Franck Montagny, the Renault F1 Team's test driver, has had a busy winter. Just three weeks ahead of Melbourne, he gave his impressions so far. Q: How is your testing programme going? You've been at every test session since the start of ...
Franck Montagny, the Renault F1 Team's test driver, has had a busy winter. Just three weeks ahead of Melbourne, he gave his impressions so far.
Q: How is your testing programme going? You've been at every test session since the start of January!
Q: You have been partnered by Jarno (Trulli) and Fernando (Alonso) alternately in the last few sessions. What have you learnt from them?
FM: First of all, I have understood that there is no single rule for being quick in F1. Even though their set-ups are similar, Jarno and Fernando have very different approaches to their job. Jarno is 100% focused from morning to night, and he lives for F1: when we leave the hotel in the morning, you can be sure he is already at the track, and he stays there until nine in the evening. That's his way of working. Fernando and I, though, need more time to relax in order to perform at our best. Having said that, working with both of them teaches me new things every day. It's extremely important.
Q: Is it possible to transfer the information collected with the R23 onto the R24?
FM: For the team, there is no point in working on set-ups for the R23. We have no interest making the car even quicker at this stage, so the aim isn't to go all out for performance. Having said that, the data we collect on tyres can be adapted to the R24 because the two cars have similar handling. My role has been to test tyres for the first races of the season. I make an initial choice that is then confirmed by Jarno and Fernando.
Q: That demonstrates the team must trust your feedback.
FM: Yes, it does. Having said that, most of the Michelin teams have reached similar conclusions about the performance of the different tyres, and particularly the range of compounds. That gives us a little safety net just in case.
Q: Physically, do you feel comfortable in an F1 car?
FM: I have adapted to it now. and my shirt collar has gone up a size! However, the seating position in the R23 isn't perfect for me and my back is a bit sore, but that will be sorted soon. Whatever else, it has made me realise how important your driving position is in F1!
Q: Your lap times are comparable to those of the two race drivers. It must be good for your confidence?
FM: It's nice, yes. When the team's aim is to set good lap times, and I am allowed to go for a good lap, I can set competitive times. At the moment, it takes me a bit longer than Jarno or Fernando to get there, but that's just a question of experience. Driving an F1 car on the limit is great fun!