Theissen Not Ruling Out Ralf of Title Battle

Juan Pablo Montoya came out on top of both Schumacher brothers in his German Grand Prix victory on Sunday, but BMW boss Mario Theissen is refusing to rule Montoya's teammate out of the Championship battle.

Theissen Not Ruling Out Ralf of Title Battle

Juan Pablo Montoya came out on top of both Schumacher brothers in his German Grand Prix victory on Sunday, but BMW boss Mario Theissen is refusing to rule Montoya's teammate out of the Championship battle.

In winning his second race of the season by a surprisingly comfortable 67 seconds, Montoya narrowed Michael Schumacher's Championship lead to six points with four races remaining. Montoya also turned what had been a tight two-point lead over Williams teammate Ralf into a wide 12-point advantage.

The only title contenders without a clear pecking order, Williams found themselves suddenly confronted with tough questions about their strategy for the final four races -- should Ralf's diminished title hopes be sacrificed for Montoya.

"We're quite pleased to be in this position and we will have to sit down and calmly assess the situation," said BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen when asked if Williams would use 'team orders' to help Montoya.

"Ralf still has a chance," he said, after Ralf Schumacher was knocked out of the race in a collision just after the start. "When you see what happened to Michael today you can see how fast the situation can change," he added.

World Champion Michael Schumacher was in second place three laps from the finish when a puncture forced him to make a pit stop and left him in seventh with two points, rather than eight.

"There are four races left," Theissen said. "No one can be written off."

Team orders were formally banned after a controversy last year when Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello allowed teammate Schumacher to pass just before the finish at the Austrian Grand Prix. But the rules are subject to interpretation.

Six-Point Gap

"I am happy to be only six points away from Michael now, since there are just four races to go and it is so important to score points consistently," Montoya said.

"For me this counts now more than ever before. Things can easily go wrong for everybody as we witnessed today when it happened to both of the Schumachers," the Colombian said.

But Ralf Schumacher seemed to think his title chances had been destroyed.

"The Championship is over (for me)," he said.

Ralf was also punished by race stewards who said that he had caused an avoidable collision - they said they would drop him 10 places on the grid for the next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix in three weeks time. Williams lodged notice of their intention to appeal against the decision.

Theissen said he thought Montoya and Ralf could have finished one-two again as they had in two of the previous three races - the French and European Grands Prix.

"We've never been so dominant," he said. "This is a big step forward for us, not only in the drivers' standings but also in the manufacturers' classification. We're in contention for both titles and we have to see where we go from here."

Williams have 118 points in the manufacturers' competition, just two less than Ferrari and well ahead of McLaren's 103.

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