Q&A with Juan Pablo Montoya prior to the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix Q: Juan, what do you like about Brazil? Well, I shouldn't start with my favourite things to eat, but I really like Rodizio, which is a informal cuisine based on coal-roasted ...
Q&A with Juan Pablo Montoya prior to the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
Q: Juan, what do you like about Brazil?
Well, I shouldn't start with my favourite things to eat, but I really like Rodizio, which is a informal cuisine based on coal-roasted skewered meat. They call it Churrasco in Brazil, but we have a different name for it in Colombia. Whatever you might call it...I just love it!
Brazil is the closest thing to a home race for me. It is geographically close, but it is also culturally and socially similar. Whether it is the people, the heavy traffic or the atmosphere and, of course, the enthusiasm of the fans, it reminds me of home. The fans wave their flags and sing for hours and it seems they never tire.
Also, really importantly, I really like the race track, the Autodromo Jos? Carlos Pace, as Latin people call Interlagos
I have mixed memories. 2001 was sweet and sour if you like, because I missed out on a win. I led the race from the third lap until lap 38 and I was looking good for the first win of my F1 career (only in my third race!) when I was accidentally hit by Jos Verstappen and my race was over. It was going to be one of the best days of my life and unfortunately it became a bad one!
During last year's race weekend I was given a perfect replica of Senna's helmet created by Sid Mosca, who designed it for Ayrton and had made a copy specially for me. That was a very emotional moment for me, as Ayrton has always been my inspiration, so I do also have very positive memories of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Q: The crash helmet you are going to wear during this race weekend has a different design than usual, why?
For the second consecutive year I have set up a competition for Colombian kids, to '?chele cabeza al casco de Juan Pablo' which means 'design Juan Pablo's helmet.' The kids had time from last August until the end of February 2003 to send in their drawings. We have two winners for the two age categories (6-12 years and 13-16 years) and the helmet I will be wearing over this race weekend is the creative talent of a 16-year old girl, Ivonne Olivia V?squez from Bogota. Both of thehe winners - an 11-year old boy, Daniel Ren? Olave, and Ivonne - will be my guests in Brazil. I'll show them around our garage and I'll have dinner with them. After the Brazilian GP, the helmet will be auctioned for charity.
Q: Have you been to Colombia on your way to Brazil?
Of course I have! Since Malaysia I have had some very busy days filled with lots of marketing and media commitments. As a result, since I started in Formula One I only manage to visit Colombia a few times each year and as a consequence, everything becomes so hectic once I'm there. However I always manage to keep some time just for seeing my friends and enjoying a bit of my home town. It is always a very pleasant feeling for me going back to Bogota.
Q: After two races, have you decided what impact the new qualifying format has on the show?
One thing I can say is that it would have been more difficult for me to achieve all the poles I had last year with the qualifying rules this season. Compared to what it was in the past, I think pole has become less significant this year. It's a pity as I think the viewers don't yet understand the system and they don't get so excited as the fuel loads affects the performance so much that you cannot tell where everyone really is. I believe it is very important for the public to see who is really be the fastest of all and this format doesn't really help.
At the same time I can say this one-lap-format is more challenging. It requires a big effort from the team. When the car is at its optimum it's very easy to drive and it is also easy to get the best time out of it. But when the car isn't set up perfectly -- as for example with quite a lot of fuel --it becomes much more difficult to get a good result. You are driving a car which is not so well balanced and you're still trying hard. It takes more out of the drivers. You know you cannot make any mistake and this will make you a better racing driver.
Q: How would you rate the FW25?
I don't think that when our new car was launched in Barcelona last January we all expected it to be immediately quick. The FW25 is a much better car than last year's as it is based on a completely revised design but its true performance hasn't been truly shown yet. We need time to know this car and manage to improve and refine it.
The FW25 has progressed throughout the last tests and this proves that we are going in the right direction. It's easy to say that the aerodynamics still needs some improvement but in today's Formula One almost 70% of the lap time is determined by this. Every little improvement in that area affects the performance of the car very much and this is what it's almost all about in F1: downforce!