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Archive for Monday, July 11, 2005

Montoya’s gamble pays off

July 11, 2005

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— Juan Pablo Montoya took a risk to win the British Grand Prix, one of the few moves that has worked this season for the former Indy 500 champion.

He beat Fernando Alonso, who finished second to extend his Formula One points lead. This was Montoya's first victory of the season and first with McLaren-Mercedes. The Colombian's previous win came in Brazil in the last race of 2004.

Montoya started third on the grid behind Alonso, who was on the pole. Montoya nearly brushed Alonso going through the first turn. Seconds later at the next corner, he swept by as the Spaniard slowed to avoid a crash.

"One of us was going to back off, or we were going to go off," Montoya said after his fifth career victory. "And the chances are he was going to back off before me. He has got a fight for the championship, and I just wanted to win the race."

Alonso had no intention of challenging Montoya on the first two corners.

"It was not the time to risk for me in the first two corners of a 60-lap race," he said. "I knew that Juan Pablo was not going to back off, so better to back off than crash."

Alonso improved to 77 points after 11 of 19 races. Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third, stayed second with 51. Michael Schumacher, who was sixth, remained third with 43. Montoya moved up to sixth with 26 points going into the July 24 German GP at Hockenheim.

Montoya's victory came before a sellout crowd of 100,000 at the former World War II airfield in central England.

Montoya never trailed and finished in 1 hour, 24 minutes, 29.588 seconds and averaged 136.089 mph. Alonso was 2.7 seconds back with McLaren's Raikkonen 15 seconds behind the winner.

Giancarlo Fisichella of Renault was fourth, and Jenson Button of BAR-Honda was fifth. Button, yet to win an F1 race in five seasons, was trying to become the first British winner at Silverstone since David Coulthard in 2000.

With five wins in 11 races, Alonso almost won on a track he says is not suited for Renaults. With eight races remaining, the 23-year-old driver is moving closer to his first title. He has been quick and consistent. His two challengers - Raikkonen and Schumacher, the seven-time series champion - have been neither.

"It was a big surprise for us and gives us lots of confidence for the rest of the season," Alonso said.

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