Winning the 2000 world championship was a "decisive" moment for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, according to his manager Sabine Kehm. Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 after winning a duo of titles with Benetton.
The German was keen to end the drought that the Scuderia outfit was suffering from, as it had not won a drivers' title since 1979 and a constructors' championship since 1983. It took a handful of years and disappointing loses, however Schumacher won his first title for the team in 2000.
The victory would spark a streak that remains unmatched, as he would go on to take five consecutive championships with Ferrari. Speaking on F1's official Beyond The Grid podcast, Kehm says that his first title set in motion the rest of his tenure at the Maranello squad.
“It was clear the pressure was extremely high, I felt that it was a decisive year,” Kehm said. “I don’t know what would have happened if the championship would not have happened.
"I really had the feeling that I wouldn’t know what would have happened if they don’t make it. He was really incredibly working in that year and really put in everything.”
Kehm described the extent of the emotions that the team members went through when he won the championship in Japan: “I really remember when Michael won [the title] in Suzuka - I never imagined such an explosion of emotions from the whole team,” Kehm said.
“When he crossed the finish line people in the back of the garage were in tears. I think only then I really understood what it meant to them, because they had tried for so long for so many years.
“There were some mechanics who had been around for 25 years and they were literally really crying in tears, but ashamed they were crying so they were trying to hide it. I’ve never seen something so touching. That was the moment that I really thought ‘wow’. It was even bigger than I expected it to be.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing