Franck Montagny is the latest name to be linked to one of the two available seats at new Formula 1 team USF1 in 2010 – but it seems that first the North Carolina-based operation will need to fight off the approaches of two IndyCar Series outfits equally keen to secure the Frenchman's services.
The 31-year-old fits the bill for USF1's brief of seeking an experienced hand to race alongside a young up-and-coming home-grown star, and some sources are reporting that a contract has already been signed with USF1 co-founder and former Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor.
The SPEED TV
commentator is understood to have been impressed by Montagny's potential and set-up and development skills during his stints in the top flight as a test driver for both Renault (from 2003 to 2005) and Toyota (2007), and as a race driver for Super Aguri for 2006.
Since then, the Feurs-born ace has plied his trade largely in sportscars, becoming a linchpin of Peugeot's assault on Le Mans 24 Hours glory, finishing second overall for the Lion alongside compatriots Sébastien Bourdais and Stéphane Sarrazin this year, and in the same position for Pescarolo Sport in 2006. He will be back in action for Peugeot in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Georgia on 26 September.
Montagny, however, is also said to be in talks with IndyCar squads Andretti Green Racing and newcomer De Ferran Motorsport regarding 2010. He competed for the former in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) last year – sealing a brace of LMP2 class victories along the way, at Belle Isle and Laguna Seca – and made his IndyCar debut with the same team in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway late last month, qualifying a strong eighth amongst the 24-car field and dropping out with handling issues 57 laps in.
Other drivers to have been listed in connection with USF1 include former Williams, Benetton and McLaren star Alex Wurz, 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, IndyCar poster girl Danica Patrick and Americans Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Jonathan Summerton, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kyle Busch.