Juan Pablo Montoya achieved the first victory of the 2003 season for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team at the Monaco Grand Prix. It is the sixth since the beginning of the team's partnership which began in 2000, the last victory for the team was at the 2002 Malaysian GP. WilliamsF1's last Monaco victory dates back to 1983 with Keke Rosberg. Montoya celebrated the second win of his F1 career after Monza 2001.
"Today was the ideal day. The car worked well, the tyres worked well and the team did a fantastic job. We really needed this. It's fantastic, it's unreal, there were a few races where I was close to a win and then I just didn't make it, like in Australia, for example," Montoya said.
"The key today has been the start, where I was able to jump in front of Kimi and then I set about widening the gap from him before my pit-stops. After that it was just a matter of pacing myself. I was not under too much pressure in the last laps when Kimi was close behind but I had to be alert. The tyres in particular worked very well and were consistent. Winning in Monaco is very special, there is no other race like this in Formula One. It is a bit like winning the Indy 500 in the USA. This is the first time I have finished the race here since I started racing in F1 and I have won it," he further added.
Teammate Ralf Schumacher finished the race in fourth position. With today's result, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team closed the gap to rivals McLaren and Ferrari in the Constructors' World Championship. Montoya and Schumacher are now equal fifth in the drivers' ranking.
"Obviously it is disappointing to finish fourth when you start on pole especially on a track like Monaco when being on pole means more than anywhere else. The balance of my car was for some reason not ideal after the first pit stop and I could not keep up with the pace of the leaders. Congratulations to Juan Pablo and the whole team for the great result," said Schumacher.
Finishing in second was West-McLaren-Mercedes driver Kimi Räikkönen, who continually hounded Montoya during the closing laps. Räikkönen is driving a superb season and is well placed in the championship standings. Despite a short grasp of the lead nearing the two-thirds of the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher settled for a 3rd place podium finish as his second and final pitstop set him back behind Renault driver Fernando Alonso and his brother Ralf, both of whom valiantly defended against a raging Schumacher bent on getting back on top.
Despite getting ahead of Alonso and his brother Ralf, it was too little to late for the defending champion as Montoya was nearing the closing laps of the race.
"This is such a great result, it feels just so good! This success, including yesterday?s pole position, means further motivation for our team. We have felt for a while that we are improving, but did not manage to turn it into results. Juan drove a race without any errors and he kept those behind him under control. Ralf had a little bit of bad luck after both his pit stops when each time a car passed him by fractions of a second," according to Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director.