Barrichello wins F-1 German Grand Prix

Rubens Barrichello scored his first Formula One victory at the German Grand Prix Sunday after a daring move to finish the race in a downpour on his dry-weather tires.

The Brazilian showed some skillful driving as he worked his way to the front of the 6.825-kilometre course after starting in 18th spot. He then opted not to follow race leader Mika Hakkinen into the pits on lap 35 to change tires after the rain started.

Barrichello crossed the line 7.5 seconds ahead of the second-place McLaren-Mercedes of Hakkinen, who was followed by teammate David Coulthard in third.

"It was tricky, it was raining on different sections of the track," Barrichello said.

Meanwhile, overall points leader Michael Schumacher's season continued to fall apart after a brief tangle with polesitter Coulthard on the first lap.

Schumacher, who started second behind Coulthard, tried to jump past the Scottish driver at the beginning of the 45-lap race. When Coulthard closed the door, the German swerved again in another attempt to pass, causing his Ferrari to clip the Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella in the first corner.

Fisichella hit a tire wall and Schumacher ended up on the gravel, effectively ending the day for both drivers.

The crash was a major disappointment for Schumacher, who failed to finish for the fourth time in the last five races, this time in front of thousands of his hometown fans.

Hakkinen, who started from the fourth position behind Fisichella, used the manoeuvring at the start to take the early lead.

By beating the two McLaren drivers, Barrichello protected Schumacher's lead in the Formula One championship.

Schumacher retains the overall Formula One standings lead with 56 points, while Coulthard and Hakkinen moved up to share second place with 54.

Hugging a Brazilian flag, Barrichello broke into tears on the podium after his win.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it," Barrichello said. "The last lap was the longest lap in my life."

In a bizarre incident, with 20 laps left, a man who is thought to be a protester, made his way over safety barriers and started walking along the track. The man then crossed the track before security officials managed to get him into a car.

Jenson Button in a BMW-Williams was fourth, Mika Salo in a Sauber was fifth and Pedro de La Rosa was sixth in an Arrows.

Villeneuve, who re-signed with British American Racing last week, ended up eighth but felt he could have finished higher if teammate Ricardo Zonta hadn't clipped his rear wheel on the 34th lap, causing him to spin out.

"With the strategy we were running, we would have finished in front of Mika Salo, who was fifth. Ricardo's mistake cost us fifth and sixth positions and the team three points. . . . I have to say that I don't have much respect for him as a result (of the incident)."

Zonta apologized for the incident after the race.

"I am very sorry for what happened with my teammate because we could have scored some points." said Zonta, who ended up sliding off the track on the 38th lap and not finishing.

Barrichello took the checkered flag in a time of one hour 25 minutes 34.418 seconds.