The Renault F1 Team's third driver watched practice from the final chicane before the finish line. Here's his verdict. Under a bright Montreal sun, Franck Montagny takes his place on the stairs leading up to the commentary booths for the...
The Renault F1 Team's third driver watched practice from the final chicane before the finish line. Here's his verdict.
Under a bright Montreal sun, Franck Montagny takes his place on the stairs leading up to the commentary booths for the Canadian Grand Prix, and waits for the start of the fourth practice session. The Renaults are looking good, and he wants to observe how the R24 is performing in this important sector. What's more, he will get a look at the competition... information that never hurts.
"The last chicane is an interesting part of the circuit," explains Franck. "Firstly, the driver can have problems with visibility -- you arrive in the corner at 340 kph, effectively down a tunnel lined with concrete, and then suddenly it opens out into a big space composed of the circuit, large run-off areas and the pit-lane entry. The kerbs are very low, which makes it hard to distinguish the two corners."
According to the Renault F1 Team's test driver, the way the cars take this chicane is an important factor. "It gives you an idea of how competitive the cars are under braking, and also how well it is balanced during quick changes of direction," he continues.
After half an hour of the session has passed, Franck has a first idea of how the cars are running. "Just like at the N?rburgring, the BAR's seem comfortable to drive," he said. "They don't have any trouble under braking, but are using their discs very hard -- they are glowing bright red, which is not the case on every other car. Button and Sato are accelerating very early as well, which -- to me -- indicates they are using the brakes as the same time as the throttle in order to settle the car. The way they ride the kerbs is very impressive too."
However, the same is not true for the Williams. "The technique of the two drivers is quite different," explains Franck. "The car seems very nervous, and is always trying to change direction -- be it under braking, under acceleration or over the kerbs. On a high-downforce circuit you can't see this so much, but it's very different here."
The Ferraris are effective, but perhaps less dominant than at other races. "I did not think they looked particularly good under braking," admits Franck. "The two F2004s take a lot of speed into the corner, and the car is stable, but it doesn't seem very happy on the exit of the corner. It's as if the drivers can't quite place the car where they want to."
Finally, what about the Renaults? "The R24 seems perfect on the corner entry and exit," according to Franck. "However, the transition phase appears more difficult: when the drivers come off the brakes and start to turn in, the car changes direction quickly and 'sits' on the tyre. The drivers need to react very quickly at the wheel." However, this phenomenon only lasts for a fraction of a second.
"Afterwards, you can really see the difference in driving style between Jarno and Fernando," concludes the Frenchman. "Fernando turns in very aggressively -- he brakes late and has a lot of speed on corner entry. As for Jarno, he is more concerned with the exit -- he brakes very neatly and turns in smoothly. That means he can get on the throttle sooner. Having seen the cars running, I'm not too surprised by the standings in practice."