positions and 27 podiums, giving it a total of 221 points, which was exactly the sum of the points clocked by all the other constructors in the championship.
In October of the year the Scuderia dominated the circuits, Maranello unveiled the Enzo Ferrari at the Paris Motor Show. A car that, very fittingly, had benefitted enormously from the Prancing Horse’s Formula 1 experience in many of the solutions adopted. Just 399 Enzos were built, all sporting a 6-litre V12 that unleashed 660 horse power at 7,800 rpm. Its strong links with the F1 single-seater were instantly obvious from its nose section. But the connection went well beyond the merely aesthetic with the racing department providing much technical input. Both chassis and bodyshell were made from carbon-fibre, the model was Ferrari’s first with complete integration of the electronic vehicle dynamic controls with an innovative and advanced Human-Machine Interface, the suspension was push-rod all round and the car was fitted with F1-derived carbon-ceramic brakes for the first time. Then, in 2005, a 400th example was built as a gift for Pope John Paul II. That particular Enzo Ferrari was auctioned for charity by the company and the proceeds, $1.1 million, were donated to the Vatican for humanitarian relief. The Enzo also inspired Ferrari to produce the FXX, the first car in the XX Programme which sees a strictly limited run of extremely powerful, high-tech laboratory cars built exclusively for track use.