As we saw in the first two events, Renault is so far the team to beat in this early season and McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya reckons the way to do it is to outsmart the French squad. Montoya believes McLaren is not quite on the pace of Renault yet,...
As we saw in the first two events, Renault is so far the team to beat in this early season and McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya reckons the way to do it is to outsmart the French squad. Montoya believes McLaren is not quite on the pace of Renault yet, at least not as far as a quick lap in qualifying is concerned, but can make up ground over a race distance.
"I think we are a little bit behind," the Colombian said at Thursday's FIA press conference in Melbourne when asked how close McLaren was to Renault. "But you know it is going to be interesting to see here because we have a new engine and it is a bit of a step up and it will be interesting to see what it does."
"I think if the car is competitive and everything goes well, we should be able to fight them in the race. I am not sure about one lap in qualifying, but we'll have to wait and see. The only way to beat them is to be a bit smarter than them in the race."
Montoya was not happy with his engine in Bahrain -- he claimed he was losing four or five kilometres and hour to teammate Kimi Raikkonen down the straight -- but it was better in Malaysia, where he finished fourth. He thinks McLaren will progress in the upcoming events with improvements to the car.
"In a couple of races we have new suspension coming which should help us quite a bit if it works as we expect," he commented. "We keep bringing on aero packages and the engine just keeps improving.
"We had a big handicap to everybody in the first few races because the engine struggled a bit, but now the engine is up to speed and running well. It lasted the two races, no problem for me, and here we have a bit of a step forward so it's looking good."
As for the future, Montoya brushed off speculation about whether he will remain with McLaren or go elsewhere in 2007. "I don't really care to be honest," he said. "I am okay. I am focussed on this year and when something comes up for next year and you are happy then you will sign the deal, wherever it is."
"I am driving for McLaren Mercedes this year and I am going to do my best for them… I think we have got a good chance of winning the championship this year and you can't waste it and I need to try and score good points at every race and when there is a chance of winning, winning."