Barrichello claims first win in five years

VALENCIA: Emotional Rubens Barrichello claimed his 10th Formula One victory on Sunday when he drove his Brawn GP car through a perfectly-judged race in searing heat to win the European Grand Prix.

It was the Brazilian's first win this season and his first triumph in five years since the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai for Ferrari.

A popular victory, it was greeted with delight and also with tears in the paddock.

Barrichello's win lifted him from fourth to second in the drivers' championship standings.

Briton Jenson Button, his Brawn team-mate, now leads with 72 points ahead of the Brazilian on 54 with Australian Mark Webber third on 51.5.

The 37-year-old driver from Sao Paulo delivered one of his finest races of modern times as he came home ahead of defending champion Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari under a high sun and blue skies over the Mediterranean street circuit in eastern Spain.

"This has been a fantastic weekend for me and one that I'll never forget," said Barrichello.

"But after five years, it's so tough. They told me to push and push. They said push, but things are going through my mind and you can't help it. You just want to do it for yourself and your country and your family and a lot more, but the car was just perfect."

Hamilton had started from pole but his hopes of victory were dashed by a muddled second pit-stop when the McLaren team had not prepared his tyres.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh defended the pit crew and said Hamilton's car was not fast enough to win the race.

Whitmarsh said: "No it was not the pit stop. We weren't as quick in the race as we should've been. We needed to open up a bigger lead than we did today, we pushed it to the absolute limit, but had to make a late call on that second stop to get Lewis Hamilton in and that pit-stop cost us, maybe, a couple of seconds.

"It was an operational error, yes, that didn't cost us victory, we didn't have the race pace."

Hamilton said: "We win and we lose together. We have had a tremendous effort to get us here and we can't take second for granted or be disappointed not to win because we have had extraordinary races in the last few races.

"These things happen and it rarely happens to me. In all my time with this team, I think it is only the second time. They deserve a pat on the back."

Raikkonen said: "I needed to be 100 per cent all the time. But I had a good feeling with the car and it has turned out ok. It has been a good weekend for me and I am happy with a podium."

Another Finn, Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, came home fourth ahead of German Nico Rosberg of Williams and local hero two-times world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault, who was sixth.

Button came home seventh to improve his place in the title race with Pole Robert Kubica finishing eighth for BMW Sauber.

Button fulsomely praised Barrichello.

"He deserved it and I am delighted for him," said Button. "But I think he has closed the gap and I have to do something about it now.

"It seems like the people behind me are jockeying for position and sooner or later they will start closing the gap unless I do something about it.

"That is something I must address at Spa next time out. But well done to Rubens, he did a great job."

Webber, second in the title race and needing points to keep his challenge alive, finished ninth after his Red Bull team-mate German Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire with an engine failure.

It was Vettel's second engine blow-up of the weekend and signalled that the Red Bull team are struggling to stay on the pace in the championship scrap ahead of a potentially-cooler, if not cold, race in Belgium next weekend.