AUSTIN, Texas – For a driver who has no immediate plans to race at Circuit of The Americas, Juan Pablo Montoya has certainly made a habit of visiting the permanent road course in Austin.
Last month, Montoya was in Austin for the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of the Circuit of The Americas, as a guest of Porsche Team.
It’s led to a seat-fitting earlier this week, ahead of a test aboard the team’s Porsche 919 Hybrid next month in Bahrain.
And now this weekend, Montoya is back once more for the United States Grand Prix, spotted in the McLaren garage – his last F1 team.
The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion caught up with NBC’s Will Buxton during the non-driving qualifying show on NBCSN, to discuss a variety of topics.
“She wanted to come visit,” Montoya said of wife Connie, when talking to Buxton. “I’m doing (some) TV for Latin America. It’s a new experience. Yesterday, I was celebrating the end-of-year party with Verizon. The Penske guys were all happy with that.”
The conversation inevitably and invariably turned to Montoya’s upcoming Porsche test.
Montoya downplayed immediate hopes of his racing next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which has been discussed as a possibility with Nico Hulkenberg likely ruled out due to a date clash with the first European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I think it’s exciting. People are making a big deal out of it,” Montoya told Buxton.
“For me it’s just a great opportunity Porsche gave me to drive the car. There’s no compromise. I’m just testing the car. The guys at Penske were really good to me. They said, ‘Go have fun.’ That’s what I’m gonna do.
“At the moment I really enjoy what I do,” he added, when asked about the possibility of racing Le Mans next year. “I enjoy racing right now. I have that spark back. There’s good things at Penske. I really enjoy being at Penske. It would take a lot for me to do about something else.”
Montoya has already had one test in preparation for his next season with Penske, his third in the Verizon IndyCar Series, at Road America.
He laughed off a rare unforced error, when he lost control through Turn 14, the final turn on the 4.048-mile road course.
“Yeah we tested there! First time I’d ever gone off in an IndyCar on a road course,” he noted. “The last corner, there’s a patch, I kept telling myself, ‘Go past the patch.’
“So I tried and it didn’t work. I ran out of talent.”
Montoya is literally the only person on the planet who can say he ran out of talent, because he’s arguably one of the greatest talents of his or any racing generation.