Montoya upbeat about progress 02 Aug 2004
It is somewhat strange to think that at this stage of last year's Formula One season, Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya stood second in the Drivers' Championship standings, with 65 points, against leader Michael Schumacher's tally of 71 points, and a close contest to the end of the season looked to be in prospect.
The Grove team's competitive disadvantage this year is cruelly exposed by comparing 2004's equivalent statistics. After 12 races Montoya has just 33 Championship points and is sixth in the driver's standings - while Championship leader Michael Schumacher looks unassailable with 110 points. Yet the Colombian ace, who will move to drive for McLaren next season, claims his current team is slowly making progress.
"If you start from the front row of the grid you expect to finish on the podium," he said of last week's German Grand Prix, where his impressive P2 qualifying performance had become fourth place by the end of the race, "even so, it was evident that we have been making progress."
Montoya is confident that on-going development work on this season's FW26 will produce positive results at the Hungarian Grand Prix in a fortnight's time:
"We are becoming more competitive, but we still have a problem with tyre wear," he said, "the improvements that we'll have in place for Hungary will help us a lot. With more downforce we'll be in a better position to fight for the lead."
In the meantime, Montoya is making the most of the three-week break and testing ban between the German and Hungarian Grands Prix, relaxing on holiday in his native Colombia: "I really enjoy coming home and the opportunity to relax - before the hard work starts again."