The 2003 silly season begins

FERRARI is reportedly chasing Juan-Pablo Montoya for the 2003 season. But then again it could simply be Montoya - and his new management - trying to squeeze more money out of Williams for a new deal. Montoya is only too aware that Ralf Schumacher is paid considerably more than he is and, quite rightly, feels that Williams should up the money. The Williams team has never been very keen on paying top dollar for its drivers preferring to invest in technology to make the fastest cars possible. Having said that the team did agree to pay Ralf Schumacher a lot of money when it looked like McLaren might be interested in the German.

Williams has the first option to take up Montoya's services in 2003 (the fifth year of their deal) and much will depend on how things go this year. Montoya will know that at the moment BMW Williams is as good a deal as he is going to get in terms of a competitive car as if he joined Ferrari he would have to cope with the team's love for Michael Schumacher.

As an opening shot in the negotiation process, the rumors are useful to the Montoya camp but the Colombian's management will know that calling Williams's bluff is never a good idea as several World Champions have found out in the past when they thought they could ramp up their salaries...

Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost all found out the hard way that Williams has its own way of doing business.

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