Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya was born in Bogotá where his father, Pablo, worked as an architect and raced karts in his free time. Montoya began racing karts in 1981 at the young age of six, and by age nine he won the children's National Kart Championship. In 1986, he won the junior division of the national Championship. For the next three years, he won many local and national titles in the Kart Komet division. Montoya capped off his spectacular karting career by winning the Kart Junior championships in 1990 and 1991.
Montoya moved to the Copa Formula Renault series in 1992. The same year, he also participated in a U.S. series operated by Skip Barber. 1993 saw Montoya switch to the Swift GTI championship, a series he dominated by winning seven of eight races. The following year, 1994, was a very busy year for the 19-year-old Columbian, as he raced in three separate series: the Sudam 125 Karting, USA Barber Saab, and Formula N in Mexico (a series in which he won the title). As his success continued year after year, Montoya was noted for his uncanny ability to win pole positions (as well as races), in some cases taking 80% of a season's poles.
For the next three years, Montoya raced in various divisions, continually progressing upward. He raced in the 1995 British Formula Vauxhall championship, and he won the 1996 British Formula 3 crown, as well as taking part in events in Zandvoort, Netherlands and at Silverstone. In 1997, while driving in the Formula 3000 series, Montoya's manager, David Sears , brought Montoya to the attention of the Williams F1 team, where Montoya was signed to a multi-year testing deal.
The championships continued to roll in, as Montoya won the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship. The next year, Williams sent Montoya to America to compete in the 1999 CART tournament, in which he won the championship while still in his rookie season. He won seven races that year, as well as securing seven pole positions; at the age of 24, Montoya also became the youngest driver ever to win the series. The following year, his team struggled as they switched to Toyota engines, and he could manage only ninth in the championship -- yet still amazingly won seven pole positions. He also claimed victory in the 2000 Indianapolis 500, the one and only year he participated in the event. He became the first driver (since Graham Hill in 1966) to win at Indy on his first attempt.
Montoya made his Formula One debut for the BMW-powered Williams team on March 4, 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix. Less than a month later, he shocked Michael Schumacher -- and the F1 world -- in Brazil by overtaking the World Champion on a daring move. Although Williams struggled with reliability that year, Montoya nevertheless won three pole positions, stood on several podiums, and claimed his maiden F1 victory at the 2001 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
In 2002, Montoya had the best year of any driver -- except, of course, for Ferrari teammates Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, who dominated the season by winning 15 of 17 races. But Montoya's star shone brighter than the rest of the pack, as he claimed third place in the drivers championship. More noticeably, he won a breathtaking seven pole positions that year, despite Ferrari's dominance otherwise. In 2002, qualifying was still on the former 12-lap format, and Montoya would repeatedly stun the paddock by snatching pole from the scarlet team on his last flying lap, often with minutes or seconds to spare in the session.
In 2003, he added the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix on the famed street circuit to his victory list, as well as the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring. Montoya was a championship contender in one of the most closely contested campaigns in years, eventually finishing third behind Schumacher and (future teammate) Kimi Räikkönen. His championship hopes remained alive until the penultimate round of the season at the 2003 USGP, where he collided with Barrichello and was penalized by the stewards, dashing any remaining championship hope; he reportedly refused to speak to the media afterward for several days.
2004 was a disappointing year for Montoya, as he struggled with a radically new front nose assembly and senior staff of the Williams team, not too keen of working with a driver that had already signed to drive with the competition for 2005. After early season promise faded, the Colombian was frequently left struggling to score points, but everything came together for him at the very last race for Williams when he won the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, his fourth career victory in Formula One. As the race at Interlagos marked Montoya's last race with Williams, he definitely went out on a high note, despite his impetuous temperament .
Formula 1 results
- 2001: 6th, 31 points, 1 win, 3 poles (Williams)
- 2002: 3rd, 50 points, 0 wins, 7 poles (Williams)
- 2003: 3rd, 82 points, 2 wins, 1 poles (Williams)
- 2004: 5th, 58 points, 1 win, 0 poles (Williams)
- 2005: 6th, 8 points, 0 wins, 0 poles (McLaren) (in progress)
Podiums and wins
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