CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 6

IndyCar

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes, Imola, 2006, 470150

One of the most exciting talents to join F1 from Champ Car, Juan Pablo Montoya, is among the names in today’s installment of the CART drivers who raced in F1 series.

There’s also veteran driver Roberto Moreno whose career in the two categories spanned 26 years, and a driver who only really got very much attention when he was being lapped…

Tarso Marques

Tarso Marques, Houston, Champ Car, 470313

‘Backmarker in F1, backmarker in Champ Car’ would be an unsympathetic but accurate verdict. Marques made 24 appearances for Minardi and in his final season was annihilated by a new driver called Fernando Alonso. In between his two F1 stints of 1996-7 and 2001 he raced in Champ Car in 1999 and 2000 for Dale Coyne, a reasonably close Champ Car approximation of Minardi.

He had a role to play in one of the most exciting Champ Car races ever, inadvertently giving Juan Pablo Montoya a slipstream to pip Michael Andretti to the line at Michigan in 2000. He did something quite similar at Brazil in 2001 as David Coulthard used him as a buffer to pass Michael Schumacher.

Gaston Mazzacane

Same as above, only more so. Nowhere for Minardi in 2000, he was so chronically slow at Prost the following year that he was kicked out after four races. He appeared for Champ Car in 2004 for, guess who, Dale Coyne!

Graham McRae

Not a relative of the famous Scottish rallying McRaes, Graham McRae was a New Zealander who made his single F1 start in the 1973 British Grand Prix. He later made two Champ Car starts in 1984 and 1987.

Franck Montagny

Promising French driver who started seven races for Super Aguri in 2006 and was substantially better than the man he replaced and the man who succeeded him, Yuji Ide and Sakon Yamamoto respectively.

He’d bagged a Champ Car drive for 2008 before the series collapsed and became part of Indy Car. But he did start the farewell Champ Car round at Long Beach. Second on his debut was a frustrating glimpse at what might have been.

Read more about Franck Montagny – Franck Montagny biography

Tiago Monteiro

Tiago Monteiro, Miami, 2003, Champ Car, 470313

Driving in Champ Car for Fittipaldi-Dingman in 2003 Monteiro suffered five crashes in six races. He was a much more dependable performer for Jordan in F1 in 2005. The Portuguese driver achieved 16 consecutive finishes including an unlikely third courtesy of the ugly farce that unfolded at the United States Grand Prix.

He fared less well alongside Christijan Albers when the team became Midland F1 the following year. Monteiro now races in the World Touring Car Championship for Seat.

Read more about Tiago Monteiro: Tiago Monteiro biography

Andrea Montermini

Montermini made four Champ Car starts in year-old machinery in 1993, managing a fine fourth place at Detroit. The following year he replaced the late Roland Ratzenberger at Simtek but never even started a race, being injured in a nasty crash at the Circuit de Catalunya. He re-appeared in Champ Car at the end of the season, again in a year-old car.

He returned to F1 with Pacific in 1995 – hardly a competitive prospect, he only finished twice. The following season saw him campaigning for Forti until the team collapsed halfway through the year. In 1999 it was back to Champ Car for four more starts yielding an 11th and three DNFs.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya, Indianapolis, 2001, 470313

Montoya was highly entertaining in CART and he brought much the same approach to his F1 career before abruptly quitting, complaining about how little opportunity for racing there was, and joining NASCAR.

Frank Williams had Montoya’s name on a contract but with no room for him in the team in 1999 farmed him out to Chip Ganassi’s CART team. Montoya won the championship, tied on points with Dario Franchitti but claiming the title on countback having scored more wins. But his victory came on an awful day for the sport as Greg Moore was killed in a crash at Fontana.

Montoya couldn’t repeat his title win in 2000 with unreliably Toyota engines. But did clinch the Indianapolis 500 (which by then was no longer part of the Champ Car calendar) and an incredible victory at the Michigan superspeedway. He switched to F1 in 2001 and was poised to win his third race before being taken out by a back marker.

Williams never got on competitive terms with Ferrari during Montoya’s stint with the team and he has to shoulder some of the responsibility for that shared failure. However the 2003 title slipped from his grasp partly due to a controversial late change in the tyre rules and a similarly dubious penalty he picked up following a collision with Rubens Barrichello at Indianapolis. Wheel-to-wheel racing was something Montoya seldom backed down from.

After scoring Williams’ last win to date at Interlagos in 2004 he switched to McLaren but compromised his entire season by picking up an injury early in 2005. Halfway through 2006, driving a car that seldom looked like challenging for victory, he left F1.

Read more about Juan Pablo Montoya: Juan Pablo Montoya biography

Roberto Moreno

Roberto Moreno, Christian Fittipaldi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Cristiano da Matta, Portland, CART

Moreno’s career in F1 and Champ Car had more comebacks than the Rolling Stones. His first attempt to qualify for an F1 race came at the Netherlands in 1982. He failed to get his Lotus in the race, and didn’t return to F1 for five years. During that gap he raced in Champ Car in 1985 and 1986.

He got an AGS home sixth at Adelaide in 1987 but in 1989 could only qualify the dire Coloni on three occasions, and it retired every time. He plugged away with a EuroBrun for most of 1990 but finally got a chance for Benetton after Alessandro Nannini lost an arm in a helicopter crash. Moreno wept tears of joy when he finished second at Suzuka.

However he would be crying for a different reason the following year when Benetton hurriedly kicked him out of the team to make way for Michael Schumacher. He rewound back to the rear of the grid in a hurry via Jordan and Minardi.

In 1992 he reached a new low with Andrea Moda, one of the worst teams ever to enter F1. Inconceivably he somehow dragged the disastrous ex-Coloni chassis into the Monaco Grand Prix and managed 11 laps before its engine died. Having tried to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1994 who else but Moreno should turn out for Forti in 1995? He ended his last F1 race spinning into the pit wall at Adelaide.

He then had a more protracted stay in Champ Car, winning twice at Cleveland in 2000 and Vancouver in 2001. Despite leaving the championship in 2003 he assisted development of the new Panoz chassis for 2007 and made a one-off start at Houston as a substitute and raced in the 2008 finale.

Read more about Roberto Moreno: Roberto Moreno biography

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10 comments on CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 6

  1. George said on 6th June 2008, 9:41

    Ah, Montoya… probably, to my eyes, one of the greatest unfulfilled talents of the last decade. Perhaps a little in the way of Jean Alesi – an immensely high level of natural talent, but his own worst enemy. A tremendous loss to F1 though at the time. The sport needs competitors and characters as large as this one.

  2. M Smith said on 6th June 2008, 9:52

    “After scoring Williams’ last win to date at Indianapolis in 2004″

    Don’t you mean Interlagos?

    Great article, Keith. It’s good to see that some Formula 1 drivers are still racing.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th June 2008, 10:37

    Yes you’re right M Smith, fixed it now, thanks!

    Agree about the ex-F1 drivers. It’s a pity the team Montagny hooked up with for Champ Car this year ended up not staying when it merged with Indy Cay. It may be back next year though and I hope he ends up in the series, he’s a decent and versatile driver.

  4. TommyB said on 6th June 2008, 11:06

    It’s a shame the Champ Car guys haven’t got a chance for the Indy Car title. Was good to see the Champ Car guys doing well last week though on a smaller oval where the aero doesn’t matter as much

  5. Nick said on 6th June 2008, 12:45

    Indy really needs to get more road courses…and some better looking cars wouldn’t hurt.

  6. Robert Mckay said on 6th June 2008, 13:35

    “It may be back next year though”

    Sorry, dumb question maybe – by “it” you mean the team, and not Champcar?

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th June 2008, 14:15

    Sorry, I meant the team.

  8. TommyB said on 6th June 2008, 14:21

    Yes I think it does need more road courses. I enjoy the ovals but I’d rather have a 50/50 split. There has only been 1 road course so far this year and it provided the best race so far this year

  9. Robert McKay said on 6th June 2008, 15:30

    No I thought you did Keith, I just read it the first time and stupidly went “Champ Car might be coming back!? Cool!”

    And then I read it properly :-D, woops

  10. To my mind, Montoya is definitely the one who got away. On talent alone, he could wipe the floor with most of the F1 grid. Like Villeneuve, he was his own man and did look distinctly uncomfortable in the super corporate surroundings (and tight grey shirts) of McLaren. Critics may have laughed at him because of his questionable fitness levels, his numerous on-track scrapes and his willingness to sound off without consulting his PR man first, but as a racer he had few equals. As he is still only 32, I sincerely hope he comes back to F1 one day soon.

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