Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher will start the 2002 Formula 1 season evenly matched and on level terms at Williams, according to team bosses Frank Williams and Patrick Head, as well as BMW Motorsport director Gerhard Berger. In...
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher will start the 2002 Formula 1 season evenly matched and on level terms at Williams, according to team bosses Frank Williams and Patrick Head, as well as BMW Motorsport director Gerhard Berger.
In an interview with the Autosport website, team technical director Patrick Head said Montoya may have outshone Ralf at the end of the season but the German remained just as fast. "I don't think Ralf's got slower, I think Juan's raised his game quite a bit and one or two things haven't worked out for Ralf at the end of the year," said Head. "But I'm very confident both of them will start next year just as strong as each other."
The two are not friends and have made uneasy colleagues this season, with rookie Montoya delighting in outqualifying the more experienced German in four of the last six races. However, Ralf won three races in 2001 to Montoya's sole victory at Monza last month.
BMW Motorsport director Gerhard Berger, on the Sport1 web site, also rebuffed reported remarks by Ralf suggesting that Williams should consider team orders to prevent clashes on the track. "If Ralf really meant this, then it was the wrong time to say it," said Berger.
"When you look at the last four races, the team would have had to concentrate on Montoya." Berger said in Japan at the weekend that both drivers had showed their strengths at different tracks, with Montoya quicker at high-speed ones. "We are going to see a better Montoya next year than this year," he warned at Suzuka. "It's just experience.
"But you also saw a better Ralf Schumacher this year than last year because he was pushed by Montoya even harder. And we will probably see a better Ralf also next year... it's a very good situation."
Montoya has already dismissed any suggestion of a clash between the two drivers next year. "I wasn't really planning to crash into him in the races," said the Colombian of his team mate. "I haven't crashed into Michael Schumacher this year and I won't crash into Ralf next year."