Former Pro Series racer Juan Montoya appears remarkably calm given all the hype surrounding his Grand Prix debut, confident that he is fit and ready for his inaugural race on Sunday in Melbourne. Montoya has been on a regimented diet and exercise...
Former Pro Series racer Juan Montoya appears remarkably calm given all the hype surrounding his Grand Prix debut, confident that he is fit and ready for his inaugural race on Sunday in Melbourne. Montoya has been on a regimented diet and exercise program established by his BMW-Williams F1 team in order to get in shape for the season.
Much is expected of Montoya, winner of the CART FedEx Championship in 1999 and of the Indy 500 in 2000. He is tipped to compete with the likes of World Driving Champions Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mika Hakkinen of Finland. The Colombian doesn't appear distracted by the move across the Atlantic, saying F1 cars are less demanding than their American equivalents.
"I think these cars are a bit less physical than Champ Cars, to be honest," said Montoya on the eve of his first official F1 practice session on Friday. "It's not that they are easy to drive, but you have so many driving aids like power steering that it makes your life a bit easier."
Montoya is confident of his physical condition and completed several race distances in the South African heat during winter testing at Kyalami without ill-effect.
"I don't think there will be a problem, to be honest," said Montoya. "I raced for the last two years in Champ Cars, which are heavier and have a bit more downforce and slick tyres. So I should be all right."
We'll see. All eyes will be on the 25-year-old Skip Barber grad this year to see how he fares against his teammate Ralf Schumacher and Jensen Button, the racer he displaced to the Benetton team on a two-year loan from Williams.
- Andrew Torres