Former Williams and McLaren F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya says it is too easy to get into the head of European F1 drivers, including three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Colombian racer tuned heads when he made his F1 debut with Williams in 2001, Montoya quickly earning plaudits for his aggressive and opportunistic driving style at a time when rival Michael Schumacher had strengthened his grip during Ferrari's dominant era of the early 2000s.
Notching up seven wins in five and a half seasons before quitting to join NASCAR and later return to the IndyCar Series, though Montoya says his predominantly European rivals certainly challenged him, he reveals he had ways of disrupting both of the Schumacher brothers mentally.
"All of them [pushed me to the limit],” he told the official F1 website. “I learned a lot with Ralf [Schumacher, Williams team-mate]. He was really quick but European drivers are very weak mentally. You can get in their head really easily and
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“I think Michael [Schumacher] was one of the few guys that was really strong. You could get in his head but he was really strong. Ralf, on the other hand, was a guy that to beat him was nearly impossible but if you could beat him on his 'A day' you could get in his head. It was tough, we all have weakness we just have to figure out what they are.”
Montoya goes on to use Mercedes' Hamilton as a modern example of how a driver can 'spiral' after taking a knock-back, such as the Englishman's critical engine blow out at the Malaysian Grand Prix in the midst of a fierce title battle
“You see that today and always see that in F1. When things go your way they are really strong. When Lewis is winning he is unstoppable but if something goes wrong the spiral down is huge. If the cars were close together you would see people winning.”
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