Rubens Barrichello will soon be leaving the sunshine in Florida to head north for the Canadian Grand Prix, which marks the halfway point of the 2003 season. "My father was there with me for the last race in Monaco and even though that race did...
Rubens Barrichello will soon be leaving the sunshine in Florida to head north for the Canadian Grand Prix, which marks the halfway point of the 2003 season.
"My father was there with me for the last race in Monaco and even though that race did not go according to plan, the two of us had some fun; father and son together for a change. Miami was a great break for me with my family, who have now returned to Monaco," said the Brazilian, for whom the Miami "holiday" has become something of a pre-Montreal tradition. "My Brazilian racing drivers friends were all competing in the Indy Racing League when I arrived in the States, but I met up with some of them briefly before heading for Canada."Ferrari Marlboro driver enjoys this race, where he has twice finished second and in the 2002 race, he was leading from the very first lap, despite having started from the second row. "Last year, I finished third in Montreal, when the Safety Car interfered slightly with my two-stop strategy," he recalled.
"It is an unusual circuit and although it has some similarities with the last round in Monaco, as it is not a permanent track, the barriers are very close and it is located in a city, it has a completely different atmosphere. It is very relaxed compared to Monaco and that makes a nice change."
The other contrast with the last round of the championship is that there are usually several changes of order at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. "I actually like the track and I think it gives the fans plenty of excitement as there are good opportunities to overtake," reckons the Brazilian. "The Canadian fans are really enthusiastic and there is a very big Italian contingent cheering us on. I always get a great reception here which is a boost.
This will be Barrichello's eleventh Canadian GP, so he is well placed to comment on the track's idiosyncrasies. "As for the circuit itself, the car set-up has to be a compromise here as the straights are very fast, but most of the corners, including a couple of hairpins, are quite slow," he explains.
"The driver is always kept busy and the layout of the track means it is tough on tyres and brakes as well. Generally, it has a reputation as something of a car breaker, but I can face the weekend with confidence, given that the F2003-GA is proving reliable and the new aero package produced good results in the Monza test."
Grid positions will have less of an effect on the outcome of the race than in Monaco. "But the new qualifying format should be interesting here," maintains Rubens, currently fourth in the Drivers' classification. "As the track is not used much during the year, the grip level improves constantly throughout the weekend, but it is also very susceptible to change according to the temperature during the session. It should be fascinating and might produce some unusual results."
But it is not just the racing which Barrichello is looking forward to this weekend. "Montreal is a great city, even though I don't get much of a chance to visit, until Monday after the race, when shopping is usually on the agenda!"