JuanPablo Montoya Sumar
Juan Pablo Montoya began his racing career in kart racing back in 1981, taking the National Kart Championship in the children's division three years later. The Colombian continued in the series with the next few years, taking second place in 85 and the Championship in the local and national junior division in 86. From 87 to 89, Juan Pablo took several local and national titles in the Kart Komet category, before taking the Kart Junior world championships in
1990 and 1991.
In 1992 this very talented youngster took part in the USA Barber series as well as competing in Copa Formula Renault in his native Colombia, winning four times from five pole positions. The following year he took part in the National Tournament Swift GTI Championship, securing seven wins out of eight races and only missing out on one pole position. 1994 was a busy year with a class win in the Sudam 125 Karting championship, a third place in the USA Barber Saab Championship and three wins out of five races in the Formula N class Mexico, securing four pole positions along the way. His stunning performances didn't end there, this gifted Colombian taking third place in the British Formula Vauxhall Championship as well as the class win in the Bogota Six Hours in 1995.
Juan took the British Formula 3 championship the following year as well as a fourth place in the Zandvoort Marlboro Masters, a win in the Bogota Six Hours as well as taking part in the ITC Race at Silverstone for Mercedes. While driving for the Marko team in 1997, he came second in the Formula 3000 championship and this was the year he had his first taste of Formula One. Accepting the role of test driver, Williams quickly signed the young man, securing his future ride in F1.
He won the F3000 championship the following year while competing for Supernova, with a record points total of 65 points for the season. Frank Williams then organized a swap deal for the Colombian for the 1999 season, taking Alex Zanardi from the American CART series to compete alongside Ralf Schumacher in F1 while Juan took up the role in the Chip Ganassi team. Here he flourished, taking the CART title in his rookie year. He claimed 7 wins throughout the season as well as seven poles, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the sport.
Although Frank Williams wanted Montoya back for the 2000 season, Juan wanted to remain in the CART series for at least another season. With the Ganassi outfit switching to Toyota engines, it wasn't the season he had hoped for, however he did come 9th in the series with three wins and seven pole positions. He also won the Indianapolis 500 on his very first attempt.
Returning to Williams in 2001 to partner the younger Schumacher brother, Ralf, Juan Pablo saw his first Formula one victory at Monza. He secured several podium finishes and three pole positions throughout his debut season, causing quite a stir in the paddock with his aggressive driving style. The Colombian refused to back down from Michael Schumacher and his pass on the German in Brazil is still discussed today. A fiery confrontation with Jacques Villeneuve is also on his resume, however 2002 was a new year and one where he hoped to see his first F1 world title.
Unfortunately, this didn't come to pass and although he notched up seven pole positions and gained the reputation of king of qualifying, he was unable to turn any of his front row spots into victories. Juan finished third overall in the drivers battle, behind the two Ferrari drivers.
In 2003, the Colombian fought for the title until the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, winning two Grand Prix in the process. While some dubious decision making from the race stewards eliminated him from the championship battle, Montoya had a very solid season in 2003 and signed a deal to race with McLaren Mercedes in 2005.
Montoya still had one year to race with the BMW Williams squad in 2004 and it was not a particularly stellar season from either the team or driver. The FW26 chassis proved a difficult car while continuity in the team was interrupted with Ralf Schumacher sitting out much of the season following his high-speed crash. Montoya kept his head down and made best of a difficult situation but despite his impressive victory in the season finale at Interlagos, fifth position in the standings underlined the season-long struggle.
Moving over to McLaren Mercedes in 2005, Montoya had a mixed season. While team-mate Kimi Raikkonen took the championship battle down to the wire, Montoya found himself out of the running by mid-season after missing two races due to a shoulder injury sustained playing tennis. Montoya would record three victories on his way to fourth position in the championship, but by his own admission, 2005 was not classic Montoya.
Remaining with McLaren in 2006, Montoya will once again be looking for race wins and should he get his season off to a stronger start next year, perhaps he will be able to take a sustained fight to team-mate Raikkonen for the ultimate prize.
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