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Montoya beats Schumacher to Autosport award
December 08, 2003 21:00 IST
Readers of the Autosport magazine have snubbed Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, despite the German winning a record sixth Formula One title this year, in favour of Colombian rival Juan Pablo Montoya.
Montoya, third for Williams this year after winning two races, won a vote for the international driver of the year at the Autosport awards ceremony.
It was the first time since 1994, when Schumacher took his first title at Benetton, that the award had not gone to the same year's Formula One champion. Briton Damon Hill won in 1994 after leading Williams' challenge to Schumacher following the death of Brazilian Ayrton Senna.
Schumacher, who won six races and finally surpassed the championships record he held jointly with the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, had won for the past three years but would have come away empty handed this time had he attended on Sunday.
Bentley's Le Mans-winning Speed Eight was racing car of the year, ahead of the Formula One championship-winning F2003-GA that secured Ferrari their fifth successive constructors' crown.
The Italian team, however, were awarded a special prize for technical excellence, collected by technical director Ross Brawn, designer Rory Byrne and engine head Paolo Martinelli.
Montoya, who grinned when reminded of some of his audacious overtaking manoeuvres on Schumacher, will be starting his last season at Williams next year after signing for McLaren for 2005.
"The team did a bloody good job all year, we just started scoring points too late," the Colombian said of 2003. "We really started in Monaco. Before that we were nowhere.
"I think the chances for 2004 are really good. I think the team know what they did wrong this year and they know how to be strong from the first race."
Brazilian Gil de Ferran, who retired after winning this year's Indianapolis 500, was made an honorary member of the British Racing Drivers' Club while compatriot Nelson Piquet junior was the National Driver of the Year with six wins in his debut British Formula Three season.