Montoya discusses Ferrari, Red Bull and more

Formula 1 legend Juan Pablo Montoya discussed some of the main points of conversation in F1 at the moment where he gave his take on Red Bull, Ferrari, new regulations and more.

How do you see the team dynamics at Red Bull? Will Sergio Perez challenge Max Verstappen in the coming races?

"It's kind of interesting because the big question is can Checo do it for a couple more races. Can Checo really get in Max's head."

"I think Checo is the first guy where Max is like - 'hold on, he beat me again in qualifying, oh we went to Monaco and they gave him the strategy to win the race over me, why?'"

"You can see Jos (Verstappen), looking at it, going - 'hold on I think Red Bull didn't do well because they didn't help my kid win the race."

"I think that was really, really good. It was cool to see from Red Bull and it was good to see from Checo."

"I think Checo likes this car for some reason. I think he's more comfortable in the car and Max is not as comfortable."

"The big thing in the next few races and months is that does Red Bull start changing the car to get Max more comfortable or they keep it in the line that they're developing at the moment, and Checo gets more comfortable. Whoever gets more comfortable out of the two is going to perform."

"I think the last few cars have been built around Max, what he wants so much that when it doesn't drive the way he drives it, the car doesn't drive as good."

"Will the dynamics change at Red Bull? If they keep beating Ferrari, for sure."

"If they went to Silverstone and you have Checo beating Max and they're running 1-2, they'll be okay to leave it that way because they'll be opening enough points right now that they don't have to do it. When they did it in Barcelona, at that point you have to say that Ferrari had the upper hand and it was a good opportunity for them to get maximum points."

"And they know through the year that Max is the guy who's going to deliver maximum points."

"They went to Monaco and Checo delivered and they felt that Checo deserved the win and they gave it to him. They gave him a massive win."

"Everybody is wondering when they go here to Silverstone and they're running 1-2, are they going to get on the radio and Max is going to go, 'I'm a lot quicker, you need to let me go', if that dynamic is going to come up."

"Does the team need that right now? No. They're in a position where they're doing a much better job on strategy, calling the races."

Comfort makes that much of a difference?

"A lot of people think, oh look at Lando, Lando is so much better than Daniel. I think Lando is just more comfortable than Daniel in that car."

"You look at, for example, Carlos. Did Carlos forget how to drive in three months? He didn't. You don't forget how to drive. You get to a car that you hate, it's not the feeling you want, it doesn't give you the confidence and the other guy is just happy driving it."

Updated on 10/03/2023
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"I went through the same thing when I went to McLaren. I was at Williams and I loved the car, I trusted the car. I went to McLaren to a car that I didn't trust and I was like, how can I be going this quick on this car, I don't get it. I was never comfortable."

"When you're never comfortable it's very easy that your teammate beats you and it's very easy to get judged on that."

"People in F1, the fans, the media, they forget about what happened four months ago. You look at the Ferrari story, everybody goes Carlos looked so promising but Charles is definitely better."

"I think once you get Carlos comfortable in the car, he's gonna be crazy."

"It's tough because bringing a new car and new concept, it's very hard to say 'we need this, we need that.' They're looking for performance." 

"Sometimes new updates come into the car that is pure downforce and somebody is going to be happier than somebody else, Because the downforce is going to come not in the way that you want it. Yes the car has more grip and it has a better lap time but I feel it's gonna kill me everywhere. When you have a car that you feel is going to kill me and you can't even move your hands and the other guy is driving and he's more comfortable, that guy is gonna go faster. No question."

"Who's got the next big upgrade? Is it a Ferrari upgrade, is it a Red Bull upgrade or is Mercedes gonna come from behind and surprise everybody with a new package. Because everybody knows at this point what they did wrong with their cars. You look at a team like Red Bull, Red Bull is thinking our philosophy is the right philosophy but Ferrari did this better and Ferrari's performing there better. They're trying to understand why their car is performing better and they're coming up with ideas on how to make their car better."

"Then you have teams like Mercedes that their way of looking at it is that we're running the really high because if we run it low it porpoises and it's gonna hurt us and we need to figure our way of doing it."

What is your opinion on the new regulations introduced to tackle the physical toll that porpoising has been causing?

"You look at what Lewis did at the end of the race, going 'oh my back, my back, my back'. Yes he was probably hurting but was it hurting that much? I'd be surprised if it was hurting that much.” 

“But it was a great way of the FIA calling them out, going 'okay if its that bad you need to race a car that protects your driver. It is your bad design.' You're the person hurting the driver, not us. That was a really interesting call."

"Everbody, even the good teams and the bad teams are porpoising. It's just a question of how much."

"The problem is the lower you run the car, the more the downforce it makes, the faster it goes but the more it porpoises. Does it take a toll on you? Yes."

"But as the FIA say if you're causing a toll on the driver that is actually hurting the driver, you cannot run the car there. In a way it was the right call. You cannot penalize somebody that did well."

"Red Bull looks to porpoising the least. Ferrari porpoises a little bit but they are not complaining because they're quick."

"But when you porpoise and you're slow, you go - 'everybody's porpoising and we need to figure out a way to even the field'. I think their way of looking at it was if we do this and they force everybody to raise the car to get rid of the porpoising, then our car is going to look a lot more competitive. As Christian Horner was saying, if we were in that position we would have done the same thing."

"But in the same vein you look at a guy in a Red Bull or Ferrari, they get out like nothing happened. And they're bouncing just as bad. It's the car that is quicker and you're happier. When you're getting trophies you're okay when they're beating you. The car is giving you a beat up everyday but if its giving you trophies you're not going to go 'we need to get rid of this, this is terrible'. You're winning the races, deal with it."

What do you think about Ferrari’s pit crew? Some of their recent stops have been slow by F1 standards.

"As a team they're not executing as good as they need to be. That's what it really comes to."

"You can say half of the wins of Red Bull have been given away by Ferrari, not won by Red Bull. While Red Bull has won some races by performance, some others is like - 'really, did you throw this one away as well.'"

"You're watching it and you go, how, really? And you can see it coming. I don't know they've got such a fast car and they're afraid of screwing up, they're like 'aaahhhh'"

"Red Bull, they're okay. Their philosophy is different."

"Everybody in Ferrari is in hot water and nobody wants to make a mistake and nobody wants to get blamed and then everybody starts putting pressure. When you start making mistakes, the pressure comes. Even for the mechanics. The guys making mistakes, they're like I don't wanna screw up."

"Go through the motions, slow down. Let's say you need to do a pit stop in 2.2, let's do 2.5. 2.2 is ideal, 2.5s, 2.7s. If you do 2.5s, 2.7s, you're not rushing, you're hitting the target."

"But they're trying so hard to be quicker that it's like they're not getting the nut completely off. Why are the wheels getting stuck, why the wheels are not going in smooth? They're trying so hard to win that it's like 'my god, here we go again'."

"And they keep making bad calls. It's tough because Red Bull are very aggressive with their strategy. In a way you can say Red Bull have a lot of luck because they get the safety cars at the right time. Things always go their way. Monaco with Checo, Ferrari had like a four-second lead when they called Charles in and he lost four second between the in-lap and the pitstop. He came up behind and it was like, how did that happen."

"Did somebody not tell them we really need to go, we need to maximise this. I'm sure somebody went and told the crew, we really need a fast stop here because its getting really close. There's no need to do that. Let them do their job, they know what they need to do. Just have clean pit stops. You really need to go back to basics, do easy pit stops, call the race. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. That's the number one. A lot of the mistakes they've made is for not making the calls."

So where do you think the pressure is coming on Ferrari?

“Well, yeah, because I think Ferrari it is known that if you don’t perform they’ll put somebody else in charge.” 

“They are not afraid of making changes. And sometimes the consistency goes away, and that’s a difficult one.”

What are your thoughts on the rotating race director system? Vettel and other drivers are not impressed with this system.

“For them it’s strange because they’re used to going to one person and arguing with one person, blaming one person. And it’s much easier when a call is made.” 

“Yes, the calls are not as consistent but it is much easier to go after the race, you know, like Masi last year just kept making mistakes and he’s listening to the teams and listening to this and I think it’s better this way.”

“It’s better in a way, you know what I mean. Does it need to be more consistent? Yes!”

“Overall, even outside of F1 they are calling up the races, it’s an issue in my opinion. The way, even from carting, when you’re doing carting but you can get away, the level of aggression you can get away with, it’s insane.”

“How do you get away with stuff like that? And you expect people to get to F1 and do half the things they’re allowed to do. It’s like you grew up with one mentality and then you get there and they tell you now you cannot do this you cannot do that. And in a way like with my kid we just ran the six hours of the glen over the weekend and we got a warning call, he got a warning call for that.”

“In my eyes, he did the right thing. I know for here, for there for example, ‘cause I’m in Europe again, for there it was really aggressive. And they go: Oooh, we don’t do that! And you're gonna get a penalty.Here, they won’t even look at it. It wouldn’t be even a question.” 

“But if you go to F1 they go: Ooooh, yeah, that’s very dangerous.”

“So, it’s why the officiating is very different. One of the things in my opinion, with Freitas, Freitas’ mentality is more in endurance racing so I think he doesn’t allow much racing aggression as you have seen before.”

“(Officiating is ) All over. So, it’s hard when the officiating is all over the place makes it really hard when you gonna make a decision, when you got to protect a lap, or you gonna throw the car in there and you gonna bang wheels.” 

“Like , what Seb’s saying is: Hey, I wanna know how far can I go? And it doesn’t matter whether it’s five officials or one, there’s gonna be a line where it goes– This is too much.”

McLaren started off the season well but recent results haven’t been great. How do you think they can improve?

"I think they have a lot of potential."

"I am close to McLaren because I race with them at the Indy500 from the IndyCar side, so I know a lot of the people. I worked with Andreas Seidl before when I was in Formula 1. I know the people really well and I know how capable they are of coming up with the goods. And I think they will get better and better."

"I think they were surprised, and I was surprised, personally, when the car didn't go faster with their last update."

"I'm pretty sure the question is when is the next big update. You either do it in CFT or wind tunnel. You come up with a new concept - 'we're gonna change the front wing, the floor, the side pods, the diffuser, we gotta change half of the car everytime you do something.'"

"The problem with this you have to do in a scale model, then the CFT and then you got to build it. And whether you like it or not, you're not building a 4x4 flat piece of carbon. You're gonna do the molds of every part and at the same time you gotta build parts for the cars running."

"Haas have been frustrated with Mick Schumacher, because, it's not like he's crashing on purpose but everytime you have these big crashes, everytime you're developing new parts, you have to stop and rebuild old parts just to keep the car running. That's where it gets difficult because the lead time from a new idea to an idea on the race car is two, three months. On paper, they might have a car capable of being on the podium, and probably a lot of people do, but the question is how fast they can bring it to the race track."

"That's where it gets interesting. Everybody is developing and developing, and this year because of the new regulations, the changes are not small. The changes are huge! Because it's a new way of thinking about the car. Imagine like you're a normal guy playing golf and they say - 'next year, we're playing left-handed, if you're a rightie, you gotta play left'. So the manufacturers gotta come up with a way for you to swing the club the wrong way. Somebody will come up with a better idea, and your swing speed will be different."

"In racing, it's the same. The way the downforce needs to be generated in these cars is very different and it creates a lot of issues but at the same time it creates a lot of opportunities for people to make big steps."

"If you look at all the Ferrari teams, they made a big step from last year. Ferrari last year was a P8-P10 car and this year they're winning. Haas was completely in the back of the grid and this year they're in the midfield. Those guys can qualify in the top 10 when they get it right and you go wow, that's amazing. Most of the time they qualify in the top 10, there's a Ferrari on pole. If the Ferrari package works then they're really strong."

Kevin Magnussen was not successful in trying to overtake Hamilton on the outside. Was that a fair chance to take? How do you think Haas improve at Silverstone? 

“It just really depends on the track because, you know. You’re kind of a sitting duck on that main straight  and it makes it very difficult. The big question for Haas is have they lost time on the development, building spare parts?”

“That’s, I don’t think it’s a question of money. Yes, money, they’re gonna lose a little bit of money here or there, but it is more a question of how do we, because you got to remember, every time you build something and you’re working on something new and the car crashes, that project needs to stop cause we need parts for, you know, next race is in two weeks on the road, and we need a new gearbox, we need new suspension, new floor, new rear wing, new front wing, and those are hours and hundreds of hundreds of hours building parts that are delaying for one of the races, the new parts.”  

“So, it’s delaying the performance, new performance of the car. That’s where the teams really get mad at. Yes, it’s a shame he’s had a couple of big crashes but it’s what it is. It’s not like he’s crashing on purpose but where it hurts is that you delay how new parts come in.” 

“And I remember they, I was really aggressive at passing people and I used to damage a lot of floors and side parts and small things on the car, not big crashes. And they would come and they would go: Dude, you need to understand that it’s like every time you do this you’re hurting yourself. But, you go– Okay.” 

Do you agree with Sebastian Vettel in his opinion that the media needs to lay off Mick Schumacher? Does he need more time?

“Does he need more time? Yes, he needs more time!” 

“The media needs to lay off? It’s difficult because, so when Magnussen comes in being out of a car for a year and straight to the first race and beats him, how do you expect the media to back off?”

“You can’t. It’s Mick, you know, it’s the son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher. You know, he won every younger series, won F3, won F2, you know what I mean. And then you got this guy Magnussen that is supposed to be a washout and he’s beating him every week.”

“So, the other thing you got to remember for Magnussen, there’s no downside for him right now.” 

“He got a second opportunity and he’s gonna do the most of it, but he doesn't really care whether things go great or not and I think it takes a lot of pressure off and by getting rid of the pressure and the performance comes a lot easier.”

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Is it time for any of them to bow out of F1? Or do you think they still have more to offer?

“I think they still got a lot to offer in the next couple of years. I think in about two or three years time, yeah, three to four years you're gonna see a lot of changes.” 

“But what are you gonna say, is Fernando not performing or is Vettel not performing.”

“They are better than their teammates, week in and week out. So, or Lewis or Bottas, it’s like - Hold on. Everybody thought Bottas was gonna be a washout and the mentality, again he went to an environment where he’s happy and he got into a car where he’s happy and he went from being a number two to a number one.”

“And they are expecting to lead the team and go with everything he wants and, you know, the car is fast and he’s performing.”

We’re nearly at the halfway point of the season. Who has so far been, in your opinion:

Most improved driver?

“The most improved driver has been for sure Checo Perez this year.” 

Overachieving driver?

“Ahm, overachiever… Either Checo or… more of an overachiever I would probably put Fernando. I think he’s done an amazing job. Things haven’t panned out for him with strategy and just a little bit of bad luck. But you have to say the way he’s been doing stuff is pretty amazing.”

Underperforming driver?

“Probably Carlos, but I think it’s more that he probably struggles driving the car, not because. But I think from expectation from last year’s Carlos to this year’s Carlos is like, man, it’s a bit of a surprise.”

Overachieving team?

“Oh, Haas for sure. Yeah, for me, you know, you knew Ferrari were coming in the right way, they were there for sure. But the team that really surprised everybody  for how far they were for the last couple of seasons to now that’s for sure Haas.”

Underachieving team?

“Probably Aston, you know, Mercedes as well.” 

“But what you expect from Mercedes, you have to say they are underachieving a lot but not as much as Aston.” 

“I think Aston is probably the most surprised team because of how bad the performance is. They are probably just as shocked as everybody.”

Best driver?

“I think Max has been the most complete guy with mistakes and everything.” 

“I think that Charles might be a little quicker over a lap at the moment, and the Ferrari might be quicker. But they just can’t put it together.”

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Photo by Paul Steiner