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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK
Barrichello grabs China win
CHINESE GP RESULT
Rubens Barrichello leads Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix
1 R Barrichello (Ferrari)
2 J Button (BAR)
3 K Raikkonen (McLaren)
4 F Alonso (Renault)
5 JP Montoya (Williams)
6 T Sato (BAR)
7 G Fisichella (Sauber)
8 F Massa (Sauber)
Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello won the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix after a tense race-long fight with Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen.

The Brazilian led almost from start to finish, but was pressured throughout.

Button moved up to second when he made one less pit stop than his rivals, and just managed to hold off a charging Raikkonen on the final lap.

Michael Schumacher had an eventful race after starting from the pit lane and could finish only 12th.

The German spun on his qualifying lap, and Ferrari chose to start him from the pit lane to give him the best possible strategy.

He fought up to ninth place by lap 15 despite banging into Christian Klien's Jaguar but a quick spin dropped him briefly down to 12th delaying his fightback by a few seconds.

Then he suffered a puncture in his left rear tyre while running 11th on lap 35, dropping him further back down the field.

Schumacher found himself behind Jacques Villeneuve's Renault after both his problems and struggled to pass the Canadian both times.

The Ferrari star made three pit stops and had to settle for 12th place behind the man to whom he lost a battle for the 1997 world championship.

Schumacher's team-mate Barrichello never had to fight off a passing attempt from Raikkonen, but nor could he ever relax as the McLaren driver kept the pressure up until their second stops.

But an attempt by McLaren to leapfrog Barrichello with a short third stint backfired when Raikkonen ran into traffic.

Jenson Button celebrates his second place in China
When you know the other guys are doing a three-stop and you are doing a two it makes it very tough mentally
Jenson Button
The Finn slipped back behind Button, and while the McLaren closed right up on the BAR in the last 10 laps Button was able to hold Raikkonen off.

Barrichello said: "It was hard. I was under pressure but was able to be cool at the stops, open a decent gap and maintain first place.

"We knew at the beginning that we would have some trouble because we were graining the front tyres a little bit, but the tyres did a superb job. They held on really well.

"Towards the end I didn't push that much because I had an eight-second lead, but the graining stayed longer and I was struggling a little bit."

It was Barrichello's second win in a row and he said he was pleased to be finishing the season strongly.

"It's been a season where I have been playing catch-up to Michael. He started at a high level and for some reason I wasn't able to chalIenge him, but now things are going well," he said.

Ralf Schumacher had driven a solid race in his Williams on his return to F1 after three months out with an injury and was on course for fifth place but he was forced to retire after David Coulthard hit him from behind on lap 37.

The German eclipsed team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who said he struggled with his car at the technically demanding Chinese track.

Montoya inherited his team-mate's fifth place.

Coulthard, who has yet to secure a drive for next season, was an unconvincing ninth behind Takuma Sato's BAR and the Saubers of Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa.




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