Montoya was Blameless, Says Dennis

McLaren cleared Juan Pablo Montoya of blame on Sunday after a collision that cost them the Formula One constructors' championship lead and a first one-two finish in five years

Montoya was Blameless, Says Dennis

"It was an absolutely blameless situation for Juan Pablo, he was really the blameless victim of other people's mistakes," team boss Ron Dennis said at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

"Juan Pablo was just cruising and it's massively frustrating."

Colombian Montoya and Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia collided on the 40th of 44 laps while Montoya was following Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen home.

Both McLaren and race winner Raikkonen paid a heavy price for the incident. With the eight points, the team would have taken the lead in the Constructors' Championship instead of lagging Renault by six.

Raikkonen would have cut Spaniard Fernando Alonso's Championship lead to 23 points with three races left, but instead now heads to Brazil 25 points behind with the Renault driver closer than ever to the title.

Dennis clearly blamed Pizzonia but he, Montoya and the Brazilian gave conflicting accounts of what had happened.

"Pizzonia exited the pits ... having seen that Pizzonia waved him past, he overtook carefully, pulled in front and at the next corner Pizzonia just drove straight in the back of him," said Dennis.

Braking Early

Montoya denied that, saying the Williams driver - standing-in for Germany's Nick Heidfeld - hit a puddle and crashed into him.

Pizzonia said he had switched to dry tyres and come out of the pits behind Montoya, observing after a few corners that he was much faster than the Colombian.

"He was braking quite early into every corner and then he braked very, very early," he said. "I thought he saw me and was trying to let me by. So I put the car next to him and he did his normal line so obviously he didn't see me.

"Of course I didn't want to destroy anyone's race but unfortunately he destroyed mine too."

Pizzonia was fined $8,000 by the race stewards after the race.

Dennis also questioned why Williams had brought Pizzonia in at such a late stage, saying the change of tyres could not have made up for time lost in pitting.

"I cannot see the logic, when there is so much data coming from the pitwall, that anyone would look to change and lose 20 plus seconds which would have been impossible to recuparate irrespective of the conditions of the circuit," he said.

"I think it was not a great decision by Williams so we are doubly frustrated," added Dennis. "We had a comfortable, well-judged, disciplined, team-oriented race which should have been a comfortable one-two."

Williams technical director Sam Michael rejected the accusation, saying Pizzonia could have gained.

It was the second time in three races that Mercedes-powered McLaren, who have now won four races in a row, have seen a one-two slip through their fingers after Montoya lost second place in the closing stages.

He was second in Turkey until, with a broken diffuser, he spun and allowed Alonso to take second place.

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