The Renault F1 Team's third driver Franck Montagny spent this morning's free practice watching the on-track action. Here is what he thinks of the R25... and its rivals. Imola is an unusual circuit. Lots of chicanes and high kerbs, combined ...
The Renault F1 Team's third driver Franck Montagny spent this morning's free practice watching the on-track action. Here is what he thinks of the R25... and its rivals.
Imola is an unusual circuit. Lots of chicanes and high kerbs, combined with old asphalt and hard acceleration from low speed, require lots of experience and a competent car. Test driver Franck Montagny has an eagle eye for car performance, and during free practice, he watched all of the team's rivals on their way through the chicane. His opinion makes interesting reading...
"I think the most effective cars over the kerbs are the McLaren and Ferrari," he explained ahead of qualifying. "For McLaren, it's traditional: in 1999, Hakkinen went through those sectors very effectively. This year, the car looks like it just absorbs the bumps. Since the start of the season, the car has been a dangerous potential rival but luckily for us, they have always been starting quite far down. But that may change..."
The Ferrari also seems well balanced over the kerbs. "You can see the driver feels confident, that they can attack and take a little more of the kerb." What about the R25? Traditionally, the Imola kerbs have not been a favourite venue. "The car looks a bit stiffer," admitted Franck. "It bounces more, and seems a bit more on the nose -- which means the rear looks to be sliding a bit."
The BARs also looked comfortable: "Their new aero changes have clearly helped improve their performance," explains Franck. "We saw that in testing, so it's not a surprise to see our competitors closer to us here." The Toyotas, which finished on the podium at the last two races, seem a little far down the standings. Does that mean their recent performances were just a flash in the pan?
"I don't think so," concludes Franck. "Imola might be race number four, but it's still a strange circuit. In my opinion, we need to wait for Barcelona to see exactly what each car can do: the circuit is not as bumpy and really rewards good aerodynamics. The cars that are quick there will be in for a strong season, no doubt. Whatever happens, we will need to interpret Sunday's results with caution."