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Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 12:01 GMT

Ferrari dream in tatters

The anguish tells on the Ferrari fans

Ferrari's hopes of ending a 20-year wait to win the Formula One driver's world championship have been shattered by Mika Hakkinen's victory in a McLaren.

Millions of Italians who got up early on Sunday morning to watch the Suzuka showdown had to put their drinks back on ice.

Ferrari did finally end their 16-year wait for the constructors title.

[ image: Irvine: Came third in the race, second overall]
Irvine: Came third in the race, second overall
But they have not won the drivers championship since South African Jody Scheckter raced to victory back in 1979.

Ferrari hopeful Eddie Irvine's challenge was being called the "Red Dawn" in Italy.

Restaurants and nightclubs stayed open to broadcast the last, crucial race of the season.

And in Ferrari's home town in northern Italy, tens of thousands of fans - known as the "Tifosi" - watched the decider on three maxi-screens erected by local officials.

Bells silent

Maranello is where they make Ferraris, where the Grand Prix team is based.

[ image: Church bells did not ring this time]
Church bells did not ring this time
When the scarlet cars are out racing, the town stops. If they win, there is pandemonium.

Maranello's many Ferrari drivers gather in the main square, sounding their horns. The church bells ring.

Even the local priest is found glued to his television set on race Sundays.

But Don Alberto Bernardoni's planned bell ringing will have to wait for next season.

The knife-edge appeal decision to re-instate Ferrari's one-two finish in Malaysia notwithstanding, the Italian manufacturer finally ran out of luck.

Tifosi tributes

Instead, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo paid tribute to world champion Hakkinen.

Despite the disappointment, Montezemolo and the fans in Maranello were sporting in defeat, with the Ferrari president saying: "Hakkinen had a great race, he deserved the drivers' title, just as Ferrari deserved the constructors' title."

Montezemolo mingled briefly with the crowds outside the Ferrari factory, shaking hands and thanking people for their support.

Red Dawn may have ended in Ferrari failure, but there was still widespread applause for the Finn's deserved victory.

Around 40,000 of the Tifosi packed the streets to watch the action, but the fans began leaving a dozen laps before the Grand Prix ended - already convinced that the 20-year title quest would have to wait for at least another 12 months.

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In this section

Toyota set to join F1

Irvine's $2m miss

Hakkinen crowned F1 champion

Finn toasts team success

1999 Championship standings

Ferrari dream in tatters

F1's emotional champion

Dreams shattered in Irvine's home village

Grand Prix's favourite son

Mika's glory: Japanese GP in pictures

Top cat Eddie

The best man won

Damon Hill: An F1 career in pictures

Silverstone to stage F1 Easter parade