There are Grands Prix which stay lodged in the memory of all those who witnessed them, because of their unpredictability. The Saturday afternoon of the 2000 German Grand Prix already saw qualifying plans change due to the unforeseen rain which arrived a few minutes after the start of the session. David Coulthard in the McLaren, one of the first to go out on track, took pole position ahead of Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari F1-2000. Rubens Barrichello was among those who were less lucky. A hydraulic problem meant he had to go out on track when the rain was at its worst, which meant the Brazilian was only 18th fastest, a disappointing result considering the car’s potential.
For Ferrari, the worst moment came at the start of the race when Coulthard forced Schumacher onto the outside of the track, catching Giancarlo Fisichella by surprise, who had started behind Michael, and whose Benetton hit the Ferrari. Schumacher’s race was over after a few metres, while Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren was in the lead ahead of his teammate Coulthard, Jarno Trulli in the Jordan and Pedro de la Rosa in the Arrows. Barrichello made a great start and was already up into 10th on the first lap and was on a two-stop strategy rather than the one-stop chosen by most of the others.
Rubens, after moving into third spot, made his first pit stop, coming back out on track in 17th while the two McLarens seemed in control of the race with a huge advantage over Trulli. On lap 24, a French ex-Mercedes employee, 47-year-old Robert Sehli, invaded the track to protest his dismissal after 20 years’ service. The race director was forced to send out the Safety Car and everyone took the opportunity to pit, including Barrichello who took on enough fuel to get him to the end of the race. When the Safety Car came in, Hakkinen was in the lead followed by Trulli, Barrichello, De la Rosa, Frentzen and Coulthard, but the race was soon neutralised again due to a crash between Jean Alesi and Prost.
The race continued to be unpredictable, in fact not long after the restart it started to rain. All the drivers came back into the pits to put on wet tyres except for Barrichello and Frentzen. For the Brazilian it was the winning move. The rain was concentrated in the Motodrom section which meant that those on wet tyres were unable to catch up consistently. Hakkinen pushed and in the last laps got closer to Barrichello, but the Brazilian managed the tricky conditions well, taking the win seven seconds ahead of the McLaren.
On the podium an emotional Barrichello, savoured his first ever Formula 1 win, listening to the sound of the Brazilian national anthem being played for the first time since Ayrton Senna won the 1993 Australian Grand Prix. It was also an important victory for Ferrari as it allowed the Scuderia to maintain its advantage over McLaren in the World Constructors’ Championship, as Hakkinen was deprived of maximum points.