Montoya Takes a Step up with New Williams

Juan Pablo Montoya received a letter from his Williams team at the end of last season detailing one or two ways in which he could improve his performance.

Montoya Takes a Step up with New Williams

Juan Pablo Montoya received a letter from his Williams team at the end of last season detailing one or two ways in which he could improve his performance.

Williams technical director Patrick Head suspects that his letter, and its 'pearly words', may have ended up pinned to the Colombian Formula One driver's lavatory door.

Whatever the reality, Head had only praise on Saturday after Montoya planted his Williams third on the grid for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"Whether opinions are taken on board or followed, it doesn't stop one expressing them," the Williams boss said after qualifying. "But he's clearly done an outstanding job and I'm sure that he'll be doing everything he can to try and give the Ferraris a bit of a hard time tomorrow."

Ferrari, winners of 15 of the 17 races last year, once again looked to be in a world of their own after qualifying even accounting for different fuel strategies under the new regulations.

But Montoya was the closest to them.

After a morning swearing in Spanish at his engineers after what Head called "a really rather desperate 15 minute warm-up" in which he went off three times, Montoya sang the praises of the new qualifying format and his FW25 car.

Mad Scramble

Under the new rules, drivers now get one fast lap each on their own with the starting order on Saturday dictated by Friday's times.

"Today was good, I think the fans enjoyed qualifying more than ever," he said. "You could hear them in the grandstands going 'wow, oh, ah, yeah' and that's cool, that's what everybody in Formula One wants."

Each driver can also scrutinise his rivals' performances and watch their own runs in full afterwards, unlike the old qualifying format which often ended in a mad scramble to set a fast time as the session ran out.

"If you look at last year in Monaco, I did a brilliant lap and there's not a single shot of it apart from when I'm crossing the line. And that was so disappointing, I was pissed (off)," said Montoya.

The Colombian said the new Williams, a big departure from last year's more conservative car, was a huge step forward but had still got some way to go before it could challenge Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.

"Unless we come up with a big step forward on the aerodynamics package, basically more downforce, then we're done," he said. "But if you look at the car, it's a huge step forward on last year's.

"Last year's looked like a boat - it looked huge. This is so tiny, every single detail of the car is amazing. Ferrari are still so far ahead but this car could be the base of a really good car," Montoya said.

"The car is very responsive, it's pretty nice to drive to be honest. It's not the Sunday drive Ferrari but it's good."

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