After a three-year pause, Juan Pablo Montoya is back in IndyCar. Arrow McLaren SP announced that 45-year-old Colombian driver and two-time Indy 500 champion will man the team’s third car on May 30 in the 105th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will return to the iconic event next year driving for Arrow McLaren SP.
Montoya last raced the Indy 500 in 2017. The Colombian won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” as a rookie in 2000 and again 15 years later to give him a pair of victories in five career Indy 500 starts.
“I’m very excited to be joining Arrow McLaren SP for the Indianapolis 500,” Montoya said. “I have some great history with McLaren from my F1 days and I’m looking forward to making some more at next year’s Indianapolis 500.”
Montoya will be teammates with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, the full-time IndyCar drivers for Arrow McLaren. Montoya will be paired with veteran engineer Craig Hampson at Indy.
“Arrow McLaren SP is thrilled to have a driver of Juan’s caliber join the team for next year’s Indianapolis 500,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “His experience will elevate the entire team, including our young, talented lineup of Pato and Felix.”
Montoya has won in F1, CART, IndyCar, IMSA and NASCAR and has championships in CART and IMSA.
Montoya has previous ties with McLaren, having raced for the Woking-based outfit in F1 in 2005 and 2006, but left for NASCAR mid-way through his sophomore season with the team.
Fernando Alonso partnered with McLaren in 2017, 2019 and 2020, initially as a one-car team and then as a third entry, but his commitments in Formula 1 for Alpine means he is no longer eligible.
“We’ve always been a Juan Pablo Montoya fan,” said Brown.
“I think everybody is, he’s probably one of the most naturally talented drivers we’ve ever seen. He obviously has a great history with McLaren. He has a tremendous amount of success at the Indianapolis 500 in the handful of races he’s done, having won it twice.
“He drove for me at United Autosports in Le Mans a couple of years ago, so I got a chance to work with him there.
“I’ve always been friends with him, so when we looked to put forward a third car, we’ve got two younger, less experienced drivers, so we wanted someone experienced with a big name that could win the race that had McLaren history, and there was only one of those guys, so it was very clear.
“I tried to get Juan Pablo to race for us in 2018, but he was under contract and he wasn’t allowed to race. It was our second attempt at getting him to compete with us at the Indy 500, but since he was out of contract, we were able to secure his services this time.”
VICTORY IS MONTOYA’S ONLY AIM
A chance to win the Indy 500 for the third time in his career is at the top of Montoya’s list.
“Qualifying is a part of it but you need to make sure you can race well,” Montoya said. “It doesn’t matter how fast you run over one lap or four laps, it’s how you finish in the race. You need to make sure you have a good race car. I have a lot of knowledge.
“I talked to Sam Schmidt and told him whoever is going to be in charge of my car for those two weeks, I’m going to make his life very miserable. I’m going to ask a lot out of him and a lot of what I want out of the car. But if we can get there, we’re going to have a great Sunday.”
That man will be Craig Hampson, the engineer that helped guide Sebastien Bourdais to four straight Champ Car Series championships from 2004-07. Most recently, Hampson was Bourdais’ engineer at Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan from 2017 to 2019 before joining Arrow McLaren SP in 2020.
Hampson was two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 engineer in 2020.
“We’re just getting started,” Montoya said of his working relationship with Hampson. “We have traded emails, but I just returned from Europe last week. We are just getting started. I’m excited. I want to get the seat done and a lot of things out of the way to make life easier. It should be pretty good. I’m pretty excited about it.
“They had strong cars last year. I’m pretty open-minded about it. The only reason I want to do it is because I want to win it again. There are no points for me, so I’m going there to do the best we can.”
The 105 running of the Indianapolis 500 is currently scheduled for May 30.
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THE NEXT RACE 2021
|Bahrain ||26 Mar|
|14:30 - 15:30||Free practice 1|
|18:00 - 19:00||Free practice 2|
|15:00 - 16:00||Free practice 3|
|18:00 - 19:00||Qualifying|
|18:00 - 20:00||Race|
|Bahrain||57 laps||308.238 km|