Sebastián Montoya climbs one more step on his vital ladder this weekend. The driver of the Telmex-Claro Team, present and future of Colombian motorsports, starts his first full season in Formula 3, the penultimate category that precedes the desired goal: Formula 1.
The son of the iconic Juan Pablo Montoya He arrives at the Bahrain Grand Prix, whose feature race is early tomorrow morning (Sunday, 3:55am, Star+ TV), with a lot of weight on his shoulders. Sebastián, who had anticipated to this newspaper that he would run in this category since last year, appears as a renowned figure among the young talents that dominate the competition.
Red Bull junior driver, reigning F1 constructors’ champion; leader of Hitech, a British team of stature in minor divisions; experienced driver scoring points on his F3 debut last year; athlete highlighted by F1 as one of the 20 best prospects to reach the top of motorsport; and protagonist of commercial agreements with firms such as Unicoin and Hugo Boss.
That is the profile that makes him catch all the spotlights with an eye to the future. Even so, Montoya knows that his true goal is todayas it is pointed out to EL TIEMPO before facing its challenge of this 2023.
(You can read: Camila Osorio defines the Colombian tennis route: ‘My goal is to enter the top 20’).
One step closer to Formula 1
The day has finally arrived: Sebastián Montoya is going for his first full season in Formula 3…
Yessss…! I feel very happy, and the truth is very different from what I expected. Last year I knew that I was going to be racing in F3, but I didn’t know with whom, there were many things in the air, many interested teams… and he came here, with Hitech, as a Red Bull junior driver, I never thought about it. That’s why I’m quite grateful to be able to fight the year with them.
With all that name, and so far he is going to turn 18… how do you analyze his projection?
Yup, 18 years old! (laughs) I had that conversation as soon as we arrived in Bahrain with my mom. She told me: “Wow, 18 are coming!” And that reminds me of what she wanted so much when she was little. When I was little, all I wanted was to become an adult, to have the freedom to go out and now that the time is coming I haven’t even been able to think about it (laughs). I have so much going on in my life that I haven’t been able to think about it.
There are the years, but his maturity is not a secret…
It’s so funny… I always wanted to have that power of being an adult. I confess to you: when I was little I always felt that he had to be more mature than my friends, he had to be professional. In this race you have to be like that, and you know, with the surname that I have many good things, but there is also a greater responsibility, which goes beyond my role as a driver. One is a kind of character, so to speak. You become a photo, an idea of what people see. Honestly, I’m not even aware that I’m still 17 years old, sometimes I’m a child and sometimes I’m a man with many responsibilities (laughs).
How do you handle so much exposure being so young?
Honestly, I’ve always seen my dad in these, and I don’t want to say that it comes naturally to me, but I have been able to learn it from him. Since I was a child, when he did the interviews, I was by his side, holding his leg, hugging him, listening to how he responded… So, many of the things I do today have to do with how my dad did it, but I It’s cooler to have him by my side and also do my own race.
(Also: He is Juan Pablo, the pilot brother of Miss Universe Paulina Vega).
Before making the jump to F3, you opted to race in the Middle East Regional Formula for your first championship with the new team, Hitech, and finished 21st. How did that experience make you feel?
(Sighs) This, I confess, is very difficult to explain on social media because as a driver you always want to do your best, but sadly there are things that are out of our control. Honestly, it was not the championship that we wanted and expected. I ended last year in a kind of mess with so much going on, the relationship with my previous team wasn’t working and my head wasn’t where it needed to be, so this year I had to find myself, reset myself, and see where I have to go. be. That’s why the championship belongs to me.
“The talent is there”, his dad always emphasizes, but what do you think it takes to get the results you know you can get?
Phew! I know there are many things to work on. Qualifying is one of them, normally I start from behind and pick up the race… The thing is that I can’t stop people (laughs): if a torpedo comes and hits me, well I can’t do anything. Of course, if I came out from later, maybe I would expose myself less.
Did you feel good with the car in the Middle East?
Frankly, in the last championship, the car was not there to fight for the first positions, it used serious engine failures. For this reason, the team started with four drivers and in the end we ended up with only two… it was difficult, but I decided to continue, not only to focus on F3, but to work on the mental part, learn and apply. I put it like this: the Middle East championship was one of learning.
And how does the F3 car make sense, for which is its real purpose of the year?
From the moment I got on this car, I felt that it had a little more power, I go a little faster. The thing is that, as it’s an FIA (International Automobile Federation) championship, the engines are supposedly the same, so that shouldn’t give us any problems. I think the car could be faster, but we still have a lot of things and time to work.
And with the team how do you make sense?
Very good, really. The potential we have is quite high and I think we are a little short of getting to where we can be, but things are happening. I am working with my engineer both to improve the car and to face the competition, which is very different from last year, starting with the fact that I am in a new team, and the theories are different in each squad. For example, when I debuted with Campos Racing in F3 it was not difficult to adapt because they worked very similarly to Prema, my previous team. Hitech is an English team, which works differently, but has a lot of capacity.
How does it feel to always have a sprint race in F3 and maneuver new particularities such as the use of the DRS (movable rear wing)?
I think the important thing is to maximize the weekend. With the DRS it’s like putting changes, you know that when you go out on the straight, you push the lever and that’s it. Then, before braking, you open it, brake, and the problem is over. We were told that the DRS opens after the first lap and not after the first two, which is a good start. Now, with the sprint race… (sigh), well, I see it as if you have a bad qualifying (classification), no matter how bad you go, you must be in the top 12 or the weekend will be very difficult. The thing is, the difference between the top 20 is usually one second!
And among those competitors, there are many of your acquaintances… how do you live the rivalry in these stages prior to the elite?
It’s very funny because today the relationship between the pilots is very different from when my dad was there, for example. I’m pretty close with everyone, with Beganovic, with whom I come from sharing a team, with Fornarolli, who is always where I go (laughs), there are other karting friends… so it’s cool to meet so many people again. It is gratifying to see that many continue, because there are others who are left behind for different reasons. Still, at the end of the day, even if we are friends, when one has the helmet, he has to beat the others.
This is just starting, but what would then be the big goal for this first season in F3?
The truth is that he did not think much about the results, so there is still a long way to go. If you do the work you have to do, the results come by themselves, and I’ve worked a lot right now, so I want a good year. As bad as I go, I must be in the top 10. The minimum, minimum, is that: finish in the top 10. I hope to be fighting for the wins in the races because I have the potential to do so, fight in the sprints and attack as much as possible. I’ll do that.
The ABC’s of Formula 3
FIA Formula 3 is a category of 30 drivers in identical cars. The car used has a naturally aspirated 3.4-liter 6-cylinder Mecachrome engine, which generates 380 hp at 8,000 rpm, for a maximum speed of 300 km/h.
Formula 3 shares ten weekends of the year with Formula 1. It starts today and ends on September 3. The Grand Prix have practices (45 min), qualy (30 min), sprint race (40 min + 1 lap) and main race (45 min + 1 lap).
For the main race, the top 10 finishers will get 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points respectively. In the race, the top 10 get half of what they get in the main. Whoever won the pole in the qualifying day adds two more units
Formula 3 in its current format was born in 2019. The minimum age to compete is 16 years. So far, 38 drivers have made the leap to the next category, Formula 2. Of them, Oscar Piastri (21 years old) and Yuki Tsunoda (22) have reached F1.
ANDRES FELIPE BALAGUERA SARMIENTO