The Renault F1 Team's third driver, Franck Montagny, spent the day trackside and gave his impressions. Who looks good, who doesn't? Blue skies, warm temperatures, and a tight battle between the top four teams for a podium finish. Franck Montagny...
The Renault F1 Team's third driver, Franck Montagny, spent the day trackside and gave his impressions. Who looks good, who doesn't?
Blue skies, warm temperatures, and a tight battle between the top four teams for a podium finish. Franck Montagny decided to get a better look, and give the team an extra idea of what Renault's rivals are doing: he observed from track-side during practice. And it proved illuminating.
"I chose to watch from between Turns 1 and 2," explained the team's third driver. "This sequence is quite revealing, and gives a good idea of how well balanced the cars are. The first needs heavy braking, and the apex has an adverse camber. What's more, there is a little drop that means the right-front wheel effectively takes off. You need good traction on the exit, as the circuit rises a little before then descending through Turn 2."
You don't even need a stopwatch, the cars' behaviour gives a fairly good idea of the order. "The Williams are comfortable through the first corner. They have a little understeer right up to the exit, but they are quick in this sector," explains Franck. "The Renaults look good as well: very good traction on the exit, and no nervousness. The McLarens also look competitive, particularly Kimi Raikkonen."
What about the BAR? "They don't look that impressive in Turn 1," admits Franck. « However, they are very good through the following corner. Jenson and Takuma have a quick entry, accelerating while braking just to settle the car, without too much traction control cutting in. The Renault drivers, though, are changing up in order to get the car working through here."
Finally, there are the Ferraris. "The drivers never look like they are pushing the car, so much so that it is sometimes hard to tell if they are on a quick lap or not. Everything seems quite simple: braking in a straight line, without any vibrations through the steering wheel, turn in and accelerate. It's as if the car was pretty unremarkable. until you see the lap time!"
Ultimately, Franck is optimistic for the race. "We always get good starts, and Jarno has a good chance," he concludes. "He could make it to the first corner in the lead, and that would change the character of the race. But everybody needs to get through the first corner, and it's very tight down there."