Even before he has turned a wheel in anger, Juan Pablo Montoya is being tipped as Formula 1's 'rookie of the year' for the coming season. His much-anticipated arrival at the Williams team after he was called back from the USA by Sir Frank Williams...
Even before he has turned a wheel in anger, Juan Pablo Montoya is being tipped as Formula 1's 'rookie of the year' for the coming season. His much-anticipated arrival at the Williams team after he was called back from the USA by Sir Frank Williams to replace another talented young rookie, Jenson Button, was the worst kept secret of 2000, but Montoya believes he's more than up to the challenge.
What, for you, are the main differences between Formula 1 and CART?
JPM: "Well the two cars are totally different. The Formula 1 car reacts much quicker in all circumstances: braking, accelerating, cornering - everything is much more 'lively'. The main difference though is power. In CART, the power comes on a lot more suddenly and aggressively than the F1 car, which is a lot more progressive."
It didn't take you long to get used to ovals in CART - do you think it will be the same with Formula 1?
JPM: "Driving fast on ovals is a very pleasant experience and requires a good dose of courage, but you soon get used to it. With the Formula 1, it's more or less the same. But even though the car is easy to drive and more nimble, it is less forgiving."
How have you adapted to the Williams?
JPM: "Well driving the car for the first time at Jerez was the best thing for me because I had already done a lot of Formula 1 testing there and I know the circuit well. At Barcelona, I didn't do many kilometres, but everything was okay."
Are you worried by the fact that some of the other drivers that have come from CART to Formula 1 have been disappointing?
JPM: "Zanardi's was a strange case, I don't know why he didn't go well. As for Andretti, the problem was that he failed to adapt and didn't do much Formula 1 testing, but I'm sure that I will be OK."
What are your relations with Ralf Schumacher like?
JPM: "Relations with Ralf Schumacher are good. Everything that has been said about us is absurd and people are looking for a conflict that simply does not exist! I have no problem with Ralf and he has no problems with me."
You were Williams' 1998 test driver - did you find many differences between the 1998 car and the 2001 one?
JPM: "The 1998 car was very complicated to drive and it moved around a lot. This one goes much better and the tyres have more grip."
Do you think you have matured as a driver in the past two years?
JPM: "Well above all I have learnt to know that you can't expect a car to give you everything it can give until you are totally familiar with it. That's fundamental."
What were your two years in 'exile' like?
JPM: "When Williams told me that the 1999 drivers were going to be Zanardi and Ralf Schumacher I was disappointed, but my lack of experience worked against me and the idea of racing in the USA appealed to me. If you look at the results, it was the right thing to, but I was always thinking about returning to Formula 1"
Do you have a target for this season?
JPM: "I haven't got any particular targets. I have a lot of time and I want to get used to the car and afterwards drive to the limit, as always. If I can get onto the podium a few times, that will be even better. My target is not to beat Ralf, but to do as well as possible. When I arrived in CART, I was in the same situation as now - then I had Zanardi's car, now it's Button's. I know that people are going to make comparisons, but I'm not worried about that..."