Ferrari F1 World Champions

Michael Schumacher, arguably the most talented driver of the day, joined Ferrari in 1996 after two consecutive drivers' titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995. After years of drought in F1 Championship victories, Ferrari enthusiasts worldwide hoped that he would be the saviour. Even with his enormous talent and a massive restructuring of the team, for four years it was so dose but so far, a case of 'always the bridesmaid never the bride'.

In 1996, three wins and some good placings gave Michael third place in the title chase. The following year, the battle for the title intensified with Ferrari much more competitive, with the outcome resting on the result of the final race in Spain. This was the scene of Schumacher's ill-judged move on the other title contender, Jacques Villeneuve, which resulted in his exclusion from the points table. In 1998 five wins brought him second place in the Championship behind Mika Hakkinen. In 1999 the season started well with two victories plus one for team-mate Eddie Irvine, but the plan went awry in the British Grand Prix when he broke his leg in a fire lap accident, that sidelined him for most of the remainder of the season. However, Eddie Irvine picked up the baton and stayed in the title hunt up to the last race, but the team at least had the consolation of winning the Constructors' Championship.

In 2000, early season races confirmed that, for the third year running, it was going to be a fight between Ferrari and McLaren for the respective titles. In the early part of the year, Michael Schumacher built up a strong lead in the points table, but then a series of misfortunes, including being eliminated in first corner accidents in two consecutive races, saw Mika Hakkinen take the points initiative as the season developed. However, despite the setbacks, Schumacher fought his way back into the championship quest and took it beyond Hakkinen's reach in the penultimate race in Japan. That victory brought the Dtivere' Championship to Maranello for the first time in 21 years, and then Michael finished the season in style by winning the final round in Malaysia. Ferrari were Constructors' champions for the second year running. The season tally was nine wins for Michael Schumacher, and one for his 2000 season team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

It seems very apt that in the year in which the Ferrari F1 team came of age, the British concessionaire, Maranello Concessicriaires Ltd, celebrated their 40th anniversary as Ferrari importer for the UK.

No championship victory is the work of one person, but a sustained team effort, each element of the brain performing an important function. However, every team needs leaders, and Ferrari in Formula 1 has been resurrected under the leadership of Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the Chairman and Managing Director of Ferrari S.pA. This is his second spell with the company, as he managed the racing department during the successful Niki Lauda era from 1974 to '77. It was he that hued Michael Schumacher to the team and restructured the F1 team bringing in key personnel like the relented British designer Rory Byrne and ace tactician Technical Director Ross Brawn, who had both worked successfully with Michael Schumacher at Benetton. Another important ingredient in the international talent package is the General Manager of the team, Frenchman Jean Todt, who has successfully pulled the individual components together to end the success drought and bring the company those coveted titles in the year 2000.

Ferrari enthusiasts worldwide cannon look to the future with renewed optimism, as the team has delivered the goods after 21 years, and seems poised to build on the strong foundations that are now in place.

Alberto Ascari, 1952 & 1953

The inaugural Drivers' World Championship was in 1950. That year and 1951 were dominated by Alfa Romeo team drivers. However, for the next two seasons, it was Alberto Ascari and Ferrari's party. He took the Ferrari 500 F2 to six consecutive victories in 1952, with a total of eleven victories from fourteen races entered over the two seasons. Together with wins by his team-mates Farina and Hawthorn, the Ferrari 500 became one of the most successful Grand Prix cars of all time, and Ascari provided Ferrari with back to back Drivers' Championships.

Juan Manuel Fangio, 1956

One of the most successful and best known Grand Prix drivers of the fifties, initially with Alfa Romeo, then Maserati and Mercedes Benz, Juan Manuel Fangio joined Ferrari for the 1956 season to drive the Ferrari-Lancia D50. This car was a development of the 1955 Lancia D50 model, inherited by Ferrari when Lancia withdrew from Grand Prix racing in 1955. He won the championship by three points from Stirling Moss in a Maserati. This was the fourth of his five Drivers' Championship titles.

Mike Hawthorn, 1958

The first Briton to take the Divers' World Championship title. After a season-long duel with Stirling Moss in a Vanwall, Mike Hawthorn won the title by a single point, although Vanwall won the newly inaugurated Constructors' title from Ferrari. The model that took him to his title was the V6 engined Dino 246, named in memory of Enzo Ferrari's son Dino, who had died in 1956, and was credited with some of the development work on the engine.

Phil Hill, 1961

Phil Hill first drove a Ferrari F1 car in 1958, after many years racing Ferrari sports racing cars in the United States. He was with the team during the transition from front to mid-engined models, and it was in the first fully developed mid-engined Ferrari F1 car, the 156 'shark nose' model, that he took the Drivers' Championship to become the first 'Yankee Champion'.

Niki Lauda, 1975 & 1977

In 1975 five wins in the 312 T model took Niki Lauda to the Drivers' title, with Ferrari winning the Constructors' Championship. He was in strong contention for the title again in 1976 until he almost lost his life in a fiery accident in the German Grand Prix. He made a miraculous comeback, only to lose the title by one point in the last race of the season. In 1977 he took his second Drivers' Championship for Ferrari in the 312 T2 model.

Jody Scheckter, 1979

Jody Scheckter made his F1 debut with McLaren at the age of 22 in the 1972 USA Grand Prix. After spells with McLaren, Tyrrell and Wolf, he joined Ferrari in 1979 with Gilles Villeneuve as his team-mate. They took three wins apiece during the season, but Jody Scheckter's better placings and finishing retard saw him take the title by four points from his teammate, with Ferrari easily winning the Constructors' Championship. '

John Surtees, 1964

After a brilliant motorcycle rating career, that included three consecutive World Championships, John Stains turned to motor racing in 1961. He proved to be equally at home with four wheels and joined the Ferrari F1 team in 1963. He won the Drivers' World Championship to become the only person to be a motorcycle and F1 World Champion, a record that he still holds today.