Montoya survives curse of McLaren

Just as they had at the Nürburgring in May, McLaren had a choice: bring their man in for a new tyre, or risk staying out. There were only a handful of laps left, but there had been only a handful in Germany, too, where Raikkonen had led into the final lap before the vibrations from a flat-spotted tyre finally led to the spectacular collapse of his front suspension within sight of victory.

Like the Finn, however, Montoya was at the head of the queue when the things that make a man were being handed out. No way was he going to stop just because a tyre might let go. When you have raced (and won) at 200 mph at the banked Indianapolis Motor Speedway you get a different perspective on things. Montoya was not bothered by the trifling details of Monza: the fact that it has one of the highest full-throttle loadings on the calendar, a lap speed close to 256 kph (159mph), or nasty little chicanes where you have to brake from 360 kph to 80 kph and bounce your car clumsily over silly kerbs.

In the end the gamble justly paid off, and Montoya deserved all the accolades that came his way. "Towards the end I had a severe problem with my left rear tyre," he said. "This left me with very little grip in the closing stages, and I just couldn't go on pushing, but it was enough to get me to the line in first place."

Behind Montoya, Fernando Alonso gave his all in a great chase that lasted all afternoon, while his Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was outpaced yet managed third, only five seconds ahead of Raikkonen.

As if his engine problem on Saturday had not been enough of a setback, yesterday afternoon, the Finn had one of those races where everything that could have gone wrong, did just that. First of all, he got trapped behind Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber-Petronas for the first 14 laps, before making his first pit stop on lap 25 when other drivers' fuel stops had elevated him to second place. The stop dropped him to fifth, but three laps later he had to stop again. The left rear tyre showed signs of stress in the area of its outer tread, so a new tyre was fitted and off he went again. Unbeknown to anyone outside the team, he had qualified with a very high fuel load, and now he did not need to stop again, but his chances of beating Alonso had already been stymied.

That unscheduled stop put him back behind Villeneuve, where he had started, but when the French-Canadian was unfairly and incorrectly shown blue flags, he had no choice but to let the McLaren through. Thereafter, Raikkonen charged back into contention to pass Jarno Trulli for fourth place by the 43rd of the 53 laps. But then he spun on his own in the second chicane on lap 45, and had to re-pass the Toyota two laps later. That killed his chances of challenging Fisichella, but it was a fabulous performance in adversity that showcased the depth of his talent, and he deserved the fastest lap.

For others there was greater disappointment. Behind the Toyotas of Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button found his BAR-Honda uncompetitive and was beaten to the flag by the Williams-BMW stand-in, Antonio Pizzonia.

Neither Ferrari was competitive, and Michael Schumacher found a different man in his team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who dished out a dose of the German's own medicine to discourage the his attempts to overtake. Barrichello would have stayed there, too, but also had to make an extra stop to replace a worn left rear tyre. With Schumacher later going off the road and finishing only 10th, and Barrichello taking 12th, this was assuredly Ferrari's worst home performance for a very long time.

Alonso took home eight points for his sterling afternoon's work; Raikkonen got only five, leaving their respective scores at 103 and 76. It is still possible that events might help him to reduce that 27-point deficit over the remaining four races, but it is looking increasingly unlikely. If Alonso repeats today's achievement of scoring three more points than Raikkonen in Belgium next weekend, it is to all intents and purposes over.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot