US GP Thursday notebook

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000 - Jacques Villeneuve said Thursday that Juan Pablo Montoya is on the right track as he follows Villeneuve's footsteps into Formula One. Like Villeneuve, Montoya is an Indianapolis 500 winner and a CART ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000 - Jacques Villeneuve said Thursday that Juan Pablo Montoya is on the right track as he follows Villeneuve's footsteps into Formula One.

Like Villeneuve, Montoya is an Indianapolis 500 winner and a CART champion. And, like Villeneuve, Montoya will drive for the Williams team when he makes his Formula One debut next season.

The BMW WilliamsF1 team officially confirmed Thursday that this year's Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya, 25, will team up with Ralf Schumacher for the 2001 Formula One season. Montoya's contract is for two years. Columbia's Montoya won the 1998 FIA Formula 3000 championship and the 1999 CART championship. He also worked as a test driver for the Williams team in 1998 and accumulated more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of F1 testing experience. "I would tell Juan Pablo that Williams is a very easy team to work for," Villeneuve said. "(Technical director) Patrick Head is a very nice personality! It's a very good team to start with. It's a strong team with a lot of experience, and it's won many races and championships. "They are racers at heart, both Frank Williams and Patrick Head, and they live to get results. They live to race. You just need to know what you want and to stick to your principles, and make sure that there's a good amount of respect within the team. If that works, then normally the results should come." Villeneuve joined Williams in 1996 after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1995. He won in his fourth Grand Prix start and went on to become World Champion in 1997. His 11th and latest victory came in the 1997 season. After spending the 1998 season with Williams, he joined British American Racing in 1999. Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button are the current stars at Williams-BMW. "Ralf seems to have adapted very well to the team and has done a good job," Villeneuve said. "Button did the same thing this year. When (Alex) Zanardi came last year, it just didn't work. I guess that there was a clash of personalities. But Juan Pablo already worked with the team as a test driver in '98 anyway, so he's quite comfortable with the team." Montoya replaces rookie Button who, while still under contract to Williams, will drive for Benetton-Renault for the next two seasons. *** Extra tires: As this is the first time Formula One cars have run on the new Indianapolis Grand Prix road circuit, each driver will be allocated two extra sets of tires for use during Friday's practice sessions while they learn the track. Drivers are normally allocated a total of 32 dry-weather tires and 28 wet-weather tires per race weekend. Bridgestone has developed two special compounds specifically to deal with the unique demands created by the 9-degree banked Turn 13. *** Irvine's Broadway debut: Eddie Irvine drove a Jaguar Formula One car down New York's famous Broadway to Times Square on Sept. 19 as part of the build-up to the inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix. Irvine's teammate, Johnny Herbert, drove the same route in an old-style New York taxicab. "It was a fun day," Irvine said. "I've encountered traffic on a racetrack, but to be in the thick of it in a Jaguar on the streets of New York was brilliant. There is so much expectation among the American fans -- we certainly won over a few more Formula One converts today."

-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams , Benetton , British American Racing