Barrichello ends 5-year title drought

() - August 25, 2009 - 12:00am

VALENCIA, Spain – Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix on Sunday to claim his first Formula One victory in five years.

The 37-year-old Brazilian took advantage of a costly pit-stop error by Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren team to record a 10th career win – his first since the 2004 Chinese GP – and boost his championship hopes.

Hamilton finished second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen after having started the Valencia street race from pole position.

Jenson Button finished seventh to have his championship lead cut to 18 points over teammate Barrichello. Red Bull’s Mark Webber finished ninth and is 20.5 points behind Button.

“It’s going to be a good fight. But at least it’s going to be a fair fight between ourselves,” said Barrichello, who danced on the podium after pumping his fists wildly through the victory lap.

Luca Badoer, who is filling in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, finished 17th after starting last.

Hamilton, who also finished second at last year’s race, looked to be cruising to a second straight win after having taken the Hungarian GP. But McLaren’s mechanics fumbled when removing tire warmers during his final pit stop, which lasted 13.4 seconds, and the chance was gone.

“This is very, very rare that this happens,” said Hamilton, who was called in with his fuel load running out before the team reconsidered too late. “I’d crossed the white line when they told me to finish my lap, but then I would have lost too much time.”

As Hamilton’s exasperated father Anthony and pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger looked on, Barrichello moved clear in front after his second stop and held on to win by 2.3 seconds.

“I was pushing like hell. A hard win, Especially after five years, you don’t forget how to do it but it’s tough,” Barrichello said after making it 100 victories for Brazilian drivers in F1.

He dedicated his victory to Massa, who is recovering from lifesaving brain surgery after a loose part came off Barrichello’s car and struck the Ferrari driver in the helmet at the Hungarian GP.

“This was an emotional one for me. He’s such a good friend and I wish him the very best,” Barrichello said.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen finished fourth after starting second, while Nico Rosberg of Williams rounded out the top five ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso.

Red Bull’s championship hopes took a hit after both Sebastian Vettel and Webber finished out of the points.

Vettel withdrew for the second straight race, pulling out due to an engine failure near the halfway mark. Drivers are only allowed to use eight engines per season and the German is believed to have used seven already, further complicating his title hopes.       (AP)

AS HAMILTON BARRICHELLO EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX FELIPE MASSA FERNANDO ALONSO FERRARI FINISHED FORMULA ONE HEIKKI KOVALAINEN RED BULL
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