Montoya honored by president

FORMULA ONE's new Colombian star Juan Pablo Montoya has received praise of the highest order following his superb second-placed finish in last Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

His country's president Andres Pastrana was delighted to see the Colombian flag above the podium in Barcelona and expects it will soon be their national anthem playing out of the speakers to celebrate victory for the youngster.

"Montoya is a great ambassador for our country," said his proud president as he predicted Montoya would soon be "in the first places of Formula One."

Pastrana said countryman Montoya has overcome "a spell of bad luck" since his debut in Formula One this year and admitted on a Bogata radio station: "I am very emotional, like all the Colombians."

After four disappointing races Montoya's first podium was, in fact, his first Grand Prix finish. Even Michael Schumacher took eight races to climb into Formula One's top three.

"We saw how Juan Pablo was permanently looking to be in the first places," said Pastrana after Montoya ended his drought. "All the Colombians are satisfied."

Montoya joined Williams after flying the Colombian flag in ChampCar racing, and after leading convincingly in Brazil before falling out of the race, he was proud to have made it to the podium so soon.

"I think it's really exciting," said Montoya after the Barcelona event. "The first four races have been very hard for me. We have been competitive in some of them not so much in others."

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