Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix in Valencia to move into second place in the world championship title race between Brawn GP teammate Jenson Button.
Barrichello denied reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton a second successive victory with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in third place. It was Barrichello’s first grand prix victory for five years and lifted him ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber in the championship standings. Button continued his indifferent recent form by finishing a distant seventh, but with Webber out of the points and the Sebastian Vettel failing to finish in the second Red Bull, it completed a fruitful afternoon for Brawn. It was certainly an emotional victory for the 38-year-old Barrichello, who had last won for Ferrari at the Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 and whose Formula One future looked in doubt at the end of last season. “It’s been fantastic weekend that I will never forget, especially after five years,” he said.
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Heikki Kovalainen, who started on the front row of the grid with McLaren teammate and polesitter Hamilton, finished fourth with Nico Rosberg fifth for Williams. The top six was rounded out by home hero Fernando Alonso for Renault, holding off Button with Robert Kubica gaining the final point for BMW Sauber. Button tops the standings with 72 points from Barrichello with 54 and Webber on 51 1/2. Hamilton, who was put under pressure by a strong performance from Barrichello, saw his chances of victory disappear in a slow second pit stop, with his McLaren team appearing unprepared as he came in for fuel and new tires. The stop lasted nearly 14 seconds and left Barrichello with a clear advantage which he never relinquished. Luca Badoer, who is replacing injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, finished 17th and way off the pace. Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, who had been set to come in for Massa but aborted his comeback because of a neck injury, watched the race from the Ferrari pit wall.