x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Rain glee for Rubens

Ahead of Sunday's German Grand Prix, The National's Graham Caygill looks back at the dramatic 2000 race.

The Ferrari of Michael Schumacher goes skating into the gravel at the first corner of the race.
The Ferrari of Michael Schumacher goes skating into the gravel at the first corner of the race.

This weekend's German Grand Prix will be held at Hockenheim as the 2008 Formula One calendar winds on. Germany is currently switching its race between the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, which hosted the race for 20 years on the trot between 1986 and 2006. For this week's classic event we are going back to 2000 and a race that was livened up by the timely intervention of mother nature and the actions of a protestor at Hockenheim.

It had looked as if it would be a McLaren-Mercedes benefit initially as the McLaren-Mercedes duo of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard pulled away at the front in the opening laps, with their championship rival Michael Schumacher having crashed out at the first corner after his Ferrari collided with the Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella. So far so mundane, but on lap 30 a lone spectator with an anti-Mercedes banner managed to get onto the track as the drivers went by at speeds of up to 320kph.

The safety car was brought out while the marshalls got the man off the track and the field was closed up again. To add to the chaos it proceeded to rain for good measure. The Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello bravely chose to stay on slick tyres and he leapfrogged the McLarens to lead, as both Hakkinen and Coulthard played safe by pitting for wet tyres. The Brazilian held on heroically in the treacherous conditions to win his first grand prix at the 123rd attempt, with Hakkinen and Coulthard completing the podium in second and third places respectively.

The Williams of Jenson Button came through the field in the latter stages to take fourth spot - the Briton's highest finish at that point of his career. @Email:gcaygill@thenational.ae