LUNCH WITH MON­TOYA

“If I told all my sto­ries I’d get in a LOT of trou­ble”

F1 Racing - - FRONT PAGE - POR­TRAITS STEVEN TEE/LAT

Nor­mally, our lunch in­ter­views are planned in ad­vance. This one hap­pened in a hurry – which, in many ways, is tting, given its sub­ject. Juan Pablo Mon­toya has al­ways been more off-the-cuff than slow and cir­cum­spect. So when F1 Rac­ing spot­ted him mak­ing a sur­prise ap­pear­ance in the GP2 pad­dock at Monza, the invitation to a lunchtime chat was ex­tended and ac­cepted. The same day. In the GP2 hos­pi­tal­ity cen­tre. In the hour be­tween FP1 and FP2.

I was wary at rst. Pre­vi­ous in­ter­views with JPM had not gone well. I re­called one oc­ca­sion in Mon­tréal, about ten years ear­lier, when a ses­sion with the mi­cro­phone for BBC Ra­dio 5 Live merely proved that he was talk­ing un­der suf­fer­ance at the be­hest of his team. Riv­et­ing was not a de­scrip­tion that sprang to mind.

This time I was as­sured he was on good form, re­laxed and far re­moved from the pres­sures as­so­ci­ated with wear­ing a race suit. And so it proved. There was fer­tile ground to be cov­ered: Wil­liams and McLaren; win­ning seven GPs and scor­ing 13 pole po­si­tions; in the run­ning for the ti­tle; seven full sea­sons in NASCAR; a re­turn to IndyCar as for­mer cham­pion and Indy 500 win­ner, now rac­ing for the leg­endary Roger Penske. Plenty for him to talk about with that en­gag­ing rat-a-tat-tat de­liv­ery… Mau­rice Hamil­ton: It’s nice to see you again – par­tic­u­larly here at Monza. This place must have hold good mem­o­ries for you, what with you win­ning twice here and so on. Juan Pablo Mon­toya: Yeah, I sup­pose it does. I’m not re­ally what you would call a his­tory guy, but I see it in other peo­ple. An Ital­ian friend of mine is very pas­sion­ate about it. When I said I was com­ing here to help with the GP2 guys, he got all ex­cited be­cause of what you’re say­ing – be­cause it’s Monza. It’s the same when I go to Indy. They say: “Oh my God; you won here! You’re an Indy 500 cham­pion!” It’s huge. So, yes, it’s nice. I’ve seen a lot of the guys. I’ve seen [Sir] Frank [Wil­liams] for ex­am­ple – that was ex­cit­ing. It was nice to see Ron [Den­nis] as well. MH: Re­ally? JPM: Yeah, it was! Re­ally, re­ally nice. I saw Ron when he went to a NASCAR race be­cause McLaren were do­ing the ECUs for NASCAR. He was re­ally nice then and it’s been the same here. It was also good to see Claire Wil­liams. And I’ve met a lot of the me­chan­ics be­cause they move around from team to team, but they’re still here. MH: Claire would have been your press of­fi­cer when you were rac­ing with Wil­liams. JPM: Yes, she was. Jeez, it’s im­pres­sive at Wil­liams. They’ve done a re­ally nice job. MH: In­ter­est­ing you say that, be­cause you will no­tice the dif­fer­ence. JPM: Lis­ten, to get shit right is re­ally hard; to get shit wrong is re­ally easy. There’s a hun­dred ways to get it wrong and ve ways to get it right. Once you start go­ing down­hill, the hard­est thing is stop­ping go­ing fur­ther down­hill. In Amer­ica we say: “How do you stop the bleed­ing?” When you do that, it’s okay be­cause once you start

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