Although Juan Pablo Montoya says he came up against some really quick European drivers during his time in F1, he believes many of them are “very weak mentally.”
The Colombian, a veteran of 94 grand prix starts of which he won seven, raced for BMW Williams and McLaren during his six seasons in Formula 1.
During those years he teamed up Ralf Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, while racing against some of the sport’s best in Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
But while he acknowledges that some of his European rivals were blisteringly quick, he reckons they are in general mentally weak.
Speaking in an interview with the official F1 website, he explained: “I learned a lot when I ran with Ralf, he was really quick. But I think European drivers are very weak mentally.
“You can get in their head really easily and I think that explains what you’re seeing today and what you see always in F1.
“When things go their way, they’re really strong. When Lewis is winning, he’s unstoppable but if something goes wrong, they spiral down… it’s huge.
“If the cars’ were closer together I think you would see different people winning.”
Montoya, whose ‘weakness’ in 2006 prompted McLaren to part ways with the Colombian mid-season, conceded however that Michael Schumacher was as tough as they came.
“Michael was one of the few guys that was really strong. You could get in his head but he was really strong.
“Ralf on the other hand, Ralf was a guy who was nearly impossible to beat, but if you could beat him on his A day, you could get in his head.
“We all have weaknesses, you just got to figure out which ones they are.”
As for the current crop of drivers on today’s grid, Montoya rates Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Alonso as the two best.
He added: “Vettel is probably one of the most complete guys, and I think Fernando, I ran with him in my career. I think those are the two best drivers overall.
“Lewis does a really good job but he’s in the best car. It’s very easy to think that a guy in the best car is the best driver.
“But the question is, if they were not in the best car how would they handle things. Fernando and Sebastian have endured that and I think they are the best.”