Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher were firmly locked in world title combat by the time the 2000 Formula 1 campaign reached Belgium and, come the race, they would produce one of the great passing moves in modern day racing.
Only two points separated the pair before the race, with all to play for on a circuit loved by all, Hakkinen qualified on pole, with Schumacher back in fourth, but the pair were running one-two with a few laps as the German took full advantage of a clash between Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli ahead of him.
Rain had soaked the track in the run-up to the race, but had eased off approaching start time and, by lap ten, almost everyone had pitted for slicks. Hakkinen resumed in the lead but, just a handful of laps later, spun off at Stavelot, handing the advantage to his rival.
Schumacher then pulled out an advantage approaching 15 seconds as Hakkinen recovered his composure and pace, but had to make his second stop some five laps earlier than the Finn. The intervening laps gave Mika the chance to get the hammer down and, by the time both had taken on fresh rubber and rejoined, the gap had been more than halved.
Hakkinen continued to close in and, by lap 40, was near enough to the Ferrari to take a look heading into Les Combes. Just as it appeared that Mika had a run on his rival, however, Michael moved over to cover the inside, getting close enough that the cars touched – at 180mph.
Angered by the chop, Hakkinen went back in pursuit and, having initially dropped back, was right with the German again as they headed through Eau Rouge next time around.
The run to Les Combes again appeared an ideal opportunity to pass and, this time, Schumacher was unable to hold the middle ground as Ricardo Zonta was already there. Fortunately, the Brazilian rookie chose not to move out of the way, for Schumacher dived to his left, figuring it would give him the optional line through the right-left that followed.
Hakkinen, meanwhile, kept his foot in and went right, the pair flashing by Zonta’s BAR in an instant. Mika, on the inside for the first part of the chicane, gave Michael no option by to cede.
With three laps remaining, the Finn went on to win by just over a second. His move, meanwhile, went down in the annals of F1.
That concludes our exploration into some of the classic wheel-to-wheel battles that have graced Formula 1.
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