St. Petersburg Times
Online: Tech Times
 tampabay.com
Print storySubscribe to the Times

Racing 2004

Montoya's different spin

The Colombian prepares a title charge in his final year with Williams before a move to McLaren.

By BRUCE LOWITT
Published February 13, 2004

photo
ABOVE: “It’s not, 'Oh, I’m (angry); I’m leaving,’” Montoya says of his time with Williams-BMW. “No, it’s a lot of things.’’

RIGHT: Montoya was just 11 points short of the 2003 world title.


Juan Pablo Montoya's finish line is about 81/2 months and 3,400 miles away, the length of the 2004 Formula One season. The distance for him from Williams-BMW to McLaren Mercedes can be measured in millions of dollars.

Montoya, 28, begins his final season with Williams on March 7 at the Australian Grand Prix. It will be a lame-duck season for him. In November, McLaren announced it had signed Montoya, and he will drive for it in 2005. He likely will replace David Coulthard.

The future shift doesn't alter the present, Montoya said. "It doesn't change anything. ... I think we will get exactly the same support (as teammate Ralf Schumacher), to be honest. I don't see why not."

Schumacher agreed.

"There are the drivers and constructors championships," Schumacher said. "We need both drivers for (the latter), so there is no reason to not look after Juan as good as they do after me."

Said team owner Frank Williams: "We believe that (Montoya) will give his usual 101 percent. It is not a matter that will cause me any loss of sleep."

Montoya said he didn't change rides for the money, though he is expected to at least double the estimated $3-million to $6-million salary Williams pays him. Schumacher's contract, estimated at more than $10-million, has one year remaining. Montoya expressed disappointment that Williams wouldn't match that number.

Montoya and Schumacher never have been friends, and the friction increased at the July 6 French Grand Prix. With time for the final pit stop approaching, Montoya was running second behind Schumacher, with slower cars ahead. Montoya pitted a lap early so he could return when the track was clear of traffic, while Schumacher was riding on older, slower tires.

But Schumacher decided to come in early as well, and he beat Montoya out of the pits. When an angry Montoya shouted over the radio at his team, his complaints were ignored. Just drive, he was told.

Schumacher and Montoya finished 1-2. The McLaren drivers, Kiki Raikkonen and Coulthard, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Many observers think the pit incident was what prompted Montoya to leave. He was hesitant to isolate it as the turning point.

"It's not, "Oh, I'm (angry); I'm leaving,"' he said. "No, it's a lot of things. ... "It's what you feel inside, what you think you can achieve and what you think you can get out of something. What I got out of Williams has been fantastic. Frank (Williams) has been really good to me. Everybody at Williams and BMW has treated me really well. But it got to the point where, I am not maxed out, I think I can develop a lot more. I think by going to a different team, to experience different people and new things, I can develop even further."

At season's end Michael Schumacher, driving for Ferrari, won his sixth F1 championship, two points ahead of Raikkonen, with Montoya third and Ralf Schumacher fifth. Ferrari, Williams and McLaren were 1-2-3 in the constructors championship. If Montoya wins the 2004 championship, he'll be the latest in a line of Williams drivers to leave after claiming the title. Nigel Mansell won in 1992 and left for CART. Alain Prost retired after winning the 1993 F1 crown. Damon Hill changed F1 teams after winning in 1996. Jacques Villeneuve is the exception. He won in 1997 and stayed with Williams, then went to BAR in 1999.

- Information from espn.com was used in the report.

[Last modified February 11, 2004, 13:00:10]


Arena league

  • Lee holds his own in Tampa

  • Baseball
  • Four indicted for steroids

  • Black History Month
  • Fred McGriff

  • College basketball
  • Charlotte beefs up NCAA case
  • St. John's dismisses any thought of dropping team
  • Women: Sloppy UF stumbles at Mississippi State

  • In brief
  • Surprise! Younger Stadler leads Buick

  • NBA
  • Bulls pass an easy test

  • NHL
  • Panthers extend Pens' woes

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Racing on the wind

  • Preps
  • Lecanto holds off rival to reach 4A-9 title game
  • Seeding no issue: Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel look evenly matched
  • Blakes presses into title game
  • Cougars survive overtime scare
  • Lakewood, Clearwater in final
  • Warhawks, Pirates to square off again
  • Bulls blow open close game during second half
  • For Springstead, words to win by
  • Freedom finds formula to fell Bartow
  • Gaither controls East Bay
  • Jesuit freezes out Frostproof
  • Jesuit's depth holds off Robinson
  • Lecanto's revenge tastes semi-sweet
  • Mitchell sinks Lake Gibson
  • Pasco's postseason run continues with 5-0 win
  • Record day for Cougars
  • Stanton sheds knee brace, leads Seminole
  • Gulf is young but has depth
  • It's too close to call

  • Racing 2004
  • NASCAR's new day dawns
  • A man of his own
  • A study in contrasts
  • Back where he belongs
  • Century of the Snake
  • Champ Car has new direction, but where?
  • IROC at a glance
  • Montoya's different spin
  • Rolex Sports Car at a glance
  • Stepping out of shadows
  • Weber finds Tampa Bay is crazy about NASCAR
  • 2004 Florida Calendar
  • 2004 track directory
  • A racing dictionary
  • American Le Mans at a glance
  • Area tracks
  • Trans-Am at a glance

  • Speed Weeks '04 at Daytona
  • Junior, in huff, pulls off a win
  • Keep eye on Toyota, Musgrave
  • Rookies race right into school of hard knocks

  • Sports on the Air
  • Remote patrol
  • Rays
  • Clock ticks as Hamilton awaits okay
  • Bucs
  • Back home, in Tampa
  • Bucs think Sapp might slip away
  • Career flourishes despite setbacks
  • Players, past and present, like move
  • Lightning
  • Deficit turns to inspiring win
  • Puck-handling proposal is 'silly'
  •  


    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111