Tuesday February 27th, 2001
By Julian Linden
Formula One debutants will pose no danger to other drivers at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, Juan Pablo Montoya said on Tuesday.
The Colombian is one of four new faces lining up on the Albert Park grid for their first Formula One race this weekend and is the driver most experts expect to make an early impression.
But some have expressed concerns about another newcomer, Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who has competed in just 23 single-seater races in his career.
British American Racing team boss Craig Pollock said he thought Raikkonen was too inexperienced to be in Formula One and could pose a risk to others.
And Max Mosley, chairman of motor sport's ruling body FIA, said he believed the 21-year-old Raikkonen should not have been given a super-licence to compete this season.
But Montoya declared all the newcomers, including Raikkonen, should be given their chance and said the critics were just jealous.
"I don't think there's a danger to anyone," Montoya told a news conference.
"I think people saying something about it are a bit frustrated that they work, I don't know how many years to get here, and a guy comes after two years of racing and gets a Formula One drive."
Although he is one of the debutants himself, Montoya has a wealth of experience in the cockpit.
He test drove for the Williams team, which he has now joined, in 1997 and won the 1999 CART title, twice driving at Australia's Surfer's Paradise street circuit.
Montoya has never been to Melbourne, let alone seen the Albert Park circuit, but says that won't be a problem either.
"I've driven it lots of times -- on computer games," he said.
"It's not the real thing but it gives you an idea how you've got to turn right, left and stuff like that.
"With the new technology you can actually get a fairly good idea of what you are doing."