British Grand Prix: Barrichello wins incident-packed race

Excitement and the art of overtaking returned to Formula 1 in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but an all-action race was clouded by one misguided individual who risked not only his own life but that of every driver in the race when he ran onto the track to make a bizarre protest. It cast a shadow over Rubens Barrichello's finest day in the top flight, as the Brazilian took a well earned, yet hard fought, victory for Ferrari

British Grand Prix: Barrichello wins incident-packed race

The first inkling that it would be one of those days came when front row starter Jarno Trulli took full advantage of his Renault's excellent launch control to leap ahead of poleman Barrichello on the run down to Copse. Rubens was suffering from low tyre pressures, which he blamed on Trulli holding up the pack on the warm-up lap, and he was powerless to halt Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), who darted into the slipstream of Trulli and also shot past the Ferrari at Copse.

Barrichello even slumped into the clutches of Ralf Schumacher (Williams) before his tyres recovered and he set off in pursuit of the leaders.

Outside influence number one: David Coulthard, up from 12th on the grid to ninth in the early going, suffered a scare when his cockpit surround flew off on the exit of Copse on lap four, leaving debris all over the high-speed corner. "The glue broke and it flew off," was DC's synopsis of what happened, and he waited until the safety car was called out before making a stop to have it replaced.

Trulli kept his cool at the restart on lap seven, heading Raikkonen, Barrichello, R Schumacher, M Schumacher (Ferrari), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota).

Barrichello then passed Raikkonen with a sublime move around the outside of the first element of Abbey on lap 10, just before the second outside influence on the race - the harebrained protestor - intervened on the Hangar Straight. The resultant safety car sent almost everyone into the pits, which meant the likes of Montoya, M Schumacher and Alonso were forced to wait while their better placed team-mates received priority service.

That left da Matta, who stopped during the first safety car period, in the lead from team-mate Olivier Panis in an unlikely Toyota 1-2. Coulthard, who had dropped to the back of the field a few laps earlier, was now third, ahead of Trulli, Raikkonen, R Schumacher, Ralph Firman (Jordan) and Barrichello. Of the big losers, Montoya was 12th from Alonso and M Schumacher.

Da Matta pulled away from the opposition from the restart, as Raikkonen made short work of early leader Trulli (at Copse) and Coulthard (at Club) at the restart. He then deposed Panis for second at Copse a lap later.

Also on the move was Barrichello, who made his second around-the-outside pass of the day at Abbey, this time on R Schumacher on the exit of the left-right chicane. Montoya also charged past Ralf, who was struggling badly with the balance of his car due to a broken guide vane and would pit just seven laps into his stint, as it was jammed in his radiator, ruining his point scoring chances.

The race finally settled down as it broke the 20-lap barrier, with points of note being M Schumacher's lack of success at passing Alonso, and Antonio Pizzonia's spectacular pass on Jaguar colleague Mark Webber at Stowe for 10th.

Alonso managed to get clear of M Schumacher's advances and cleared Jacques Villeneuve's BAR too, which Michael became stuck behind for at least five laps before he finally made a move stick at Abbey.

Leader da Matta pitted on lap 30, allowing Raikkonen clear air at the front. Barrichello also shuffled through the order as the three stoppers made their second stops to run second, about 10secs shy of Raikkonen, with Montoya in third another 3secs behind.

Raikkonen pitted on lap 35, crucially allowing Barrichello to bang in some super-fast laps until his final stop on lap 38. Although Rubens rejoined behind the Finn, it was apparent that Raikkonen would have his work cut out to keep him behind for the final 20-odd laps.

In fact, it took Rubens just a handful of tours to chase down and pass Kimi, but in keeping with the manner of the race, it wasn't as easy as it perhaps should have been. Barrichello's first attempt came at Abbey, where he was successful earlier, but Raikonen kept him behind.

Rubens got a better exit, however, and was alongside on the run to the dauntingly-fast Bridge bend. Kimi tried to hold on around the outside, perhaps foolishly given the delicate state of the world championship, but ran wide onto the grass and Barrichello was though. After that, he scampered to a 5.4sec victory, his first since that stage-managed 'win' at Indianapolis last year.

"I knew the car was fast enough to pull away," said Barrichello. "It was difficult to overtake Kimi, he was good on the straights. I feel the difference was in the tyres today, and we did very well."

Barrichello's Ferrari was the fourth make of car to lead the race, although that number failed to include Williams, which won the previous two races.

Raikkonen should have also cruised to the finish, but he slid onto the grass at Stowe with 12 laps remaining after falling foul of oil from Pizzonia's expiring Jag (the race's first retirement). That allowed Montoya, who had made a similar mistake earlier, to nip past to grab second.

"It was pretty hard after I was stacked up in the pits," said Montoya. "I think I was in 13th after that and it was pretty hard, but I seemed to get past people very quickly - bam, bam, bam. I was pleased with my pace today."

Raikkonen suffered some tyre problems which he reckoned also cost him time. To add to his woe, M Schumacher made a typically stealthy climb through the pack to finish just one place behind in fourth. After getting stuck behind Alonso and Villeneuve, and looking unlikely to even score a point, Michael picked off the three-stopping Coulthard and Toyota duo, plus the fading Renaults (Trulli was sixth but Alonso retired with an electrical failure).

Coulthard grabbed fifth from Trulli with a brilliantly judged move at Vale with three laps remaining. The impressive da Matta and a tenacious Jenson Button (BAR) rounded out the point scorers.

R Schumacher three-stopped to a massively disappointing ninth place, but at least showed that he knows how to overtake with a couple of good moves in the midfield pack. Villeneuve escaped a late spin into the Abbey gravel trap to place 10th, ahead of Panis and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (who suffered a terrible start when his launch control failed). Firman held off Webber in a mighty scrap over 13th, while Jos Verstappen headed Minardi team-mate Justin Wilson and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.

Besides Pizzonia and Alonso, the only other retirement was Giancarlo Fisichella, whose right-rear suspension failed on the entry to Becketts, pitching his Jordan into an alarming airborne series of spins.

It was yet another lucky escape on a day that F1 lived a charmed existence.

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