Juan Pablo Montoya thinks it is ‘funny how everyone is talking about’ Fernando Alonso

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso on the pit wall. Bahrain February 2023.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso stands on the pit wall during testing. Bahrain February 2023.

Juan Pablo Montoya finds it rather “funny” how everyone is talking about Fernando Alonso when he feels nothing has changed with the driver, he is just in a better car.

The double World Champion has emerged as one of the stars of the 2023 Championship, his incredible overtakes on his way to the podium at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix the highlight of the race.

He chased that up with a further three P3 results with the driver sitting third in the standings behind the Red Bull team-mates.

Everyone is now asking when win number 33 will come, the double World Champion just a day away from it being a decade since his last win back at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.

Montoya, though, reckons nothing has changed about Alonso, he’s just finally in a car that’s allowing him to race for top results.

“Well, I think it’s funny how everyone is talking about it,” he said in an interview with Motorsport.com, “but to be honest I think he’s still driving the same as before.

“Not much has changed, it’s just that he has a better car now and he’s obviously using it well.

“What I do have to say is that he’s doing a really good job of getting everyone behind him. That’s really cool to see.”

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Alonso added his fourth podium of this season in Miami where the Aston Martin driver was third behind race winner Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, while George Russell was fourth with Lewis Hamilton recovering from his P13 grid slot to finish sixth.

The former F1 driver was asked if Mercedes’ troubles, the Brackley squad woefully off the pace around the Miami circuit in qualifying before launching a bit of a recovery in the race, had contributed to Alonso’s P3.

The seven-time grand prix winner says he was actually surprised by Mercedes’ resurgence in the race, adding that Ferrari were the disappointment.

“They surprised me to be honest,” he said. “If you look at the end of the race, the pace was good there.

“I think the biggest surprise in terms of lack of pace was Ferrari, especially towards the end of the race.

“Lewis struggled a bit in the early part of the race, but then came back quite strong, also compared to the Ferraris.”

He also reckons Alonso may have given Max Verstappen a bit of a helping hand as the Spaniard’s presence prevented Sergio Perez from starting on the hard tyres as Verstappen did.

Instead he used the mediums to cover Alonso and was later overtaken by Verstappen when he swapped to the mediums late in the race.

“He would have to deal with Fernando Alonso in Turn 1,” said Montoya, “so they had to cover and he had to choose, it couldn’t be both.”

He believes Perez missed a huge opportunity on Sunday as he didn’t push hard enough in the opening stint as he tried to preserve his tyres.

“In my opinion, this Sunday has really been a missed opportunity for Perez,” Montoya claimed. “Your team-mate starts so far back, then you just have to push harder in the beginning.

“Checo did very well at the last race in Baku and I think Max wanted to show ‘hey, remember who I am’ here in Miami.”