Montoya victory adds fresh spark to title race Michelin drivers take top six places as French firm sweeps to sixth F1 win of the season Juan Pablo Montoya led all the way at Hockenheim to score the third victory of his Formula One career. The ...
Montoya victory adds fresh spark to title race
Michelin drivers take top six places as French firm sweeps to sixth F1 win of the season
Juan Pablo Montoya led all the way at Hockenheim to score the third victory of his Formula One career. The Colombian was never troubled and finished more than a minute clear of his rivals in the German GP, 11th round of the world championship. The result has catapulted him to second in the standings -- just six points adrift of Michael Schumacher. The Ferrari driver was on course to finish a distant second until a late puncture forced him to make a pit stop and he slipped to seventh.
This was the best result for Bibendum since the company returned to grand prix racing in 2001: the top six finishers were all running on Michelin tyres. David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes) eventually got the better of an enduring duel with Jarno Trulli (Renault) to take second, while Fernando Alonso (Renault) almost caught his team-mate as they sprinted for the line out of the final turn.
It was a positive day for Toyota, too: it finished a race with two cars in the points for the first time since entering F1 last season. Olivier Panis was fifth, 4.6s in front of team-mate Cristiano da Matta. "It was a completely trouble-free race fo rme today. The tree-stop strategy we had was the right choice and my car was absolutely perfect. The team did a great job all weekend, as did Michelin to provide us with such competitive tyres." said Olivier
The race lasted only seconds for two of Michelin's title contenders. Front-row starter Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes) were involved in a collision with Ferrari number two Rubens Barrichello on the run down to the first corner. Räikkönen hit the tyre barriers at high speed but stepped unharmed from his wrecked car. Schumacher retired to the pits and Barrichello, too, was forced to drop out.
The incident provoked a chain reaction collision among following cars and Jaguar's new signing Justin Wilson was one of those to suffer. After pitting for repairs the Englishman briefly rejoined the race before opting to call it a day. Ironically, he had earned a reputation for his ability to avoid first-lap carnage during his stint with Minardi earlier this season.
It was a disappointing afternoon for Wilson's Jaguar team-mate Mark Webber, too. The Australian was battling for eighth place -- and the final point -- when he ran off the track and clipped a tyre wall with just three laps remaining. He was classified 11th
SIX OF THE BEST
Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) scored his second win of the season and Michelin's sixth in today's German Grand Prix. It was the best Formula One result for Michelin since it returned to the sport in 2001: David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), Jarno Trulli (Renault), Fernando Alonso (Renault), Olivier Panis (Toyota) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota) followed Montoya across the line as Michelin drivers filled the top six positions.
The company's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "This has been a fantastic weekend for us. We have set the pace every day and our tyres stood up incredibly well to fierce race conditions. It might have been an even more spectacular success, too, if regular front-runners Kimi Räikkönen and Ralf Schumacher had not been eliminated in a multiple collision on the first lap."
SEARING HEAT, SEARING PACE
Michelin F1 programme manager Pascal Vasselon believes conditions in today's German GP were among the toughest teams will face this season. He said: "Drivers weren't just battling against each other they were battling the incredible heat. Conditions in Malaysia might be a little hotter, but Hockenheim is a much more abrasive circuit than Sepang and this combination of circumstances took its toll. By the end of the race, though, the tyres on Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams and David Coulthard's McLaren were in absolutely excellent condition and you have to remember that Coulthard only stopped twice."
"It's true that a few of our tyres had blisters but you have to bear in mind that Jarno Trulli did a 29-lap stint on our softer compound, which really wasn't designed for that kind of punishment. All things considered, his tyres stood up amazingly well. It's a great result for Panasonic Toyota Racing also. Both drivers were very consistently and a look at their performance confirm that they were fast and constant."
FAST AMONG EQUALS
Today's result has tightened the situation at the top of the world championship table. Juan Pablo Montoya has closed to within six points of Michael Schumacher, while Kimi Räikkönen and Ralf Schumacher remain within striking distance.
Pascal Vasselon said: "There are four races left and we will take them one at a time. Our teams have been ultra-competitive in the past few grands prix and we will be working flat out to maintain our run of form."
Pierre Dupasquier added: "It is fantastic to see so many of our partner teams challenging at the front like this. The only drawback is that they will doubtless to continue to score points off each other as the world championship builds towards its goal, but we will continue our policy of providing fast, competitive tyres to all our partners rather than choosing to focus on a single team."