Juan Pablo Montoya recalls ‘a**hole’ approach to racing as Michael Schumacher treatment ‘p*ssed me off’

Jamie Woodhouse
Juan Pablo Montoya pulls a face next to Michael Schumacher on the podium.

Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya on the podium.

Former Williams and McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya said he adopted an “a**hole” approach to racing of ‘leave me space or crash’, as he did not like seeing rivals putting up such little fight against Michael Schumacher.

Montoya would make his Formula 1 debut with Williams back in 2001 and remained with the team through the height of Schumacher’s dominance at Ferrari, where the German racer made himself a seven-time World Champion with a run of five titles in a row between 2000-04.

Juan Pablo Montoya admits approach to Michael Schumacher ‘p*ssed me off’

Montoya won four races as a Williams driver during that Schumacher era, the Colombian expressing his frustration over how at that time “nobody raced” Schumacher. Instead, he felt they were far too happy to get out of the way.

“The annoying thing with Michael is nobody raced him,” said Montoya when appearing on the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“When Michael was coming from the back, it’s like, ‘Oh, Michael is coming’, everybody would get out of the way from him.

“That p*ssed me off, because why? It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s Michael, don’t f*ck with Michael’.”

Asked if the fact that Schumacher was in a mighty Ferrari at that time explained that approach from rivals, Montoya replied: “I know, but everybody had so much respect.”

And asked if that therefore meant that Schumacher had his rivals beat before he even put his helmet on, Montoya confirmed: “Yes.”

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Montoya would explain why this lack of fight against Schumacher went against his approach to racing which was to be an “a**hole”, making sure that drivers knew they had “two choices” when he launched a move, either to concede or crash.

“And kind of my approach with racing was I was such an a**hole racing,” Montoya continued. “And people thought I was so crazy that it worked.

“Because when I throw the car in, they knew I was going and I wasn’t going to get out of the way. So you had two choices, you either give me room or we crash.”

Montoya revealed that he only once spoke to Schumacher, that coming at a party organised by former Mercedes motorsport vice president Norbert Haug, where he “got drunk” with Schumacher and his Ferrari team-mate at the time Rubens Barrichello.

“The only time I talked to Michael, I was racing for BMW and he was still at Ferrari and Norbert Haug invited us to a party in Nurburgring after the race,” Montoya recalled.

“And I said yes, because we were staying there for the night.

“I went there because Norbert invited me and it was Michael and Rubens and the three of us got drunk and that was it.”

Montoya went on to join McLaren for the 2005 campaign, but left the team and Formula 1 midway through the 2006 season.

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