Interview with Franck Montagny

Franck Montagny will be one of the Renault F1 Team's two test drivers this season. The Frenchman explained what the new job means to him... Q:The Renault F1 Team were looking for a French test driver in their set-up for 2003, and they chose ...

Franck Montagny will be one of the Renault F1 Team's two test drivers this season. The Frenchman explained what the new job means to him...

Q:The Renault F1 Team were looking for a French test driver in their set-up for 2003, and they chose you...

Yes, it's great for me and the decision was definitely pleasing. First and foremost though, being Renault test driver means lots of work and lots to learn.

Q:What does the Renault F1 Team represent for you?

Franck Montagny.
Photo by Renault F1.
It's a French team, and that's definitely positive for me. On its return last year, the Team finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship: quite simply, that means these people are some of the best in Formula 1. This is a Team on the up, with big potential. Renault has made it very clear that their ambition is to become World Champions, and that's very important.

Q:What's your programme for 2003?

I'm going to do the ten days of testing provided for in the Heathrow Agreement. Ten days isn't much, but we will be making 100% use of them.

Q:And you know the Spanish circuits pretty well...

Exactly. Renault test regularly at Barcelona, Valencia and Jerez, and I won't need to learn those circuits. Living in Spain (Barcelona) also means I can go to the circuits as a spectator, as I did a few weeks ago to follow the Team's progress.

Q:Even so, isn't it frustrating that you won't get to take part in the two hours of testing on the Friday morning of each Grand Prix?

To be honest, no. If I had been told "Tomorrow, you'll be testing at Melbourne", I think I would have felt a little uncomfortable after just one month to get used to F1 before the first race of the season. I'm not sure I'd be able to do everything straight away: learn the circuits, develop the car and also provide information for qualifying. At the start of the year at least, Allan's experience will mean he can do a better job than me. I'm happy to start like this, because it means I'll be competing in another championship at the same time. I'm going to get used to F1 steadily.

Q:The need to conform to the recent technical changes will also make your work more important...

Yes, absolutely. I'm sure the Team will use me in the right way, 100%. Quite simply, it's going to be a step forward for Franck Montagny (laughs)!

Q:How did it feel when you sat in the Renault for the first time at Jerez last December?

It was a special moment: my name was on the car, with a little French flag. And my parents were there as well. But on the other hand, there were 90 people there and that was a lot more than I am used to: normally, it's more like ten... When I was in the car, the acceleration really struck me. As I was working with the team, we gradually got more and more detailed. It all went very well.

Q:Did you find you had to work in a particular way?

In fact, it wasn't too different from the other series. We have to work on the same things, except for the fact that every last detail is analysed and that, no matter what you do in the car, the team is watching everything in real time and has fifty different questions to ask you afterwards! I was already aware of everything that was happening with the car, but I had to push this even further because there are so many things you need to keep an eye on in F1.

Q:And you also met the guys from Enstone...

I had already been once for my seat fitting. In particular, I had met the mechanics, and was surprised by the amount of space dedicated to just two cars! I went back again last week, and did a full visit, meeting people in other departments. It's going to be difficult to remember all the names straight away! I think that I will visit once a month: it's vital to know everybody because otherwise, I won't be comfortable in the Team.

Q:Did you meet Jarno, Fernando and Allan?

I know Fernando best. We're from the same generation, and he's Spanish: that obviously creates a bond. We speak quite a lot, and send a few emails as well.

Q:So, you're pleased to be with Renault?

It's fabulous for me. And they've lent me a M?gane II -- perfect! And I'm going to get an Avantime soon -- even better (laughs)!

-renault-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Franck Montagny
Teams Renault F1 Team