Juan Pablo Montoya has taken a respectful dig at seven-time Formula 1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton, pointing out that the Mercedes driver can hardly complain about the dominance Max Verstappen and Red Bull are enjoying the past couple of seasons in Formula 1.
Not long ago, Hamilton and Mercedes ‘owned’ F1 for almost a decade, winning an unprecedented 15 world titles in eight years. The Briton amassing a record 103 Grand Prix victories, 82 of those driving for the Mercedes team; 21 of them in McLaren colours.
Clearly, the griping does not impress Montoya who told MyBettingSites: “It’s funny because Lewis keeps coming out and saying ‘it’s unfair, it’s unfair’. He’s already predicting that Max is going to win next year but you look back at his period of dominance: Was it you, was it the car?
“We were all happy for you when you dominated,” recalled Montoya politely, of Hamilton’s golden era as the King of F1. A time when Mercedes never put a foot wrong, benefitting massively from having their Power Unit technology way ahead of the opposition.
Indeed those mighty Merc-PUs of that era made every chassis look good, every error recoverable, so fast were they in qualifying and race mode they broke every record in the process. From the first F1 title-winning Mercedes W05 to the W12, and all in between were probably the most ‘perfect’ cars for their time.
The new F1 aero rules for 2022 put a very abrupt end to Mercedes’ dominance
In retrospect, with awful technical decisions made by Merc honchos-despite Hamilton’s warnings, and stubbornness amid the obvious failure of an aero concept that was obliterated by what Adrian Newey and his crew came up with. Theirs was the potent Red Bull RB18. And now also the incredible RB19. Versus the best Mercedes could offer with their woeful, W13 and not much better but maybe improving current W14.
But the fact of the matter is that the RBR revival, led by Verstappen, is only in year two of Merc-style dominance F1 endured, and although Verstappen won his first title in 2021 he did not dominate. And, of course, Red Bull were beaten by Mercedes to the F1 Constructors championship that year.
Asked if Verstappen is embarking on the biggest dominance seen in F1, Montoya replied: “No, I wouldn’t say that. Senna won so much when he had Prost, a four-time F1 world champion, as his teammate. Look at how many races Michael Schumacher won and how many races Lewis won with Mercedes. It’s fine,” insisted the 47-year-old Columbina former Williams and McLaren driver.
Montoya also pointed out that the right timing, the right car and other factors have to align for drivers to rise beyond their rivals like Verstappen, and past legends have: “Part of this sport is the equipment you’re in and right now he’s in the best equipment and he’s using it to the best of his abilities.”
Montoya: If you look at Lando Norris against Oscar Piastri for example…
“Piastri is doing a great job in his first season,” ventured JPM. “But Lando is beating him 90 percent of the time. If Lando was in the quickest car, he would be winning every race and it would be him instead of Max.”
“But you need to shine in whatever car you’re in so you will get the opportunity for a top team,” explained Montoya, a seven-time Grand Prix winner in his 94 starts in F1.
How long the Max-RBR will continue to vacuum up victories almost unchallenged remains to be seen. Montoya believes the recently introduced F1 cost cap (barring the Verstappen anomaly) made the grid far more competitive: “What is very intriguing is that you now go on race weekends and you don’t know who’ll be fighting who.
“It used to be really predictive, you had Mercedes, then Red Bull and then you had Ferrari and then everybody else. Whereas now you have the Red Bull and everybody else. You look at from 3rd to 12th, you have no idea what’s going to happen. You even look at the Williams and they’re qualifying 10th or 12th. They’re there.”
“The budget caps, in a way, have really worked. So I think the rules have been really good for the sport. They have closed the gap. And you have to say, Red Bull made a really massive step in their car and they really know what they’re doing and they figured it out better than anybody else.
“But everybody else seems to be in this bubble and that makes for great motorsport. It’s giving people things to talk about,” observed Montoya.