What Exactly Leads You to Believe that the Soviets are Involved?

With the topic of ride buying, the bloggosphere has been, well, kind of enraged with the fact that Franck Montagny is getting a ride next week.  This has kind of come to bother me.  The main assumption being thrown out there as fact is that Montagny is showing up with a big bag of money for the seat. First, the facts:

  1. Andretti Green Racing’s primary flaw in their downfall has been consistently credited as the fact that there is no one to help Tony Kanaan setup the car, implying that Danica, Marco, and Hideki just aren’t that good at setting up a car in one or two practice sessions pre-race,
  2. Franck Montagny spent 2008 as part of the American Le Mans Series branch of Andretti Green Racing,
  3. Franck Montagny tested AGR’s IndyCar equipment last season,
  4. Franck Montagny is a two-time World Series of Renault champion (or whatever they were calling it at the time), and
  5. Franck Montagny was employed in Formula 1 from 2003 through 2007, primarily as a test driver.

These five points point exactly as to why I’m in no way convinced he’s bringing a giant pile of cash.  It’s pretty straightforward here (points referring to the above):

  • Point 4 – He’s proven himself in the feeders of Europe.
  • Point 3 – He’s got a preexisting relationship with Andretti Green’s IndyCar equipment.
  • Point 2 – Wow, he spent a year in ALMS in a sister program of a major IndyCar team.  Someone else did that.  Whatshisface…that Aussie guy…three points off Scott Dixon for the Series Championship…oh what the heck is his name…Oh yeah, Ryan Briscoe.
  • Point 1 – AGR can’t set up a car right now, which leads me to
  • Point 5 – You don’t stick around Formula 1 for five seasons on no talent.  You *certainly* don’t stick around in test roles for five years because you’re bringing cash.  Finally, you *do* stick around Formula 1 in primarily testing roles for five seasons because of one skill you possess:  you can develop and set up a car.

Therefore, it’s not that the guy is talented enough to get a ride without a big bag of money.  It’s that the guy fills a void for Andretti Green, which will likely lose one (Danica), if not two (Danica and Hideki), drivers next season. 

I mean, this guy has been thrown on the same level as Marty Roth and Milka Duno in the past few days (which, if you’re wondering where that level is, it’s under the bus).  The more I analyze this, the less fair I think it is.  The guy is connected to the team, and I see *absolutely* no signs that he’s bringing money.  Yes, it stretches AGR thin at Infine-yawn, but it’s likely in terms of an audition for next season. 

The guy is getting labeled because this specific ride kind of came out of nowhere.  Well, that and he’s foreign. I don’t think that’s fair.

9 Responses to “What Exactly Leads You to Believe that the Soviets are Involved?”

  1. pressdog Says:

    Unfortunately in today’s IndyCar racing, everyone is a ride buyer until proven otherwise.

  2. Sean Says:

    As I said at Oilpressure (which ended up being a stupid fight over Junqueira’s value), Montagny absolutely belongs in the series and is not a ride buyer. Montagny is in fact better than any of AGR’s four full-time drivers as he’s done stuff internationally on road courses (which Kanaan has not), plus Kanaan is I believe washed up. I know he had the injury at Indy and two fires but even when he’s had no such adversity he hasn’t been much of a threat. I think Montagny definitely deserves this one-off, and will be hired for that team in 2009 (IF AGR has sponsors after Danica and Mutoh leave…it could end up just being TK and Marco), and he deserves it.

  3. sciguy Says:

    Kanaan washed up? Wow.

    Just a quick query: is it truly a “fact” that there is no one to help Tony set up the car? That sounds like an “assumption” to me.

    Having said that, I agree with you that he belongs, that he might not be buying, and I’d guess that AGR is just grooming replacements for next year.

  4. Dex Says:


    So let me get this straight. You write this about Montagny:

    “Montagny has done some stuff. He ran for Aguri Suzuki’s F1 team for about half of a season, but didn’t do much. He’s driven in a couple of 24 Hours of Le Mans for Peugeot. He even started at Long Beach last year for Forsythe Racing in the Champ Car Finale, finishing second to Will Power.

    The only thing I can really find that he *won* was the 2003 World Series by Nissan championship, besting Heikki Kovalainen among others (including IRL legend Didier Andre in two races).”

    Then after actually doing some proper research you change your tune:

    “The more I analyze this, the less fair I think it is.”

    The fact is, every blog post and forum comment about how undeserving he is and what a ‘ride buyer’ he must be comes from pure ignorance of the broader motor sport world and maybe a tiny bit of research would have made you realize all of this before the original knee jerk post was written in the first place.

    Some IndyCar fans seem to live in a world where if they haven’t heard of a driver, he must be A, crap and B, a ride buyer because he is A, crap. Or that he must somehow go through some sort of rite of passage with Dale Coyne racing before getting a top seat. As I have posted elsewhere and was rightly pointed out above, the ALMS sportscar school is full of drivers that IndyCar fans would be unfamiliar with who have enormous talent.



  5. Will Says:

    I think my first post probably didn’t give Montagny enough credit. I’ll admit that. I never claimed he wasn’t a credible option for the drive, though. In fact, the main point I made in the post is that I’d sure like to see Bourdais come over and get a top ride, completely regardless of Montagny’s capabilities. The worst thing about unification was that neither Bourdais or Dario, as the two defending champions, were in the league for the first unified year.

    The fact that he won two World Series by Renault (wrongly put down only as one) titles in the last decade (6 and 8 years ago, respectively) was a valid point. I mean, Conway won the British F3 title, yet everyone is calling for his head.

    The setup comment has been presented as, well, basically a fact by many reporters (and television analysts) over the past two years. My statement of it as fact is done only after those with far more credibility than I have done so.

  6. Dex Says:

    Hi Will,

    Fair enough. I just get pretty exasperated at the reaction to new drivers by IndyCar fans who don’t really follow what is going on outside the sport.



  7. Anonymous Says:

    could montagny be fulfulling the void that bryan herta left after 2006? a driver with some serious skill in setting up cars for everyone else to run. herta was a fine driver in his own right, but its no secret that his biggest value was in everything that lead up to the green flag. this could be a piece of the puzzle that michael is looking to replace by adding montagny.

  8. Fred Says:

    Pure and simple, Frank Montagny is an excellent driver with considerable credentials regardless of whether he has major sponsors who support him or not.

    Those who complain should establish their own teams and hire their own drivers to compete against the other teams.

  9. Allen (SandWedge) Says:

    Man I’ve been gone a few days and this is what people have? Really… mad about Montagny? Yeesh; Kanaan, said he wants him as a teammate, AGR is putting him in the car to test him, who cares about the rest.