Rubens Barrichello won Sundas Japanese Grand Prix as team mate Michael Schumacher finished eighth to round off a remarkable season for the Italian team. Michael Schumacher is now World Champion for a record sixth time, and in the process becomes technica partner Shels 22nd Formula One Driver World Champion. The two men also recorded Ferrars 13th Formula One World Constructor Championship and Shels 16th.
The relationship this year has been extremely constructive and a great succes said Mike Copson of Shell Global SolutionsWe have enjoyed one of the most forward-thinking, positive technical partnership in recent years, resulting in outstanding reliability and performance. I know that the whole of the Shell team, have enjoyed every minute of it. This is also fantastic news for motorists all over the world, who can be proud to use Shell products knowing that they are derived directly from its work with Ferrari in Formula One. Congratulations to all
All the drivers got away cleanly, with Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello leading the field under phenomenal pressure from Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Behind the battling front pairing, Alonso led Da Matta, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Panis and Button. Back in the midfield, defending World Champion Michael Schumacher made two places at the start to put him 12th.
With Raikkonen needing to win the race to stand a chance of winning the Driver World Championship, Montoya needing to finish well to spearhead William late assault on the Constructor Championship and Michael Schumacher just needing a point to win the Driver title, the opening laps were very fraught indeed.
Montoya cleared Barrichello within the first few minutes and set about making a lead for himself before succumbing to a hydraulic problem on lap on lap eight. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher was making up ground in the midfield, but a tangle with Sato at the chicane lost him his front wing and necessitated an early pit stop. Raikkonen was having a better start to his race at the other end of the field and by the time the first round of pit stops came, the Finn would be leading the race.
Optimism in the McLaren garage was short-lived however. Barrichello found his stride at the front of the pack, helped with the retirement of Alonso on Lap 32 and drove a magnificent race to show his Formula One colleagues the way home. Raikkonen could manage no better than second place, quite a feat considering he started the race in eighth place, but the man of the moment was unquestionably Michael Schumacher.
The five-times World Champion drove from 14th on the grid to win one point and secure his record-breaking sixth Driver World Championship. Ruben win helped secure Schumaches championship by fending off Raikkones charge, but the Brazilias drive also secured Ferrari another World Championship. A perfect example of the teamwork that exists in the Ferrari team.
What a wonderful result for everyone involved with the team, congratulations go to Michael, Rubens and the team from everyone at Shel said Juan Carlos Perez, Shels Global Sponsorship Manager after the raceIt has been a tough year for the entire Shell and Ferrari team but with todas result, it has been worth it. I would like to say thank you to everyone involved in this relationship - everyone in Maranello who has worked with us on all levels of the technical partnership, and of course well done to everyone at Shell
Raikkonen finished second, just ahead of Coulthard. Button and Sato sandwiched Trulli who was in fifth, the trio just ahead of Da Matta in seventh.
Celebrations in Japan will continue until late into the night. Ferrari knows better than anyone that the hard work now begins in earnest as the team returns to Italy to begin work for 2004. Tonight however, no-one in the paddock will resent the Italian team and its technical partners a hard-earned party.