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Friday preview - ahead only for Montoya 17 Jun 2005

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 16 June 2005

Juan Pablo Montoya is adamant he has put behind him the anguish of Montreal, where he lost a likely victory - his first for McLaren - after a mix-up within the team over the timing of his pit stop when the safety car was deployed after Jenson Button’s accident.

The Colombian, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, is focused instead on winning here again on Sunday.

“The safety car came out and my side of the team was discussing what to do because we had like a 30-odd second lead. At the same time the safety car came out, they had about 200, 300 meters to call me in. Problem is, both of my guys that run the race were talking to each other at the moment when it went to safety car. They were trying to decide how quick we should go because we had enough pace to win the race where we were. And even if the safety car wouldn't come out, we were bailing out completely over a second a lap, and they were trying to have both cars doing the same thing. So they were discussing data at that point when the safety car came out. When they radioed them, they were on the radio, so they couldn't hear it.

"It's not lack of anything; they made a mistake like I had made a mistake before. We've got to get the things together. It's unlucky, but that's what it is. I heard this comment that they were trying to favour Kimi (Raikkonen) to win the race. It sounds pretty stupid when I would have been only nine points behind him. One of the goals is to win the Constructors’ Championship. Myself scoring zero points and Kimi 10 doesn't help, does it?

“You know, when I was here in America Chip Ganassi did it twice to me in Detroit two years in a row, and I was winning the race both times. He was doing something else when it went yellow. It doesn't matter, you know. That's what it is. For me, actually I don't care really that I didn't win the race in Canada. It doesn't matter, it doesn't change anything now. You're out of the race and whatever. But after all, you know, for me the most important thing is I had been struggling to drive the car quickly. You know, my race pace was good, but I haven't been able to do much qualifying pace. I couldn't get the most out of the car or anything, but I did there. We did a lot of work, went a different way from Kimi the whole weekend and it paid off.”

Explaining the next problem, going through the red light at the pit lane exit, he added: “They had to make me stop, normal thing coming out of the pits. As I approached, the blue light came on and I radioed, said, ‘Do we have to stop or not?’ I didn’t think they heard me, and the blue light came on, I thought maybe I read it as a mistake because it shouldn’t have came on. I decided to go through it. My mistake in a way but, you know, I thought they’re going to give me a drive-through penalty or something or ask me to go to the back of the line. But then after that the official decided to get me out of the race. I think it’s very harsh to be honest, unfair. But that’s what it is. I’m over it. It’s been a tough season for me, very unlucky. The things with the FIA haven’t helped.”

While Montoya was looking ahead, Scott Speed was taking in his second ‘live’ taste of Formula One racing in front of a home audience desperate to see an American in the sport. “It is a great thing for this country and I’m delighted for Scott,” 1978 world champion Mario Andretti said, adding as he gestured to his grandson who will be competing in the IRL Menards Infinity pro Series this weekend: “I hope maybe Marco might join him one day, too.”

“I enjoyed Canada,” Speed said. “I think all the media around is one of the biggest differences. A day goes by a lot quicker. The car itself is quite nice to drive, it's obviously got a lot more aerodynamic performance and it's quite pleasurable. There’s quite a big difference from anything with the aerodynamic performance, so the driving style is a bit different. But once you get used to it, it's not so bad.”

He said that the pressure of media attention was no big deal in Montreal, nor does he expect it to be too onerous here. “I don't think there's so much pressure at this moment. I mean, driving on Fridays, you're not really competing with anything and you're not compared with anyone really. So I think the pressure will be a lot more when you get into qualifying and the race.”

But how soon that happens for him may well depend on his performances in today’s two practice sessions.