(reuters) – McLaren Racing Chief Executive Zak Brown said on Friday that Juan Pablo Montoya brings more than just experience to the paddock at the Indianapolis 500 and makes his team mates better because of his ability to speak up,
Montoya, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who will make his return to the race on Sunday for the first time since 2017, will pilot the third Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet to team up with full-time drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.
The 45-year-old Montoya, no stranger to McLaren Racing as he raced for the team in Formula One in 2005 and 2006, has loads of experience, is intensely competitive and comfortable offering feedback that O’Ward and Rosenqvist were unable to articulate.
“Anytime you get someone with Juan’s experience that benefits your other drivers,” Brown told reporters. “They just kind of watch how he communicates and I think they can learn quite a bit from him and I think that’s been happening.”
The arrival of Colombian Montoya, who won his first Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2000 and his second 15 years later, has had a positive impact on O’Ward and Rosenqvist ahead of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“We’ve got three happy drivers,” said Brown. “We have three fast racing cars and are looking forward to competing with everyone on Sunday which will no doubt be one of the most competitive Indy 500s ever.”
Montoya, O’Ward and Rosenqvist will be part of the 33-car field zipping around the famed 2.5 mile oval and Brown said the trio had a good final session on Friday and felt good about their chances on Sunday.
“We have three cars capable of winning the race,” said Brown. “Unfortunately, I think there are about 15 other cars capable of winning the race … our drivers are ready for it and I think we have a good shot.”
(reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)