Franck Montagny was announced this week as official test driver for Renault and talks about his new role for 2003. Q:An F1 testing contract with one of the big teams: it must be a dream come true for you? Franck Montagny: I am extremely happy...
Franck Montagny was announced this week as official test driver for Renault and talks about his new role for 2003.
Q:An F1 testing contract with one of the big teams: it must be a dream come true for you?
Franck Montagny: I am extremely happy to have been chosen by the Renault F1 Team. Even now, it's still sinking in, and I'm not exactly sure of how much work I will have to do, what the programme will be, what the Team's demands are. Everything is brand new... In a few days, I will have a much clearer idea. Having said that, I'm not worried.
Q:No pressure then?
FM: I'm still managing to sleep! I feel some pressure, but it's positive pressure, the kind that drivers you forward and makes you work well. I don't want to disappoint anybody. Before the first test, I will speak to the Team at length, make a point of getting to know everybody and integrate myself into the Renault structure. That's essential.
Q:Did you get good vibes during your evaluation by the Team a few weeks ago?
FM: I felt that I had done a good job at Jerez, for my first time at the wheel of an F1 car. I concentrated on not spinning, not doing anything stupid, and explaining each detail of the car's behaviour to the Team. That evening, I had no complaints at all about the job I had done: I didn't make any big mistakes.
Q:Is the experience at the wheel of an F1 car unique?
FM: It was exactly how I imagined it... amazing! Acceleration, braking, grip: F1 is just a different world. It takes a little time to get used to, and to find new reference points, but I enjoyed driving the car immensely: nothing can prepare you for the moment when that much horsepower is unleashed right behind you. There's nothing better!
Q:For you, does this contract represent a final achievement, or rather another step in your career?
FM: In one sense, what's happening at the moment is an acknowledgement of all the work I have done in the last few years, but it's just a stepping stone. My ambition is still to compete in Grands Prix, and to become an F1 race driver one day. I'm not planning to stop before then!
Q:Is the role of test driver an ideal starting point in this category?
FM: I think so, yes. It will allow me to gain experience in a relatively sheltered environment. I will be able to get to know both the Team and the car. Allan McNish will conduct the Friday testing, which will allow me to learn at my own pace: nothing will be rushed.
Q:Will you compete elsewhere in 2003?
FM: For the moment, nothing is definite, but I should compete in a championship in 2003: I need to stay sharp in race situations as well!