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August 24, 2009

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Barrichello ends five-year wait with victory at Valencia circuit

BRAZILIAN Rubens Barrichello ended five years of frustration yesterday with an emotional victory for championship leader Brawn GP at the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain.

Barrichello, whose last victory was with Ferrari in Shanghai in September 2004, beat McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton by 2.3 seconds on a sizzling afternoon at the Valencia street circuit.

"I wish this moment could last forever. I want to stay here until Monday," said the 37-year-old, who sobbed in his helmet as he took the checkered flag for Brawn's seventh win in 11 starts.

Hamilton had led from pole but his hopes of winning for the second race in a row went out of the window when his team bungled the second pitstop.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished third.

Championship leader Jenson Button, Barrichello's teammate, labored to seventh after a shocking start but, astonishingly, saw his overall lead cut by just half a point to 18 with six races left.

The Briton now has 72 to Barrichello's 54 and 51.5 for Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber.

Webber finished out of the points in ninth place while German teammate Sebastien Vettel, who had been third overall, retired with a blown engine after also suffering a similar failure in pre-race practice. He has 47 points.

Barrichello's victory was the 10th of a career that started in 1993 and the Brazilian, the oldest driver on the grid until Ferrari stand-in Luca Badoer came along to replace Felipe Massa, was ecstatic.

"It's fantastic," said the Brazilian, whose career had looked to be over when Brawn's predecessor Honda pulled out in December. "It's been a weekend I will never forget.

"After five years you don't forget how to win but it's tough. There was a lot going through my mind," added the Brazilian, racing with a message of support for injured compatriot Massa on his helmet.

Only Brazilians have won at the harbor-side track, with Massa winning last year.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen finished fourth after starting second, while Nico Rosberg of Williams rounded out the top five ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso.


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