A Glimpse Into the Life of Panasonic Toyota Racing Driver Franck Montagny - VIDEO FEATURE
Although Franck is a newcomer to Panasonic Toyota Racing as third driver in 2007, he is far from a rookie behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car after four years at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Montagny was successful in karting before he graduated to single-seater racing with championship victory in Formula Campus France in 1994. When he won Rookie of the Year honours in the 1995 French Formula Renault series, he looked set for the top.
The following year also started well, but disaster was to strike at Le Mans. He was fighting for victory but when he pulled out to pass the leader, there was contact, and Montagny’s car was violently flung into the barriers before coming to rest in the middle of the track, where it was struck by his helpless rivals. He suffered fractured legs, broken vertebrae and shattered tendons. His career hung in the balance, and just being able to walk again was considered an optimistic outlook.
Two difficult seasons of F3000 followed, and Montagny’s career temporarily lost direction, leading him to take a step back into the Nissan Open Championship. A title win was his immediate reward in 2001 and, despite losing the crown to future Toyota driver Ricardo Zonta in 2002, he continued winning and a year later he was on top again.
That form attracted the attention of F1 team bosses and Montagny was signed up as Renault test driver in 2003, contributing to the improvement in form that culminated in the World Championship-winning campaign of 2005. He had one GP weekend Friday test outing with Renault, and another with Jordan.
However, an F1 race seat eluded him until newcomers Super Aguri called him up. He originally joined the team as third driver, but was given a chance to race in the 2006 European GP. He went on to make a total of seven starts with the team, before stepping back into a third driver role, a position he has now earned at Toyota. "
Career at a Glance
GP debut : Germany 2006
GPs started : 7
Wins : 0
Pole positions : 0
Points : 0
Best championship result: : n/a
1992 : French junior karting: 1st
1993 : French Nationale 1: 1st
1994 : Formula Campus France: 1st (3 wins)
1995 : French Formula Renault: 4th (1 win and Rookie of the Year)
1996 : French Formula Renault: 6th (2 wins)
1997 : French Formula 3: 4th (4 wins)
1998 : French Formula 3: 2nd (8 wins)
1999 : International Formula 3000 Championship: 12th
2000 : International Formula 3000 Championship: 15th
2001 : Nissan Open Championship: 1st (8 wins)
2002 : World Series by Nissan: 2nd Le Mans 24 Hours: 6th
2003 : World Series by Nissan: 1st (9 wins) F1 – Renault: Test driver
2004 : F1 – Renault: Third driver
2005 : F1 – Renault: Third driver
2006 : F1 - Super Aguri: Third driver/Race driver
2007 : F1 – Panasonic Toyota Racing: Third driver