F1 Montreal: Preview

Stuttgart, Jun 20, 2006
Since the Canadian Grand Prix made its debut in 1967, the event has been held at three circuits. The debut race took place at Mosport Park in Toronto, with two races also being held at Mont Tremblant before the race moved permanently to its current location in Montreal in 1978.

Renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1982, in memory of the French-Canadian driver, the circuit lines the perimeter of the Ile Notre Dame. The man-made island is located in the St Lawrence Seaway.

Recent successes for Team McLaren Mercedes in Canada include Mika Hakkinen in 1999 and last year when Kimi Raikkonen took the victory. The 1999 victory was unique in Formula 1 as Mika Hakkinen crossed the finishing line behind the Mercedes-Benz Safety Car, the first time in Formula 1 history that the winner followed the Safety Car.

Following the British Grand Prix, the team has been testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France before leaving for Canada, with Kimi Raikkonen, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett completing 2,622km in total whilst working through aerodynamic, set-up and brake work.


“The Canadian Grand Prix is defined by the long, high speed straights that go into very slow corners. As a result, perhaps more so than at other tracks, you need to have really good corner balance, so that you can get on the power right away as you exit the turn. Otherwise you would lose a huge amount of time on the straights. Because the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is such a fast track, we will run with a very low downforce set-up. It is also fairly low grip, as it is not severe on our Michelins we traditionally use a softer compound, so find the grip through this. As there are no high speed corners, there are no periods of high lateral loadings on the tyres. Despite the speed, you do need to be quite precise here, as it is part road circuit so the Armco are very close to the edge of the track. It is also pretty dusty at the start of the weekend, but as rubber is laid down it starts to clear on the racing line. It was fantastic to win last year, and we had a solid weekend at the last race in Silverstone, hopefully we can put in another good result this weekend.”


“Although Silverstone and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are both pretty high speed, it is in a very different way. At Silverstone, you don’t really need to brake all that much. At Canada however, braking is key, with the most severe demands of the year in this area. As a result, we will run with increased brake cooling, so you will see larger openings in the body work. In addition there is a real focus with the set-up on braking stability. There are various areas that can be adjusted to improve braking performance, such as weight distribution and aero and mechanical balance. Alongside braking, straight line speed is also vital at Montreal, because of all the long straights, particularly when trying to overtake. There are chances, such as into the hairpin. The Canadian Grand Prix is a great race, as it is so close to downtown Montreal, the atmosphere is like a carnival. I really enjoy the race and hope I have a less eventful time this year!”


“We completed a productive three day test at Paul Ricard last week with Kimi, Pedro and Gary completing over 2,600km between them. The test has been a focus of our intensive programme of testing and development, as we still need to find performance in the MP4-21, and there is a lot of determination within the team to bring this to the track. With the front row grid slot and podium at Silverstone, we are moving in the right direction but there is more work that needs to be done to catch up with our prime competitors. The Canadian Grand Prix has high rates of attrition, and brake cooling is extremely important. The circuit is located on the exposed seaway, and as a result head and tail winds can affect set-up quite dramatically, provides quite a challenge to the engineers and drivers.”


“The circuit on the Ile Notre-Dame is not a permanent track and, just as the impressive rowing basin behind the paddock, has its origin in 1976 when Montreal hosted the Olympic Games. There are only a few races at this circuit which therefore offers not so much grip. It is the most demanding track for the brakes and their cooling, even more with heavier fuel loads. Two thirds of a lap will be driven under full throttle, a little less than at Silverstone previously. We all have to work hard to become as competitive as we have been last year; five podium finishes in eight races do not reflect what this team is capable of and what we had planned. These improvements cannot be achieved overnight; however we will achieve them within a manageable period.”


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