Montoya looks ahead to new season

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Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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At the end of only his second season in Formula 1, Juan Pablo Montoya secured third place in the 2002 FIA Drivers' World Championship for BMW Williams. Only Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello outperformed the talented Colombian and much of their success can be put down to their superior car and race set-up. But for the 2003 season, Montoya is determined to do better and hopes to even knock Schumacher off the top spot. There's little rest for Formula 1 drivers even out of season. There is always something to do, something to prepare before testing for the next year gets underway. 2002 seemed to promise so much for the young Colombian when won a clutch of pole positions. But each possible victory evaporated in the crucible that is Formula 1 as Montoya either had a collision, suffered engine failure or was outrun by Ferrari. It didn't help matters that the Williams' drivers were up against possibly the best car Formula 1 has ever seen, the 2002 Ferrari. As the thoroughbred prancing horse galloped around the race track, the Williams' own beast looked sluggish in comparison. Q: Was the car a difficult car to drive this year? Montoya: It was a very good low fuel car to drive, a good qualifying car. In the race it was a bit difficult. It wasn't a terrible car to drive, it's a car that's always been very good under breaking, it's got a pretty good stability. So it wasn't a bad car, I think they designed a really good car. I think people always complain 'oh we didn't design a good enough car' but you take out Ferrari, that car in the list is probably our car. We beat McLaren, the only race they were quicker than us was in the last race.'' But was it just the car, or was it the combination of a supreme driver matched with a dream machine? Montoya admits that Michael Schumacher is always the man to beat in the paddock, but he says he doesn't let that affect his preparation for a race. Ultimately, it's down to the car and how well it performs. Montoya: "I don't really look at driving to be honest, or how he's driving. You look at the Ferrari and they've got to put half the effort that we put into it. Not only myself, but everyone on the grid. You look at the last race, they were a second a lap quicker in the last race, because the car is so balanced and so consistent that they steer into a corner and the car goes wherever they want, at least it looks that way. Whereas as soon as we got in, you see the front's going to go, the rear's going to go, the platform is not as stable. The biggest controversy in last season's Formula 1 was the contentious issue of team orders when Rubens Barrichello was seen to pull over just before the chequered flag at Monza to give Michael Schumacher a spurious victory. It comes as no surprise that the competitive Montoya has no truck with team orders. Q: Team orders have been a big issue this year, what do you think of them? Montoya: In a way as a team, the end result might be better. But you need to settle in your mind whether your going to be a number one driver, or a number two driver, to have team orders. If you both consider yourselves number one drivers as in Williams, I don't consider myself to be the number one driver in Williams, but I don't consider myself a number two driver. I get into the car and know I've got the same car, the same mechanical aid, engineering aid, powerwise we're right there as well. Probably in one race I got more power than him (Ralf) probably in one race he got more power than me. It's not like Ralf is going to get extra power and I'm going to get a slower engine. It doesn't work that way, it's always very even and very equal. So you can't say Ralf let Juan by, or Juan let Ralf by, it's not going to happen because they let us race. As long as one is not in front of the other and fighting for a championship that might need the point, it's not going to happen.'' Until next season begins, the self-effacing Colombian will be honing his skills in the hope that 2003 will see him standing at the top of the drivers' podium. (AP)

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