Juan Pablo Montoya had a turbulent debut season in 2001 with crashes, engine failures, clashes of opinion and plenty of hype. Towards the end of the year he had settled down, was qualifying well and his first victory came when he won the Italian...
Juan Pablo Montoya had a turbulent debut season in 2001 with crashes, engine failures, clashes of opinion and plenty of hype. Towards the end of the year he had settled down, was qualifying well and his first victory came when he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September.
Speaking at the BMW WilliamsF1 launch at Silverstone on January 25th, Montoya said that the first year is toughest and the pressure on him this year will be less: "I thought last year was a big expectation because everybody thought I was going to go and not finish any races and do really bad. So I thought last year was the pressure, not this year."
Heading into his second season, he feels that he has settled into the Williams team quite well.
"I'm a lot more relaxed this year, you know," Montoya commented. "You know the team already, you've worked with the team already. It's a lot more like a family atmosphere, a lot more relaxed and it's good. I think they've (the team) done a really good job for the car, we're really hoping the car could be a big challenger."
Montoya and team mate Ralf Schumacher are the focus of endless speculation, especially about how they compare as drivers. As far as Montoya is concerned they each do their own thing.
"It's like in practice," Montoya said. "We don't look at anything that Ralf is doing, we do our stuff, he does his stuff. From my point of view the set-ups are very different, but little things. I tried his car at Silverstone even though I went quicker I thought my car was better balanced and everything."
On the subject of Schumacher's seeming drop in performance towards the
end of last season and his own improvement, Montoya was quick to deny
deterioration in his team mate's driving:
"I think Ralf didn't drop at all. I think we improved a lot, I learned a lot and it really worked at the end."
Asked about what he thought of Mika Hakkinen taking a year out, Montoya
was pessimistic about Hakkinen's chances of returning to McLaren as he
"I was pretty surprised he left. I don't think he's really thinking to come back, that's my honest answer. He didn't really want any big "boom" that he was going to retire, so he just said he was going to take a year out. Now with Kimi (Raikkonen) this year at McLaren he'll probably do a really good job and there is not going to be any room for Mika."
A self-confessed fan of "anything in a bap", Montoya faced some criticism
last year over his weight, with it being suggesting he could do with
losing a few pounds. He shrugs it off:
"I weigh exactly the same as I weighed a year ago, difference is that a year ago they were saying I was fat, this year they don't say that."