Interview

Montoya Wants Drivers To Have Bigger Say

When it comes to decisions in the Verizon IndyCar Series, they’re made by the sanctioning body and officials.

Due to hotel construction, series and track officials were forced to move pit road from the straightaway to the turns in Toronto.

Juan Pablo Montoya thinks it’s high time the drivers have some input on track changes.

“I think for the future when IndyCar is going to make recommendations to the track, they need to go through the drivers,” he said. “If we give an opinion, and it’s bad, it’s our fault.”

As a result, it tightened up turns nine through 11 by reducing the amount of running room, and speed drivers could carry. The corners played havoc on the drivers, with most notably Montoya running into issues during Friday’s practice.

During Sunday’s race, no drivers ran into a problem through the section. However, the shortening of the pit stalls resulted in some contact between Conor Daly and James Hinchcliffe early in the race. While the series deemed the pits to be large enough, Montoya said “they’re too small” to get everyone in their stalls cleanly.

Montoya says drivers learned of the changes and their impact on the track Thursday during the pre-race weekend track walk. The two-time Indy 500 champion says the drivers weren’t asked their opinion on the decision.

Following practice, the series made the decision to remove the curb in turn eight, notifying the drivers during the pre-qualifying Saturday meeting.

“They didn’t ask a single driver what they thought,” Montoya told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “Somebody in IndyCar made the decision that was better, so okay, it’s better.”

The changes made an already difficult circuit tougher on drivers, with Graham Rahal expressing an “uncertainty” in the track post-practices. Many drivers state the Toronto circuit is hard due to the varying degrees of surfaces, from concrete to asphalt throughout the 11-turn temporary street course.

“I think Turn 8 is the hardest part when you come back to this last section – the right-hander is really slippery,” Montoya said. “To be honest, it’s not that it’s hard – it has a lot of character to it, to be polite.”

Drivers lacking an opinion on the matter is not just regarding track layout, though also the aero kits provided by each of the manufacturers. Each manufacturer develops their aero kit and gives the drivers the parts to run without asking for their opinion whether headed in the right direction. There’s discussion whether changes will be made for next year and the possibility of getting rid of them entirely.

“If they’re going to get rid of them for next year or wait one more year and let them upgrade them, it’s too late in my opinion,” Montoya said. “Honda and Chevy probably have next year’s kit already done. So for them to tell them this late, should’ve told me eight months ago.”

While Chevrolet seemed to have a distinct advantage last year, it seems the competition is even with the manufacturers equally split throughout fields.

“There are places where we’re better, and there are places where they’re better – but that’s a good thing,” he said. “It depends on who you ask. Some people behind will say it’s a big difference, while those ahead will say there’s no difference.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularopenwheel.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

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