Montoya Inks Long-Term Deal

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Everyone’s favorite challenger to Michael Schumacher is here to stay.

To hardly anyone’s surprise, BMW Williams F-1 extended Juan Pablo Montoya’s contract through the end of the 2004 season this week, unofficially pinning its hopes to win a Formula One World Championship on the shoulders of the Colombian driver.

“Juan is an outstanding talent, and we are all naturally delighted that the team will stay together for the next two seasons,” said Frank Williams, WilliamsF1 Managing Director. “Both his natural resource of skill and the continuity that this agreement offers will provide a considerable impetus for the team to build a championship challenge in 2003 and 2004.”

Montoya’s current teammate Ralf Schumacher will also be on the team through the 2004 season. Montoya and Schumacher are tied for third in the Driver’s Standings, 72 points behind Michael Schumacher, who clinched his fifth World Championship earlier this season. Rubens Barrichello is second in the standings, five points ahead of the Williams duo.

Though Montoya has won just one race in his two-year F-1 career, he has nine poles and 10 podium appearances. However, three straight poles in Monaco, Canada, and Nurburgring earlier this year led to three straight retirements and handed Michael Schumacher the title.

Regardless, he has been the driver on the F-1 circuit to challenge Michael Schumacher the hardest, producing some thrilling racing between the two early on. That has led many to tag Montoya as the only other driver on the circuit not named Schumacher to win consistently and truly contend for a World Championship. In 30 career F-1 races Montoya has finished second behind Michael Schumacher six times.

“I have no doubt that both WilliamsF1 and BMW are completely determined, and have the will to win a Championship title,” Montoya said. “It is for these reasons that I am delighted to be racing with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team.”

Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, and Ralf Schumacher all have contracts leading only through the 2004 season.

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