McLaren ’50 in 50′: Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya has participated in NASCAR, Indy Car and Formula One during his racing career. He was with McLaren from 2005 and left mid-way through the 2006 season and is one of their race winners.

Montoya made his Formula One debut for Williams in 2001. He impressed on his debut season. Despite only being classified in six of seventeen races, it was enough for him to finish sixth in the championship and his results included three second places and a first. He had a more successful year in 2002 when he finished third in the championship behind Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. He managed to finish on the podium seven times that year but there were no wins. He finished third again in 2003 behind Schumacher and his future team-mate Kimi Räikkönen and fifth in 2004.

Montoya was snapped up by McLaren for the 2005 season after David Coulthard left for Red Bull. He had a difficult start to the season and missed two rounds due to a shoulder injury. In the latter half of the season, however, he took three wins for the team and two further podiums. He finished the year in fourth place, just two points behind Schumacher and two clear of Giancarlo Fisichella. 2006 proved to be an even more difficult year for Montoya as speculation increased surrounding his future with the team after it was revealed that Fernando Alonso had signed for 2007. Montoya took two podiums at the start of the year as well as five points scoring finishes in the first ten races of the season. After an unfortunate incident at the US GP, where both Montoya and Räikkönen crashed out along with six other drivers, it was announced that Montoya was leaving the team with immediate effect. He then revealed that he had signed to drive in NASCAR from 2007 onwards.

During his time with McLaren, Montoya often displayed his speed and racing ability. In total he had three wins for the team – at the British, Italian and Brazilian Grand Prix – along with  four further podiums. He finished 58% of the races he started for the team in the points. Since his departure from Formula One, Montoya has firmly established himself in America. In fact, it was announced today that he would be returning to Indy Car (following seven years in NASCAR) driving for Team Penske.

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