Franck Montagny would have presented a typical CV of a talented driver had not fate decided otherwise. After a convincing beginning in the karting series, which saw him crowned several times in France, Franck started a career in single-seaters under the best patronage possible.
Unfortunately, his planned route was broken during a Formula Renault event in which he was a runner up for the title in 1996. Trying to take the lead on the circuit of Le Mans, 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.
”Maybe Franck will be able to walk again one day” predicted Gerard Saillant, world specialist in orthopaedics and head of ”Surgery and Traumatology” a service that had helped heal many F1 drivers in the 80’s and without whom Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo would never have been able to win the world cup in 2002. Saillant was placed in charge of the difficult task to give Franck back the use of his legs…
Thanks to his natural talent, hard work and an iron-clad will, a few months after flirting with death, Franck began the steady climb back. With the insight of certain artists whose creative talent appear in oppression and pain, Montagny knew he had to raise his level of driving and his dedication to the sport as a consequence of the experience, and was determined to come out of this even stronger than before.
After being written off after the accident, Franck returned at the end of the season, and using crutches climbed into his Formula Renault six months after his terrifying ordeal… to record three podiums and a victory in four races! His come back only reinforced the already present admiration from his competitors.
Now, seven years later, Franck Montagny is at the top of his profession and closer and closer to the summit of a slope that was far from easy to climb.
After a good first year in the F3000 series back in 1999 where he was runner up for the best rookie of the year title, Franck had to come down a peg or two after he was hit by broken financial and technical promises. Instead of fighting at the bottom of the grid in the same series known as the school for F1, Franck opted to give his career a new orientation and boost with another summit to reach on the other side of the Pyrenees, in a single seater category that has since become the most competitive in Europe behind F1, the World Series by Nissan.
Thanks to his motorsport results and his technical faculties, that didn’t go unnoticed by everyone he worked with, Franck entered F1 after securing the World Series Nissan title in 2003 adding to his Formula Nissan title in 2001 where he smashed all the records Fernando Alonso previously set (points scored, best lap in race, victories).
World Series Nissan runner up in 2002 then champion in 2003, Franck’s talent and results caught the eye of the biggest French constructor and as such the young Frenchman has become their test and reserve driver for the 2004 season.
Franck provided all the results and took all the possible steps to reach the pinnacle of his sport, Formula 1, and is always working hard physically and mentally to reach his aim: to be on the grid of an F1 Grand Prix. There is still one more step to climb to achieve his goal, but his brilliant work with the Renault F1 team will not go unnoticed as teams sit up and take notice of the driver from Provence impresses behind the wheel of the Renault F1 single seater.