After months of speculation about Juan Pablo Montoya's F1 future, McLaren Mercedes has announced that the Columbian has signed a contract to drive for the Woking-based team in 2005.

After months of speculation about Juan Pablo Montoya's F1 future, McLaren Mercedes has announced that the Columbian has signed a contract to drive for the Woking-based team in 2005.

Montoya has driven for Williams since joining F1 in 2001, and is thrilled to be joining McLaren.

"The team is consistently a strong World Championship contender and has a fantastic heritage," Montoya said. "It's a great opportunity for me and I'm really looking forward to the first time I will be able to drive one of their cars. To join them is an amazing challenge and experience which I plan to fully enjoy."

Team McLaren Mercedes have yet to confirm its line-up for 2005, but Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard will lead the 2004 onslaught.

"We want to win races and World Championships, and in order to do so we have to plan for the future whilst applying every effort in the short term", commented Ron Dennis, CEO and Chairman, TAG McLaren Group. "The opportunity to sign a talent like Juan Pablo was too good to miss, and there is already a considerable amount of anticipation within our team about 2005."

"Juan Pablo has achieved a considerable amount of success in his career and we are certain that he will add to this with Team McLaren Mercedes. We are certainly looking forward to seeing what he can do in one of our cars and I believe that it's a prospect that can't fail to excite Formula One fans around the world. However until that happens we will be focusing all efforts on our 2004 Championship challenge."

"However, my short term aim is to concentrate 100 percent on winning the 2004 World Championship."

BMW Motorsport's director, Mario Theissen, echoed Montoya in saying that he is convinced that the driver will be just as motivated to win the championship with BMW Williams in 2004, even if he will switch to McLaren in 2005.

"At the end of 2004, Juan will have been driving for our team for four years," said Theissen. "It's quite normal to think about switching teams after that period of time. You don't get the chance to win a World Championship title every day. If the chance is there, you must take it. Juan knows that too. I'm convinced that he will be just as motivated in 2004 as he's been up to now."

Much of the speculation about Montoya's future centred on his being unhappy about being paid less than his BMW Williams teammate, Ralf Schumacher.

After hearing the news, Schumacher said: "Naturally, it's disappointing for BMW Williams but that doesn't change anything for 2004. We will both do our best and the fastest between us will fight for the title."

Original article from Car