While the Renault race drivers train for the next GP in the Far East, Franck Montagny has been pounding round Valencia this week... During the far-flung flyaway races, the test driver comes into his own, providing the team with the option of ...
While the Renault race drivers train for the next GP in the Far East, Franck Montagny has been pounding round Valencia this week...
During the far-flung flyaway races, the test driver comes into his own, providing the team with the option of testing even as the race drivers are away from Europe training in preparation for the next races. This week has seen Franck Montagny complete three days of running at Valencia, testing tyres and various suspensions solutions with last year's R23.
Q: So Franck, can you explain this week's programme for us?
"Primarily, we have been tyre testing this week, both dry tyres and wets, evaluating lots of different new compounds and constructions. The first day (Wednesday) was slightly spoiled by bad weather, when we had been hoping for dry conditions, but we nevertheless managed to do some wet tyre work and complete some software programmes."
"On Thursday, we set ourselves the task of completing the planned programme, but also making up for the time we had lost the day before... and we nearly made it! We did over 500 km on the tyres and some suspension work, and found some small improvements all round."
"Today (Friday), the circuit has been artificially soaked for a planned wet tyre test, and once again, we have been doing lots of short runs to evaluate performance."
Q: Overall, are you pleased with the results?
"Yes, I am. It's good to get in the car again from a personal point of view, and we have had a positive week: there are small steps forward all the time with the tyres, and we have also completed some work on the suspension that will hopefully be directly relevant to the R24 for Malaysia."
Q: Speaking of the Grand Prix, Melbourne was your first race 'on the sidelines': how did it go?
"Pretty well, I think: it was a good feeling to be there as part of the team, and feel really part of the system -- I was involved in the technical briefings, and got a good insight into how the team works during a Grand Prix. And, of course, I began my TV career, commentating for the French station that covers F1! All in all it was fun, but I'm not a very good spectator: for a racing driver, it is tough to see other people drive while you sit by and watch..."
Q: Finally, how do you expect things to go for the team in Malaysia?
"In 2003, the team was very strong there, and I don't see any reason why that should change this year. The R24 is an evolution of last year's car, and has retained all the strong points from the R23; the tyres will perform well in the hot conditions, so I think we can do a good job there. But as ever, nothing is ever certain in this business, so we'll have to wait and see..."