British Grand Prix - Montoya victorious 10 Jul 2005
After all the heartache hes suffered since switching from Williams to McLaren this year, Juan Pablo Montoya finally came good to score his first victory for the silver arrows at Silverstone this afternoon. But he only did it after a great fight with championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Either man could have won; in the end it came down to their relative pit stops and track position.
Before the start, the drivers, and dignitaries who included the Leader of the British House of Commons, Geoff Hoon, sports minister Richard Caborn and Bernie Ecclestone gathered at the front of the grid for a minutes silence in honour of those who died in the London bombings last Thursday.
After a false start when the safety car was deployed for the first two laps following Takuma Sato stalling his BAR Honda before he even got to the grid, Montoya quickly opened a lead over Alonso. On the first lap he had grabbed it from him with a great move round the outside at Copse, and was ahead by Maggotts. The Colombian was the first to refuel, on lap 22, followed by the Spaniard a lap later. As Alonso exited the pits, Montoya swept back into the lead through Copse. It was the definitive move of the race.
Throughout the second stint Alonso again chased Montoya for all he was worth. This time Montoya stopped on lap 44, but Alonso went a further five laps. Crucially, however, Alonso was blocked by Jarno Trulli as he lapped the Toyota, and once again the McLaren went round the outside of the Renault as Alonso resumed the race. The Spaniard was later critical of the lack of blue flags.
Now Alonso pushed even harder and closed to within a second of the lead, but as Montoya withstood the attack the Renault driver kept the pressure on from a two-second distance without risking eight further points.
The only other drivers in contention for the podium were Giancarlo Fisichella and Kimi Raikkonen. The Italian appeared to have a lock on third place as he made his second and last pit stop on lap 46, but then the engine stalled again as it had in Magny-Cours, and the crucial delay helped the Finn through to snatch another great podium finish after yet another 10 grid place penalty.
Raikkonen was one of the stars, leaping from 12th to eighth at the end of the opening lap, but then he got stuck behind Michael Schumachers Ferrari and had to wait until the German refuelled on lap 24 before he could start to make up more ground. The damage to his chances of better than third was done then, but by the time he refuelled for the first time on lap 26 he had climbed as high as second. He did this with a spectacular lunge down the inside of fuel-heavy Alonso at Stowe, and that in itself would prove to be a great help to Montoya even though Raikkonen pitted at the end of that lap. Subsequently he resumed in fifth behind Montoya, Alonso, Fisichella and Jenson Button, whose hopes of a home win disappeared virtually straight away. Raikkonen hunted down the BAR and took over fourth when Button made his second stop on the 43rd lap. It only took Fisichellas latest bout of misfortune three laps later to promote the McLaren driver to third.
Fisichella was a disappointed fourth ahead of Button, who did the best he could in a car that was not in the same class as either McLaren or Renault, but was sufficient to keep the Ferraris comfortably at bay. Schumacher finished a distant sixth, just ahead of Rubens Barrichello who alone opted for a three-stop strategy on his way to seventh. Ralf Schumacher took the final point for Toyota, ahead of team mate Trulli whose fourth place qualifying slot soon went sour in the face of other driversrace pace.
Felipe Massas long first stint proved useful in getting him ahead of the pack from his lowly 16th starting position. He finished 10th, chased home by Mark Webber. The Australians burned hip was okay, but the Williams FW27 proved an inconsistent handful. Team mate Nick Heidfeld found the same and had his mirrors full of Red Bulls all afternoon. Over the last 20 laps there was a great scrap between the German, David Coulthard, Jacques Villeneuve and Christian Klien for 12th. Villeneuve got distracted and left his pit prematurely after his first stop, running over refueller Silvan Rueggs foot (fortunately without lasting injury to the mechanic), and that delay left him down among the traffic.
Tiago Monteiro, Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher had lonely races to the flag, two, three and four laps down respectively, while Narain Karthikeyan was the sole retirement, stopping his Jordan in Turn 6 on lap 11 with electrical failure.
While he didnt win, Alonso did extend his championship lead over Raikkonen from 24 to 26 points, as McLaren clawed back three points from Renault, but the happiest man of all was undoubtedly Montoya. This was a great win and one that took a monkey off his back.