Juan Pablo Montoya completed the first test of his Penske IndyCar return at Sebring on Monday.
His 2014 teammate Will Power shook down the car in the early morning before handing over to Montoya ” the 1999 CART Indy car champion prior to his F1 and NASCAR careers ” who managed 20 laps before midday. Teammate Helio Castroneves was also on hand at the test
The Colombian has not driven an Indy car since 2000, the year he won the Indianapolis 500 for Ganassi. He has spent the last six and a half years competing in NASCAR, but confirmed in September that he would quit stock cars and the Ganassi squad to return to IndyCar as part of a three-car full-time Penske entry.
Montoya admitted it would take time to reacquaint himself with open-wheel cars.
“I still don’t believe it that I’m here, to be honest with you. You look at it. I look at the car and everything. My name on the car. It’s really exciting. It’s nice because of there’s been excitement of everybody that I’m coming back to open-wheel. It’s exciting that they [Power and Castroneves] are here and willing to help. That’s what Team Penske is all about. Really, everybody works together and trying to get me up to speed as fast as I can. The faster I get up to speed, the better it is for everybody.”
Power added that he was sure Montoya would quickly be up to speed.
“You don’t win races in Formula 1 and poles in Formula 1 and races in the CART series on your first try if you’re slow,” he noted. “I actually expected to learn from him. He’s already brought some good ideas to the team even before he got in the car. Just from what I see from the data he has a very similar style to me. The way he brakes and everything. That should be good as far as our setups.?
“I know he’s going to be bloody quick, and with quick teammates, that just raises the bar. You just learn from each other.?