In 2007 Panasonic Toyota Racing welcomes Franck Montagny to the team in his new role as third driver. The Frenchman had the opportunity to test for the team towards the end of last year but joined full-time on January 1.
His arrival coincides with a new approach to testing. From this year the Friday of Grand Prix weekends is a test/practice day split into two 90-minute sessions. Each team can only field two cars, but they are free to utilise a third driver in one of them if they so wish.
In addition there is a major change to regular testing with a new agreement for 2007. The number of days has been reduced, and henceforth all teams will normally run at the same tracks at the same time. However, there is a limited opportunity for solo running for activities such as new car rollouts and filming, and for short pre-race shakedowns.
These changes mean that even more than previously, it’s important to utilise a test driver who can get the job done with the maximum efficiency.
“We’re really happy that Franck has joined,” says John Howett. “From the first test he did with us everyone was impressed by his speed and quality of feedback, and his interaction with the whole crew. He’s very enthusiastic, clearly understands his role, and is very professional about it. We’re really looking forward to working with him.”
Franck Montagny himself is delighted with his new challenge, and is looking forward to making a contribution this year.
“Obviously joining Toyota is a very good thing for me because it is one of the biggest teams in F1,” says the Frenchman. “It is good to be joining a big team like this, with people who want to move forwards and who are pushing so hard to do that.
“The third driver role is important, but there is no one, big important job when you are part of a team like this. Everybody's job is an important one – the mechanics, the drivers, the engineers. Success in F1 is not down to just one person, it is about everyone pushing forward together.
“The role of the third driver is going to be a little bit different, especially with the single tyre manufacturer. The regulations and the testing agreement have changed again but I think we are going to adapt well and do our best, like we do all the time. We will push 100% and see what happens. I am here to help the team, I am here to support the two race drivers and I will do my job as I am asked.”Source Toyota Pictures of the new TF107:
http://www.f1technical.net/gallery/v/To ... 07/Launch/