Yamamoto set for Montagny’s seat

UPDATE #3 Our European sources tell us this deal is definitely done and that Montagny is out of the Super Aguri seat beginning with the French GP. We await the formal announcement.

06/08/06 (GMM) Super Aguri will, once again, install an all-Japanese driver lineup this year.

Sakon Yamamoto, a Formula Nippon driver, is understood to have now signed a contract to join the Leafield-based squad at Silverstone, but for the moment he will just drive a third 'SA05' car in Friday free practice.

The 23-year-old's race debut is tabbed for Magny Cours mid next month; a hard blow for incumbent and Frenchman Franck Montagny who is almost certain to therefore recline into the practice-only role from his home grand prix.

The 'BBC' and 'AFP' news agencies, meanwhile, are reporting that the Aguri Suzuki-led team has confirmed the Yamamoto news, but a team spokeswoman insisted that an announcement like that would be formalized in a standard press release.

It is also believed that, after Yamamoto tested for Jordan at Suzuka last year, Super Aguri is checking with the FIA that the Japanese will be granted a Super License.

Like axed original racer Yuji Ide, Yamamoto's racing heritage is Japanese, but he has also contested both European and German F3.

06/07/06 (GMM) Franck Montagny has confirmed speculation that his Super Aguri seat beyond next month's US grand prix is far from secure.

In an interview with f1total.com, the Frenchman admitted that he could be replaced at the subsequent race, which would – coincidentally – be his debut at home venue Magny Cours.

Giving credence to reports that Sakon Yamamoto is to become Takuma Sato's third teammate of 2006, Montagny said: ''I don't know yet whether I will be driving at Magny Cours.''

However, the 28-year-old insisted that – even without a racing ride – he was likely to steer a 'third' car on Friday at the French event.

Magny Cours or not, Montagny said the interest from the French media – who have gone without a local boy to cheer for since Olivier Panis retired in 2004 – is already bigger.

But he added: ''I think that's good; I don't feel like I'm under pressure.

''For me this is a big adventure. I don't know how long it is going to last, but for the moment I enjoy it.''

Montagny also revealed that, as official reserve, not being selected to replace axed Renault driver Jarno Trulli in late 2004, damaged his reputation.

''After that, whenever I was in contact with a team,'' he explained, ''they always said, 'You want to race for us, but why didn't Renault take you?'

''It made it really difficult for me to find something else.''

06/05/06 (GMM) July's US grand prix at Indianapolis could be the last for Super Aguri sub Franck Montagny.

Reports in Japan suggest that team owner Aguri Suzuki is planning to give the Frenchman's seat alongside Takuma Sato to a Japanese countryman; Sakon Yamamoto.

It would mean that Yamamoto's debut race would be at Magny-Cours; Montagny's home circuit.

Montagny, the former Renault tester who at late notice last month was named as axed predecessor Yuji Ide's replacement, set the pace at the weekend as he stepped up his preparation for Le Mans.

The 28-year-old will contest the famous 24-hour event next weekend, between his Super Aguri commitments at Silverstone and Montreal.

Yamamoto, meanwhile – the 23-year-old Formula Nippon driver who once tested a Jordan – is believed to have now attended Aguri's Leafield HQ for a seat fitting.

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