Fisichella wins chaotic race

A wild and unpredictable Brazilian Grand Prix ended in drama and chaos, with Kimi Raikkonen taking 'victory' despite being passed by Giancarlo Fisichella on the track. With the race ended by a red-flag a countback awarded the win to the McLaren ace, to the obvious disappointment of the entire Jordan team. After the race, however, the timekeepers admitted they had made a mistake, and Fisichella was given the win

Fisichella wins chaotic race

Fisichella overtook Raikkonen after the Finn ran wide with Michelin intermediate tyres deteriorating badly. But moments later Jaguar's Mark Webber lost control in the final corner and the struck the outside startline wall on his 54th lap. His shattered R4 careered back across the track, leaving a trail of debris behind him that the unfortunate Fernando Alonso then crashed into at full speed. With the resulting red flags coming out on the 54th lap, race officials were obliged to announce the lap 53 order as the final result, robbing Fisichella of his first win.

A week later, in the FIA's offices in Paris, Fisichella was acknowledged as the rightful winner as the timekeepers admitted they had got it wrong.

Webber escaped unhurt from his huge smash, but Alonso was taken to hospital. The Spaniard was later confirmed to have no injuries. Alonso struck a loose wheel from Webber's demolished Jaguar, virtually at racing speed, which pitched him into the tyre barrier protecting drivers from the pitlane wall at high speed. Although he got out of the wrecked Renault, he collapsed against the pit wall and had to be attended to by trackside medics. He collected third place for his pains, although he was unable to participate in the podium ceremony.

The race started behind the safety car as rain continued to fall and rivulets of water ran across the track. Circuit officials were bizarrely seen hosing parts of the track down before the off, in order to wash away mud brought onto the track by the streams of water.

Four teams elected to start one of their cars from the pitlane, taking advantage of the opportunity to fill their cars with fuel. Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Minardi's Jos Verstappen, Jaguar Racing's Antonio Pizzonia and Jordan's Ralf Firman all had a top-up, although the rapid deterioration of intermediate tyres in drying conditions suggested a one-stop (or even non-stop) race was unlikely.

Tyres had been the hot topic of the weekend, due to the decision by Michelin and Bridgestone to bring only intermediate rubber to Brazil, which proved ineffective in the conditions.

One 25-metre section of flooded track, in particular, accounted for half the retirements from the race, including that of world champion Michael Schumacher. The exit to Turn Three appeared to have a constant stream of water flowing across it, making each pass through it a lottery. As tyre tread wore down and the rest of the track began to dry the situation got progressively worse.

Minardi's Justin Wilson was first to fall prey to the hazard - after a blinding start in which he went from last to 12th - followed by Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya, Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia, on the same lap. Michael Schumacher aquaplaned off on lap 26, while marshals were still engaged in the removal of Pizzonia and Montoya's cars! Jenson Button was the fifth driver into the tyres at Turn Three on lap 32. Webber nearly joined the party after sliding off the track, but a superb save enabled him to continue.

The conditions were such that the Safety Car was deployed on four separate occasions, jumbling up the order as cars dived in and out of the pits. The second Safety car period, after the start, was precipitated by Ralf Firman on lap 18 - his Jordan suffering a spectacular front suspension failure on the pit straight and collected an unsuspecting Olivier Panis who was minding his own business on the wat into turn one. The safety car was despatched again after Schumacher joined the turn three car park, with Button's trip into the barriers at the same corner bringing the machine into action yet again.

Among the carnage and confusion there were some heroic moments. Kimi Raikkonen set off like a scalded cat when the racing proper got underway, overtaking both DC and Rubens Barrichello in decisive fashion. Montoya was another fast starter, rising up to second until his michelin tyres began to go off, eventually forcing him to concede to Coulthard and Schumacher. On lap 29 Ralf Schumacher went round the outside of Barrichello only to be retaken moments later. Raikkonen then gave Ralf a taste of his own medicine, passing the German in a stunningly brave around-the-outside move on lap 37.

Barrichello came into his own as conditions appeared to switch the advantage from the Michelin to Bridgestone, whose tyre has the edge in drying conditions. On lap 44 the Brazilian swept up the inside of the infamous Turn Three to take the lead from Coulthard, after the Scot's McLaren twitched and ran wide. The crowd went mad as their local hero began to pull out a commanding lead. Sadly, it was not to be, as shortly afterwards his Interlagos curse continued when his Ferrari gave up on him, sending much of the crowd to the exits.

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