As predicted earlier this year, the West McLaren Mercedes announced today that Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya, 28, will join the team for the 2005 Formula One season.The West McLaren Mercedes team will confirm the full 2005 driver line-up at a later date but the team’s 2004 Championship challenge will be lead by David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen.
Juan Pablo Montoya won the International Formula 3000 Championship in 1998 and became the youngest ever CART Champion in 1999 and in the following year he took victory in the prestigious Indianapolis 500 race in his first attempt. He graduated to Formula One in 2001, has claimed three Formula One victories, 11 pole positions and finished third in this years’ World Championship.
“We want to win races and World Championships, and in order to do so we have to plan for the future whilst applying every effort in the short term,” commented Ron Dennis, CEO and Chairman, TAG McLaren Group. “The opportunity to sign a talent like Juan Pablo was too good to miss, and there is already a considerable amount of anticipation within our team about 2005. Juan Pablo has achieved a considerable amount of success in his career and we are certain that he will add to this with West McLaren Mercedes. We are certainly looking forward to seeing what he can do in one of our cars and I believe that it’s a prospect that can’t fail to excite Formula One fans around the world. However until that happens we will be focusing all efforts on our 2004 Championship challenge.”
“Juan Pablo has become well established in International motor racing within a short time and will fit well into our team,” said Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.“We have been convinced of Juan Pablo’s great talent since he drove a Mercedes-Benz C-Class touring car in the ITC round at Silverstone in 1996.”
“I am thrilled to be joining West McLaren Mercedes,” said Juan Pablo Montoya. “The team is consistently a strong World Championship contender and has a fantastic heritage. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to the first time I will be able to drive one of their cars. To join them is an amazing challenge and experience which I plan to fully enjoy. However, my short term aim is to concentrate 100 percent on winning the 2004 World Championship.”