Franck Montagny is a French motor racing driver. He is currently in Formula One, serving as Third Driver for the Toyota F1 team after briefly racing for the Super Aguri F1 team in 2006.
Franck Montagny got started in karting in the early 90s before quickly moving on to try one-seaters. A natural, Franck won the 1994 French Formula Campus crown on his first go in 1994.
1996 was a difficult year for Franck after a dreadful accident in Formula Renault. Trying to take the lead at the Le Mans circuit, Franck took off the rear wheel of his opponent and teammate, who had not hesitated to slow down early in an attempt to intimidate his rival.
What looked to be just a small incident to start with saw his car hurtling through the air before crashing into the guardrails. Bouncing off the barriers with great force, the car landed back on the circuit where it was then hit hard by other drivers. The extent of the damage to the driver was immense with open fractures to the legs, three broken lumbar vertebrae, heels and tendons torn to shreds.
He fought back and still managed 6th place in the championship with 2 victories, and all that after not having participated in half of the championship! He managed this thanks to Professor Saillant and his team at Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital, as well as through his talent and determination.
After two seasons in F3 France, 12 wins, taking 4th place and 2nd in the 1997 and 1997 championships, he turned his sights to F3000, a sport which is supposed to be a springboard to Formula 1, but which held nothing but disappointment for Franck who chose to restart his career with Formula Nissan, which has already seen the likes of other Formula one drivers such as Marc Gene and Fernando Alonso.
A leader in the sport since his first year, Franck continued his racing career in the championship that was breaking new ground in 2002 and 2003, in cars with more than 400 horsepower. With vice-champion and champion titles under his belt, and 13 wins, it allowed Franck to take a shot at Formula 1, with a solid background strengthened by a 6th place showing at the 24 hours of le Mans in 2002 for the Oreca team.
In 2003, Franck became a test driver for Renault F1. Franck was a solid part of the French team in 2005, in charge of the development of the R25.
For 2006, Super Aguri F1 took on Montagny as third-driver; however, he was promoted to full race driver in May after it was announced that Yuji Ide was to drop back into testing; Ide was demoted at the behest of the governing body who considered him insufficiently experienced for Formula One. Montagny hence competed in his first Grand Prix, the 2006 European Grand Prix on May 7, qualifying last and retiring with a hydraulics problem. He did not finished his second race 2006 Spanish Grand Prix: After a great start, enabling him to gain 3 positions, he retired on lap 10 with a mechanical failure. It was third time lucky for him at the Monaco Grand Prix, when he finished the 78-lap race in 16th place, three laps behind the leader.
During a break between the British Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix, Montagny was able to participate in the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing second for Pescarolo Sport behind only the dominating Audi factory R10s. He was the first active Formula One driver to also participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year since Bertrand Gachot in 1994.
On July 12, Super Aguri announced that Sakon Yamamoto would replace him from the 2006 German Grand Prix onwards. Montagny did not appear in his role as third driver for the next two weekends as only two Super Aguri SA06s were available but a third chassis was prepared during the summer break enabling him to reprise this role at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix.
In the next two Grand Prix, he obtained an impressive top ten position in the Friday session. Montagny qualified with his SA06 at 10th and 7th beating some other Friday drivers.
Montagny tested for Toyota F1 in September 2006 at Silverstone. A month later, Toyota confirmed that Montagny will join the team as test driver for the 2007 season, as Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta are leaving the team.