Back when he was racing in Formula 1, Juan Pablo Montoya said ruining Michael Schumacher’s day was the making of his.
Having served as a test driver for the Williams team, Montoya landed his first seat in Formula 1 with the BMW Williams outfit ahead of the 2001 campaign.
His first season in the series with Williams saw him partner Ralf Schumacher, and Montoya cited him as the toughest driver he had every come up against, despite in the future having the likes of Kimi Raikkonen for a team-mate.
“Honestly when I went to Formula 1, Ralf Schumacher was so quick and he made my life really miserable at the beginning and then made me a better driver,” said Montoya in an interview with The Race.
“He made me push further than I ever did and he got me to a whole new level, that was great.”
As for the one who Montoya wanted to be fighting out on track, well that was Ralf’s older brother Michael.
The seven-time World Champion was in his prime in the early 2000s as he and Ferrari pulled off five Drivers’ and Constructors’ title doubles in a row between 2000-2004.
“The guy you always want to race and beat was Michael,” said Montoya.
“If I could make his life miserable it would make my day.”
Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) chases Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) at 2003 Italian GP (Monza)
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— F1 in the 2000s (@CrystalRacing) December 10, 2020
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Schumacher always used to be very complimentary of Montoya during their time competing against each other in Formula 1, believing he was one of the few who could be a true challenger in the right machinery.
The problem was Montoya “didn’t care” about the praise, and instead of showing too much respect for a driver of Schumacher’s caliber, he saw it as a challenge.
“Well the problem was that I didn’t care,” he said.
“I care because I wanted to beat him. People would have a lot of respect for him and say ‘oh, it’s Michael’, and I was like, ‘aha, it’s Michael’.”
By the time Montoya walked away from Formula 1 in 2006 he had seven wins to his name, 30 podiums and 13 pole positions from 95 entries (94 race starts).
But asked for the worst moment of his Formula 1 career, Montoya replied: “Probably my first year at Monaco in the race.
“By Lap 3 I was pushing like qualifying, full fuel, I’m not going to let them drive away from me. And I ran out of talent really quickly.”
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