The 1998 season saw Ferrari take the penultimate step towards its re-ascendancy in Formula One racing. In the years since its last Constructors Championship of 1979 and its last Drivers Championship of 1982, the Ferrari Scuderia had at first struggled, and then it increasingly dedicated itself to re-establishing its onetime dominance in the sport. Key to this pursuit, of course, was hiring back-to-back championship driver Michael Schumacher away from Benetton in 1996. Schumacher would go on to take the Scuderia to unprecedented heights in the 2000s with a run of six consecutive winning seasons.
In Schumacher’s initial years with Ferrari, the car itself still required some development to contend with rivals such as Williams and McLaren. Seeking to address the car’s deficiencies, in 1997, Ferrari lured designer Rory Byrne out of retirement to replace the departed John Barnard. Though Byrne initially worked to develop Barnard’s 1996 F310 into the F310B for the 1997 season, rule changes following the season’s conclusion, mandating an all-new car for 1998.
On 7 January 1998, Ferrari invited over 800 journalists to Maranello to preview the new car, which was surprisingly dubbed the F300. Michael Schumacher, co-driver Eddie Irvine, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, and Scuderia Manager Jean Todt were all on hand to present the F300, which employed a new engine in the Tipo 047 V-10. Byrne’s design featured several alterations to the aerodynamics of the F310B, including more sculpted air intake panels that commenced several inches closer to the front of the car. These and other aerodynamic innovations are often credited as the basis of the championship cars that soon followed.
Though McLaren won the first two races of 1998, Ferrari bounced back with new Goodyear tyres and some tweaks to the car to take the season’s third race at Argentina. Thus, a close competition ensued for the remainder of the season, with Ferrari narrowly finishing 2nd to McLaren in both the Drivers and Constructors Championships. Despite the seeming setback, the lessons learned propelled the Scuderia to the Constructors Championship the following season in 1999, beginning the historic run of consecutive winning seasons, with Mr Schumacher only losing the Drivers’ title because of a broken leg that forced him to miss several races. His return in 2000 marked the beginning of five consecutive Drivers Championships and the continuation of Ferrari’s still-unequalled run of consecutive Constructors Championships.
Eminently rare and forever tied to one of racing’s all-time greatest legends, the extraordinary Michael Schumacher, 183 is a verifiable Scuderia collectable, significant in provenance and design. It offers long-term appreciation as the immediate antecedent of one of Formula One racing’s greatest championship runs, and it can also be enjoyed first-hand as a breath-taking demonstration of the amazing technical specifications and unbridled power of a genuine late-1990s Ferrari F1 car.
Part of the RM Auctions event in London, October, 2012.
805 bhp, 2,996 cc dual overhead camshaft V-10 engine, seven-speed sequential button-shift gearbox, independent front and rear pushrod-activated torsion arm suspension, and four-wheel ventilated carbon-ceramic composite disc brakes. Wheelbase: 116.25 in.