Montoya: Driving 2008 Ferrari F1 car an "amazing experience"

After years of competing against Ferrari in Formula 1, former Williams and McLaren ace Juan Pablo Montoya finally got to drive a car from the Scuderia, labelling his 2008 Ferrari F1 drive at Mugello as an "amazing" experience.

The 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indy 500 winner, Montoya was a sensation when he moved from the States to Formula 1 in 2001, partnering Ralf Schumacher at Williams.

With a competitive FW23 and powerful BMW engine Montoya was one of the few drivers who could challenge the great Michael Schumacher in his dominant Ferrari years, first making the German aware of his arrival with a bold overtake at the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Notoriously plagued by reliability issues, Williams was no factor in the championship that year, but Montoya did manage to take three poles and score his maiden win on Ferrari's home turf at Monza – which he famously went on to lap at 162.9mph in 2004 qualifying.

Montoya ended up taking seven wins during campaigns at Williams and McLaren before leaving part-way through the 2006 season, returning to the US for stints in NASCAR and IndyCar, which yielded another Indy 500 win.

At last weekend's Ferrari Finali Mondiali event, an annual celebration of the brand at Mugello, Montoya finally managed to get behind the wheel of the team he competed against so ferociously across six F1 seasons.

Montoya got behind the wheel of a 2008-spec Ferrari F2008 car owned by his DragonSpeed WEC teammate Henrik Hedman. The Colombian was still grinning ear to ear when quizzed about his experience by Motorsport.com's Italian edition.

"My teammate this year, Henrik Hedman, invited us to drive the car and it's been really cool. It's been an amazing experience," he said.

"You know, it's a car we always competed against in F1. And it's strange to be able to come here and drive an F1 car in Mugello. I mean, it doesn't get a lot better than this."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ferrari F2008

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ferrari F2008

With his speed and unflappable attitude towards Schumacher and Ferrari, Montoya quickly became a fan favourite around the world - and a nemesis for the tifosi. But Montoya believes his Latin flair and aggression was also appreciated by the Italian fans, even if they couldn't root for him on a race weekend.

Asked what his experience was like to be public enemy number one when he won the 2001 Italian Grand Prix, Montoya suggested there were a lot of "mixed feelings" among Ferrari fans seeing him beat the Scuderia.

"You had to beat them every week, You know what I mean?," he said. "Especially if you came to Italy, the place you always want to beat them [at] and we were always very good at Monza, so it was always very special.

"It was interesting because by being Colombian and the Latino thing, I think a lot of Italians really liked me. So, I think it was a lot of mixed feelings.

"But Ferrari always has so much tradition and everything, and to be able to after all these years actually get in one and do some laps was really nice."

Asked about his experience of sampling the Ferrari F2008, which famously almost propelled Felipe Massa to the world championship until an unforgettable title showdown in Brazil, Montoya admitted he had to resist the urge to take such a legendary, invaluable chassis to the limit.

"Every car is very different," he said when asked how the Ferrari compared to his cars at Williams and McLaren.

"I never thought when I left Williams that I was going to get into a McLaren and it should drive very similar, and it wasn't. It was a big shock at the beginning.

"Driving this is difficult to know, because the tyres are a lot harder than what we raced, but the feeling of the car is really nice, you can tell how well everything is done in the car.

"It's hard because you want to drive it really hard, but you don't want to make a mistake and damage somebody else's car! If you think about it, that car is the last time Ferrari won a constructors' championship..."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ferrari F2008

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ferrari F2008

shares
comments
Piastri knew he only stood 'very outside chance' of 2022 F1 seat
Previous article

Piastri knew he only stood 'very outside chance' of 2022 F1 seat

Next article

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison
Load comments
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022