Honda website
Honda website

NOVEMBER 8, 1999

Montoya and Williams

THE future of Juan-Pablo Montoya in the United States of America remains clouded following his title victory at Fontana. The Colombian driver has nothing left to prove in CART having won the title at his first attempt. A second year in America will prove nothing.

There is the added complication that Montoya's team boss Chip Ganassi has decided to switch from Honda to Toyota engines next year. Toyota has spent four years developing its V8 engine but has won nothing and while there are signs of improvement winning the championship with Toyota engines in 2000 is going to be a Herculean task for Ganassi and Montoya.

At the moment both men are saying that they will be together in 2000 but there are many who feel this is unlikely to happen. Williams has first option on Montoya's services in 2001 but with the Williams-Alex Zanardi relationship clearly lacking the right chemistry there may be a chance for Montoya to get into F1 with the Grove team in 2000.

At the moment Zanardi is under contract to Williams and everyone says that they will honor the arrangement. Zanardi, however, may feel that he does not have the team's confidence and that it would be best not to continue. A second year being beaten by Ralf Schumacher will destroy his reputation completely. He is under considerable pressure from his family to race in Europe rather than in the United States. The best solution for Zanardi would, therefore, be to switch to another F1 team or to retire. Alex has only just turned 33 so it would be a very early retirement, although not unprecedented in that Niki Lauda, James Hunt and Jody Scheckter were all younger when they stopped racing in F1 (although Lauda did later make a comeback).

There is also the possibility that Jacques Villeneuve might leave BAR, which would open the way for Alex...