Montoya Quits F1

Montoya Quits F1

Chip Ganassi NASCAR DodgeIn a surprising press conference this morning, Juan Pablo Montoya has announced he will be leaving Formula One at the end of the year to rejoin a partnership with NASCAR team owner, Chip Ganassi. Montoya will be driving a Havoline Dodge in 2007, leaving behind seven wins (to date) and the McLaren team.

It was recently reported that McLaren were not dropping Montoya at the end of the season – said in response to difficult questions being asked in the wake of JPM’s recent performances and coming-togethers with other drivers. Montoya had a tough decision to make, with McLaren opting for reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso for next year. With Kimi Raikkonen expected to join Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, Montoya’s options were running out. Earlier in the year, the Colombian was getting frustrated, asking why teams were not trying to hire him.

I will admit I didn’t think Montoya would be making the switch to NASCAR, but I was expecting him to end up driving for a mid-field team with other squads seeming to be reluctant to take up his services. Montoya has had limited success in F1, but has managed some great wins behind the wheel of a Williams and a McLaren. He has flare and skill, but too often Juan Pablo has thrown the car off the road or had a silly spin – all of which has resulted in other team owners not wanting to hire him. While he is brave and is willing to make a pass when the risk may seem to much for others, Montoya is perhaps more suited to NASCAR than to open-wheel racing.

This means that there is one less driver to go around for next year, so either Kimi will remain at McLaren and partner the all-conquering Alonso, or he will switch to red and allow the young Lewis Hamilton a chance at the big time. The latter option being the most probable.

Image courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing.


  • “Montoya is perhaps more suited to NASCAR than to open-wheel racing” is the dumbest thing I ever heard. He’s only down Open wheel – won the indy 500, won the cart series championship, and had more success than 80% of F1 drivers in his 5 years and you think it’s better that he try Nascrap – something he’s never done before (which will most likely not work out.)

    Thats is as stupid as Montoya not taking a mid-field team for F1 next year and eventually pull a Fisi and get back with a decent team within 2 years time.

  • Whenever I think of Montoya, which is not all that often, as he is not the greatest character in F1, I always think of the time he ran through the red light at the pit stop and tried to jostle for position with Coulthard behind the safety car. Unnecessary and hazardous.

    Don’t ask me which race that was though, memory like a sieve.

  • tom, i think the guy loves america and just wanted to go home.

    chris, it was canada 05, and i blame mclaren for that whole incident, jpm should’ve had that one in the bag no problem. it did raise the question ‘are you allowed to drive an f1 car if you’re colour-blind?’, but no-one’s managed to answer that one for me yet.

    ollie, you’re forgetting that there’s a vancant seat waiting for kimi at renault right now. also gary paffett has one years more experience than hamilton driving f1 cars and he just won the ‘future champion’ award yesterday.

  • K: You’re right, I had forgotten about Paffett – he’s been a solid tester recently, but unfortunately (for Gary) all the hype is surrounding Hamilton and it is he who is making the headlines. Shallow, I know, but this is F1!

    Tom: I agree, Montoya has no real experience in NASCAR, and he has been ‘successful’ in CART and F1, although not as successful as I feel he could have been. But I say he maybe more suited to NASCAR than open wheel racing is because the Colombian is not afraid to stick it up the inside, or try something audacious, that doesn’t always work in F1 because of the fragility of the exposed areas of an F1 car. Going along with that logic, NASCAR (and arguably Touring Cars) may suit his style more.

    I guess we will have to wait and see Montoya in action. He won races with both Williams and McLaren, and in CART. Let’s see if he can replicate this stateside in a Dodge…

  • Which I think will be advantageous for Montoya, Illustrious Don Long. Lots of opportunities to show his bravery and talent, which I honestly feel he has. I genuinely hope NASCAR proves to be more successful to JPM than F1 was.

    I don’t follow NASCAR, but I’m assuming the Ganassi cars are competitive…?

  • Saying Montoya has no “NASCAR” experience would be correct. However he’s not completely devoid of tin top racing talent or experience.

    In 1993 he competed in, and won the championship in the Columbian Nationale Tournament Swift GTI Series. He won 7 of 8 events to be crowned Champ racing the Swift sedan on road courses.

    As for the status of the Ganassi team, at best it has had “flashes” of competitiveness but nothing that can be called fast on a consistent basis.

    That is partly due to driver selection I believe, but not totally. When you look at Ganassi’s open wheel teams as a reference they have also been running in mid-pack also so it may something endemic.

    Montoya has the talent to either prove or disprove that theory.

    BTW I stuck your feed in my reader, and keep up the good writing.

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