The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the first high-speed challenge of the 2015 campaign.
After the slow-speed demands of Monaco, Formula 1 heads across the pond to one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, situated on an island in the St Lawrence River in Montreal, is the first high-speed challenge of the 2015 campaign. It requires the teams to focus on three main areas of performance: braking, traction and top speed.
The cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) on four occasions around the lap and each time they have to brake into a slow-speed chicane or hairpin. Such high levels of deceleration put the brakes under huge amounts of stress and, as a result, they require careful monitoring throughout the 70-lap race.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve requires good top speed, so we can’t underestimate the challenge,
Other important areas of performance are traction and mechanical grip. The circuit has an old, low-grip surface, on which it’s easy to get too much wheelspin under acceleration. Good driveability from the power unit is vital because there are six second-gear corners around the lap, all leading onto long straights.
In cooler temperatures it can also be difficult to get the front axle working properly, emphasising the importance of mechanical grip. To help this, Pirelli is taking the two softest compounds in its range: the Soft (Prime) and the Supersoft (Option). These are the same compounds as in Monaco a fortnight ago.
From a driving point of view, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has no fast corners, but it’s still a hard track to tame. The walls are close and the drivers need to be very precise with their lines; the smallest of errors can have serious consequences. The final corner has claimed many star names over the years; Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel have all crashed there, leading to the outside barrier being known colloquially as ‘The Wall of Champions’.
McLaren has an impressive record in Canada, having won the race 13 times. Among those victories is Jenson Button’s memorable win in 2011.
“Montreal is an old-school circuit. The speeds are high and the walls are close, so you need total commitment to extract the best lap time. I enjoy the challenge and it will be interesting to see how our car goes on this type of circuit.”
“It was great to get our first points of the season in Monaco. But it was only eighth place and we’ve been working flat-out since then to improve performance further. Montreal will be a very different challenge and we’ll do everything possible to add to our points tally there.”