Juan Pablo Montoya is a former Formula One driver who currently races in NASCAR. The Colombian has been racing in single seaters since 1992 when he raced in the Colombian Formula Renault series, as well as spending time in the Formula Vauxhall championship before moving to Formula 3 in 1996 with Fortec Motorsport. Other notable names who have driven for Fortec are F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen, Gianmaria Bruni a former F1 driver and current DTM racer Jamie Green. He has also spent time in F3000 and the CART Championship before making his Formula One debut in 2001. In 2007 he made a full-time move to NASCAR, where he still races today. This week’sScrutineering takes a look at Montoya, his racing career, and what the fans think of him!
F3000 + CART (1997 – 2000)
In his first F3000 season Montoya came second in the championship to Ricardo Zonta taking three race wins and one other podium. During this season he impressed the Williams F1 team and was offered a test. His test was a success and he became test driver for the team for the following season. In 1998 he went one better in the F3000 championship and won it, ahead of Nick Heidfeld, with four wins and five other podiums. In 1999 was part of a driver swap between the Williams F1 team and Chip Ganassi’s CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) team when Alex Zanardi moved to F1 and Montoya took part in the CART championship. He won the title in his rookie year and became the youngest ever driver to win it. In 2000 he came ninth. He also took part in the Indianapolis 500 during his season with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Formula One (2001 – 2006)
In 2001 Montoya made his F1 racing debut for Williams partnering Ralf Schumacher. He was classified in only six out of seventeen races, however, he took three second places, a first, a fourth and an eighth, which was enough to give him sixth in the championship. He finished the season 18 points behind more experienced team-mate R.Schumacher. In 2002 he went even better in the championship to finish in third place behind Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher. He took seven podiums that year, however there were no race wins. In 2003 he finished third again, behind M.Schumacher and future team-mate Kimi Räikkönen and in 2004 he finished the championship fifth, with a win at the end of the season at his honorary home race in Brazil.
For the 2005 season Montoya moved to McLaren to partner Räikkönen. He struggled with the car and missed two rounds early in the championship after injuring his shoulder in a supposed tennis injury, which was later revealed to be motocross related. He took three wins in the latter stages of the season as well as two other podiums and finished the season in fourth place, just two points behind M.Schumacher. 2006 proved to be even more difficult for Montoya as speculation increased surrounding his future at the team, with it being revealed that Fernando Alonso had signed for 2007. Montoya took two podiums and five point scoring finishes in the first ten races of the season. After a rather unfortunate accident at the US GP, which saw eight cars retire from the race at the first corner, including Räikkönen, it was announced Montoya was leaving the team with immediate effect, after he had revealed he had signed to race in NASCAR from 2007 onwards.
NASCAR (2006 – present)
Montoya made his NASCAR debut at the end of 2006 before racing for the series full time from 2007. He races for Chip Ganassi’s team once again and he has had a mixed time, making the chase once when he finished eighth in 2009. His only race wins came in 2007 at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen (at the 2010 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen), both known as ‘road tracks’. He currently lies 21st in the 2012 championship with time running out to get into the chase.
What the fans say and like!
- His new cereal Vrooms!
- He used to be sponsored by Big Red gum
- He speaks his mind and is not afraid of saying what he feels
- His “you broke my head” outburst (warning: contains swearing)
- The Best Job in the World advert with Kimi!
- His 2004 win at the Brazilian GP
- His use of Twitter – keeps fans updated and uploads plenty of pictures
- His overtake on Jarno Trulli at the 2001 Imola GP