Rubens Barrichello Wins the German GP

Twenty four hours earlier Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Rubens Barrichello had said that his 18th qualifying position for the German GP was the worst day of his year, but by Sunday afternoon his tears of despair had turned into tears of joy in the best day of his life as he wept with delight on the Hockenheim podium having just won his first Grand Prix.

Rubens Barrichello Wins the German GP

Twenty four hours earlier Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Rubens Barrichello had said that his 18th qualifying position for the German GP was the worst day of his year, but by Sunday afternoon his tears of despair had turned into tears of joy in the best day of his life as he wept with delight on the Hockenheim podium having just won his first Grand Prix.

After an incredible drive from 18th to first place in difficult mixed track conditions, the 28-year-old Brazilian pulled victory out of disaster for the Ferrari team when Michael Schumacher crashed out of the race in another first corner accident, after he collided with the Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Barrichello, on a two-stop strategy to try and gain places at the start, showed his strategy was the right one when he carved his way through the field into fifth place by lap 6. "I had decided to run more wing just before the start of the race because of the chance of rain and the fact that I would have a lighter fuel load. It was a good tactic as the car was quick and I could keep up on the straights," explained Barrichello.

He was up to third place by the time he made his first stop 17 laps into the 45 lap race, but only lost two places in the quick stop which kept him in contention for a strong finish.

Out front, Mika Hakkinen had made what he described as a "once a year" start to take the lead from the second row, David Coulthard following him into second place with the two McLarens comfortably outpacing their rivals in what had looked like being a comfortable win for the McLaren, but all that was soon to change around the half way stage of the race.

Hakkinen was the first to stop on lap 26, just as a disgruntled French spectator decided to cut his way through the fence and start wandering down the edge of the track, apparently in protest at losing his job with Mercedes in France. He then ran across the track and the officials had no choice but to send out the safety car while the protestor was removed from the track. It worked out badly for Coulthard, who spent two laps behind the pace car and came back into the race after his Scheduled stop in sixth place, while Barrichello was back in third spot behind Hakkinen and Jarno Trulli's Jordan. Like Hakkinen, Barrichello took advantage of the pace car as soon as it came out to make another quick pit stop that would take him through to the end of the race.

Pedro de la Rosa had run a strong race and was holding fourth place just ahead of the second Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen who, like Barrichello, had made an exciting charge through the field on a two-stop race strategy from 17th place on the grid.

The race took another twist on lap 33, as the threat of rain became reality. Heavy rain around the stadium section saw Hakkinen head for the pits for wet tyres on lap 35 dropping him back to fifth place and elevating Barrichello into the lead just ahead of Coulthard, Frentzen and Zonta, a furious Trulli having gone back to 11th place after a pit stop for wet tyres and then a 10 second penalty for passing Rubens Barrichello under the yellow flag as Barrichello had left the pits on his second stop.

With two thirds of the track still virtually dry, Barrichello was not losing ground to Hakkinen, while Coulthard also decided to head for the pits after he almost slid off the track at the hairpin. "I thought it was better to save the points I had rather than risk crashing and getting nothing," said Coulthard who headed for the pits on lap 38 leaving Barrichello a comfortable lead from Frentzen who had also stayed on dry tyres.

Sadly for Frentzen, his joy was short lived, the frustrated German forced to park his car on lap 40 when the electrics died. Barrichello got the message from his pit, "keep up those lap times and you can win the race," and that's exactly what he did. Driving brilliantly in the slippery conditions, he held a 12 second lead which he let slip to seven seconds on the final lap once he knew the race was his.

After 123 GP starts, he finally got his first win, one which everybody was delighted to see, not least his teammate Michael Schumacher, for Rubens' win had ensured Schumacher kept his World Championship lead by a slim two points from Hakkinen and Coulthard, while Ferrari also keep their Constructors' lead by just four points from McLaren.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The German Grand Prix Hockenheimring; 45 laps; Weather: Dry, and then rain. Classified: Pos Driver Team 1. Barrichello Ferrari 1H25:34.418 2. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes + 7.400 3. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes + 21.100 4. Button Williams BMW + 22.600 5. Salo Sauber Petronas + 27.100 6. de la Rosa Arrows Supertec + 29.000 7. R.Schumacher Williams BMW + 30.800 8. Villeneuve BAR Honda + 47.500 9. Trulli Jordan Mugen-Honda + 50.900 10. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth + 1:19.600 11. Mazzacane Minardi Fondmetal + 1:29.500 12. Heidfeld Prost Peugeot + 5 Laps * * retired with alternator failure Fastest Lap: R.Barrichello, 1:44.300 (235.570km/s), lap 20 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Reason Frentzen Jordan Mugen-Honda 39 electrical failure Verstappen Arrows Supertec 39 spun off Zonta BAR Honda 37 spun off Gene Minardi Fondmetal 33 engine Wurz Benetton Playlife 31 spun off/stalled Diniz Sauber Petronas 29 accident Alesi Prost Peugeot 29 accident Herbert Jaguar Cosworth 12 gearbox M.Schumacher Ferrari 0 accident Fisichella Benetton Playlife 0 accident Lap Leaders: Laps 1-25 Hakkinen; Laps 26-27 Coulthard; Laps 28-35 Hakkinen; Laps 36-45 Barrichello. World Championship Standing, Round 11: Drivers: Constructors: 1. M.Schumacher 56 1. Ferrari 102 2. Coulthard 54 2. McLaren 98 = Hakkinen 54 3. Williams-BMW 22 4. Barrichello 46 4. Benetton-Playlife 18 5. Fisichella 18 5. BAR-Honda 12 6. R.Schumacher 14 6. Jordan-Mugen Honda 11 7. Villeneuve 11 7. Sauber 6 8. Button 8 8. Arrows 4 9. Trulli 6 9. Jaguar 3 = Salo 6 11. Frentzen 5 12. Irvine 3 13. Verstappen 2 = de la Rosa 2 15. Zonta 1 All timing unofficial

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