Barrichello Wins the First Chinese GP
|By Will Gray||Sunday, September 26th 2004, 07:37 GMT|
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello won the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix for Ferrari at the new Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday to secure second place in this year's World Championship with his second successive victory.
Barrichello, who has played second fiddle to World Champion teammate Michael Schumacher all season, led from pole and never looked threatened as he used a three-stop strategy to hold off the opposition.
But Schumacher was left embarrassed after starting from the pitlane following a spin in practice and he finished down in an unfamiliar 12th place after suffering a spin and a puncture as he tried to fight back.
It was Briton Jenson Button who finished closest to Barrichello after using a two-stop plan to claim second for BAR-Honda but he was simply outclassed and his chances of chasing down second in the championship are now over.
Finn Kimi Raikkonen finished for only the second time in five races and he displayed the pace of his McLaren-Mercedes machine by putting it on the podium in third place after hounding Barrichello in the first two stints.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso finished fourth for Renault but their hopes of finishing runners-up to World Champions Ferrari in the title race were struck a blow with just two races to go.
With Button second and his Japanese teammate Takuma Sato sixth the team wracked up 11 points to Renault's five after returning Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, who replaced dropped Italian Jarno Trulli, finished out of the points in 11th.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya claimed fifth place for Williams-BMW but his teammate Ralf Schumacher, who returned from a three-month injury lay-off this weekend, retired from the race.
Sauber continued their strong season-ending form as Italian Giancarlo Fisichella claimed seventh place and Brazilian Felipe Massa finished eighth to claim the final points positions.
Things first went wrong for Schumacher in Saturday qualifying when he spun and, after choosing to change his engine and start from the pitlane, his car was still on the jacks in his pits without a set of tyres as the lights went out.
Barrichello got off to a good start to lead Raikkonen into the first corner but third-placed Button struggled off the line and dropped down to fifth as Alonso made a rocket start from sixth to slot into third.
Schumacher was still last after two laps and Button moved up to fourth when he passed Massa on the third lap as Raikkonen posted the fastest lap of the race to stay close to Barrichello.
Fisichella then passed Massa, quickly followed by Schumacher, as the Brazilian slipped down to seventh place before Scot David Coulthard's McLaren clipped the rear of Massa's Sauber as he pushed to go through but Massa held on.
Button then passed Alonso at the hairpin on lap seven to move back into third place and by lap 10 Schumacher had worked his way up to 16th place with Sato, who started from 19th spot, just three ahead in 13th.
German Schumacher clashed with Christian Klien's Jaguar as he passed him into the hairpin on lap 12 and the Austrian was forced to pull into the garage and retire at the end of the lap.
Leading pair Barrichello and Raikkonen came in, nose to tail, at the end of lap 12 and came out in exactly the same order to leave Button to set the fastest lap of the race before pitting at the end of lap 13.
Schumacher, who spun in qualifying at the first corner, had made it up to 10th place by lap 16 but he made a mistake at turn 13 and spun onto the grass then made a mess of his recovery as he returned to the track.
But he set about his fightback in style, passing Coulthard to move into the top ten then overtaking Massa with ease after the long run into the hairpin on lap 18 then setting a record lap of 1:32.627.
Meanwhile, at the front, Barrichello led with Raikkonen close behind while Button dropped back into the clutches of teammate Sato, who had worked his way up to fourth but stopped at the end of lap 18.
Schumacher, who was the only driver yet to stop, went faster still on lap 19 with a 1:32.576 as he chased down his brother Ralf and he flew past into the hairpin for fifth before pitting immediately and dropping back to 14th.
Raikkonen pitted again at the end of lap 27 before Barrichello pitted from the lead two laps later and the Ferrari team put in a typically perfect stop to keep him in front of his McLaren rival.
Schumacher was still running in the midfield when he suffered a left rear puncture and was forced to coast around half of the circuit before returning to the pits to fit a new set of rubber.
Raikkonen pitted for a third time at the end of lap 36 and fuelled to the end but he came out behind Button, who was on a two-stop strategy, and effectively handed the Briton second place.
Ralf Schumacher pitted after colliding with Coulthard on lap 38 but missed his pit before climbing out to retire as Coulthard suffered a delayed front left puncture from the collision and pitted to change tyres.
Brazilian Ricardo Zonta retired his Toyota soon after and Italian Minardi driver Gianmaria Bruni was left without a left front wheel on lap 41 which forced him to limp back to the pits.
Barrichello pitted from the lead for the final time at the end of lap 42 and a 6.3-second stop put him out well clear of second-placed Button to hand him a clear run to the end as Schumacher broke his own record lap on the final lap of the race.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai International Circuit, China; 56 laps; 305.256km; Weather: Sunny. Classified: Pos Driver Team-Engine Time 1. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1h29:12.420 2. Button BAR-Honda (M) + 1.035 3. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 1.469 4. Alonso Renault (M) + 32.510 5. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) + 45.193 6. Sato BAR-Honda (M) + 54.791 7. Fisichella Sauber-Petronas (B) + 1:05.464 8. Massa Sauber-Petronas (B) + 1:20.080 9. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 1:20.619 10. Webber Jaguar-Cosworth (M) + 1 lap 11. Villeneuve Renault (M) + 1 lap 12. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 13. Heidfeld Jordan-Ford (B) + 1 lap 14. Panis Toyota (M) + 1 lap 15. Glock Jordan-Ford (B) + 1 lap 16. Baumgartner Minardi-Cosworth (B) + 3 laps Fastest Lap: M.Schumacher, 1:32.238 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Bruni Minardi-Cosworth (B) 39 R.Schumacher Williams-BMW (M) 38 Zonta Toyota (M) 35 Klien Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 12 World Championship Standing, Round 16: Drivers: Constructors: 1. M.Schumacher 136 1. Ferrari 244 2. Barrichello 108 2. BAR-Honda 105 3. Button 79 3. Renault 96 4. Alonso 50 4. Williams-BMW 64 5. Trulli 46 5. McLaren-Mercedes 58 6. Montoya 46 6. Sauber-Petronas 32 7. Raikkonen 34 7. Jaguar-Cosworth 10 8. Sato 26 8. Toyota 9 9. Coulthard 24 9. Jordan-Ford 5 10. Fisichella 21 10. Minardi-Cosworth 1 11. R.Schumacher 12 12. Massa 11 13. Webber 7 14. Panis 6 15. Pizzonia 6 16. da Matta 3 17. Heidfeld 3 18. Klien 3 19. Glock 2 20. Baumgartner 1 All timing unofficial