2013 Canadian Grand Prix preview
The Canadian Grand Prix is a firm favourite on the F1 calendar. It may no longer be F1′s only visit to North America yet it still attracts a large and passionate crowd regardless of the fact there hasn’t been a local driver in the race since 2006.
The track can be relied upon to provide plenty of action as well. For the most part it features long straights punctuated by hairpins or chicanes, and there are several places where an error will be punished by a bruising encounter with a wall.
“It’s the first circuit we run at with a medium downforce level,” explained Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane. “Monaco is super high and everywhere else we’ve visited so far is high, so it will be interesting to validate our performance with lower downforce levels on the car.”
“There are similarities to Monaco; no real high speed corners, with most turns taken in first or second gear and the kerbs used for the majority of them. As most of the corners are chicanes, you have a set-up trade-off between sufficient roll stiffness to allow the driver to have a sharp car for change of direction, but with suspension soft enough to ride over the kerbs.
“The track used to be very bumpy – especially under braking – but recent resurfacing has improved this enormously.”
The track has a reputation for being punishing on brakes: “It’s the highest brake energy circuit of the year, but this won’t pose any significant problems,” explains Permane.
“In years gone by we would have spent a lot of the weekend focusing on brake wear and ensuring we weren’t running too hot. Brake disc development over the past five years means this isn’t an issue or concern anymore. Our focus will be ensuring the brake temperatures are in the optimal range for operation and ensuring the brakes are matched at both front and rear for stability.”
Montreal circuit information
|Lap length||4.361km (2.71 miles)|
|Distance||70 laps (305.3km/189.7 miles)|
|Lap record*||1’13.622 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)|
|Fastest lap||1’12.275 (Ralf Schumacher, 2004)|
|Tyres||Medium and Super-soft|
*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix
Another feature of the track is that being a temporary facility it holds a few events per year. The track surface evolves rapidly during a Grand Prix weekend as it cleans up and rubber is laid down.
That can provoke graining in the tyres as they struggle for grip. Pirelli are bringing their super-soft and medium compound tyres. “We’d expect two to three pit stops per car,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery, “but we’ll only be able to make a precise forecast after Friday once we’ve seen some running out on track.”
The drivers will also have a chance to evaluate Pirelli’s revised tyres as they strive to eliminate the delaminations seen at some races. Each will have two extra sets of prototype medium tyres with a revised rear construction to use during practice.
But how much running they get out of them will partly be decided by the weather. Early forecasts indicate showers at the beginning of the race weekend – more on that tomorrow.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has always seemed like one of the tracks that was least in need of DRS. The rain that hit the 2011 race probably spared us two hours of ridiculously easy passing, for as the track began to dry it was clear anyone with a car one second behind them was completely defenceless.
For last year’s race the sensible step of cutting it back to one zone was taken. This improved matters, yet still many people thought the DRS effect was too strong. This year we’re back to two zones.
Canada Grand Prix team-by-team preview
Sebastian Vettel’s near-miss in 2011 means this is the only circuit which appears on the calendar every year where Red Bull haven’t won yet. Their two-three in that race and David Coulthard’s third in 2008 have been their only visits to the podium.
Felipe Massa has a new chassis following his race-ending smash in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali is hopeful the F138′s strength under braking will help them claim their first win in Canada since 2004: “I think the Montreal circuit should allow us to exploit those strong points such as braking, which is a key factor at this track, so let’s hope that works in our favour.”
If Jenson Button or Sergio Perez were to win this weekend it would be the fourth consecutive victory for McLaren at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. But they’ve mustered just one top five finish between them so far as they struggle with the MP4-28.
But there have been steady signs of progress from the team and this McLaren-friendly track might finally see one of them on the podium – as Perez was last year.
Kimi Raikkonen could become only the second driver since Michael Schumacher to score points in 24 consecutive races this weekend.
But team mate Romain Grosjean needs to atone for a disastrous weekend in Monaco, which won’t be easy as he’s carrying a ten-place grid penalty into this event.
The three-pointed star are playing down their chances after winning in Monaco – not least because any perceived improvement in their form might be linked to that controversial test.
Nico Rosberg is riding high following his Monaco win and run of three pole positions in a row. But this has always been a strong track for Lewis Hamilton, who has won here three times before. The arrival of Paddy Lowe from McLaren this week may be the catalyst he needs to start getting the most out of his new team.
Esteban Gutierrez is unusual among F1′s five rookies in that he has prior experience of this track from his Formula BMW days.
Sauber head to the Canadian Grand Prix looking to end a three-race streak without scoring any points.
Force India have started the season strongly and will be aiming higher than their previous best finish of ninth in this race. Paul di Resta said he was disappointed to finish that low down in Monaco while team mate Adrian Sutil claimed fifth.
With every passing race this year Williams’ need to finally get some points on the board grows ever more urgent. They believe they’re getting to grips with their FW35 but as ever the competition is strong. Valtteri Bottas has another new track to learn and Pastor Maldonado often looks as likely to fall victim to attrition as he is to benefit from it.
Daniel Ricciardo has been leading the way at Toro Rosso this year but Jean-Eric Vergne hit back in Monaco. Both are contenders for the lower reaches of the points at the moment.
Reserve driver Alexander Rossi will have his first run of the year in practice for the team before jetting off to France to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
This looks like being a tough weekend for Marussia. Neither of their drivers have raced here before and team principal John Booth admitted “the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has not necessarily favoured our car on our three previous visits”.
2013 driver form
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2013 Canadian Grand Prix
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