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SEPTEMBER 20, 2001

Montoya raised game to display winning edge

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA's rookie season in F1 has seen the Colombian ace benefit from the advice offered to him by Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Gerhard Berger. At the start of the year this trio warned that he would need time to adjust to the frenetic pace of F1. And his Italian GP victory proves that he has done just that.

"Does he have a charisma as a superstar?" Berger said of Montoya. "He has it, and everybody likes to see him as a superstar. He won races in the States and came into F1, pushed by the media, as a superstar.

"Then, you have to deliver. And if you don't deliver, you get into difficulties. But you can't deliver when there are already a couple of superstars who are doing their job very well.

"You have to use the tools you have in F1 - things you don't have in other categories - and for this you just need time and experience. Juan even had to learn some of the circuits.

"At the beginning of the season, there were some guys suggesting he would be one second quicker than the others, and of course he didn't meet those expectations. But I think he's doing a good job. He's very talented - he has good car control."

Head and team owner Frank Williams both said at the beginning of the season that Montoya needed to get into better physical shape.

"Fitness (is vital) for a driver, and the ability to drive to the limit as if every lap is a qualifying lap," Head said. "You must remember that the races today are sprints. I personally believe that Michael Schumacher's level of personal fitness is not just part of his ability to perform physically, it's also an important factor in his mental psyche."

Head agrees with Berger that Montoya has needed to adjust his mental approach to Formula One.

"Juan came into F1 maybe with everybody else, and himself, maintaining expectations which were unrealistic," Head said. "He has adjusted, not by (being prepared) to run behind Michael (Schumacher), because I am sure his ambitions are still higher than that, but to the extent that he has had to tell himself that the F1 guys aren't quite as easy to beat as he might have expected, and he's had to admit that some of them are pretty good.

"I am sure his game plan is to get himself into every bit as good a shape as he can in order to be able to compete with them for the championship next year."