Montoya's perfect farewell

Juan Pablo Montoya signed off his Williams career with a hard-fought victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix. After a difficult and inconsistent year for both team and driver, the Colombian ended the season in the best possible fashion, beating the man who will be his McLaren team-mate in 2005, Kimi Raikkonen

Montoya's perfect farewell

Having joined Williams in 2001 with high hopes, and surrounded by massive hype as the man most likely to challenge Michael Schumacher for world titles, the relationship never reaped the results expected of it. His Brazilian GP victory was only his fourth in four years, although he collected 19 podiums for the team and started from pole position 11 times.

Montoya and Raikkonen battled throughout the 71-lap race in one of the most closely contested grands prix of the season. Both keen to capitalise on Ferrari's lack of pace on intermediate Bridgestone tyres early-on, in the end they finished a second apart after Montoya completed a brilliant mid-race stint to emerge ahead of the Finn.

"I think it's unbelieveable to be honest," Montoya said of his victory. "It was a really hard race. They told me that Kimi was going to run longer, so right before the stop I managed to do a couple of laps that I think gave me enough of a gap to stay ahead of Kimi [Raikkonen].

"I came out of the pits and I made one mistake and Kimi came up right behind. I thought 'Oh. Just don't do anything stupid. Just keep it on the road'. And I did. I managed to do some very good laps at the end and open up the gap a little bit."

This was BMW WilliamsF1's first victory of the season, and until Brazil, had been facing its first winless season since 2000. The FW26 with its radical walrus-tusked nose, was not as competitive as the team had hoped and, with Montoya's defection to McLaren already announced at the end of 2003, there was an inevitable cool down in the relationship between the Colombian and the team.

Nevertheless Montoya and Williams worked through the year to improve the car, which dumped the walrus nose for a conventional one in Hungary. Despite having three different drivers in the second car over the season - Ralf Schumacher (also departing the team for Toyota next year) broke his back in an accident in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis - Williams has been a more competitive force in the second half of the year.

"What a fantastic way to finish the season, with a superb drive from Juan Pablo!" said WilliamsF1 technical director Sam Michael. "He didn't put a foot wrong, the pit crew and the engineers got everything right as well. With tricky conditions at the start of the race fuel loads were critical. Ralf also did a good job. Unfortunately he lost some time in the pits, but regardless he didn't give up and overtook a couple of cars during the race.

"It's been a hard season for us and this is a great reward for all the people who worked hard in the Grove and Munich factories and at the circuit to turn the FW26
around."

"It's fantastic you know," said Montoya reflecting on his Williams career. "It's been four years with Williams. We have had ups and downs and everything, and I think to close these four years with a win is unbelieveable.

"I really want to thank Frank [Williams]. I think I thanked all the team except Frank so thank you."

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