Sebastián Montoya, wearing a Red Bull cap, looks to the right

Montoya on the Red Bull Junior Team: ‘All they want from you is the best’

At just 17 years old, Sebastián Montoya has kicked his career off by being a part of storied teams like Prema Racing, Campos Racing and now Hitech GP, with whom he will contest this year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship as a Red Bull junior.

By Gerren Scapens

Some drivers would be uncomfortable with the constant change of teams and unfamiliarity, but not Montoya. Speaking on the latest episode of the Feeder Series Podcast, he explained what he learned from working with different teams.

“Hitech is a really different mentality from what I am used to, and I think it’s quite good. I’m actually starting to like it a lot. I feel like the driver can progress in a different manner, which is kind of what I needed,” he explained.

“It’s kind of a change of pace from what I was used to in previous teams and previous years. It’s just a new way to develop the driver, which I feel like I was missing a little bit.”

The Feeder Series Podcast featuring Sebastián Montoya is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Pressure at Red Bull?

If driving for many motorsport greats wasn’t enough, Montoya has also joined the esteemed Red Bull Junior Team, which has 12 drivers each vying for a future spot in Formula 1. Though many think of the Red Bull programme as a cutthroat environment, Montoya, who became a Red Bull athlete in July 2022 and a full member of the junior team over the winter, has not experienced the level of pressure many expected he would.

“The person that most puts pressure on me is myself because I know what I can do. I get really mad at myself when I do stupid mistakes and stuff like that because you’re just kind of like, Why? What is the reasoning behind that?

“It’s a whole process and everything just to understand why that happens. Especially when you are trying to be hard on yourself, when you’re trying to improve, you don’t really give yourself enough credit sometimes for what you are doing.

“So I’d probably say not really. Like obviously, I want to do better having them, but there’s always been pressure to perform because at the end of the day, if you want to make it to Formula 1, you have to perform and you have to make sure, when you get into the car, either you are quicker than your teammate or you are the quickest car on track – and make sure whatever you are doing is working and, if it’s not working, be able to adapt to whatever the situation is, so I wouldn’t say so.

“Honestly, Red Bull is a really good environment. People usually look at Red Bull like, ‘Oh, scary [Helmut] Marko, like oh no’. It’s actually a really good group of people and all they want from you is the best, so if you can give them the best and you can do whatever you think is the best, honestly, it goes quite well.”

Battling in Kuwait

Montoya debuted as a Red Bull junior in the Formula Regional Middle East Championship (FRMEC) winter championship, in which he currently sits 19th on 12 points. Misfortune struck him in the opening rounds, but he scored his first points of the year in Round 3 with sixth in the second race, held as part of a double-header at Kuwait Motor Town.

“It’s probably one of the best tracks I’ve ever driven. I know it’s quite weird to say, but it’s one of the few high-speed tracks where you can still overtake,” Montoya said.

Sebastián Montoya makes a left turn, with kerbing to the right and run-off to the left. In the background, four cars pursue him.
Montoya got to race at Kuwait Motor Town six times in six days | Credit: Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool

“Mugello, for me, is one of the best tracks in Europe, but the problem with Mugello is that you cannot follow the car ahead. Here [in Kuwait], I don’t know why, but the way they built it causes so much overtaking, especially with the long straight and the corners being so long that both the high-downforce and the low-downforce set-up works.

“It’s quite interesting because at the end of Race 3 [in Round 3], I was fighting with [Rafael] Villagómez. He had really high downforce and I had really low downforce. It made it really interesting because I was able to catch him in the last lap and we were side by side going into Turn 1, and then by the time we got to Turns 5 and 6, we were still side by side. It’s just like, okay, so it’s the last lap. I don’t want to crash, but I don’t want to give up the position either.” Montoya ultimately beat Villagómez to 13th place.

Montoya is unfazed by tense on-track battles like those he’s had in FRMEC. There is, however, one setting in motorsport that still scares him.

“I raced Watkins Glen [in 2022], and that is a track that you say, ‘Woah’. I’ve never really been scared in a race because I’m going to crash or I’m on the limit, but that’s one of the tracks.”

Header photo credit: Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency


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