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The Five Best Drives of Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya was one of the most exciting talents that arrived in F1 in the early 2000s. The Colombian was an instant revelation in F1 and was fighting for wins straight away. He was renowned for his aggressive style and was not afraid to challenge the best-established greats of the sport after his arrival. His numerous duels with Michael Schumacher are remembered even today.

Montoya had come close to winning a title in the 2003 season, unfortunately for him, a few mistakes, bad luck and technical failures prevented him from winning the title, but Montoya is still remembered by many of the fans of the sport.

2001 Brazilian GP

Montoya made his F1 debut in 2001 at the Australian GP.

At first, he was a bit off the pace compared to the leading drivers, but he quickly made up ground. In only his third race in the sport, he qualified on the second row of the grid and found himself second at the end of lap 1. The SC was called out, after an accident which allowed Montoya to close right up to the tail of leader Michael Schumacher at the restart.

Montoya was a specialist of SC restarts, as he came from America, where full course yellow flag periods were a lot more frequent than they were in F1 during those days. He used his experience well and made a bold late-breaking move to pass Schumacher after the restart. The Ferrari man looked quicker than Montoya but was unable to pass the BMW engined, Williams.

After Montoya made his pitstop, he looked set to achieve his first win in only his third F1 race, but a misunderstanding with the lapped Jos Verstappen led to a collision between the two which saw both cars out of the race.

Despite failing to win his first race in Brazil, Montoya announced his arrival in F1 with a superb performance.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Montoya won seven races in F1.
    • False
    • True

Answer Key

  1. True

2001 German GP

Montoya took his first pole position in the 2001 German GP. The Old Hockenheim Ring was a true power track, as the long straights of the first and second sectors needed a car with a powerful engine to be quick.

The BMW engined Williams cars looked already incredibly fast in the 2001 season, but it was the German GP that showed just how powerful the BMW engine was.

Montoya and Ralf Schumacher locked out the front row of the grid, and once the race began, the two were walking away from the rest of the grid by setting a blistering pace.

Montoya was the quicker of the two and was dropping his teammate easily. He looked once again, just like in Brazil, set to win his first race, but unfortunately, he was once again unlucky, and this time, it was the reliability of the Williams car that let him down and robbed him of his first win.

2003 Monaco GP

The 2003 season started badly for Williams, and apart from the Australian GP, which race was affected by many SCs, they did not look like a real winning package.

Williams made a comeback at the Austrian GP, and after Michael Schumacher’s troubles, Montoya was leading and set for the win, or worst case scenario a second place, when an engine failure forced Montoya to retire from the lead.

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Williams looked on form again in the next race at Monaco. Ralf Schumacher, Montoya’s teammate, took pole position from Kimi Raikkonen, while Montoya qualified third, with a slightly heavier car than his teammate.

At the start, Ralf maintained his lead while Montoya passed Raikkonen. Ralf looked quicker than his teammate at the initial stage of the first stint, but Montoya caught him back before the pit stops and passed Ralf during the pit stops. After the first stop was out of the way, Montoya was leading, Raikkonen was second, Michael Schumacher moved up to third, while Ralf dropped to fourth.

Montoya and Raikkonen dropped Schumacher during the second stint of the race. The two were having a real duel for the victory, which Montoya won in the end. The order remained the same after the second round of stops. Montoya, in the end eased off his pace and cruised home to win the Monaco GP.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Montoya only had two teammates in F1.
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. True

2005 British GP

Montoya had a really difficult start to his McLaren career in 2005. In the first few races of the season, he outscored his new teammate Raikkonen, but he looked quite a bit slower than the Finn. He had an accident that forced him to sit out the next races and looked off the pace after his return.

It was at the Canadian GP that the old Montoya seemingly returned, but an incident during an SC period robbed him of the win. He looked set for the podium in his next race in France, but a technical failure forced him to retire from the race.

He qualified fourth for the next race, but Raikkonen’s engine change promoted Montoya up to third on the grid. At the start, he got away well and instantly passed Jenson Button, and attacked Alonso also. Montoya was very aggressive and forced his way through the fast corners of the first sector.

From this point on the two had a great race for the win, but ultimately Montoya just edged Alonso for the win to take his first victory at McLaren.

2004 Brazilian GP

The Brazilian GP was the last race of the 2004 F1 season. Montoya had a rather underwhelming 2004 after his very consistent 2003 season. He failed to win a race and apart from a few races like Malaysia Montoya looked only a shadow of the driver he was only a season ago.

However, he did not want to end his Williams career like that and put in a superb qualifying performance to start the race from second.

The start was wet, but the track was rapidly drying. Barrichello opted to stay out longer than Raikkonen and Montoya and consequently lost out badly in comparison with his rivals. This left Montoya and Raikkonen fighting for the race win. Montoya passed Raikkonen when they exited the pits and pulled a small gap to his Finnish rival.

Raikkonen was slightly heavier than Montoya but was unable to utilise the extra laps he had with the lighter car, as the tyres were degrading quite quickly, and a heavy car with fresher tyres was not such a big disadvantage.

Montoya thus succeeded in maintaining his lead and won the Brazilian GP in his last race for Williams.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler

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