After a surprising result at the Monaco Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton lost a near-certain victory due to a strategy mistake by Mercedes, the European season takes a break this week as the paddock travels to Canada for round seven of the Formula One championship.
The race in Montreal is one of the most unpredictable on the calendar where a clever tyre strategy, the rain or a safety car period can have a big impact on the result. It’s a race where pole position doesn’t necessarily gives the drivers too much of a benefit as it can also be won from lower positions on the grid due to many overtaking possibilities.
Going into this weekend the cars will need to be switch from the very high downforce used in Monaco to a low specification; the track has an interesting mix of long straights and slow sections, characteristics that make it been all about power and brakes.
This will be the 46th running of the Canadian GP with races being held at three different venues: Mosport, Mont-Tremblant and Montreal. The event moved to its current location back in 1978, after Mont-Tremblant was deemed too dangerous, and has become an almost permanent fixture on the Formula 1 calendar ever since.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has more of a street circuit atmosphere because of the proximity of the walls, but there are also other challenges. Because of its long straights the circuit is tough on the power unit and presents a big challenge for the engineers in order to find the right settings. Good traction out of the low-speed turns is also crucial.
It is a real challenge for the drivers to put together a quick and clean lap in Montreal as they need to attack the kerbs, ride the bumps and get close to the walls, which will bring them a little bit more speed.
“Montreal is in-between a normal circuit and a street circuit. The walls are very close in some places, while other parts are similar to a European circuit. It’s definitely unique and we normally bring a different downforce package for that reason, which adds another unknown factor to the weekend. The circuit is not used for the rest of the year so the grip will change a lot - something we’ll have to adapt to - and the weather can also be tricky. The last chicane is a notable feature and overall it’s a good track,” Lotus’ Romain Grosjean says.
“I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. Montreal is different from Monaco as there are some long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like this year and that will certainly be on your mind as you take to the track for the first time over the weekend.”
Nico Rosberg might have the boost of two wins behind him now after his unexpected victory in Monte Carlo but team-mate Hamilton still leads the standings by 10 points, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel still within touching distance, 18 back from Rosberg. Mercedes also stands at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, leading Ferrari by 84 points.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen has a five place grid penalty this weekend after stewards deemed that he was at fault for causing the collision with Grosjean during the Monaco GP.
There have been eight different winners from the past 10 races in Montreal and Hamilton is the only multiple winner here out of the current drivers, with three wins. Daniel Ricciardo, Vettel, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have all scored only one win here.
McLaren and Ferrari come with a positive attitude into this race as both hold strong records in Canada. The Woking-based squad has most wins, fastest laps, pole positions and points in Montreal while Ferrari scored most podiums and has led more laps at the circuit than any of its rivals.
The weather forecast in Montreal suggests rain is possible on Friday but both Saturday and Sunday will be dry and warm. The variable conditions combined with the fact that the track isn’t used much through the year also have an impact on circuit conditions and therefore the strategy. The circuit will be low on grip at the start of the weekend but will improve after each session. Pirelli’s Soft and Super Soft compounds might be a good help for the teams to bring the tyre management under control early on in the weekend.
There will be two DRS zones in Montreal with a single detection point right after Turn 9 and the activation points before Turn 12 and after Turn 14.
Facts and stats
- Circuit length: 4.361 km
- Turns: 14
- Race laps: 70
- Top speed: 316 km/h
- Gear changes: 50/lap
- First Grand Prix: 1978, won by Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari)
- Lap record: 1:13.622 (Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2002)
- Lowest starting position for a winner: P10, 1981
- Wins from pole: 17
- Most pole positions: Michael Schumacher (6)
- Most wins (driver): Michael Schumacher (7)
- Most wins (constructor): McLaren (13)
- 2014 Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
- 2014 Race: 1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), 2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
Timetable (GMT -4):
Friday 5 June
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 6 June
- Practice Three: 10:00 – 11:00
- Qualifying: 13:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 7 June
- Race: 14:00 (70 laps or two hours)