Kimi Raikkonen claimed a controversial victory at the rain-drenched Interlagos circuit on Sunday despite not being in the lead when the race was stopped on lap 55.

Kimi Raikkonen claimed a controversial victory at the rain-drenched Interlagos circuit on Sunday despite not being in the lead when the race was stopped on lap 55.

The Brazilian Grand Prix had crashes, several safety car periods, plenty of overtaking and two huge shunts that caused to the race to be red flagged. After some confusion, Raikkonen was declared the winner ahead of Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella and Renault's Fernando Alonso.

Track conditions were treacherous and no less than six cars crashed into the barrier at Turn 3 after spinning off on a small river running across the track.

Visibility was poor at the start of the race and the safety car stayed out for eight laps. Rubens Barrichello, who started in pole position, bunched the pack up just before the re-start but it backfired when McLaren’s David Coulthard swept into the lead at the first corner.

Raikkonen passed Mark Webber’s Jaguar, Barrichello’s Ferrari and Coulthard to take the lead. Williams-BMW ace Juan-Pablo Montoya also overtook the Brazilian and then moved into second position when he passed Coulthard.

But Coulthard soon started fighting back. With Webber in tow and a rampant Michael Schumacher closing on the leaders, Coulthard overtook Montoya. Schumacher passed Webber and homed in on the Williams, overtaking Montoya in a brave move.

Justin Wilson - the first victim of Turn 3 – spun off. Ralph Firman's Jordan suffered a front suspension failure at the end of the pit straight and clobbered Olivier Panis’ Toyota from behind.

The safety car came out while the debris was cleared and many drivers dived into the pits. Raikkonen made a great re-start when the safety car returned to the pitlane. He was followed by Coulthard, Schumacher and Cristiano da Matta, in the remaining Toyota, in fourth.

Fifth-placed Barrichello overtook Da Matta on a drying track. Yet Turn 3 remained a problem and Montoya and Jaguar rookie Antonio Pizzonia both spun off at the water-logged corner.

Schumacher, BAR-Honda driver Jenson Button and Minardi’s Jos Verstappen also came to grief at Turn 3. The German’s Ferrari piled up alongside the Williams and the Jaguar, narrowly missing the crane that was in the process of removing the stricken cars.

With thirteen runners left, the safety car made its fourth appearance following Button's crash. By the time it went in and order was restored, the field was down to 11 cars.

Raikkonen passed Alonso down the pit straight then drove around the outside of Ralf. Alonso homed in on Ralf and dispatched the German with just as much efficiency as Raikkonen did. However, the young Spaniard got a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags and dropped back to ninth.

Barrichello passed Coulthard to take the lead when the Scot’s McLaren ran wide, but the Brazilian’s lead was short lived. His Ferrari suffered a mechanical failure and the Brazilian was forced to retire form his home race for the ninth consecutive time.

At the front it was now Coulthard, Raikkonen, Ralf and Fisichella. Ralf pitted and Fisichella closed in on Raikkonen. Heinz-Harald Frentzen passed Renault’s Jarno Trulli for fifth and Jacques Villeneuve, who had a quiet race until then, was right behind them.

Coulthard and Trulli both made late pit stops. Fisichella, meanwhile, capitalised on a mistake by Raikkonen to take the lead.

But there was carnage when Webber’s Jaguar slammed into the barrier at the start of the pit straight. The Jaguar was pulverized and the track was littered with debris. Fisichella managed to avoid the debris but Alonso’s Renault smashed into one of the Jaguar's wheels, impacting with the tyre wall very heavily, then spinning across the track into the opposite wall.

The race was promptly red flagged. Alonso managed to extract himself from the car but was limping. The medics rushed to the scene and Alonso was stretchered away to an ambulance.

It was a shocking end to an action-packed race. Further confusion ensued as to who the winner actually was. Jordan were convinced that Fisichella had it, McLaren boss Ron Dennis saying he wasn't sure that was the case. After a pause, it was declared Raikkonen was the winner, Fisichella second, Alonso third - FIA rules state that in a red flag situation, the order counts from when the leading car last crossed the line before the red flag came out.

Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Fisichella, Alonso, Coutlhard, Frentzen, Villeneuve, Webber and Trulli.