Talladega Top 20 Qualifying

Having dismissed Jenson Button as the weakest link, and Kimi Raikkonen as a one-hit wonder, Eddie Irvine was keen to prove that he doesn't regard all his rivals as rubbish: this week, Eddie sings the praises of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya. Juan...

Having dismissed Jenson Button as the weakest link, and Kimi Raikkonen as a one-hit wonder, Eddie Irvine was keen to prove that he doesn't regard all his rivals as rubbish: this week, Eddie sings the praises of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.

Juan Pablo has rattled Michael Schumacher a few times this season by giving the World Champion a taste of his own hardman antics, wrote the Ulsterman in the London Sun. And while the sparks are sure to fly between the duo next year, do not expect Schumacher to try and mix it with the Colombian too often. For 26-year-old Montoya is one of the few drivers in the pit lane who can force Michael to back off.

Montoya came into Formula 1 with a tough guy reputation and quickly laid down his marker just like Schumacher, 32, did when he entered the sport and took the fight to the late Ayrton Senna, adds Irvine.

The younger guy will always have a psychological advantage because he has less to lose. Michael has been in the sport a long time and will not want to take the same sort of risks he used to when attempting to upstage Senna. As you get older you do become more cautious. Schumacher will use more of his wisdom and less of his bravado as he weighs up the risks.

That is why Montoya, providing BMW Williams build him a good car, should become one of Schumacher's main challengers next season, continues the Jaguar star. Montoya has certainly revealed he is not one to be messed with. But while there should be some epic battles between them I still feel Michael has the experience and skill to maintain the upper hand over an entire season.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams