BMW WilliamsF1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya lost any chance of winning the drivers' title Sunday at the United States Grand Prix, as wet weather conditions and a driver-through penalty both conspired to leave the Colombian sixth at the finish, and out of the race for the 2003 crown.

Montoya, who in the end needed to finish in the top five to keep his hopes alive, endured a tough and controversial race, the decisive moment according to the Colombian occurring on lap 3, when he and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello tangled, race stewards later deciding that the Colombian caused 'an avoidable accident'.

"A very disappointing race, basically decided by the penalty I was given for the accident with Rubens and the moment I had to pay it," said JPM, "Due to the changeable weather conditions, in fact, it started to rain hard just when I was given my 'drive through' penalty, which forced me to delay by one lap my pit-stop to change onto wet tyres. It is sad to lose my drivers' championship chances in this way, especially knowing that I just needed to finish fifth today, to keep my hopes open."

Team-mate Ralf Schumacher also had a disastrous day, the German spinning off and into retirement on lap 21, when wet weather conditions caught the Williams driver out.

"When it started to rain quite heavily around lap 20 I stayed out on the track one lap too much, which was unfortunately due to a misunderstanding with my engineers on the pit-wall," said Ralf, "It was obviously not the right decision and I spun on the track which had become very slippery, hit the barriers and had to retire from the race. The conditions out there were very difficult, very challenging. It was a very disappointing end, especially because I was right up there amongst the leaders and ahead of Michael and Kimi."

The result was also a bad one for the team, who now slip back down to second in the constructors' championship, three points behind Ferrari.

Sam Michael, chief operations engineer at WilliamsF1 summed up: "It was obviously a bad day for both championships from our point of view. We have made quite a lot of mistakes as a team, which we have to address for the next race in Japan."

 

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