British F1 GP: McLaren 1st and 3rd but Alonso/Renault extend lead

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July 10, 2005 McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya took his fifth career win here at Silverstone, but the real story played out on the lower podium steps where Renault’s Fernando Alonso took second place and extended his championship lead over third placed Kimi Raikkonen. For Montoya, it was his first ever win for West McLaren Mercedes (indeed his first ever podium with the team) since he joined at the start of this season. Kimi Raikkonen put in another gritty drive, overcoming a ten place penalty on the grid due to an engine change after qualifying, fighting his way up from 12th on the grid to third at the flag.

While the "foreigners" were complaining about the British weather at the start of the weekend, they had nothing to say as the race got underway under clear blue skies, with temperatures approaching 30 degrees. Ten minutes before the start, all the drivers and the team bosses gathered at the front of the grid for a minute's silence as a mark of respect for Thursday's London bombings.

As the lights went out in front of a capacity 100,000 crowd, Sato had not managed to get round to the grid. Montoya got a great start going from third into the lead, from Alonso. Behind came Button, Barrichello, Fisichella, Trulli, Schumacher (up two from ninth) Ralf Schumacher, Villeneuve, Webber. But the Safety Car came out as Sato was blocking the track. By this point Raikkonen had already gone from 12 to 8. The race was on again at the end of lap 2 as the SC came in. Klien had gone from 15 to 11 and then dropped back to 12.

On lap 5, Montoya led Alonso by a second, but it was the Spaniard who was lapping quickest at this point. In third place, Button was already 3.5s off the leader, with Barrichello a further 1.5 behind. Meanwhile, Kimi was really pushing M Schumacher hard for seventh place. There was also a good battle for eleventh between Webber and Klien.

Karthikeyan pulled off to retire with ten laps gone, as Klien was the first to stop for fuel in the Red Bull. His stop was a 10.5 second one which suggested he had gone for a two stop strategy over the 60 lap race. Klien had another minor off but continued. Raikkonen continued to try all he could to get past M Schumacher in seventh spot.

Barrichello pitted from fourth on lap 17 with a quick stop that suggested a three stop strategy. He rejoined ninth. Villeneuve, Heidfeld and Coulthard all came in on lap 19.

Montoya pitted on lap 22, for 8.8s leaving Alonso in the lead as Villeneueve passed Coulthard for 14th spot. The race leader pitted on lap 23 and as he came out of pit lane, Montoya got past him to go second behind new leader, Fisichella.

M Schumacher pitted from fifth on lap 24 followed by Massa in the Sauber. Fisichella refuelled on lap 25. In fourth spot, Kimi was the only driver not to have refuelled at this point. The Finn finally came in on lap 26 (8.0.)

With everyone having made at least one stop, the order on lap 27 was now Montoya, Alonso, Fisichella, Button, who had Barrichello on his tail, Raikkonen, who had got ahead of M Schumacher in the run of pit stops, Trulli, R Schumacher with Webber tenth.

At 31 laps, just over half distance, Montoya lead Alonso by 4.7 seconds, with Fisichella a further 2.4 behind. On lap 32, Barrichello was the first to make a second stop from fifth place. Most excitement at this stage? Klien trying to pass Villeneuve for 13th. These two refuelled together on lap 39. Fifth placed Raikkonen was now a second off Button's tail as Montoya put in another fastest lap. Lap 41 and the gap was just 0.6. The Englishman refuelled on lap 43. Juan Pablo refuelled on lap 44 letting Alonso into the lead, as Kimi pitted on lap 45. Barrichello was on an aggressive strategy that did not seem to be working too well as he made a third refuelling stop on lap 46. His team-mate M Schumacher made his second stop on lap 47. Coulthard came in from 12th on lap 48, with Alonso coming in on 49, thus handing the lead back to Montoya.

So with ten laps remaining, the order was Montoya, Alonso, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Button, M Schumacher, Barrichello with R Schumacher in the last points position, eighth. The order then remained the same all the way to the chequered flag - a great result for the West McLaren Mercedes team, with the added spice of Kimi setting the fastest race lap on the very last of the 60 laps.

Amazingly, there was just one retirement: Narain Karthikeyan.

Team Quotes:

Juan Pablo Montoya West McLaren Mercedes, first place: "It's a great feeling winning my first Grand Prix for Team McLaren Mercedes. My start was perfect, and I managed to get by Fernando in a wheel-to-wheel dice after the second corner. I was really going for it and knew that he had more to lose than me - I just wanted to win the race. It was then all about staying ahead and our strategy combined with two excellent pit stops really helped me to manage that. The team did a great job particularly calling me in one lap early for my first pitstop to avoid traffic, which was the right decision and meant I gained an advantage to Fernando. However, it was not an easy race as Fernando put me under a lot of pressure until the very end. I'm relieved to have won my first race of the year especially as it was the home Grand Prix of McLaren and a lot of the people from the Technology Centre and Mercedes-Benz at Brixworth were here cheering."

Ron Dennis, Team principal, Juan Pablo Montoya West McLaren Mercedes: “I think today's results speak for themselves. An outstanding performance from Juan Pablo who worked hard to generate sufficient gap to Alonso prior to his final stop to ensure his race victory, which of course he achieved. Kimi's third place reflects his poor starting position resulting from a penalty he suffered following an engine change on Saturday. Nevertheless he set fastest lap and with 80 points available mathematically both drivers still have the opportunity to challenge for the Championship."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport: "A fantastic race and a great day for all the team members which saw Juan Pablo's first victory for the team. His start was exceptional, and he did not put one foot wrong during the race. Our race strategy was good. Kimi's speed throughout the race was impressive, and he finally achieved the fastest lap of the race on his very last lap. Kimi lost two points to Alonso in the championship. Without the engine change yesterday he could certainly have achieved a better result, so again, sorry for that, we will try even harder. We are now looking forward to our home Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Second Place: “It is a nice surprise to be on the podium at one of our most difficult circuits, and to have extended my lead over Kimi in the championship. It was also encouraging because we started from pole, which shows that the car is competitive, and I think we are looking strong for the rest of the season too. In terms of the race, I lost the lead at the start and after that, followed Montoya until the stops. The team gave me a heavy fuel load so we could try and overtake during the final stops, but then I got stuck in traffic – I lost a lot of time behind Trulli but it wasn’t his fault because they were not showing any blue flags. That meant I was still behind when I came out after my last stop. It is a bit frustrating to lose a win because of that, but this is still a great result for us.”

Kimi Raikkonen, West McLaren Mercedes, third place: "I think I did the best I could today, and we can leave Silverstone with two podium finishes. If I had not had the problems yesterday and lost 10 grid positions, the result would have been different, but that is motor racing. However we lost only two points in the Championship battle and hopefully we can challenge for victory at the remaining races. During the race I lost a lot of time behind other cars. It's so difficult to get close in the fast corners as you just lose all grip. When I got past Michael and Trulli in the pitstops it was too late and the gap to the front was too big. There is no doubt that we have the speed as I was able to set the fastest time of the race on the last lap, so I look forward to Hockenheim where hopefully we should have an 'uneventful' weekend."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, fourth place: “Once again, it is a bit of a disappointing result for me, because I should have been on the podium today if it wasn’t for the problem in my second pit-stop. But even so, from P6, it was a very strong race for me, the strategy the team worked out was excellent and I was in the fight at the front of the race with a good race pace. When we came here this weekend, we knew that McLaren would be quicker than us but honestly, it was very close indeed. We have come out OK after all.”

Jenson Button, BAR, Fifth Place: "I'm obviously not going to be happy with a result like this at my home race but it was evident that we can't expect any more from the car at the moment. We came here hoping that we would benefit from our improvements but they obviously didn't go far enough and we are still some way behind. The top two teams are just in a different league from the rest of the field at the moment and watching the cars in front and behind me was just staggering with the amount of grip they had in the high-speed corners. We are strong compared to the rest of the teams. I finished over half a minute ahead of Michael in sixth. Still we got some more points for the team and put on a good race for the British fans here this afternoon. I'm just sorry that I couldn't get the podium that we all wanted."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, sixth place: “Of course, I cannot be happy to have finished sixth, especially looking at my lap times in the race. Clearly, we are simply not fast enough at the moment. If I had not been delayed by Trulli, I might have been able to fight with Button, but I am not keen on using the word “if” as an excuse. If you compare our performance from the two North American races to these last two, we appear to be going backwards instead of forwards. We are not up to the level of our competitors. I am still looking forward to my home race in Hockenheim, but I wish I could promise the fans there a bit more than this.”

Jean Todt, Ferrari: “I said yesterday that we could expect a difficult race and that getting both our cars home in the points was our only realistic target. Unfortunately, that is how things turned out. We are not capable of matching the pace of the leaders and the final result is a reasonably accurate reflection of the current pecking order here at Silverstone today. The only satisfying point to take away from here is the level of reliability we demonstrated this afternoon.”

Ross Brawn, Ferrari: “Obviously this was a disappointing race. We went through practice and qualifying hoping that it would all come together in the race, but once again today, it was difficult. Our drivers were reasonably happy with their cars, it’s just that they simply lacked overall pace. There were no particular problems, although there were a couple of stages when we got held up, including the early part when Michael got delayed by Trulli, but I am not sure that we could have done better.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, seventh place: “This was quite a difficult race. Basically, we did not have the pace which we thought we might have. I made a good start and I knew I had to pass Trulli at this point if my race was going to go to plan. It was all going pretty smoothly apart from the fact I was held up by Button which cost me time. This meant that the three stop strategy I had adopted did not work out the way it should have done. I had some brake problems, as at Magny-Cours. But seeing how the race evolved, I don’t think I could have done much better.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, eighth place: "After a tough race like that I have to be happy with a point today, although I wish it could have been more. I made a tyre choice which I hoped would have worked to my advantage, but it meant that I was struggling for grip and sliding around. That made it hard to keep the car on the road and to maintain consistent lap times. I also lost a position at the start, so that is why I am especially happy with my result, bringing home one point. Still, it's obvious that we have a lot of work to do and I hope we have a better performance at Hockenheim in a fortnight's time."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal, Toyota: "That was a tough race for just one point for the team. We did well to get two cars home to the finish, but the race was spoiled by our pace in the early stages when we struggled and just lost too much time. That is a similar problem to the one we faced in last week's French Grand Prix. So we have to analyse why that is happening and try to understand it, because certainly in the second half of the race we were much more competitive. The cars were on slightly different strategies in the second stint with Ralf stopping later so they were both pushing very hard to gain the position. That was the time that Jarno had to back off for blue flags for the leaders and that unfortunately decided the battle in favour of Ralf. Now we must move on to the next race and hope for an improvement."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, ninth place: "It's very frustrating to miss out on the points after a day that was as hard as that. I made a slow getaway and that meant I lost positions at the first corner. Then we had grip problems during the early part of the race just as we had in France last week. That eventually got better and better with each stint as we went through the race. But we made a mistake with our strategy and I lost positions because I was always in traffic or being held up by blue flags. I did my very best and went as quick as I could. Now we have to hope for a better race next time."

Felipe Massa, Sauber, tenth place: “At the start I had a problem with the clutch and was slow away. I made up the places I’d lost to the Jordans, but then I got stuck in traffic and lost a lot of time. Despite that my strategy was the right one, and when I was alone on the track the car was very good and very consistent. If I’d been able to start higher I could have taken points for sure. It was a shame that I couldn’t score, but I was very happy with my race.”

Mark Webber, Williams BMW, 11th place: “If you are starting from 11th position it is usually difficult to score a strong result unless you have a fast car. It was very hard for us today as circumstances were similar to Magny-Cours. We didn't have much of a chance quite simply because the car was not quick enough. There's a lot of work ahead of us and we need to get back to form, and do so quickly.”

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1: “Both drivers did get the most out of the cars today. We had no reliablility issues, both stops worked well as did the strategy. From here we will go back to the factory and investigate how we can make improvements to the package and our performance.”

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): “The lap times in the race were consistent with our qualifying performance. As there were few retirements today, the outcome was fixed and we finished approximately where we have started from. As a consequence, there was little opportunity to collect points today. We had no reliability problems on either car today. What now is important is to make best use of the three day test in Jerez in order to improve for the next GP in two weeks time.”

Nick Heidfeld, Williams BMW, 12th place: “It was a difficult race, as expected. I had a pretty routine start and held position. For most of the race, I had to work hard to defend my position from Coulthard, Klien, Villeneuve and Massa, while coping with a difficult and inconsistent balance on the car. This is of course not where we want to be and we'll now work flat out before the next race to address our problems. I'll be on duty at the Jerez test this week and will contribute as much as I can.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull, 13th place: "I hope that was, at the very least, entertaining for the crowds. Jacques overtook me near the start, but we continued to have a battle with both the Sauber and the Williams. I was able to overtake Mark (Webber) just before my first stop, as we all had different levels of fuel in the car at that time. I was surprised by the inconsistency of the car actually. At the start, I struggled with oversteer, so when we stopped we took a sizeable chunk of aero out of the car. After that, I still wasn't happy with the balance, but then, ten laps before the second pit stop, the car suddenly changed and started going much quicker. So much so, I was struggling to keep up with it!! We definitely need to work on a few things, but the support I received from the British fans here, both before and during the race, was fantastic and I hope they enjoyed the show."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber, 14th place: “Unfortunately I screwed up my first pit stop. I was looking at the lollipop, but then I got distracted by what was happening in the Red Bull pit and when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye I mistakenly thought it was my lollipop signal to go and moved too soon. My apologies to our refueller Silvan Ruegg, whose foot I hit. Fortunately he is okay. “That incident cost me some time and because of that I got stuck in some traffic and had a pretty cut and thrust race all the way to the finish with Heidfeld and the Red Bull cars. My car was hard to drive today, so it was a tough race.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull, 15th place: "Fifteenth is very disappointing. The car was quite difficult to drive in sections and I didn't have the balance that I needed. The start was quite good and I managed to move up a few places. I was due to make my first pit stop early, so had a light car and could go pretty quick at the beginning. But I got stuck behind Mark Webber and couldn't go at my full pace. I also made a slight mistake on Turn seven. The car was a little nervous on the entry to the corner and I think we had too much front grip. After the first pit stop, I had some clear laps and, as my car was still quite light, I was able to set some good times. After that I got stuck behind Villeneuve and couldn't go at my full pace again for the rest of the race."

Takuma Sato, BAR, 16th place: "The simple fact is that as I was going through the start procedure on the way to the grid, I hit the wrong button on the steering wheel as I was warming up the tyres. I would like to apologise to everyone in the team, everyone who got the car ready and put so much preparation into the British Grand Prix this weekend. I couldn't deliver the result we wanted and could have had today. The team did a great job to get me back in the race and I tried my best but was so far behind that I couldn't do anything. It's been a tough year for us all and we can only continue to keep trying and aim for better things in the second half of the season."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan, 17th place: "It was a good race for me again.I think we chose the right strategy: we were quite heavy at the beginning and planned on having two stops. I had a great start, passed a few cars and followed Narain as closely as possible in order not to let him get too far ahead. Unfortunately Narain experienced some problems and I was racing alone for a long time. Then, halfway through the race, I was told on the radio that Sato was still behind me. So I was really pushing like crazy to stay away but he was just to quick. There was nothing I could have done. Everybody was very reliable for this race therefore it was very hard for me to finish in a higher position. I have now finished 11 races out of 11. It will be hard for the next rookies to beat this record."

Christijan Albers, Minardi, 18th place: "There was a bit of a problem with the start when it was unclear whether it had been aborted or not. That's why I was slow getting away and lost the positions I had won in qualifying. I was able to overtake Patrick on the first lap to regain a position, but as I was trying to catch Monteiro, the Safety Car came out, and after it went in, I just couldn't catch him. I'm quite happy with the result, as my lap times were pretty consistent on a circuit that doesn't particularly suit our car at the moment."

Patrick Friesacher, Minardi, 19th place: "It was good to finish the race, but it was quite difficult from about one-third distance, when the traffic on some laps meant you lost up to six seconds compared with your normal lap time. Some drivers were two-stopping and some three, and as a result, there seemed to be traffic around me for much of the time, which disturbs your rhythm. Also, as a result of going off-line when other cars are passing you, your tyres often pick up debris when you run on a dirty part of the track. All of those things combined to make it a tough race today."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan, DNF: "I had a very good start and overtook Massa but unfortunately he was able to repass me at Becketts. However, I had a very good pace and I managed to run with the pack of Massa, Coulthard and Heidfeld. Unfortunately, shortly after, the car stopped apparently because of an electrical failure. It is very frustrating, as it is the second weekend in a row that I am experiencing some problems with my car, although I managed to finish the race in Magny-Cours. It is really a pity as I was going very well all weekend."

British Grand Prix Results:

1 Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes 2 Fernando Alonso, Renault-Renault 3 Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes 4 Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault-Renault 5 Jenson Button, BAR-Honda 6 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari-Ferrari 7 Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari-Ferrari 8 Ralf Schumacher, Toyota-Toyota 9 Jarno Trulli, Toyota-Toyota 10 Felipe Massa, Sauber-Petronas 11 Mark Webber, Williams-BMW 12 Nick Heidfeld, Williams-BMW 13 David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Cosworth 14 Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber-Petronas 15 Christian Klien, Red Bull-Cosworth 16 Takuma Sato, BAR-Honda 17 Tiago Monteiro, Jordan-Toyota 18 Christijan Albers, Minardi-Cosworth 19 Patrick Friesacher, Minardi-Cosworth

F1 Drivers' Championship (After Round 11 Of 19)

1 Fernando Alonso, Renault 77, 2 Kimi Raikkonen, Mclaren 51, 3 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari 43, 4 Jarno Trulli, Toyota 31, 4 Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari 31, 6. Juan Pablo Montoya, Mclaren 26, 7 Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault 25, 7 Nick Heidfeld, Williams 25, 9 Ralf Schumacher, Toyota 23, 10 Mark Webber, Williams 22, 11 David Coulthard, Red Bull Racing 17, 12 Jenson Button, BAR 9, 13 Felipe Massa, Sauber 7, 14 Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber 6, 14 Tiago Monteiro, Jordan 6, 14 Alexander Wurz, Mclaren 6, 17. Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan 5, 18 Christijan Albers, Minardi 4, 18 Pedro De La Rosa, Mclaren 4, 18 Christian Klien, Red Bull Racing 4, 21 Patrick Friesache, Minardi 3, 22 Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull Racing 1

F1 Constructors' Championship (After Round 11 Of 19)

1 Renault 102, 2 Mclaren 87, 3 Ferrari 74, 4 Toyota 54, 5 Williams 47, 6 Red Bull Racing 22, 7 Sauber 13, 8 Jordan 11, 9 BAR 9, 10 Minardi 7,

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