Michael Schumacher’s title-winning 2000 Formula 1 campaign acted as a “decisive” moment for himself and Ferrari, according to the seven-time world champion’s manager Sabine Kehm.

Having won the first two of his world titles with Benetton, Schumacher switched to Ferrari for the 1996 season but endured a number of frustrating years, including disqualification from the world championship in 1997, and suffering a leg break that forced him to miss much of the 1999 season.

Schumacher and Ferrari finally made a breakthrough at the turn of the millennium as he claimed nine victories on his way to clinching his first of five successive titles with the Scuderia during a period of lasting dominance yet to be replicated since.

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“It was clear the pressure was extremely high, I felt that it was a decisive year,” Kehm said in an interview with F1’s official podcast, Beyond The Grid.

“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, a former F1 journalist who worked as Schumacher’s press officer during his domination of the early 2000s and still continues manage his affairs to this day, shared an insight into the emotional celebrations sparked at Ferrari once Schumacher had sealed his first title at the 2000 Japanese Grand Prix.

“I really remember when Michael won [the title] in Suzuka - I never imagined such an explosion of emotions from the whole team,” Kehm revealed.

“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.”

Asked if she felt Schumacher’s success elevated him to a different level in the sport, Kehm replied: “I think so yes. I think he also immensely grew in the years he was driving F1 having this success and continuing to have that success.

“He developed massively as a person. It gave us a gravitas he poured out over the years.”

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