It was the 16th round of the 2002 season, held at Indianapolis Motor speedway, Indiana. Ferrari had already wrapped up both the constructors and the drivers championship. Michael Schumacher was crowned as the champion for the fifth time now. Little did anyone know that Indianapolis would be the scene of the closest F1 victory
Despite this, a huge crowd had turned up to acknowledge the champion-Schumacher, who topped all the pre-race practice sessions and had set a new fastest lap record in qualifying. The fans were already impressed. What followed in the race, was even more spectacular for them.
Schumacher’s team mate, the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was second in qualifying and in most part of the race, Ferrari had the 1-2 position, with Schumacher in front. It had been a very clear and simple race for the Ferrari duo without much of a challenge like the rest of the season.
At the last corner of the race, what happened changed the result of the race. Barrichello suddenly started closing on his team-mate Schumacher and it certainly seemed that race might end up in a tie! To the fans it did seem that the race was a tie while to the commentators it seemed that Michael Schumacher had won. Later on after seeing the video replays, it was declared that Rubens Barrichello had won the race by a mere 0.011s margin from his team mate!
It was one the closest victories ever in Formula One and the closest since the introduction of time measurement to a thousandth of a second.
Both the drivers had their own story as to what happened in the last corner. While both agreed that they tried to finish equally and attempt a dead heat, F1 pundits lashed Schumacher for making a mockery of the sport and giving away the position. Earlier in the season, Barrichello was asked to move aside for Schumacher in the Austrian Grand Prix and many considered this a return of favour from the 5-time world champion.
Whether it was planned or not, whether it was a return of favour or not, F1 got one of its closest race finish ever and certainly one of the most dramatic. It was a picture-perfect finish for Ferrari though, who secured their 8th one-two finish of the season.
Engineer in the making. Loves cars, Formula One , Tennis and Tech. Big fan of the 80s and 90s era of Formula One. #KeepFightingMichael