Expectations were high when Juan Pablo Montoya moved to McLaren from Williams over the winter, and I’ve always like the way JPM races, so I was pleased to watch a perfect drive at todays British GP that brought him his first win for McLaren. Three things have worked against Montoya in 2005. The first is the switch; you’re definately at a disadvantage in F1 if the driver and his race engineer are early in their relationship and have not developed their “ways or working”. The second, I believe, is that Montoya’s desired car setup is not similar to most other F1 drivers and certainly not the kind of car that Raikkonen, Coulthard or Hakkinen liked to drive. Watch Montoya enter a corner with a medium to hard braking zone and you’ll see the car rotate very quickly when he cranks the wheel. Race teams these days are slaves to their data acqusition, and I don’t think you can underestimate the diffuculty that drivers on new teams face in convincing the engineers to move outside established setup parameters (as an aside, I think Jacques Villeneuave had the same trouble both with Williams and with Sauber when he first arrived). The third problem for Montoya was “Tennisgate”; the broken shoulder caused either by stepping on a tennis ball or taking a spill on a motocross bike (you decide). In any case, Adrian Newey has certainly penned another quick car, and Mercedes is back on their game in terms of horsepower (reliability I’m not so sure of…Kimi needed ANOTHER engine change?!?). McLaren looks like it will have two cars able to take on Alonso’s Renault each weekend, and that should provide continued entertainment.
By the way, I didnt watch this morning’s GP2 race, which preceded the British GP broadcast on SpeedTV, but the Sunday GP2 race from Magny Cours was racing at its best. Young lions racing wheel to wheel (or wheel against wheel) in cars that slide around is good stuff.