Rookie of the Year Prepares for Season Two Tiago Monteiro is heading into his second season with MF1 Racing with a degree of continuity that should prove helpful for both the Portuguese driver and the team. Tiago Monteiro. Photo by ...
Rookie of the Year Prepares for Season Two
Tiago Monteiro is heading into his second season with MF1 Racing with a degree of continuity that should prove helpful for both the Portuguese driver and the team.
Last year, Monteiro put together a remarkable rookie season that earned him F1's reliability record, Rookie of the Year honours and the respect of even the most jaded observers. Aided by a dependable chassis and engine package, his mature and sensible driving approach allowed him to cross the finish line an incredible 18 times out of 19 races. He even survived the odd brush with a faster rival without too much damage.
As he found his feet, he got quicker and quicker, and scored a superb eighth place at Spa. But nothing could top the highlight of his season -- a third place at Indianapolis after the Michelin teams pulled out.
"From my perspective, we had an amazing first season," he says, "We were very reliable, with a good measure of success. But our goal, as a team, is to keep doing better. We want to be faster, and we want to be in the points more often."
Having come to grips with the sport's steep learning curve, Monteiro has had time to catch his breath and is looking forward to putting his experience to good use.
"We are fighting against drivers who have four, five, six, or even 10 or 12 years of experience in F1, and Christijan and I only have one year. Obviously, the fact that I did a lot of race laps and a lot of miles during the season should help us. I gained a lot of experience, definitely. But I still have a lot to learn."
Last year, Monteiro faced strong internal competition from Narain Karthikeyan, and he doesn't expect things to be any easier this year, with Albers bringing his own impressive CV to the team.
"Your teammate is always your first opponent, of course. But we're both pros. We've known each other for a long time, from when we were in F3 together. So we're going to work together, because we need to improve the car, and there's a lot to do. We both want to score a lot of points.
"(Albers) has always been a strong, aggressive driver, so it will be tough to beat him. I'm sure we will have some tough fights, but in the end I want to beat him and he wants to beat me. But if we're going to move forward, we need to work together, and he's clever enough to realise that."
Monteiro has already had a taste of V8 power, having done a lot of testing in the interim car over the winter. And, like everyone else, he's going to have to adjust not only to the lack of thrust, but also to the different driving style that the new cars require.
"It's a big difference in terms of driving style, it's a big difference in set-up, and a difference in the tyres, as well. So the engineers and the drivers are going to have to analyse that very carefully and adapt to these unique characteristics. It's very, very different."
So what can Tiago and the team achieve in 2006? Repeating that Indy podium might be a tall order, but he has set a goal of scoring more points on merit.
"It will be difficult to do any better on the reliability, because we finished 18 races out of 19. We will have to be lucky to do better than that, but you never know! But that's not my main goal, honestly. My goal is to be able to score points on a regular basis and I hope to have a car that will allow me to do that.
"There's big pressure in Portugal -- from the fans, from friends, from sponsors, everyone. It's part of the job. I guess F1 is the biggest form of motorsport in the world, so everybody is watching you. You have to deal with the pressure, and I'm fine with it."