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Tight At The Top As Montoya Makes It Two

Juan Pablo Montoya came out on top today in Germany in a race that closed up the two Formula One World Championships considerably. Rubens Barrichello was involved in an accident at the first corner and Michael Schumacher suffered a puncture whilst running second to demote him to seventh in the dying laps of the race.

A disappointing result for the team today, particularly with Michael running so high in the last stages of the race said David Barnes of Shell Global Solutionsbut at this stage in the Championship every point counts and Michaes two points today could be crucial at the end of the season. We take a lot of comfort from the fact that both cars were mechanically sound all weekend and that we still lead both Championships

The action started right at the first corner. As Montoya led away from his pole, Ralf Schumacher drifted to the left as the cars approached Turn One. On his left however, he touched Rubens Barrichello who was in turn sitting on the right of Kimi Raikkonen. The Ferrari and the McLaren had nowhere to go. Raikkonen was pitched hard onto the barriers, Ralf Schumacher retired with the side of his car destroyed and Barrichello lost the front left corner of his carthree World title contenders were out of the race at the first corner.

Also caught in the melee, Frentzen and Firman were also out, having run into each other and rookie Justin Wilson had to pit following a collision in the midst of the chaos.

The safety car was deployed as the mess was cleared up and at the restart on lap four, Montoya led the field away followed closely by Trulli, Alonso and the remaining Schumacher brother.

The leading quartet all pitted within a few laps of each other when the time came, it seemed that all the leaders were on a three-stop strategy. All the teams serviced their cars efficiently and they rejoined the track in the same order.

As the cars lapped Hockenheim in a procession, it seemed that passing on the track was becoming unlikely. However, under increasing pressure from Schumacher, Alonso ran wide at Turn One, allowing the German through into third place. A lap later on lap 34, the race leader Montoya stopped for the second time. Such was his lead however; he rejoined the race without relinquishing his first place.

Behind him, Schumacher was tight behind Trulli and when both pitted together on lap 38, the tension was high. Once again however, both teams serviced their cars very well and the Renault and Ferrari left the pit lane in the order they had come in.

Montoya by this stage was flying. Behind him, Trulli, Schumacher and now Coulthard were mixing with backmarkers as they ran close for second, third and fourth.

Montoya pitted for the third and last time on lap 50 and once again, left the pit lane in the lead of the race.

With ten laps to go, Trulli, Schumacher and Coulthard sat tight together as it became obvious that they were all sharing a two-stop strategy and this was a race to the finish, and an exciting one at that. On lap 59, Schumacher ran down the outside of Trulli coming into the hairpin and although the Renault pushed the Ferrari wide, Schumacher beat the Renault in the long drag to the next corner and the Ferrari was second. Hockenheim went mad.

Coulthard was next through on Trulli to demote the Italian from the podium, but not for long. As Schumacher came into the hairpin with three laps to go, he suffered a puncture on his left rear tyre and he lost five places on his slow run back to the pit lane. Schumacher pitted for new tyres and rejoined the race in 7th.

Montoya took the win, his second of the year, and moves to second in the championship. Behind him, Coulthard came home second, his first podium since Melbourne and Trulli was third. Alonso, Panis and Da Matta were fourth, fifth and sixth with Schumacher and Button rounding off the points.

Montoya has picked up 50 points in the last six races and Ferrars lead at the top of the Formula One World Constructor Championship is now only two points. Whilst Michael still leads the driver Championship, there are six drivers in with a chance of winning the title with only four races to go.

The next Grand Prix is unusually three weeks away and the Formula One teams will try and take some well-earned rest but with so much at stake with so little time left, things will be far from quiet.