Tue, Sep 06, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Montoya wins from pole as Raikkonen fights hard

AP , MONZA, ITALY

Juan Pablo Montoya's victory from pole Sunday at the Italian Grand Prix went almost unnoticed.

McLaren-Mercedes teammate Kimi Raikkonen grabbed most of the attention with his audacious climb from an 11th-place start to finish fourth and remain in the running for the season title.

Raikkonen's Renault rival, Fernando Alonso, finished second and increased his lead over the Finn in the drivers' standings to 27 points with four races remaining. Wins are worth 10 points each.

Alonso could clinch the title at next week's Belgian GP if he outperforms Raikkonen by a large enough margin.

"Spa is one of my favorite circuits. I have won there before. It could be the right place to finish the championship," said Alonso, who won an F3000 race in Belgium in 2000.

Montoya's race was mostly uneventful and the cameras only turned to him when a problem developed with his rear left tire on the final laps and Alonso started gaining on him.

The race finished just in time for Montoya, however, and the Colombian won in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 28.659 seconds.

"I controlled it in the mirror. I was not afraid," Montoya said of his deteriorating tire.

Alonso finished 2.4 seconds back and teammate Giancarlo Fisichella took third at a gap of 17.9 seconds. Raikkonen finished 22.7 seconds behind.

"Our strategy was well-planned," Renault director Flavio Briatore said. "Alonso could have attacked Montoya at the end, but he could have also lost everything. We haven't won anything yet."

Alonso seemed to be paying more attention to Raikkonen behind him than Montoya in front.

"The team was keeping me informed about the gap to Kimi all the way through," Alonso said.

It was the sixth victory of Montoya's career and second at Monza, where he won his first Grand Prix in 2001. Montoya also won the British GP in July for his only other victory this season.

Michael Schumacher drove off the track near the end of the race and finished 10th, mathematically ending his run of five straight world titles.

Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo is yearning for the good old days when tire changes were allowed in Formula One and pit stops contained more action than just adding fuel.

One of Michael Schumacher's most brilliant wins, at the French GP last year, came on Ferrari's unusual strategy of four pit stops.

"What is great about Formula One is taking technology to the limit," Montezemolo said. "Otherwise it's like having taxi drivers."

Under new rules this year, cars must use the same tires for qualifying and the full race each weekend. With its Bridgestone tires suffering more than most teams' Michelins, Ferrari has been affected most by the new rule.

FULL FINISH

All 20 drivers completed the Italian Grand Prix. There were no withdrawals or race-ending accidents at the fastest F1 circuit.

It was the first time since the 1961 Dutch GP in Zandvoort -- when 15 drivers completed the race -- that all drivers finished. This race marked the first time it happened in a F1 race with 20 drivers, with 20th-placed Narain Karthikeyan of India finishing three laps behind race the winner.

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