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OCTOBER 24, 2000

Schumacher and Montoya's relationship sours

THE relationship between new BMW-Williams partners Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya has soured before the pair have even worked together.

Montoya will drive alongside Schumacher next season after joining from the Champ Car series to replace Benetton-bound Jenson Button, and the two have already exchanged derogatory comments.

"European people are very weak mentally," said Montoya. "They always start these kind of mind games in order to show who is in charge or to make a point.

"To be honest I don't care. If I do well or not it would be because of me, and not because of some guy who thinks he is going to affect me by his comments."

Schumacher has been upset by what he seems to think is over-confident and arrogant comments from Montoya that he will be a success in his first year in place of Button.

The German said: "Juan seems to be a very confident person with regard to his abilities. The day he starts driving and he is not quick enough it will be difficult.

"Remember, he was fighting with Nick Heidfeld in Formula 3000 for the championship and Nick seems to have found it difficult to adapt to Formula One. Looking at Alex Zanardi, he won two titles in a row and was the quickest man in the US - coming here he was basically nowhere.

"I'm not trying to be unfair, but that was the case. I'm sure Juan will not end up like Alex - he's going to be quick, but obviously he's putting himself under a lot of pressure by having that reputation and saying what he is saying."

Schumacher and Montoya are set to meet next when the BMW-Williams team resume testing in December.