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