BACK in 2000, Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit not only hosted the final race of the season, it was also the last Formula One race in Johnny Herbert’s career.
The Englishman, who began his F1 career in 1989, started his 160th Grand Prix at the SIC with high expectations. But it did not end well.
Driving for Jaguar, he suffered a right rear suspension failure and his car flew across the gravel trap, slamming into the tyre wall.
Herbert, a popular guy in the paddock, was in 10th spot then.
It marked an undignified end to his career as two marshals had to carry him away from the wreck of the Jaguar.
Although the 2000 edition saw Ralf Schumacher claiming Williams BMW’s first-ever victory at Sepang, it will also be remembered for the early clash between his brother Michael and Juan Pablo Montoya.
The Colombian, who was Ralf’s teammate, made a better start from second and had his nose ahead of the Ferrari driver when they turned into the first corner.
However, Schumacher understeered into Montoya, taking off both their front wings and sending them pit-bound.
Montoya was hit by a drive-through penalty, but recovered to finish second.
The stewards at Sepang later came under fire for imposing the drive-through penalty on Montoya.
“I don’t understand why I was given a penalty. We were racing – that is what F1 is all about.
“If people don’t want to see this sort of stuff, we should just get the safety car out and run behind that,” said the Colombian.
The following year saw Ralf winning again under wet and slippery conditions, but it was the spectacular drive of Arrows driver Jos Verstappen that caught the eye.
From 18th on the grid, the Dutchman climbed to sixth during a chaotic first lap and, as it began to rain, he was on a charge.
Verstappen moved up to fifth on lap three after race leader Ralf had an off-track excursion. On lap five, he was running second behind McLaren’s David Coulthard when the safety car came on.
The Dutchman was forced to wave Sauber driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen past when he realised that he had overtaken the German under yellow flags. At the restart, he reclaimed the position again.
In total, Verstappen spent five laps holding second place and a further seven in third, although as conditions improved, he did not have the machinery to finish any better than seventh.