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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Montoya 'will dethrone Schumi'
Juan Pablo Monotya celebrates winning the Monaco GP as Michael Schumacher rues third place
Will Montoya be celebrating at the end of the season?
Ferrari and Michael Schumacher will lose their Formula One titles to Juan Pablo Montoya and Williams this season, according to Grand Prix legend Niki Lauda.

The Austrian, who won the title twice with Ferrari and once with McLaren, says Schumacher and Ferrari are "hardly going to stand a chance" of hanging on to their drivers' and constructors' crowns in the final four races of the season.

Montoya closed to just six points behind Schumacher with victory in the German Grand Prix, to seal a run that has seen him win twice, finish second three times and third once in the last six races.

Lauda said: "Montoya can become world champion by himself. To do so he must win two points more than Michael Schumacher in each of the remaining four races.

"In Montoya's current situation, this is not only possible, but even probable. If the BMW Williams team can maintain their form, Ferrari are hardly going to stand a chance."

However, another former F1 star, Jean Alesi, believes Schumacher's experience could prove vital.

"Michael is a great champion and has the experience that his rivals do not have. That can make the difference," Alesi told the Daily Mirror.

Montoya takes risks - with the new points system it is important to finish races and not make mistakes
Jean Alesi
"Michael has been here before and he understands what is needed to win the championship. The rest do not have that experience.

"Of course it will be difficult, but you should never underestimate Michael Schumacher. He can get results when other drivers can't."

Alesi added: "Montoya takes risks. With the new points system it is important to finish races and not make mistakes."

Williams are just two points behind Ferrari in the constructor's championship after their huge upturn in form since the Monaco Grand Prix in June.

But Montoya has continued to play down his chances since winning in Germany.

He said: "The probability is good, but it won't be easy. I can't say that I am champion until I win it. If I win, yes it would be cool. And if not I can say I tried.

The chances that we will do well in Hungary are very high
Juan Pablo Montoya
"Five races ago no-one believed in me, now I'm everyone's favourite. Yes I'm going to try to win, but there's still a long way to go."

Nevertheless, Montoya is confident he can do better at the next race in Hungary despite struggling there for the last two years.

"The last two years we have had many problems with the balance of the car and the tyres," the Colombian said.

"This year the car suits me much better. I'm going to approach Hungary just as I approach any other weekend, to set up the car and see what happens.

"The chances that we do well are very high."

Meanwhile, Montoya's team-mate Ralf Schumacher insists he can still win the title despite falling 18 points behind his brother with non-finishes in the last two races.

He said: "I'm sure I can do it. I certainly haven't given up on the world championship. After all the bad luck I've had lately, I should be on the sunny side again this time. I'm still hoping, no doubt."




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