After a 13 year hiatus, Juan Pablo Montoya took his first laps in an IndyCar for Team Penske at Sebring International Raceway.
Despite being out of an IndyCar for so long, Montoya was up to speed quickly and during his first 20 lap stint was as within a few tenths of veteran teammate Will Power, who shook down the car.
Being within a few tenths of a second of one of the elite drivers in the field is not a bad deal for a guy that has been used to driving a completely different kind of car for the last 6 years and has not been in an open wheel car since 2006.
Montoya did admit that it took a little bit of time to get used to the DW12. Whether it being the brakes, the engine or the steering position, it was just a matter of getting used to it for Montoya and was enjoying it at the same time.
Yeah, huge smile, ear-to-ear, every lap.
The first run was really, really weird. We did a little bit of buildup on the (steering) wheel to supposedly give it more leverage and I think we overdid it a little bit. The position of the wheel was really different. With a Cup wheel, you try to put it as low as you can, but it’s so big, the wheel is a lot higher, so getting comfortable is a little bit different.
Montoya did find the experience enjoyable nonetheless.
I’ll tell you, the motor runs really good. When you get to gas, it has a ton of torque, that it’s fun. Braking is hard. For what I’ve been running the last few years, the first few laps, it’s like OK. The initial bite is not bad. You get on brakes and there’s a bit of lag while the brakes get hot. So it takes a while to get used to that, but you get used to it.
Team Penske teammate Will Power was there to help Montoya, and he was not shocked that he was up to speed so quickly and feels that he will be a great asset to the team.
You don’t win races in Formula One and poles in Formula One and races in the CART Series on your first try if you’re slow.
He’s already brought some good ideas to the team even before he got in the car. Just from what I see from the data he has a very similar style to me. The way he brakes and everything. That should be good as far as our setups.
In addition to Power assisting, fellow Penske pilot Helio Castroneves was among the observers as well as IndyCar legend Rick Mears.
“To have Will and Helio here to help says a lot,” Team Penske president Tim Cindric said. “The three of those guys will have something to contribute.”