Franck Montagny - "The car slides a lot more!"
Renaults Franck Montagny reports on the effects the revised 2005 regulations will have on the driving characteristics of a Formula One car and the race strategy changes they will require.
The key revisions the teams have to cope with, designed to reduce speeds and cut costs, are less downforce, both front and rear, and fewer tyres each driver will now have to use a single set for both qualifying and the entire race.
After three weeks of testing in Spain, Montagny has spent a lot of time behind the wheel of a machine in 2005 aerodynamic configuration and he spoke to the team about his first impressions and the influence he thinks the changes will have on the season ahead.
Q: You did plenty of mileage in the sessions.
FM: We spent four days in Barcelona, then eight at Jerez, which meant we could get plenty of work done, even though the first session at Jerez was disrupted by rain. I still managed to beat the record for the longest day's running last Thursday though: 151 laps!
Q: Were you driving a 2005-spec car?
FM: Yes, we did a lot of running in the new configuration.
Q: What is it like to drive?
FM: Slippery! It slides. A lot!
Q: Did you have to change driving style to get the best out of the car?
FM: It's a different challenge. There is much less grip, which you really notice in the medium-speed corners. The rear of the car will also slide more readily, which is fun for the driver, but it costs you in terms of lap-time. Of course, the drivers have also lost the fun of running with new tyres all the time. But overall, it is a different kind of challenge, that's all.
Q: Do you need to be more disciplined on the long runs?
FM: You need to be able to manage the tyres from the start to the end of a race, and not simply drive flat out throughout the stint.
Q: Is it a fundamental change?
FM: No. I think that car set-up will be even more important than it was in the past. Until now, a new set of tyres could mask a small problem with the chassis but that will no longer be the case for 2005. What's more, even the smallest handling imbalance will have a big impact after 300 km.
Q: Are you optimistic for 2005?
FM: Yes. We are only beginning our adaptation to the new rules, and performance levels will increase. At the moment, every team is doing their own thing, and that's why the times at the end of each day often look jumbled up. At Renault, the dominant feeling is one of quiet confidence. I haven't seen the R25 yet, but I am going to the windtunnel at Enstone tomorrow. I can't wait!