Villeneuve Sees Himself In Montoya
September 22, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The former Indianapolis 500 winner and CART champion says Montoya, who also won the Indy 500 and is the reigning CART FedEx Series champion, is well on his way to a possibly brilliant F1 career.
The BMW WilliamsF1 team officially confirmed Thursday that this year's Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya, 25, will team up with Ralf Schumacher for the 2001 Formula One season. Montoya's contract is for two years.
Columbia's Montoya won the 1998 FIA Formula 3000 championship and the 1999 CART championship. He also worked as a test driver for the Williams team in 1998 and accumulated more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of F1 testing experience.
"I would tell Juan Pablo that Williams is a very easy team to work for," Villeneuve said. "(Technical director) Patrick Head is a very nice personality! It's a very good team to start with. It's a strong team with a lot of experience, and it's won many races and championships.
"They are racers at heart, both Frank Williams and Patrick Head, and they live to get results. They live to race. You just need to know what you want and to stick to your principles, and make sure that there's a good amount of respect within the team. If that works, then normally the results should come."
Villeneuve joined Williams in 1996 after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1995. He won in his fourth Grand Prix start and went on to become World Champion in 1997. His 11th and latest victory came in the 1997 season. After spending the 1998 season with Williams, he joined British American Racing in 1999.
Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button are the current stars at Williams-BMW.
"Ralf seems to have adapted very well to the team and has done a good job," Villeneuve said. "Button did the same thing this year. When (Alex) Zanardi came last year, it just didn't work. I guess that there was a clash of personalities. But Juan Pablo already worked with the team as a test driver in 1998 anyway, so he's quite comfortable with the team."
Montoya replaces rookie Button who, while still under contract to Williams, will drive for Benetton-Renault for the next two seasons.