Monteiro confirms Midland deal

Tiago Monteiro will race with Midland F1 in the 2006 Formula One World Championship, after signing a new contract with Alex Shnaider's team on Thursday

Monteiro confirms Midland deal

The Portuguese driver made the announcement during a ceremony organized by the national Confederation of Sports, where he received a special prize for his achievements in 2005, but declined to give the full details of the deal.

Monteiro had always been close to a deal with the ex-Jordan team, but admitted getting a little bit nervous when there was just one vacancy left on the Silverstone-based team.

"You can never be 100% sure the contract is going to be signed, so it was clearly a big relief to do the deal and now I'm really looking forward to start testing again this winter," he said.

"We are in a much better position than we were at the start of the 2005 season. Because we've signed the deal when there are still four months to go before the start of the Championship, while last year we only had one month to prepare everything."

The Portuguese driver believes Midland will be a much better team next year: "Last year was all about the drivers learning about Formula One and the new management finding its feet.

"Now we'll start with some experience and the financial package put together by Midland will be much stronger than in 2005. That makes me believe we'll be more competitive than it was the case until now."

Admitting there was an offer on the table to sign as Williams' third driver, Monteiro explained the reasons for his decision to remain with Midland: "At my age, at this stage of my career, the more races I do, the better. I'm very proud I was approached by Williams and I thank Frank Williams for believing in me, but he also understands I prefer to race.

"Continuity is very important in Formula One and that's another reason why I decided to stay with Midland. I'll have the same race engineer and basically the same mechanics, so I'm looking forward to an exciting and positive season."

For the Porto-born driver, "we should be more competitive in 2006 than we were in 2005. There will be a brand new car, designed with the new rules in mind and with a lot of effort put into the aerodynamic package.

"In fact, the team will work on the aerodynamic package until very close to the start of the season, because the more hours we spend in the wind tunnel, the better it is for the car's development.

"Also the team will incorporate on the car some of my requests, so the M16 should suit me from the start and with the experience we gathered in 2005 I hope we'll be able to challenge some of the bigger teams more often than we did this year.

"We're not going to win races, that's for sure, but there's every reason in the world to believe we will be more competitive next season than we were on this one."

From a personal point of view Monteiro has no doubts he'll perform better in 2006 than he did this year: "I think I did a good season in 2005 and that's why I was voted Rookie of the Year and won so many awards.

"Also, that's the reason the team was really keen to keep me for a second year, so now it's time to capitalize on all the experience I gained in my first Formula One season.

"I'm sure the team will be more competitive in 2006 and I'll be more competitive soon. I expect to be on the pace from the start of each practice session, from the first race, as I tended to take things smoothly on my first run of every day, because I lacked the experience to go for it straight away. Now I have the experience and I hope that will show."

Monteiro's first test of the winter will be held in Jerez de la Frontera, "from December 7th and I think I'll be running for three days, while the team has planned a full five days with a few drivers."

On top of the Portuguese driver, Midland's new signings Christijan Albers and Nicky Pastorelli, as well as Marcus Winkelhock and Thomas Biagi are expected to drive on what will be a busy week for the team in Southern Spain.

Finally, Monteiro admitted he was disappointed not to carry on working with India's Narain Karthikeyan: "I never got on so well with a team mate as I did with Narain and I know it was the same for him. It's a pity we couldn't continue to work together but that's life.

"I don't know Albers well, from a personal point of view, but we've seen he's a quick driver, so that should be good for the team. There were some clashes on the track in 2005, but I hope we can work professionally with each other and help the team grow."

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