In the wake of a disastrous weekend in the penultimate round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Shanghai, Team France has re-assessed its ambitions heading towards the season finale at Brands Hatch - with New Zealand's runner-up spot in the title chase now firmly in its sights.

Les bleus only dropped out of contention for the crown - a success they achieved during the nation vs nation series' inaugural campaign in 2005/06 - following the Chinese outing. Championship rookie Franck Montagny struggled throughout qualifying before going on to rack up just three points from the two races, leaving France ten markers adrift of their Kiwi rivals with 32 remaining up for grabs on British soil.

"The scenario [in Shanghai] was what we expected," candidly admitted sporting director and 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis. "We knew it would be difficult to score points in the first race and that we could move up a few places in the second, and that's what happened. We could probably have finished a little higher up, but we were unable to get past Malaysia and India, which held Franck up for two thirds of the long race.

"Mathematically speaking, we're no longer in the running for the title, so our aim is to move up a place in the overall classification at Brands Hatch and finish the season in second position."

Montagny progressed from 18th to twelfth place in the shorter sprint race, and got the better of British rival Robbie Kerr for eighth spot - and his first series points - in the longer feature event.

"The two races helped me to accumulate experience in the car," the former Super Aguri Formula 1 ace reflected, electing to put a positive slant on a disappointing weekend, "and it's now much more to my liking.

"I did the maximum but my aero set-up prevented me from overtaking some cars, which were slower than me over a lap. I spent the whole afternoon glued to a rival's gearbox, and that meant I wasn't able to set competitive times - the car was at least 0.4s quicker than our fastest lap.

"Now we're going to concentrate on the next meeting. I don't know the Brands Hatch circuit, but maybe that's an advantage as I won't arrive with my F1 points of reference. It'll be much easier to adapt my driving style right from the start to the very special characteristics of the A1GP car."

 

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