Analysis: Montoya Passes Bravery Test

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya put his bravery to the test on Formula One's fastest circuit on Sunday and emerged triumphant

Analysis: Montoya Passes Bravery Test

With his rear tyre in danger of disintegrating before his eyes, the McLaren driver hit speeds of more than 320 kph to keep Renault's title favourite Fernando Alonso at bay and win the Italian Grand Prix.

Asked afterwards whether he had been afraid of what could have happened had the tyre suddenly failed, the Colombian did not blink: "No," he replied.

The situation recalled the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in May, when Montoya's teammate Kimi Raikkonen led into the last lap before uneven tyre wear caused his suspension to fail at speed and pitch him off the track.

Monza, also the oldest circuit in the Championship, is far less forgiving with the high-speed sweep through the Parabolica corner.

"People will compare this with the Nurburgring and what happened there, but I think it was very different circumstances," said McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

"We were, of course, worried about the integrity of the tyre itself, what it did to the handling of the vehicle and whether we were going to have an incident.

"We were telling Juan to be careful in the big corners and to ease off and pace himself but there's not much scope on this circuit to take it easy and lift.

"So it was remarkably brave of him, and measured or foolhardy, depending on your viewpoint, of us. We believed it (the tyre) would get to the end and fortunately it did."

Second Win

The victory was Montoya's second of the season, and second at Monza after winning in 2001 with Williams, and he led from pole position to the chequered flag.

However, he revealed afterwards that he had been wrestling with the car from early on and had never felt comfortable enough to push to the maximum.

"I was looking at the tyres constantly in the mirrors and you could see a little bit on the left tyre but after the last stop it just broke into pieces," he said.

"I had a big moment going through the Parabolica, I was very close to spinning and I wondered what the heck happened.

"From then on, it just became undriveable. I could probably have done one more lap in the lead and that was about it.

"Looking at the tyre as far as runner goes, there is nothing left but the casing."

Montoya's reward was to spray the champagne, something denied him last time he won at Monza with that race coming in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"It's nice, it's good for me for the Championship (standings). I think we only took a point off Renault here but it's better than nothing," he said.

Renault lead McLaren by eight points with four races left.

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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