MONTOYA EAGER FOR SHOT AT INDY HISTORY AT U.S. GRAND PRIX Juan Pablo Montoya wants to do something even the great Michael Schumacher can't accomplish this year at the SAP United States Grand Prix. He wants to become the first driver to win...
MONTOYA EAGER FOR SHOT AT INDY HISTORY AT U.S. GRAND PRIX
Juan Pablo Montoya wants to do something even the great Michael Schumacher can't accomplish this year at the SAP United States Grand Prix.
He wants to become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the SAP United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The third SAP U.S. Grand Prix is scheduled for Sept. 29.
Montoya won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 in runaway fashion, driving for Chip Ganassi, and then moved to Formula One in 2001 with BMW WilliamsF1. Last year, Montoya had a good shot at winning the SAP United States Grand Prix, snatching the lead from Schumacher on Lap 34.
His dream of tying together a spectacular pair of consecutive victories at the storied Brickyard vanished five laps later when his BMW WilliamsF1 car coasted to a halt on the main straightaway with a hydraulic problem.
"I think it would mean a lot," Montoya said about adding another victory at Indianapolis. "I have quite a memory of there."
"Last year I was very close. I was very competitive. It'll be my second time, but it probably won't be the last time I go there. I think my expectations are higher than normal. I think I have a pretty good chance."
Only four drivers - Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti - have won the Indianapolis 500 and the United States Grand Prix. But none of those drivers won the USGP at Indy, which made its debut in 2000.
Montoya, who turns 27 on Sept. 20, returns to Indy later this month with a strong season behind him.
Schumacher has dominated the F1 field in his red Ferrari this year, clinching the championship at the end of July and winning a record 10 times in the first 15 races. But Montoya, a native of Bogota, Colombia, has shown superb racing skills in his 31 F1 races. He had four podium finishes and a win at the Italian Grand Prix last year and this year has won seven poles and scored points in 10 of 15 races. His 10 career poles already rank him tied for 24th on the all-time list.
Montoya is third in the standings with 44 points, 17 points behind Schumacher's Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello, but only two points in front of his teammate, Ralf Schumacher.
1999 CART champion Montoya scored 27 points through the first six races but then experienced three straight retirements that ended any chance he had of challenging Michael Schumacher for the championship. Still, he's on course for a career-best finish in F1. He finished sixth in the standings as a rookie last year with 31 points.
Back in 1999, Montoya was the driver to beat in CART, as he won seven races and seven poles to become the league's youngest champion - all as a rookie in the series.
Now Montoya is on the other end of stick, chasing Schumacher.
"It's hard," he said. "At the moment, he's got better equipment. And sometimes it's Rubens.
"I do want to beat Michael."
"I think the performance of the car on old tires is not good," he said. "Sometimes we're not quick enough. It's frustrating, but I can't do anything about it."
Montoya believes the 13-turn, 2.606-mile course at Indianapolis is a good one. He said the key to success is to get a good balance on the car so it can handle the high speed of the main straight and the combination of tight and sweeping turns on the infield section.
"Indy is one of the best circuits for overtaking because of such a long straightaway," Montoya said.
He also noted that Turn 1, a right-hander into the infield, is an excellent place to make a pass if a driver can out-brake a competitor.
In the 2000 Indianapolis 500, Montoya led 167 laps and won by 7.184 seconds over Buddy Lazier. On Sept. 29, Montoya would be happy to lead one lap - as long as it is the last one - and see the red Ferraris in his mirrors instead of in front of him.
It would put him in an Indy class by himself.