Juan Montoya scored an unexpected win in the final race of the 2000 Formula One world championship, ending his relationship with the Williams-BMW team on a high point, but denying Kimi Raikkonen victory in Brazil for the second year running.
The triumph also silenced the samba drums of the crowd, as polewinner and home hero Rubens Barrichello was demoted to third place by the chequered flag. Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen duelled for victory over the final half of a rain-affected race, with the Colombian coming out on top by just over a second as Raikkonen's late charge coming up just short.
The Finn was the first to show his hand, bolting past Barrichello on lap one, but the weather had the biggest say in the early going. Heavy drizzle started to descend on Interlagos with an hour to go to the 'green light', sparking fears of a repeat of last year's atrocious conditions. The precipitation never got any heavier, however, and stopped not long after the grid began to form up. There was still a decision to be made over tyres, though, and, in the end, only David Coulthard and the two Renaults opted for dry weather rubber.
In the opening laps, the choice appeared to be the wrong one, with only Fernando Alonso able to make use of his tyres. Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve began by duelling over last place on the road, the Canadian having run wide as early as turn one. By this stage, Raikkonen was already opening out a healthy gap on Barrichello, with Felipe Massa making the most of his second row slot to get the jump on Montoya.
The Colombian retaliated quickly, but found Massa in no-nonsense mood, and their scuffle allowed Jenson Button take advantage. The Briton was in trouble, though. His BAR-Honda had begun smoking on the grid and, despite moving in to third spot, was already beginning to tighten up. No sooner had the team begun to clear a space in the garage for the ailing machine than Button was forced to park up.
If the Montoya/Massa battle was intriguing, it was being repeated all down the field as the drivers got to grips with the ever-changing conditions. Even the world champion, a renowned 'rainmaster' was struggling as he fought his way through from a lowly 18th on the grid. Michael Schumacher had opted not to start his race from the pit-lane, and the choice appeared correct as he blasted up to twelfth on the opening lap. However, a move on Christian Klien saw the two cars make light contact and, a lap later, Schumacher spun while attempting to repass the Austrian.
It was not all bad news for Ferrari, however, as Barrichello retook the lead on lap four, but things were about to get complicated as the teams decided that the time had arrived to switch from inters to 'slicks'. Ralf Schumacher was the first to stop, but opened the floodgates as those who had gone for the same rubber followed suit.
The question now was the timing of the stops and for some, like Barrichello, the moment was crucial. While the Michelin-shod frontrunners poured into the pits on lap five, Ferrari left the race leader out for another tour - a move which allowed Montoya, Raikkonen, Ralf and Takuma Sato to rejoin ahead of him. Felipe Massa inherited the lead when Rubens finally stopped, enjoying glory in front of his home crowd for a lap before making his own pit-call. The tyre change dropped the Brazilian well down the order, however, and he had to battle hard just to make it back into the points by the end.
In front when the dust settled was Alonso, the Spaniard having kept his head during the opening few laps, before banging in times several seconds quicker than his rivals. The Renault driver stayed at the head of the field for ten laps before making the first of his scheduled two stops, rejoining in sixth as he strived to give his team every chance of overhauling the now one-car BAR squad in the constructors' points. Team-mate Villeneuve continued to dice with David Coulthard, but was now doing so at the tail end of the top eight, immediately behind Barrichello.