Juan Pablo Montoya believes his former colleague Andreas Seidl has been a big factor in McLaren’s re-emergence towards the front of the grid.
McLaren have endured some dark days since they last savoured World Championship success in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton captured the Drivers’ title. In their Honda-powered years from 2015-17, they twice finished ninth of 10 in the Constructors’ standings.
But since then, with Renault and now Mercedes engines, it has been constant progression – sixth, fourth and third, and already a trio of podium finishes in 2021 for Lando Norris.
Seidl took over as team principal in May 2019 and while McLaren were already moving forwards then under CEO Zak Brown, Montoya, who raced for the team in 2005-06, believes the German’s contribution should not be underestimated.
In an interview with Motorsport TV, quoted by Motorsport-total, the Colombian said Seidl is “the big thing there”.
“Since he started at McLaren, he has turned the mentality of the team and how they tackle things,” said Montoya. “You now have a really healthy base.”
Montoya’s connection stems from Seidl’s time working for BMW, who powered the Williams in which the two-time Indy500 winner competed in Formula 1 when he crossed the Atlantic for the 2001 season.
After four years with the BMW-powered Williams team in which he won four grands prix, Montoya joined McLaren for 2005 and added a further two victories to his tally towards the end of that season before exiting midway through the following year to try NASCAR.
“He’s already done a really good job at Porsche and I worked with him many years ago at BMW,” added Montoya of Seidl. “It works great. He has personality and understands what the team really needs.”
Although this season the best McLaren are likely to achieve is a repeat of last year’s third position in the World Championship, for which they are vying with Ferrari, Montoya thinks further headway could be made when the new F1 regulations kick in.
“The big goal is next year when the rules change and a new car comes along,” said the 45-year-old, who still races in North America in sports cars and occasionally IndyCar.
“It all depends on who can build a better car.”