Date of birth 20th September 1975
Birthplace Bogota, Colombia
Lives Monaco (MC)
Marital status Married (wife's name Connie)
Height 1.68 m
Weight 72 kg
Hobbies Computer games
Favourite food Pasta
Favourite drink 7UP
First drove a car At the age of 14
First drove a racing car At the age of 5 in a go-kart
First race At the age of 5 in a go-kart
First win At the age of 5 in a go-kart
1981 Began kart racing
1984 National Kart Champion in the children’s division
1985 Second in the Children’s Kart Championship
1986 Kart Champion in the local and national junior division
1987-1989 Several local and national titles in the Kart Komet category
1990 Kart Junior World Championship, Lonato, Italy
1991 Kart Junior World Championship, Laval, France
1992 Took part in the Skip Barber Course (USA);
Copa Formula Renault in Colombia, four wins in eight races, five pole positions
1993 Nationale Tournement Swift GTI Championship,seven wins in eight races, seven poles
1994 Karting – Sudam 125, class win;
pole position and circuit record prototype class Mexico; Formula N class Mexico, three wins in five races, four pole positions
1995 Third in the British Formula Vauxhall Championship;
class win in the Bogota Six Hours
1996 4th in the Marlboro Masters in Zandvoort (NL);
British Formula 3 Championship, two wins;
First in the Bogota Six Hours;
1997 Second in the FIA International Formula 3000Championship (Marko Team);
1998 First in the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship (Team Super Nova) with record points total (65 points);
WilliamsF1 test driver
Moved to North America to join Target Chip Ganassi Racing
1999 First in the CART FedEx Championship Series, seven wins, seven pole positions, youngest champion in the history of the series
2000 9th in the CART FedEx Championship Series, three wins, seven pole positions;
2001 6th in the FIA Formula One World Championship, BMW WilliamsF1 Team
2002 3rd in the FIA Formula One World Championship, BMW WilliamsF1 Team
At times he reminds BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger of Mike Tyson, while Frank Williams once conferred upon him the rare accolade of “world class” and compared his fighting spirit with that of world champion Nigel Mansell – the “lion”. A fan following that spreads well beyond Colombians supports Juan Pablo Montoya with colourful banners and loud chanting from the terraces all over the world. He is well on the road to becoming Formula One’s new superstar. The crowds love the 27-year-old Colombian driver in the BMW WilliamsF1 Team above all for his spectacular driving style, while his brazen passing manoeuvres instil fear in his rivals.
“I always want to be the best and I want to be world champion one day”, says Montoya of his objectives. He is approaching his third Formula One season with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. His body language is aggressive and imperious. During cornering he tilts his head sideways as he used to in the US CART Series – demonstrative racing from head to throttle foot.
In the US CART Series Montoya learnt how to battle his way to the front in superlative style. He won the championship in his maiden season in 1999 and went one further a year later by winning the legendary Indianapolis 500 which confirmed a coveted Formula One cockpit place. He replaced British driver Jenson Button in the BMW WilliamsF1 Team with Ralf Schumacher.
From his very first test drive for WilliamsF1 in 1997, the team was convinced that the Colombian would prove his fighting instinct and outstanding car control in Formula One. The only question was – how long would it take him to adapt to the new demands of Formula One?
An initial answer was provided in the third race of the 2001 season. At Interlagos, Montoya in his FW23 launched a sensational manoeuvre to muscle past Michael Schumacher and head for his first F1 win. Following podium places in Barcelona and at the Nürburgring, he was en route to victory again in Hockenheim, but ultimately had to bide his time until Monza before joining the list of Grand Prix winners.
A steep learning curve in qualifying, moreover, culminated at Hockenheim in the first of three pole positions in his debut season. Montoya had proved that he could also adapt a Formula One car to his spectacular driving style.
World record in qualifying
In 2002 he took seven poles – the same number as world champion Michael Schumacher. When Montoya started the race from the front row of the grid five times in succession in mid-season, BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger began to enthuse about the “Montoya factor”. At Monza, he clocked up the fastest qualifying lap in the history of Formula One, smashing a 17-year-old record. In the final tally of the 2002 season, he came third behind world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and his Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello. For some Montoya is the insider tip to win the title in 2003.
The London Times once described him as Colombia’s favourite export after coffee and cocaine. Montoya is especially popular in the USA, where thousands of fans cheered the Colombian on in Indianapolis with flags and chanting. Last year he made yet another appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show and chatted with the cult talk host on New York’s Broadway about racing and a great deal else. Following the 2002 season, he was named Latin American Driver of the Year, beating Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.
Rookie winner of the Indy 500
Montoya’s track history prior to his stunning entry into Formula One is no less impressive. In May 2000 he became the first Indianapolis rookie to win the event since 1966, when Graham Hill won the 500-mile race on the famous oval. One of Montoya’s strengths is being able to rapidly memorise the racing lines of new circuits. “He’s a natural”, says Mo Nunn, his former race engineer with Chip Ganassi Racing in the USA.
Montoya won in masterly style on the Brickyard, dominating the race with the most, and by far the fastest, leading laps. After crossing the finishing line and downing the obligatory winner’s glass of milk, he managed to rub salt into the wounds of his rivals with such comments as: “I had a lot of fun and was joking with my team manager Chip Ganassi over the radio.”
With the same team and the same ambush tactics, Montoya had snatched the crown in the 1999 Champ Car Series. With seven victories and a further two placings among the top three, he became the best rookie the series had ever seen and even managed to equal Nigel Mansell’s record of seven pole positions. The British driver had been a newcomer to the top American series in 1993, but already had 13 years of Formula One experience under his belt.
Far from home yet close to the family
Computer game freak Montoya, the son of a successful architect, can only venture out in his beloved home city of Bogota in the company of bodyguards. His family have long since moved to Miami. Montoya has now settled in Monte Carlo with his wife Connie, whom he married in Cartagena at the end of October.
Juan Pablo’s introduction to racing took place in time-honoured fashion when his Uncle Diego introduced him to karting at the age of five in his native Colombia. The highlight of his career had been an eighth-placed finish in Le Mans in 1983 at the wheel of a sports car powered by a BMW engine. To this day the family remains the focus and pivot for Montoya. His father Pablo has supported his racing ambitions from the very first lap and is usually to be found with him in the Formula One pits.
Montoya, born on the 20th of September 1975 in Bogota, had collected numerous karting wins and titles by 1992. There followed races in various Formula and Touring Car classes in South America before he continued his career in Europe. In 1995 he entered his first Formula race in Europe and finished the season in third place in the British Formula Vauxhall Championship. In 1996 he drew attention to himself by claiming two wins in the British Formula 3 as well as fourth place in the unofficial Formula 3 European Championship in Zandvoort (NLD). This was to be his calling card for International Formula 3000.
When he shot straight into the runner’s up position in 1997, Frank Williams invited him, along with three other drivers, for a Formula One test drive. Montoya left no doubt about his driving skills. WilliamsF1, in collaboration with Super Nova Racing, ensured that he got a place in the 1998 Formula 3000 Championship. By the end of 1998 he had pocketed the F3000 title along with a record number of race wins and points per season. WilliamsF1 lost no time in strapping him into a Formula One cockpit, initially as a test driver. In 2001 Juan Pablo Montoya made his debut as a team driver, and in 2002 he beat his team mate Ralf Schumacher for the first time. For 2003 his aim, with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, is to move closer to their goal of the world championship title.