Schumacher enraged by Sato collision

Montoya had greater cause to feel aggrieved. The Colombian had done everything he could to assist Raikkonen's title campaign, subtly surrendering the lead to the Finn after 32 laps without anyone being able to level accusations of team orders at McLaren-Mercedes. Second place would have put McLaren ahead of Renault in the constructors' championship and helped Raikkonen to take four points off Alonso, but on the 41st lap Montoya collided with the Williams-BMW driver Antonio Pizzona, who had just changed to dry tyres. Ironically, almost everyone else who had gone that route at various stages of a tricky race had found themselves going backwards - sometimes literally. Now, when at last dry tyres were the thing to have, Pizzonia mistakenly thought Montoya had waved him through.

"It's always tough to retire from a race but when it's caused by matters out of your team's control it's even harder," Montoya said. "My disappointment is even greater because as a team we were doing a great job."

Michael Schumacher was taken out in the hairpin on the 14th lap when the hapless Takuma Sato went into the back of his Ferrari. "We have often experienced hari-kari reactions from him in the past and that was another today," Schumacher growled. "We have talked to him about it in the past. I don't know what sort of therapy might help him."

Schumacher remonstrated with the Japanese driver after climbing from his broken Ferrari, and said later when asked how long it might take his ire to abate: "No idea."

Raikkonen, however, was as happy as he ever gets. "I claimed the lead after the second stop as I could stay out longer than Juan Pablo, and that was it. However, there are mixed emotions as we should have had a one-two today."

At Renault there were mixed emotions, too. Alonso was happy with another strong finish: "It was a hard race for everybody this afternoon, with really difficult conditions, but we knew we had a competitive car and that we didn't need to take any big risks. Sometimes, these races can bring some big surprises, so I am pleased to come away with a normal result, which was exactly what I needed. I didn't make any mistakes. Then I saw Montoya's accident and it was nice to have some more help from McLaren."

However, his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella influenced the race significantly by bringing out the safety car after crashing on the 11th lap. That triggered mass pit stops. McLaren cleverly radioed Raikkonen to slow right down in order to delay everyone else and give them time to service Montoya, so both could stop on the same lap. By the time Raikkonen arrived in the pits followed by everyone else, Montoya had long gone.

Third place was a surprise for Jenson Button, who had lost time after trying dry tyres on lap 11 and then having to pit again a lap later to revert to intermediate rain tyres.

"The first stint wasn't easy and I had such bad oversteer I barely had to turn into the corners" he admitted, but his move passing Jacques Villeneuve round the outside at the Pouhon corner on the 25th lap was one of the day's highlights.

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