Franck Montagny yesterday conducted the first tests of the new GP2 Series car, which will replace F3000 in 2005, at Paul Ricard.

The GP2 series, supported by Renault, reached an important milestone in its technical programme yesterday, when Franck Montagny, the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team's third driver, took the wheel of the development car to conduct initial routine checks at the Circuit Paul Ricard, in the south of France. No lap-times were recorded at this stage.

By the end of the day, Franck was feeling optimistic about the car. "The mechanics made a thorough check of every part of the car before letting me out on the circuit" he said. "Once in the cockpit, I felt very comfortable. As a driver, your first impressions when you get into a car are very important, and I was confident immediately, which is a good sign. The aim of these first runs was not to set quick times, but I still got some idea of the car's potential and I believe it will perform impressively. Our work today focused on the Renault engine, making runs at different engine speeds and loads. Furthermore, the build quality is exceptional: Dallara and Mecachrome have done a great job."

Today, the Frenchman will arrive in the paddock at Hockenheim for the F1 Grand Prix. "The whole team is really motivated," concluded Franck. "The track should suit our car, and we are pretty optimistic. We want to get back on the podium as soon as possible."