When Montoya put Williams back on top in Monaco

After 20 years without a win at Monaco, Williams was vindicated in 2003 along with star driver Juan Pablo Montoya who, after more than 20 races without a victory, finally returned to the top step of the podium with a sensational and cool drive.

When Montoya put Williams back on top in Monaco

What better way to exorcise your demons than by scoring your first win in more than 20 months at a circuit where your team hasn't won for 20 years? Both Williams and Juan Pablo Montoya – as the Colombian said himself – needed a victory to erase memories of lost opportunities and poor performances, so coming good in the most famous and charismatic Grand Prix of the season is likely to be a boost both for the driver and for his team.

For both, victory was a vindication at a time where they have been the target of increasing criticism from the media, and even from its own engine supplier.

Read Also:

"Everybody needed this," said a relieved Montoya after scoring only his second F1 victory. "You've got to say that I had quite a few races where I had the chance to win. The last one was Melbourne, I threw it away, so there was quite a bit of pressure not to basically make any mistakes."

Juan Pablo Montoya takes the checkered flag

Juan Pablo Montoya takes the checkered flag

Photo by: Sutton Images

Montoya's win was all the sweeter for him as it not only ended a long wait that seemed to have no end, but also because the victory showed another side of the Colombian's driving ability. On the streets of the Mediterranean principality Montoya showed he too was capable of staying cool under immense pressure, at the same time that he stayed off the barriers and nursed his ill car, which had developed an engine issue, to the chequered flag.

Following his seven pole positions in 2002, having thrown away a sure victory in Melbourne, and after retiring from the lead in Austria when his car let him down, Montoya's second career F1 win was long overdue, and it finally erased the bitter-sweet taste of his maiden victory at the Italian GP, which took place only five days after the September 11 attacks.

For Williams too the moment was especially sweet, not only because it ended its 20-year Monaco jinx, but also because it finally got a reward for all the hard work since the start of the season to correct all the problems of the FW25.

Press conference: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya with Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher

Press conference: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya with Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher

Photo by: BMW AG

Having lost touch with Ferrari and McLaren in points, and with the pressure from Renault increasing race after race, Williams needed to deliver to show it still knew how to win, and there was probably no better place to do it than in Monte Carlo. Of course, the historic race on the tight streets of the principality often shows misleading signs and a deceptive picture, and it's obvious Williams has a long way ahead to get back into the championship fight.

Climbing to the top of the standings will not be easy for Williams though, and that was clear after the race, which saw the top three finishers covered by less than two seconds. In the title fight, McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen emerged as the winners of the Monaco Grand Prix, with the Finn putting on another solid performance to give further proof that, with almost half the season gone, he is a true challenger for this year's title.

Raikkonen did not put a foot wrong in the race, and only Montoya's flawless performance stopped him from winning the race. The Finn's pace demonstrated that McLaren is likely to have enough time to work on their new car to make it as reliable as this year's championship – with its new points system – requires. Unless McLaren begin to drop the ball in terms of reliability, the battle between Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher looks set to go down to the wire.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

Photo by: DaimlerChrysler

To think that by this time last year Schumacher was over 30 points clear in the standings says a lot about how things have changed for the world champion and his Ferrari team. In Monaco, and after three consecutive victories starting from pole, Schumacher and Ferrari were dramatically humbled, and the German never looked like a real contender.

In fact, Ferrari looked quite ordinary, with Schumacher's highlight being his fastest time in Thursday's qualifying session. After that, the five-time Monaco GP winner struggled for pace, which added to the problems Ferrari had with its Bridgestone tyres and to a strategy that proved wrong, Schumacher left a four-point deficit in the championship and with the impression that Ferrari will have to work really hard in the coming weeks in order to beat the improving competition.

Ralf Schumacher

Ralf Schumacher

Photo by: BMW AG

The rest of the field, including the teammates of the top three finishers, never looked like real contenders, and the race was especially disappointing for Ralf Schumacher who, after clinching a magnificent pole position, faded away to finish in a distant fourth place. Disappointing too was the performance of David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello, with the Scot overshadowed by Raikkonen all weekend and the Brazilian languishing in the race to finish in eighth place, more than 50 seconds off the leaders.

Barrichello's misery was Fernando Alonso's gain, as the talented Spaniard put on another solid showing that helped him move back into third place in the championship standings. His Renault team, however, were not up to the expectations created before the Grand Prix, and despite many predicting the French squad would fight for victory, its pace was far from the top three teams.

Jenson Button, BAR Honda 005

Jenson Button, BAR Honda 005

Photo by: Motorsport Images

As for the rest of the field, only BAR – namely Jenson Button – looked like a contender for the point-scoring positions, especially after posting the third quickest time in first qualifying. The young Briton, however, suffered a massive crash in practice that forced him to sit out the race. Fortunately, he wasn't seriously injured.

shares
comments

Related video

French GP will start "a new championship" for Alonso
Previous article

French GP will start "a new championship" for Alonso

Next article

The unsung star of F1 2021 so far

The unsung star of F1 2021 so far
Load comments
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021