Readers of the influential Autosport magazine have voted Juan-Pablo Montoya – and not newly-crowned six-time world champion Michael Schumacher - International Driver of the Year.

Readers of the influential Autosport magazine have voted Juan-Pablo Montoya – and not newly-crowned six-time world champion Michael Schumacher - International Driver of the Year.


The Williams-BMW driver finished in a relatively disappointing third place in the driver’s championship last season. The Colombian was in contention for the title until the penultimate race at the US Grand Prix, where he collided with Rubens Barrichello, received a pitlane penalty and spun on numerous occasions.


However, the Williams star's efforts invigorated the championship this year and his season-long tussle with Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen brought much-needed excitement back to F1. In Monaco, Montoya withstood race-long pressure from Raikkonen and Schumacher, while in Germany he simply blitzed the field.


"I'm just trying to make it a lot more fun," said the Colombian, who received his trophy from F1 legend Stirling Moss. "I think people like that."


"I think Williams know what it did wrong this year, and they know how to be strong from race one," Montoya added. "2004 will be my last year with Williams (the Colombian recently signed a contract to drive for McLaren-Mercedes in 2005), so I'll definitely try to win with the team next year – that'd be nice."


Meanwhile, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn, chief designer Rory Byrne and engine designer Paolo Martinelli accepted the 2003 John Bolster Prize for technical excellence on behalf of the Scuderia at the weekend.


"It's been a very difficult year," said Brawn. "But a team shows its strength in adversity. We had three fairly straightforward years without that sort of challenge, but we came through. The last three or four races of 2003 really showed the strength of the team."

Original article from Car