Canadian Grand Prix circuit may change for 2009 but will it be necessary?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Montreal, 2008, 470150

Before the Canadian Grand Prix when I asked if F1 had become too fast for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Cooperman nailed the problem on the head:

A bigger issue at Canada has to be why the tarmac reacts in such a way that only the racing line is anywhere near grippy. Why, when a driver has to deviate from the best route, are they immediately in the wall?

We saw the track begin to disintegrate in qualifying and only the expertise of the track owners in remedying the problem made the surface race-worthy. Now they’re talking about changing some of the corners on the track for 2009. But will the changes to F1 cars next year make that unnecessary?

After qualifying on Saturday Canadian Grand Prix executive vice president Francois Dumontier said the causes of the track breaking up were:

Aggressive adhesion of grooved tyres, removal of traction control systems and the actual physical configuration of the hairpin corner itself could all be probable causes for this situation.

Only one of those comes under Dumontier’s control and after the race he admitted he was considering changing parts of the track:

The problem seems to be in the curves. We’ll look at the hairpin, and the configuration of the hairpin. We’ll look seriously at it with the FIA.

During the races turns two (Senna hairpin), six/seven, and ten (Casino hairpin) were the bends drivers were struggling with the most. If each of those are going to be changed the Montreal circuit could end up looking quite different, although as it’s an island circuit whatever changes are made would presumably have to be quite subtle.

But will the changes to F1’s aerodynamic and tyres regulations next year make it irrelevant?

In 2009 F1 cars will have to run with greatly reduced wing angles, and the grooved tyres Dumonier blames for part of the problem will be gone. This is expected to change the handling characteristics of F1 cars enormously and make ‘mechanical’ (i.e. ‘tyre’) grip far more important than ‘aerodynamic’ grip (i.e. downforce).

Could this alone be the solution to the Canadian track’s problems? Or could it make it even worse?

Have you been to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve? Share your experience of visiting the home of the Canadian Grand Prix here