made best of a heavy fuel load, superb tactics and a critical error from McLaren Mercedes to win the 57-lap European Grand Prix in Valencia, the tenth of his career and his first since Shanghai 2004. Wearing a tribute to the injured Felipe Massa on his crash helmet
the emotional Brazilian took the chequered flag two seconds clear of pole-sitter Hamilton and in doing so moves second in the championship race, 18 points behind Brawn Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton looked to be in complete control of the race in the early stages as he stormed away from the pole position with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen backing up Barrichello and allowing the Hungarian winner to pull a small advantage. Barrichello however was able to run close behind Kovalainen and with his heavier fuel load was able to gain second position following the first round of stops.
With his rear gunner now consigned to third, Hamilton pushed hard to keep the gap to the Brawn racer between three and four seconds. However it was all for nothing as on lap 38 Hamilton peeled off into the pit lane only to find the team had not prepared the tyres. As the crew scrambled around, the valuable seconds ticked by and after 14 seconds Hamilton was back in the race. Barrichello by this point was now six seconds up the road and the race was lost for McLaren.
It was a superb drive from Barrichello who may well have taken the victory regardless of Hamiltonís problem, but it would have been a whole lot closer. With Red Bull enduring an awful race weekend, Barrichello moves ahead of Mark Webber in the championship as the Australian finished ninth and out of the points, while Sebastian Vettel suffered a fuelling problem and then another engine failure to record his second straight failure to finish. Kimi Raikkonen
qualified sixth and made best of KERS off the line to vault fourth by the first corner. From this point the 2007 champion drove his usual solid race, gaining third from Kovalainen in the second and final stop. Team-mate Luca Badoer had reasonable pace in race conditions, but his return after a decade on the sidelines in place of the injured Felipe Massa was littered with small errors leaving him 17th at the chequered flag.
Kovalainen will be disappointed with fourth position after running second through the first stint but the Finn held off the charging Nico Rosberg to the line and recorded his best finish, in what has been a difficult second season with McLaren Mercedes.
Rosberg continued his string of points scoring results with a fine fifth while team-mate Kazuki Nakajimaís race was compromised in qualifying with the mechanical and then destroyed in the race by a right rear puncture. The Japanese racer has yet to score this year. Fernando Alonso
chased Rosberg for much of the race before settling for sixth position at his home Grand Prix in the leading Renault while championship leader Jenson Button
had a poor race to seventh position and just two championship points.
Starting fifth, Button made a good start to the race to run alongside Sebastian Vettel into the first turn. Perhaps with his large championship lead in his mind, Button backed off and this allowed four cars to stream through. The Brawn racer soon passed Mark Webber, but was judged to have cut a chicane to gain an unfair advantage and was forced to relinquish the position. The British driver would gain the place from Webber in the final round of pit stops, but it was a poor drive from a driver aiming for the ultimate prize.
Robert Kubica claimed the final point for the BMW Sauber team with a solid run to eighth position while Webber looked lost all weekend and finished a dismal ninth and out of the points. Red Bull Renault therefore leaves Valencia having failed to score and are now 27.5 points behind Brawn Mercedes in the constructorsí championship.
Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella
showed good race pace to finish tenth and 12th for Force India Mercedes with Nick Heidfeld
between in the second BMW Sauber. The Toyota duo of Jarno Trulli
and Timo Glock were both involved in lap one incidents, the former with Romain Grosjean and the latter with Sebastien Buemi, but went on to finish 13th and 14th.
Grosjeanís first Grand Prix was compromised by his contact with Trulli at the start of the race and a spin later in the race as he took 15th ahead of Jaime Alguersuari who really struggled in his second start with Toro Rosso. Team-mate Buemi was forced to pit for a new front wing after contact with Glock on the first lap and later spun out of the race with a front left brake failure.
The Formula One circus packs up and heads to the Eifel Mountains for the Belgian Grand Prix at the fabled Spa Francorchamps circuit. Red Bull needs to bounce back after a dismal Valencia weekend while Barrichello may be on a late season roll just at the time when his team-mate is losing his form...