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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Lauda tips Montoya for F1 crown
Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya trails Michael Schumacher by a single point in the title race
Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya is favourite to win this year's Formula One drivers' title, according to Niki Lauda.

Montoya trials five-time world champion Michael Schumacher by one point in the standings with Finland's Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren another point further adrift.

But with three races remaining, Ferrari, chasing their fifth straight constructors' title, are struggling to recreate the dominance of recent years.

And Lauda believes Ferrari's poor performance in Hungary - Schumacher was eighth and Rubens Barrichello retired - ushered in Williams' Montoya as the heir apparent.

If Montoya gets his act together and does not do any mistakes then I think he is the favourite
Niki Lauda

"I think Montoya, because the Williams is the best car," said three-time former champion Lauda.

"It is the quickest. If Montoya gets his act together, does not do any mistakes, then I think he is the favourite."

Montoya would be the first South American champion since the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna for McLaren in 1991.

But seven drivers are still mathematically in contention, though David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello and Fernando Alonso can only be considered outside prospects.

The next race is on Ferrari's home turf of Monza on 14 September and Schumacher will be hoping his team and tyre suppliers Bridgestone can put him back in the driving seat.

The final two races are at Indianapolis in the United States on 28 September and Suzuka in Japan on 12 October.

And Lauda was adamant that Williams, now leading Ferrari by eight points in the constructors' standings, would be favourites at each circuit.

"At Monza they will be at least as good as the Ferrari, even better maybe, Indy is the same thing and Suzuka any way," he said.

"I would see the Williams well in front, the Renault will lose out in Monza and Indy, and the McLaren I think is not as good because they concentrate on the new car and the old car is sitting still."




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