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The “good” F1 check venue with somewhat little bit of “magic”

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“I actually love this monitor,” says Franck Montagny of the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. “I bear in mind my chief engineer in Renault’s check workforce was all the time saying ‘if there was a championship of 15 races in Jerez, you’re world champion yearly’.”

The Frenchman by no means raced on the monitor he picks out as his favorite, however relished each time he bought to drive it testing Components 1 equipment between 2002 and 2007. That’s simply as properly, as a result of he accomplished simply shy of 5,000 laps of the circuit for Renault, Toyota and Pressure India, together with 2,312 excursions throughout 22 days in 2005 alone.

“It fits rather a lot the Renault automobile presently,” says Montagny, who began seven grands prix for Tremendous Aguri in 2006 when Yuji Ide’s superlicence was revoked. “It’s an {old} monitor, bumpy, there’s no huge lodge on the aspect, so I perceive that folks don’t actually like it. However I inform you, it was a magic monitor. I all the time had lots of pleasure there.”

After internet hosting seven F1 grands prix between 1986 and 1997, Jerez had turn into a well-liked check venue throughout the period of unrestricted operating within the early-to-mid 2000s. As Michelin tyre testing was sometimes the order of the day throughout Montagny’s spell at Renault, each in dry situations and moist when the monitor was specifically sprayed, he was largely driving with new rubber and had “all the time full capability of the automobile” on the monitor’s prevalence of medium and high-speed corners.

“It was actually cool,” says Montagny wistfully. “Jerez is ideal for an F1 automobile – it’s dry, sunny, scorching, you may work simply and there are all of the corners you’ll want to develop the automobile. It’s an ideal place and also you get the nice jamon!”

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He singles out the “actually thrilling” double-left at Turns 7 and eight that comply with the Flip 6 hairpin the place Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve famously got here to blows in 1997 as his favorite level of the circuit. The primary was taken flat, earlier than dropping one gear on the “demanding” second left that leads right into a sequence of right-handers interrupted by a chicane put in on the web site of Martin Donnelly’s horrifying accident in 1990.

Montagny believes Jerez has each vital function for F1 automobile testing

Picture by: Edd Hartley

Montagny’s first go to to Jerez in December 2002 was memorable. It marked the event of the 2001 Components Nissan champion’s first Renault check outing, and he concedes that “particular feeling with Jerez perhaps comes from there”.

Montagny was entrusted with sharing the operating with the workforce’s 2003 race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli plus reigning Components 3000 champion Sebastien Bourdais. Nonetheless, within the perception it was primarily motivated by a want for the workforce to earn good publicity from the French press for supporting promising homegrown skills, he didn’t pin his hopes on it translating into something concrete.

“I used to be not pondering anymore about F1,” says Montagny, who had plumped for Components Nissan after two unfulfilling seasons of F3000 in 2001 as a result of a scarcity of different choices. “All of a sudden they referred to as me to do this. It was like, ‘what?’ I used to be not relying on it, as a result of I knew it was pretend.”

“Jerez is ideal for an F1 automobile – it’s dry, sunny, scorching, you may work simply and there are all of the corners you’ll want to develop the automobile”
Franck Montagny

He initially felt vindicated when Allan McNish was employed as Renault’s Friday driver for 2003. Though Montagny was additionally introduced into the fold as a tester, he was largely saved on the bench and didn’t drive the R23 till July.

“However ultimately, I used to be mistaken,” he says. “When you may have the chance to get in an F1 automobile, you must take it. You by no means know what can occur after.”

As Montagny wrapped up a second Dallara Nissan title, so his Renault mileage regularly elevated over the ultimate 4 months of 2003. He accomplished 12 days throughout Barcelona, Valencia and Jerez earlier than being appointed because the workforce’s third driver for 2004, when he accomplished 54 days, 23 of which got here at Jerez.

Jerez is enshrined in Montagny's mind as the first track he tested for Renault in 2002, which parlayed into a more regular gig

Jerez is enshrined in Montagny’s thoughts as the primary monitor he examined for Renault in 2002, which parlayed right into a extra common gig

Picture by: James Moy

His final outing in an F1 automobile earlier than concentrating on sportscars with Peugeot additionally got here on the Spanish monitor in December 2007, when Montagny joined Giancarlo Fisichella for an analysis with the newly-renamed Pressure India squad.

Christian Klien, Ralf Schumacher, Tonio Liuzzi, Giedo van der Garde and Roldan Rodriguez had been all subsequently rotated by means of the rebadged Spyker F8-VIIB to audition for the drive alongside former Renault man Fisichella that was in the end retained by Adrian Sutil. Montagny remembers that a difficulty together with his seat on his first set of tyres thwarted his momentum.

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Now an F1 pundit on French TV for Canal+, Montagny stresses that Jerez was a circuit he by no means bored with visiting. Now predominantly a motorbike racing venue, it final held F1 testing in 2015 and staged a high-powered single-seater race when Components 2 and GP3 held a standalone assembly in 2017.

“It was a superb place, I don’t get tired of it,” he says. “I’m certain if I am going again tomorrow, I can be more than happy.”

Montagny, pictured testing for Toyota in 2006, says he never tired of visiting the Spanish track

Montagny, pictured testing for Toyota in 2006, says he by no means bored with visiting the Spanish monitor

Picture by: Edd Hartley

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