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Montoya defiant after walkout

Alan Baldwin | March 04, 2004 17:50 IST

Fiery Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was all smiles on Thursday as he faced the media without walking out or being asked to play golf with anyone's grandmother.

Montoya was furious on Wednesday when two comedians from a satirical Australian sports show interrupted a poorly attended news conference at a Melbourne racetrack by asking nonsensical questions.

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By contrast, the Williams driver looked completely relaxed at another news conference before Sunday's Australian Grand Prix a day after he made headlines by angrily quitting an engagement with team sponsor Allianz.

But Montoya, a frontrunner to win the Formula One championship this year before joining McLaren in 2005, said he still failed to see the funny side of the incident and pinned the blame on event organisers.

"The sponsors can't really say anything because the sponsors were the guys who let them (the comedians) in," he said.

"They probably wanted to play a joke on me and it didn't work as planned."

One, answering his mobile telephone as Montoya was speaking, asked the driver whether he would play a round of golf with his grandmother. The Colombian then brought an end to the proceedings and stalked off.

"When you are doing a day for a sponsor you've got to be very professional in what you're doing," he said. "And when it's not handled professionally, I don't think you've got to be there.

"If you're in a place where you are joking and having fun, it's all right. But I didn't find it funny -- a guy asking me if I wanted to play golf with his grandmother or whatever."

Montoya shrugged off a suggestion that his action might reflect badly on Formula One.

"I don't care to be honest," he said.

"I talked to Frank (Williams), Frank is okay with it. He said to me 'I'm glad you behaved in a good way, it's a shame we couldn't complete the day'.

"There was some friction but it wasn't in front of anybody," added the driver when asked about reports of an altercation afterwards.

"It was a closed room. We had a discussion about it and I told them why I was leaving."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who predicted Montoya would be probably the hardest driver for his team to beat this year, said he was not concerned by his behaviour.

"Why would I be concerned about that? Juan is a driver for the Williams team," he told Reuters.

"In a situation like that, an event that is being managed by either a sponsor or a team, the team should have stepped in and stopped what was basically a publicity-seeking objective of two Australian comedians.

"Putting aside whether Juan Pablo's reaction was the right one or not, it shouldn't have ever happened."


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