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European Grand Prix 2002 - a look back 24 Jun 2003

Race winner Rubens Barrichello (BRA), left, is congratulated by his Ferrari team mate Michael Schumacher (GER).
European Grand Prix, Rd9, Nurburgring, Germany., 23 June 2002

The 2002 European Grand Prix provided one of the most dramatic opening laps of the season, and proved again that Ferrari could be beaten in qualifying, even if race day was a different matter.

Williams had kept the scarlet cars off the front row thanks to a superb pole position from Juan Pablo Montoya and an almost equally brilliant lap from team mate Ralf Schumacher. Michael Schumacher was third on the grid, but it was Rubens Barrichello in fourth who sprung the surprise on lap one.

An excellent start by the Brazilian saw him get past not only his team mate but also both of the Williams before the opening lap was complete. It gave him a lead he was never to relinquish, despite the closer and closer attentions of team mate Schumacher in the closing stages.

The world champion's start was none too shabby either. Despite losing ground to Barrichello off the line, he passed Montoya on the first lap to regain third and then overtook his brother just a lap later to move into second. He went on to survive an uncharacteristic spin on lap 23, but nevertheless finished the race just 0.294s behind his team mate.

Ferrari's shear pace meant that Williams and McLaren had little option but to fight for the remaining podium position. The battle got a little too close mid-race when Montoya and David Coulthard collided, taking both drivers out of the race. That left Ralf Schumacher third, but McLaren's strategy allowed Kimi Raikkonen to leapfrog the German after his final stop and to cross the line in third, albeit more than 45 seconds down on the two Ferraris.

Behind Ralf, fifth place went to Jenson Button in the Renault, while Sauber's Felipe Massa picked up the final point in sixth after winning a tense battle with team mate Nick Heidfeld.

Barrichello's victory proved a popular one. Many had wondered whether he would again be asked to move aside for his team mate for the sake of the championship, but that call never came and the Brazilian took a deserved win, his first of four for Ferrari during the 2002 season.