Fernando Alonso, McLaren, IndyCar, Texas Motor Speedway, 2019

Montoya more likely to win ‘Triple Crown’ than Alonso, says Pagenaud


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Another driver is more likely to win the ‘Triple Crown’ before Fernando Alonso, according to the most recent Indianapolis 500 winner.

Simon Pagenaud believes his Penske sportscar team mate Juan Pablo Montoya is likely to complete the triple before Alonso does.

Alonso and Montoya are each one win away from completing the ‘triple crown’ of victories in the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indianapolis 500.

Montoya took his first of two Indy 500 victories in 2000 and won the Monaco Grand Prix three years later. He made his only Le Mans appearance to date last year, in an LMP2 car which was unlikely to challenge for overall victory. He finished third in class, while Alonso took his first of two Le Mans victories in his LMP1 Toyota.

Alonso has also won twice at Monaco. He made an impressive Indianapolis debut in 2017, leading 27 laps, but failed to qualify when he and McLaren returned for a solo effort this year.

Pagenaud, who won the race, said “probably more likely” to win the triple crown before Alonso, “because Juan Pablo is doing sportscar racing full-time there and he is very good at it.”

“Juan Pablo is just as good as he ever was, quite frankly. Put him in any car, he can step in and be competitive right away. He knows the kind of racing that is so he doesn’t have to learn much, he just needs to be in the right situation. And I assure you he would win it. If I was to put him in the right situation I know he could do it, he will get it done.

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“Fernando has so much more to learn. So much more he needs to be investing, he needs to have the best engine that year, he needs to have the best team mates to help him out, there’s a lot to do so it’s a lot more complicated.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastian Montoya, Silverstone, 2019
Montoya has only raced at Le Mans once
It took Pagenaud eight attempts to win the Indianapolis 500. Afterwards he broke with convention by driving to the start/finish line, instead of Victory Lane, and celebrating in front of the fans. He said he did it to thank them for the support they had shown him as a foreign driver.

“It was intentional to celebrate with the fans. It was intentional to look at them and thank them for the support. The support I have in Indianapolis, for a Frenchman, is incredible. I can’t walk to a restaurant, it’s just nuts.

“People over there, even though you’re a foreigner, some Americans will support you more than you would support an American driver. It’s really surprising. I don’t think it’s the same way in Europe. I want to be thankful for that and grateful.

“I’ve had such great support that I wanted to celebrate with them. Frankly I didn’t want to come back into Victory Lane and stop, I wanted to keep going just to enjoy the moment. So that’s why I did that. It was actually very well received.”

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Dieter Rencken
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39 comments on “Montoya more likely to win ‘Triple Crown’ than Alonso, says Pagenaud”

  1. Indeed. Thank you Mr Pagenaud. Connie will be pleased.
    But JPM will have to lay off those bigmacs, or at least cut down to six a day.

    1. @KPCart
      I do remember seeing JPM’s and Kimi’s McLarens parked side by side.
      JPM’s seat looked three times the size of Kimi’s….
      And Monty was a lot thinner back then.

  2. I’d agree with that. The title sounds controversial but it really isn’t. If Montoya got himself a seat at Toyota, he’d have a decent chance of winning it – as Alonso did. Whereas at the Indy500, it’s currently so much more competitive. Alonso did show in 2017 that put him in a good car, and he’ll run well, but there are so many other competitive cars that it depends a lot on the circumstances of the race. Of course this is still true in WEC, but generally speaking, unless they retire, the Toyota’s will be on top. The only thing for me is that Montoya doesn’t seem to be striving for the triple crown like Alonso is.

    1. The Toyota-guaranteed-to-win-window ends after next year’s Le Mans, because hypercar rules debut in 2021 and then Toyota won’t be anymore the sole OEM team. A GT-like lame balance of performance system guarantees close performance.

      Montoya is contracted to drive in Acura (Honda) in the American IMSA series, so another contract with Toyota is probably out of the question.

    2. @hugh11 And with a stretch, should Alonso enter a full-time Indycar program and eventually win the championship he’d have a triple-championship crown.

  3. I’ve held this view for quite a while. Toyota…make it happen!

    1. But Montoya doesnt have F1 drivers title which both Hill and Alonso have.

      1. Thanks to Ross brawn and his dirty tactics in 2003 to make michelin change their tyre design with 3 races to go after using same design for 2 seasons. Gifted Schumacher another gifted championship with that dirty political and unsportsman like move. Ross brawns true colours came out in 2003.

        1. @KP
          .. but would it have been JPM who took the title for Mac? Or would have been Kimi ?? [only a point or two behind at the end]

        2. It wasn’t down to Ross Brawn. It was something that Bridgestone were pushing based on a set of photographs that were taken over the Germany & Hungarian Gp weekends that very clearly showed what the Michelin tires were doing when on track.

          Think of it like the Red Bull front wing in 2010 where there had been a belief that the wing was deflecting too far since the start of the year but it wasn’t until Hockenheim that somebody managed to get an image that clearly showed it & it was then that other teams began asking for clarification based on that very clear evidence which they hadn’t had before.

          It was the same in 2003 with the tires. People believed the Michelin tires were working in a certain way for more than a year but had never had any clear proof. In Hungary they got a set of images as well as some super slow motion video & were able to do some analysis that proved that the Michelin tires were exceeding the tread width while on the track. They took there evidence to Ferrari as well as the other teams they supplied (Sauber, Jordan & Minardi) who then asked the FIA for clarification on if what Michelin were doing was legal or not.

          The FIA looked at the evidence & didn’t like what they saw so made a clarification to ensure that the tires remained as the regulated width at all times.

          The change to the tires also had no significant impact on the rest of the championship or Schumacher winning it. What hurt Michelin more than anything else over the final 3 races was the cooler conditions at Monza & especially Suzuka as well the wet/dry conditions at Indy which were conditions that had always favored the Bridgestones.

          Something else that nobody tends to mention is that Michelin had always planned to run the narrower tires at Monza anyway because they created less drag than the one’s that were deemed illegal so the changes had zero effect on them for that weekend.

          1. @gt-racer Thanks for that reminder. Hadn’t thought of those Michelins probably since that season. I’m envisioning the slo mo shots showing the Michelins looking a little fat upon heavy cornering almost like the sidewall was in contact with the track a tad.

        3. Brawn’s dirty character came along well before 2003. Remember ’94. Amazing how one cheat can be in the leadership of F1 while Flavio is banned for life.

      2. @chaitanya There are two versions of the triple crown so either a Monaco F1 win or an F1 WDC (even without a Monaco win) will do, along with the 500 and Lemans.

      3. The triple crown is Monaco GP, Indy 500 and Le Mans, I know some people replace Monaco with the F1 world championship, but I always think it makes sense to group races together.

        The confusion probably arises because Hill (and Alonso should he do it) are both multiple F1 world champions and Monaco Grand Prix winners.

        1. @geemac I’m not sure there is any confusion. I’ve always understood that the triple, which is not an official thing, can include either a Monaco win or an F1 Championship.

          When one thinks if it, I don’t see why just a Monaco win along with the other two things would supersede winning a whole F1 season along with the other two things. I consider that Jacques Villeneuve came within a hair of the triple having won the Indy 500, his F1 Championship of 97, and came a very close second at Lemans with Peugeot, the other Peugeot car having won it that year.

          1. He did indeed @robbie, an often overlooked fact.

          2. @robbie, as others have noted, when Graham Hill talked about the idea of the “Triple Crown”, he thought of it as being the World Drivers Championship instead of the Monaco Grand Prix – I believe that the journalist who first suggested the idea to Hill also thought of it in terms of the World Drivers Championship.

            I might be mistaken on this, but I believe that, when the idea of the “Triple Crown” was first being thrown around by a few journalists in the late 1960s, the Monaco Grand Prix wasn’t even the most prestigious race on the F1 calendar. Back then, I believe that the French Grand Prix was considered to be a more prestigious event, given that it was the oldest event and usually the one with the largest prize fund associated with it too.

        2. I watched an interview of Graham Hill where he talks about the Triple Crown, and it’s very clear he considers it to be Le Mans, Indy 500 and the F1 Championship (not Monaco).

          I’ll try to find the link, it’s somewhere in Youtube.

          1. Here it is:


            A short one, but interesting nonetheless.

    2. @hugh11 Montoya is a factory driver in IMSA for Honda (Acura) on Roger Penske’s team. There’s no way either Honda or the Captain let JPM go to Toyota, and JPM seems to love driving for him in IMSA.

      But what’s intriguing is to think that maybe…just maybe…Pagenaud is referring to a possible world where Penske fields a hypercar entry. There was definitely speculation that if the FIA went down a DPi path for WEC, Penske and Acura would take a hard look, but I hadn’t read anything about it after the hypercar concept was confirmed. Pagenaud shares Montoya’s car at IMSA’s marquee races…does he know something? #wishfulthinking

  4. This says more about the sad state of WEC than Alonso or Montoya.

  5. Pagenaud is full of rubbish. Montoya has had 16 years to try to do triple crown and has NEVER been interested in it. Alonso tried for triple crown and came pretty close on first attempt at Indy, bar mechanical failure. Alonso doesn’t have much to learn pagenaud, he just needs a fast enough and reliable enough car, then he will get the job done.

    1. I wouldn’t say Pagenaud is full of it, but I don’t disagree entirely. It isn’t just JPM’s call nor just based on his level of desire for the triple. A team with the potential to win Lemans overall has to be interested in him too, as well has he be free and clear sponsorship-wise to go to such a top team.

      Wrt FA at Indy, I thought he acquitted himself very strongly for having so little experience. I was really impressed with him and I don’t see why he wouldn’t continue to have strong showings there. A strong package is needed for sure, but let’s not forget how spec IndyCar is.

    2. The only one talking about the triple crown is Alonso, nobody was thinking about it before Alonso was searching for something that would get him in the history books. That being said it is way more easy to win Le Mans with Toyota (as they where fighting only a sister car) than winning Indy 500 especially for Alonso since Honda won’t give him an engine. To be honest I think Montoya is the only one close enough (if he would want it)

    3. JPM tested for Porsche in 2015.

    4. @kpcart and alonso didn’t give a damn, until he realized he spoiled any chances of a competitive seat in F1…

      I miss those days, honestly I don’t give a damn about triple crowns, but hey, it’s a story…

  6. Pagenaud is correct in one sense.
    This “Triple Crown” which is not even an official thing, is a combination of two almost impossible to win races that require a superb car and a superb driver and/or lots of luck in many areas and a much easier race to win that simply requires a competent racing driver to get a seat with the dominant team of the moment and not bin it.
    JPM already has the two “hard” ones in the bag, Alonso only has one hard one and the relatively easy one.
    JPM isn’t interested in the Triple crown as he is too laid back and not concerned with being conceived as an all-time motor racing legend like Senna or MS.
    Alonso wants to carve a legend for himself to show the world he actually is as good as Hamilton and better than Vettel and he is trying to do this through winning non-F1 races.
    I believe he IS that good, but probably won’t ever win the 500 which is why he is now looking at Paris-Dakar, Bathurst and NASCAR maybe even Formula E.
    I do think FA should have been more commited to Indycar than he has been doing some more ovals and maybe a season. Perhaps he is A) Scared of being killed as Indycar is more dangerous than other forms of racing B) Scared of losing if he did contest a full season C) Only interested in the 500 but underestimates the task at hand.

  7. As much as I don’t like Montoya, I fully agree with Mr.Pagenaud.

    It will be fascinating to observe Alonso’s reaction once this happens.

    1. It wouldn’t change a thing for him. Is he racing for himself or for others?

      Montoya can do his thing if he wants. A deal can be easily brokered. It doesn’t matter.

  8. I agree with him too. To win the Indy 500, a lot of variables will define the result, in this kind of race sometimes is a bit of a lottery really, too many unpredictability. Not that Le Mans isn’t unpredictable, but usually if you have a works team behind in LPM1, it’s nowadays much simpler to win due to the lack of opposition, whilst in Indy 500 that’s not the case. So it’s just needed an invitation from Toyota to JPM and 70% the work will be done to achieve the triple crown. For Alonso the chances would be much slimmer due to the nature of Indy 500. Even with the best package, the outcome is unpredictable.

  9. Juan just doesn’t care, because it is not a ‘real’ thing.

    1. @montalvo Well…do we really know that? He might have it in the back of his mind but simply hasn’t been invited to a team that would afford him the opportunity at Lemans, or there might be sponsorship conflicts. But for sure you are right it is not like there is a trophy and/or prize money for the triple. That didn’t stop me wanting it for one of my all time fave drivers Jacques Villeneuve. As it is he has the stuff on his racing resume that only Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi share in racing history with their F1 Championships, CART Championships, and Indy 500 wins.

    2. How come is not a “real thing”?

      It is.

      But people don’t care about it. Alonso came with this idea because his career in F1 got to a dead end. It’s obvious he would change his wins at Le Mans for another 2 WDCs in a blink of an eye, but he can’t, and he wants to race and win and this is probably the next best thing in his reach.

    3. proud_asturian
      28th August 2019, 9:53

      he’s not as desperate for attention as a guy who hasn’t won a proper race in 6 years

  10. JPM still RACES. (As anyone who’s been watching the Accura/Mazda battle knows)
    The pudgy out of shape Alonzo seldom does.
    Talk is cheap.

  11. Montoya is a Racer, Alonso is a diva. A race fixing diva at that.

    1. +1111111111111111111111111111

    2. Wasn’t aware there was any proof to make that accusation tbh. I do think he’s a cheat mind you as he was clearly using that Ferrari data in 2007 to benefit himself and Mclaren imo.

  12. To the Juan and only, Juan wonders, should Juan win one Le Mans 24 Hour race with an LMP1, would Juan want to have been the one to win the Triple Crown before Alonso has won, Juan?

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