Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya Image Credit: Twitter

Abu Dhabi: Former Williams and McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya hopes the FIA irons things out to go ahead with a proposed race in Miami as soon as possible.

The 43-year-old Colombian, who was a F1 driver with Williams and McLaren between 2001 and 2006, is still in motorsport with his latest exploit being his win at the 2017 Race of Champions for Team Colombia. A former seven-time race winner in F1 along with 30 podium finishes in 94 starts, Montoya is also competing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the USA.

The brand-new track at Miami was expected to join the F1 calendar in 2019, but F1 has recently decreed that there are no plans for a race there at least until 2020. The reason given was that negotiations had taken too long to get the race on the 2019 calendar. Current F1 drivers have been also divided about the new track with five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton expressing doubts about the provisional layout, while also offering to help designers improve it.

The US city had released a map in mid-May outlining a proposed route for the street circuit, using an area previously incorporated into Miami’s IMSA, CART and Formula E circuits.

“They are trying to get a race in Miami and I think that would be a good thing happening for our sport,” Montoya told Gulf News.

F1, which has races in Austin, Texas and Montreal in addition to Mexico City, has said it wants to grow the series in the USA. “However, that said, they also have to also look at other more popular places around the world so that our sport of F1 can reach out. For the time-being it is Miami and I think it would be nice for everyone,” he observed.

For the third time in history, the Formula 1 World Championship will be contested over a record number of 21 Grands Prix, equalling the races held in 2016 and 2018. Eleven of the 21 races will take place in Europe, five in Asia, four in the Americas and one in Australia. The 2019 season will begin on March 17 with the Australian Grand Prix and finish on December 1 with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Next season will also mark an outstanding achievement in the history of the sport as it celebrates the 1000th Grand Prix since its inception in 1950. The race, which will host this milestone will be the Chinese Grand Prix on April 14. Vietnam has also approached the FIA to host a race on a street circuit in Hanoi in 2020.

“Formula 1 is headed in a good direction. I think it has become approachable to people and to fans. That is important as our sport reaches out and gets a bigger audience engaged. I think we are in a good place at the moment,” Montoya related.

“Of course, there are a lot of people who are going to say ‘Ahh, they are ruining it, t’s different now, etc.’. Maybe F1 is a little bit different now, but it’s been all for the better of our sport. I think the racing now is relaxed a bit and it’s a lot nicer than when I was in it. That said, I am OK with it as I am happy where I am,” he added.