Most F1 followers expected McLaren to win the British Grand Prix, but the Woking-based team arguably fluffed its lines... Montoya took the spoils on a day that was supposed to be a Raikkonen rout.Most F1 followers expected McLaren to win the British Grand Prix, but the Woking-based team arguably fluffed its lines... Montoya took the spoils on a day that was supposed to be a Raikkonen rout.content here

By Mike Fourie, News Ed.


Most F1 followers expected McLaren to win the British Grand Prix, but the Woking-based team arguably fluffed its lines... Montoya took the spoils on a day that was supposed to be a Raikkonen rout.


“Hey, that’s motorsport” – is a saying often used to justify, explain or laugh off the unpredictable nature of competitive four-wheeled mass entertainment. Sure enough, the British Grand Prix was entertaining, but not for the reasons most people expected it to be.


Firstly, Montoya was undoubtedly the star of the weekend and deserved to win the race. Despite qualifying early in Satuday’s session, the Colombian qualified in a brilliant third spot on the grid and seized the lead of the race with a daring move right at the start of the event. It was vintage stuff from “The Monster”.


Then, the McLaren-Mercedes driver scythed through the traffic with greater zeal than the pursuing Fernando Alonso and got a little help from recovering team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the plodding Toyota of Jarno Trulli (who, despite a promising performance in qualifying, held up the Spaniard in a critical part of the race and struggled home in a disappointing ninth place). Despite a late charge from Alonso, Montoya took the chequered flag and his first (and long-awaited) win for the Woking-based team.


But when the celebrations end, McLaren-Mercedes team boss Ron Dennis might scratch his head... Given the superior pace of the MP4-20s, the British Grand Prix should've been the scene of a dominant one-two finish for McLaren, but it wasn’t.


Had it not been for a problem with Renault’s second pit stop for Giancarlo Fisichella, Raikkonen would have finished fourth, which, given his 12th position on the grid, would have been a heroic effort in itself. But even though Raikkonen finished on a podium after a delayed charge through the field, the Finn’s deficit to Alonso in the driver’s championship is actually greater than it was before.


McLaren won some ground in the constructor’s championship standings at Silverstone, but that will be of little consolation to Raikkonen. Many believe Michael Schumacher would not have won the 2003 World Championship had it not been for the poor reliability of Raikkonen’s McLaren in crucial stages of that season. Should the talented Alonso win the title this year, his detractors will argue it was more a case of Raikkonen losing the title than the Spaniard winning it.


And the reason for that? For the second race in succession, F1 fans were effectively robbed of a thrilling spectacle by a failure to the engine in Raikkonen’s car (on Saturday). By changing the engine, the Finn had to start the race with a 10-position penalty, and, given the aerodynamic characteristics of 2005-spec F1 cars, the Finn was always going to have an uphill task playing catch up to Montoya and Alonso on the technically-demanding Silverstone circuit.


Kimi could do nothing but shrug his shoulders... Rules, as they say, are rules. For example, McLaren can run a third car in Friday sessions, but Renault and Ferrari can't. Either way, third place was probably the best Kimi could have hoped to achieve given the circumstances. Had Alonso won the race – and Renault certainly exceeded its own performance expectations on Sunday – the Finn would have been even further in arrears.


But there’s good news for Ron’s team… The season has only just passed the half-way mark and the McLarens are at least as good – if not better – than the Renaults. Racing will be close in Germany and Hungary (perhaps more so than at Hockenheim), but expect McLaren to be scintillating at Spa Francorchamps, Monza and Suzuka.


No wonder Alonso seemed a little miffed during the post-race interview. The Spaniard was undoubtedly delayed by Trulli while pushing on towards his final stop, but Fernando realised that he didn't make the most of his opportunity to score maximum points over Kimi at Silverstone. Given McLaren’s current form, Renault can expect such chances to be few and far between in upcoming races.