Back in 2000, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari clinched the drivers and constructors titles. To celebrate the occasion, the entire Ferrari team sported red wigs, with a few exceptions.
Even McLaren driver David Coulthard donned a red wig at the press conference. This was because, Ferrari had completed a rare double of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships in the same season.
Schumacher won the Drivers’ title two weeks earlier at Suzuka in Japan. He then took the Malaysian GP win to secure the Constructors’ title for Ferrari as well.
Briton Coulthard was second in the race, with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello third for Ferrari.
It had been 21 years since the Italian team last won both titles and, as McLaren chief Ron Dennis generously noted, they had every reason to celebrate in style.
“Now,” he said, “is the appropriate time to congratulate both Michael and the rest of the Ferrari team for their Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships.
“I hope they party for at least three months in order to give us a head start for next year.”
Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt, said it was a moment of great personal and professional satisfaction for him.
“I came here to build up the team, to put the pieces into place and to achieve this success and, for me, it is a very satisfying and very special feeling to have done it.”
The season could not have finished better than this. Two drivers on the podium. The statistics are fantastic this season — ten wins, nine for Michael, one for Rubens, a record year,” said Todt.
“This time, we only needed three points but we did it properly,” said the Frenchman, whose team arrived in Malaysia knowing one title was won and the other was assured if they took just three more points.
Schumacher drove in typically bold style on a remarkable afternoon, 12 years after the death of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari in 1988 — the last season in which all the race victories in one year were taken by only two teams.
The German was slow away from pole but made up ground after Finland’s Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren was handed a 10-seconds penalty for jumping the start.
“We wanted to win the constructors’ championship and we have done it, not just by getting three points, but by winning and by coming third. It was a very tight and a very tough race and DC (Coulthard) was pushing me all the way,” he said.
“It is a shame but all the guys in the team are flying out tomorrow with everything so they are going to be packing up most of the evening now,” added Schumacher.
“But then, we will have a big, big party and we can go into a winter holiday which the whole team really deserves.”
Barrichello, who finished third despite suffering with a heavy cold in the high temperatures and humidity, said he had enjoyed the race and the season.
“I am so pleased,” he said, also wearing a red wig. “Now we can start next season in a really strong way too.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, one of the most superstitious of the team’s supporters, had flown into Malaysia on Sunday morning to be present on the big day.
But instead of watching the race at the circuit, he chose to stay away and follow it on television from his hotel room.
“But he wants to join the big party tonight back at the hotel and we will all enjoy ourselves with him,” said Todt. “That is why he came.
“For us all, it has been a long time coming to achieve this and we will have a real celebration.”