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Ferrari enjoy quiet revival in Germany 29 May 2005

Third placed finisher Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Race, Nurburgring, Germany, 29 May 2005

Champions have their best race of 2005 to date

Rewind a year and things looked radically different. By this stage last season Ferrari had already taken 106 world championship points, with Michael Schumacher well on his way to his seventh drivers’ title with 60 points from six victories.

This year Ferrari’s fortunes have faded - to the extent that third and fifth at the Nurburgring, with the 10 championship points that they bring, constitute the team’s best result of the season so far.

Once again, it seemed that the Bridgestone tyres lacked qualifying pace. Michael Schumacher ended up 10th on the grid, while Rubens Barrichello’s better lap saw him lining up in P5 for the start. Fisichella’s failure and a second start then promoted Schumacher to a de facto P9 grid spot.

Things started to go wrong at the first corner on the restart, when Michael Schumacher was forced wide to avoid the collision between Mark Webber and Juan Pablo Montoya - rejoining all the way down in 14th place. He then made steady progress up the order throughout the afternoon, but his eventual fifth place was a yawning 18.8 seconds behind David Coulthard’s Red Bull Racing.

Barrichello had a better time on the searing hot tarmac - indeed, the Ferrari’s Bridgestone tyres seemed to deal far better with the high temperatures than rival’s Michelins.

The Brazilian’s qualifying pace was explained by a very early stop for fuel on lap 12 - indicating a three-stop strategy. It looked like a brave decision, as all the other front-runners except Heidfeld were on two-stoppers, but Ferrari’s strong strategic skills helped Barrichello to emerge from his third stop in clear air and with a comfortable lead over David Coulthard.

The Brazilian’s podium finish - his second and Ferrari's third of 2005 - will be a welcome relief for him, six points today putting him onto 15 for the season so far, and moving him into joint tenth with David Coulthard, just a point behind Michael Schumacher.

So, Ferrari’s best race of the season so far - but there’s definitely still room for considerable improvement…