2008 Canada preview: too close to call

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, start, 2007, 470150

I had hoped the 2008 F1 season wouldn’t involve as much waiting for news from Paris on the latest FIA verdicts as 2007 did, but the scandal season is already well underway.

Nevertheless I don’t intend to let the goings-on regarding Max Mosley interfere with the usual race weekend coverage at F1 Fanatic especially as this year’s Canadian Grand Prix is, on paper at least, an especially exciting prospect.

Last year all the signs pointed to this being a McLaren-friendly circuit and, sure enough, Lewis Hamilton delivered his maiden win. But that may not be the case this year.

One thing that’s come up time and again in the post-race review notes is Ferrari’s straightline speed advantage, usually worth a couple of kph at pretty much any given track. With the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s long straights that will surely play into their hands.

Simlarly where McLaren excellent over bumps and kerbs last year, this is an area Ferrai have paid particular attention to, and they could well end up with the quicker car over the uneven track.

However I wouldn’t write McLaren off. Both their drivers performed particularly well at this circuit last year – Hamilton winning, and Heikki Kovalainen racing from 22nd to fourth and setting a significant marker from where he would start to dominate his team mate over the rest of the season.

Ferrari, meanwhile, were thoroughly indifferent here last year and their drivers have been at their worst this year when it comes to dealing with atypical or challenging circumstances. Give them a Tilke circuit on a dry day, and they’ll fly. Give them a circuit with bumps and barriers and changing track conditions and, as at Melbourne and Monte-Carlo, they’ll struggle. Montreal definitely falls into the latter category.

Qualifying will be as crucial as ever and so will the deployment of the safety car. As we saw last year those ever-present walls mean a safety car period can come at very little notice and can wreak havoc on a leader’s pit strategy entirely at random.

The FIA might have fixed that by now but, of course, they’re busy with other things…