Norris looked set to win his maiden grand prix in Sochi until he and McLaren got caught out by a late rain shower with three laps to go.
Norris opted to stay on slicks and as the rain worsened, he lost his race-long lead to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who took his 100th career win with a well-timed pitstop.
After the race Norris said he was devastated after coming agonisingly close to his first victory in Formula 1, but Montoya believes the young Briton will now gain confidence in his own abilities, in the knowledge that he has what it takes to lead and win races.
“It’s crazy because I know how disappointed he is, but if you look at the big picture, you’re leading a grand prix,” Montoya told Motorsport.tv.
“Yes, you didn’t win it, but you’ve been on the podium, you led most of the grand prix, you didn’t make any mistakes. In hindsight, 90% of that grid would have loved to do what Lando did.
“He proved he can get the job done, that is the most important thing. What he is going to get out of this positively is knowing that he can get the job done.”
Montoya likened Norris’ race to his experience in the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix, when as a Williams rookie the Colombian proved he could challenge the dominant Michael Schumacher with a gutsy overtake and an exquisite performance at Interlagos, only to be taken out by the lapped Arrows of Jos Verstappen.
“That is a little what happened to me in Brazil when Jos ran over me,” he explained.
“Everybody thought I was really pissed, and I was actually really happy, because I passed Michael and I was leading a grand prix.
“In my mind it was like: ‘I can do this; I can really do this’. If you start believing in yourself like that, that you can get the job done, then it becomes pretty easy.”
Norris’ missed win came just two weeks after teammate Daniel Ricciardo won at Monza, which shows Montoya that his former team is on the right track.
He also believes the team will make better calls once it gets more used to challenging for wins on a regular basis.
“I think it’s really good, Daniel is doing a really good job as well, and is getting stronger with the car, that is good to see,” he added.
“I think Lando is doing an unbelievable job as well, Lando has a really nice chemistry with the team.
“Yes, they won the previous race, but they haven’t been in a position often enough to win races. And when you’re not there all the time and you’re under pressure, then mistakes will come.
“It takes a bit of time to make sure you do the right calls. I don’t think it’s anybody to blame for what happened there. As a team, they did an amazing job. It just didn’t go their way.”
While McLaren still believes it is far away from the top teams under normal circumstances, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has acknowledged that the Woking team is becoming more of a factor.
“They obviously made great progress this year, there are certain circuits they seem to perform well and others that are perhaps more challenging for them,” Horner said when asked if McLaren will become a regular annoyance in Red Bull’s title fight with Mercedes.
“So, yeah, Lando Norris deserved to win the race, but I’m sure there’d be some circuits between now and the end of the year that they’re going to fare well at as well.”