Ferrari targets Montoya
Ferrari officials are bidding to lure Williams star Juan-Pablo Montoya to join the marque in 2003, a report published by the BBC suggests today
Ferrari, which won another World Championship in 2001, is beginning to assess its long term driver options, looking to the time when its lead man Michael Schumacher has retired.
The BBC report quoted a source close to the Williams team as saying that Ferrari wants Montoya to take Schumacher’s place when he retires, Maranello officials having been thoroughly impressed with his performance for Williams in 2001.
Yet with Schumacher not even considering retirement until 2004 - when his current contract expires – securing Montoya could prove difficult. It is speculated that he would come onto Ferrari’s payroll in 2003 to replace Brazilian Rubens Barrichello as part of the beginning of a long term deal, but Montoya has in the past written off the idea of acting as team-mate to Schumacher because the German has number one status in the driver hierarchal structure.
But the source also said in the report that Williams is equally determined to hold onto its talented charge, reputedly set to match any offers from Ferrari to keep him. Montoya is under contract for this year, but is free to talk with other teams for 2003. Next year is also when Williams can retain Jenson Button after loaning the 22-year-old to Renault for two years.
Frank Williams, team chief, gave nothing away when quizzed however.
‘We do not discuss contractual matters in public,’ declared the 59-year-old.
Montoya debuted in Formula One this year but starred on many occasions, scoring one victory, three poles, and 31 Championship points.
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