Another century begins - 2000s flashback

Audi flexes its muscles at Le Mans, while Lewis Hamilton barges onto the F1 podium

Audi Le Mans R8 podium

Audi AG

A year on from Audi’s  Le Mans debut, its new R8 scores an emphatic win in the hands of Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen.  For the last-named, the victory marks his second of an eventual record-breaking nine at the  24 Hours. When Audi briefly withdraws its factory team Kristensen guides the sister Bentley brand in 2003 to its first  Le Mans win since 1930.

Michael Schumacher in Ferrari

At the fifth time of asking, Michael Schumacher scrapes the monkey from his back by becoming  a world champion for Ferrari. He defeats Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren at Suzuka to clinch the title, the first in a special sequence. Five in a row and seven in total combined with his Benetton crowns lift  him well clear of Fangio and the rest, on 91 grand prix wins too.

Wales Rally GB Richard Burns

On his journey to Wales Rally GB, the 2001 WRC champion Richard Burns blacks out. He is diagnosed with a brain tumour that eventually leads to his tragic death in 2005, at 34 – four years to the day after winning his world title. Two years later his rival Colin McRae dies when the helicopter he is flying crashes in Scotland. Three others are killed, including McRae’s five-year-old son.

F1 US Gp 6 cars on the grid

F1 hits a new low when teams running Michelin tyres at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis withdraw at the end of the formation lap over safety fears. That leaves just six Bridgestone-shod cars on the grid – and  a packed house up  in arms. Scrutiny of  world motor sport’s leadership, under Max Mosley’s FIA, intensifies. Schumacher’s Ferrari claims a farcical ‘victory’.

Fernando Alonso wins 2006

A one-off season in which tactical tyre changes are banned snookers Bridgestone, Schumacher and Ferrari, as Michelin-shod Renault rekindles its flame that burned in the team’s previous guise as Benetton. At 24 years  and 58 days, Fernando Alonso eclipses Emerson Fittipaldi’s record from 1972 to become F1’s youngest champion. He then beats a rejuvenated Schumacher in 2006.

Audi R8 at Le Mans 2006

Audi redefines perceptions of what a racing car is supposed to be when its whispering turbo-diesel Audi R10 wins Le Mans straight out of the blocks. The success kick-starts a rivalry with Peugeot, which develops its own diesel-propelled LMP1. The French company’s 908 HDi FAP ends Audi’s run of five straight wins (and eight in nine years) with victory at the 24 Hours in 2009.

Lews Hamilton victory in 2007 season

GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton arrives fully formed to bank what remains modern grand prix racing’s most-sensational rookie campaign. The 22-year-old shocks team-mate Fernando Alonso by finishing his first nine  GPs on the podium and winning his sixth and seventh. But McLaren’s season unravels amid the ‘Spygate’ scandal, as Kimi Räikkönen nicks the title.

Lewis Hamilton in 2008 season

Hamilton shakes off Spygate and McLaren’s £49.2m fine to become champion for the first time – but oh, how close! Only a last-corner pass on  Timo Glock’s Toyota at Interlagos lifts him to the fifth place he needs to pip heartbroken race winner Felipe Massa to the  crown by one point. The recriminations triggered by Nelson Piquet Jr and ‘Crashgate’ in Singapore remain unresolved.

Jensson Buttin fixing hair after win

From the ashes of Honda and its abrupt Formula 1 withdrawal in the wake of the global financial crash, Ross Brawn launches a team under his own name – and gifts Jenson Button a dream. Six wins in Brawn GP’s first seven races (not to mention  a controversial double diffuser) underpin Button’s unlikely world title. Brawn then sells up to Mercedes – and Button defects to McLaren.