Canadian GP: thoughts on the start

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Canadian Grand Prix 2007 start, 470150

Lewis Hamilton sits on pole position for the second year in a row at Canada. Last year he made a poor start but held onto the lead as Fernando Alonso went off at the first corner.

It’s an unusual first corner at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and with Hamilton’s career-long rival Robert Kubica alongside him we could be in for a dramatic start.

Here’s the expected starting grid as it currently stands.

1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Robert Kubica
3. Kimi R??ikk??nen
4. Fernando Alonso
5. Nico Rosberg
6. Felipe Massa
7. Heikki Kovalainen
8. Nick Heidfeld
9. Rubens Barrichello
10. Mark Webber
11. Timo Glock
12. Kazuki Nakajima
13. David Coulthard
14. Jarno Trulli
15. Nelsinho Piquet
16. Adrian Sutil
17. Giancarlo Fisichella
18. Jenson Button
19. Sebastian Vettel*
20. Sebastien Bourdais**

*Expected to start from pit lane
**Gearbox change penalty

Jenson Button, who had a gearbox problem in qualifying, may yet pick up a penalty but as he’s already on the penultimate row it will make little material difference.

The real interest is up front where all kinds of action could take place. Hamilton’s pole position spot sits on the left of the track which kinks right before reaching the first proper turn – a quick right-hander – then a long, looping hairpin to the right.

As we saw last year the winding corners give the driver on pole position plenty of opportunity to defend even if he makes a poor start. Hamilton got away slowly last year but was still able to parry the attacks from Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso.

As the racing line crosses the grid hatchings, and the surface is generally low-grip, it shouldn’t make too much of a difference to how well drivers on different sides of the grid get away.

Another thing to watch out for is drivers gettign squeezed out as the track bends from the left to the right at the start. Kimi Raikkonen was caught out by this last year. Having started fourth he found himself relegated to sixth by Felipe Massa and Mark Webber.

Massa along with Heikki Kovalainen find themselves in the unusualy lowly positions of sixth and seventh and will need to work their way past Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg at the start.

But ultimately conservatism may rule the day. With the track threatening to break up and the prospect of rain we could be in for an even more chaotic Canadian Grand Prix than usual. Losing a front wing at the start trying to make the difference between 14th and 15th is not the smart way to play this one.