Britain 2005 - Montoya's McLaren breakthrough 06 Jun 2006
Kimi Raikkonen may have been McLarens main title challenger coming into last years British Grand Prix, but it was team mate Juan Pablo Montoya who stole the limelight at Silverstone, the Colombian putting in a characteristically aggressive drive to score his first win in a silver car.
After swallowing the bitter pill of a ten-spot grid penalty at the previous round at Magny-Cours, Raikkonen was hoping for better luck in Britain. It didnt happen. He qualified less than three hundredths of a second behind Fernando Alonso, but another failed Mercedes V10 demoted him to 12th on the grid, dealing another heavy blow to the Finns world championship hopes, while Montoya took P3 on the grid. As in France, however, Raikkonen made the best of a bad situation and overall it was McLaren, not Renault, who emerged the weekends winners.
Sunday afternoons front row consisted Alonso and Jenson Button, giving British fans hope of a home win, or at least BARs first podium of the year. Montoya had other ideas, sprinting from third on the grid to pass Button into Turn 1 and come alongside the leading Renault. By the time they reached Becketts, the Colombian had muscled ahead of Alonso, in a move that effectively clinched his first win for McLaren. Raikkonen had a strong first lap too, moving up to eighth, but then got stuck behind a slow-moving Jarno Trulli-Michael Schumacher train, which ended his slim hopes of victory. He eventually moved up to third, thanks in part to the luckless Giancarlo Fisichella stalling during his second Renault pit stop. At the front, Alonso stayed in touch with Montoya, but vital time lost lapping Trulli (several drivers later complained of a lack of blue flags) meant he wasnt close enough to challenge for the win in the final stages.
It really was a McLaren-Renault race, just 18 seconds covering their four cars at the finish. Button was a lonely fifth for BAR, 40 seconds behind Montoya, while Ferrari were even further off the pace, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello crossing the line for sixth and seventh over a minute and a quarter after the winner. Ralf Schumacher took the final point for Toyota, just ahead of team mate Trulli, as once again the Japanese team struggled to convert a strong qualifying performance into race pace.
Most disappointed, however, were Williams, who were still unable to get to grips with the Mark II FW27, despite running Nick Heidfeld in the older car to carry out a back-to-back comparison. Mark Webber did prove quicker in the newer machine, but only just, the pair coming home a distant 11th and 12th, leaving them plenty to do ahead of engine partner BMWs home race in Germany.
Links: Results / Live Timing Archive, Photos, TV images.