Juan Pablo Montoya did not take losing the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship well. The Colombian had some harsh remarks at his postseason press conference Sunday after his close defeat, and even threw a little shade at the man who beat him, Scott Dixon.
“Dixon had a s–t season all year and had one good race, and we paid the penalty,” Montoya told reporters including IndyCar Examiner after coming sixth at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, one position shy of what he needed to clinch the overall title.
“When you make double points [for] the last race in a road course, and you change the tire, and you do everything you did for this weekend and you put so many variables [in], it doesn’t even matter what you do all year.”
Montoya’s statement regarding Dixon wasn’t a fair assessment; removing Sonoma from the equation, he and Dixon had won the exact same number of races in 2015, and Dixon had also earned two Verizon P1 Awards where Montoya never claimed any.
Even criticizing the season finale being a double points race was a bit odd, as while Dixon won double points on Sunday, Montoya won the only other double points race of the season, the Indianapolis 500 – meaning they both benefited from the bump.
But the source of his frustration was certainly understandable; Montoya had been the championship points leader after every other race in the season, and the odds-on favorite to win his first open-wheel title since 1999 (when, ironically, he beat Dario Franchitti via the same tiebreak system in which he lost to Dixon on Sunday).
Montoya simply didn’t get to the end this time, through the same combination of bad luck and missed opportunities that every racing driver struggles with. There was the suspension failure early on at Iowa and the eleventh place finish at Mid-Ohio affected in part by a Sage Karam spin that Montoya believed was intentional.
Then on Sunday, it was making contact with his own teammate Will Power and suffering front wing damage, followed by simply running out of time to catch Ryan Briscoe and make one final pass. The door to beat him was open well before Sonoma, and Montoya wasn’t able to close it – a fact he seemed to concede as the press conference went on.
“Is it fair?” he said when asked if he’d change the double points rule. “No, but we go into the last race of the year knowing it’s a double-points race. Is it fair for a normal championship? No, it’s not fair, but it’s the rules they want to play with, and if you don’t like the rules, don’t race.”
He continued, “I had like 45 laps to figure it out, or 50 laps or something…I did everything I could. I drove my butt off as hard as I could. Just luck of the draw, I guess.”
“We had a great year. We opened the year with a win and we won the Indy 500 and led the points all year,” Montoya reflected. “It would have been great if we could close it, [but] there were so many variables, we got through Mid-Ohio and here again, and that’s what it is. It’s racing, and we move on.”
While he may not be your Verizon IndyCar Series champion, there’s no doubt that Juan Pablo Montoya had an amazing season in 2015, and we can only look forward to what he’ll accomplish in 2016.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.