2010 Canadian GP preview For round eight of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship the Formula One circus has arrived at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal, Canada. After a one-year ...
2010 Canadian GP preview
For round eight of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship the Formula One circus has arrived at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal, Canada. After a one-year absence circuit officials have renewed their contract with FOM (Formula One Management) for five years, and on Sunday June 13 the circuit will host the 41st Grand Prix of Canada. The circuit on the Ile Notre-Dame is notorious hard on the cars, it has long straights and slow-speed chicanes and drivers have to brake hard for the chicanes and the Gilles Villeneuve hairpin.
The chicanes are lined with concrete barriers, leaving very little room for errors. A famous part of the circuit is the wall on the outside of the exit of the chicane that leads to the start-finish straight. The slogan "Bienvenue au Qu?bec" (Welcome to Quebec) is painted on the wall, but after in the past Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher were caught out by the wall and smashed hard into the concrete, it was nicknamed the "Wall of Champions".
The challenging and fast circuit is the favorite track of many drivers. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has nice memories of the circuit, he won his first Grand Prix here in 2007 and loves the circuit, "Returning for 2010 is great, because it's such a fast, demanding and unforgiving circuit -- I love racing here. It's an incredibly tough track -- even if you can avoid the walls, which are really close and exciting at some places, the surface is very treacherous offline because of all the marbles. It's a place where you don't want to make even a tiny mistake."
The FIA has appointed four stewards who will make up the F1 Stewards Panel for the race in Canada: Swede Lars ?sterlind and Venezuelan Enzo Spano will represent the FIA, Roger Peart represents the hosting country Canada, and ex-Formula One driver and 1972 and 1974 World Champion Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi will represent the drivers.
For Fittipaldi it will be his first time as a FIA steward, and he will bring a lot of on track experience to the FIA Stewards Panel. He not only won the Formula One Championship twice, he also won the Indy 500 twice, and became CART Champion in 1989. He started his Formula One career in 1970 with Lotus, switched to McLaren in 1974, and from 1976 until 1980 he raced for his own Fittipaldi team. He retired in 1980 and led his Fittipaldi team until the demise of the team in 1982. The now 54-year Fittipaldi participated in 144 grands prix, won 14 races and scored 281 world championship points. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.
Webber and Vettel bury the hatchet
After Red Bull's disastrous Turkish Grand Prix, drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have settled their differences. During the race in Istanbul both drivers collided during a badly timed overtaking maneuver in the closing stages of the race, Vettel could not continue the race but Webber took third position after a visit to the pits to replace his front wing. Red Bull lost a one-two victory, valuable points and the lead in the constructors' championship, the main beneficiary was the McLaren team who are now leading the Constructor's Championship. Both drivers were heavily criticized by the team, team principal Christian Horner and team advisor Helmut Marko initially blamed Webber for the crash, but the media put the blame on Vettel. Both drivers refused to take the blame which created a very unpleasant situation within the team.
After a meeting at the team's factory in Milton Keynes, UK Red Bull announced that the team had closed the ranks, and the differences between both drivers had been settled. Webber was positive after the meeting, "I feel for everyone at Red Bull, at the factory and everyone involved. Seb and I will make sure it doesn't happen again and will continue to work openly together, no problem." Red Bull is confident the problem has been solved, earlier this week they announced Webber has extended his contract with one year and will stay with the team in 2011.
McLaren also had some misunderstandings between drivers in Turkey but they never got out of hand. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted there were no team orders given, and the only real problem they had was the fuel consumption. Already after ten laps they realized the fuel consumption was higher than expected, and instructed Hamilton and Button to switch to another engine setting to control the fuel consumption. The problem became apparent after the race, when engineers found there was not enough fuel left for another lap. McLaren's pace was good compared to Red Bull and for the race in Canada the team remains optimistic.
McLaren is still confident they can beat Red Bull, the team's qualifying pace has also improved and now only need a few tenths of second to close the gap with Red Bull. Both Button and Hamilton are convinced they can keep the momentum going after their surprise 1-2 victory in Turkey. Button about the prospects, "The track configuration should suit the MP4-25, it's got a couple of slowish corners that lead onto long straights, so we should be able to use the combination of the Mercedes-Benz engine and our aero package to be competitive in both qualifying and the race."
Ferrari and Mercedes
Ferrari can not be happy about their recent results, they can't keep up with Red Bull and McLaren, and the team from Maranello was also beaten by Mercedes and Renault in Istanbul. Ferrari is still working hard on a major upgrade package, it will be ready for the race in Valencia, which means they will race the same car as in Turkey. The F10 lacks qualifying speed, and needs more downforce, but team principal Stefano Domenicali is confident Ferrari hasn't been beaten yet, "We need to find something more - because we don't want to give up after six or seven grands prix. Two thirds of the championship is still open. We have seen that everything can happen and we have seen how different situations can emerge in the races."
Although Mercedes has improved their pace, they are not out of the woods yet, they are fourth in the Constructors' Championship with 100 points, 72 points behind the leader, McLaren. Team principal Ross Brawn, "The circuit is an interesting one from an engineering perspective and should be a track where our slow to medium speed performance, good braking stability and strong engine performance will be an asset. And added, "As for the championship table, Red Bull is still completely reachable." Nico Rosberg is also adamant the circuit will favor the Mercedes, "We will have some further upgrades for the race weekend and the fact that the circuit characteristics are quite different from Istanbul Park makes me go there with high hopes. I think we might just put in a great result."
Pitstops and tyres
Expected pit stop schedule for Montreal:
For 1 Stop - between laps 33-38
For 2 Stops - between laps 22-30 and 46-52
For 3 Stops - between laps 17-22, 31-37 and 47-52
Bridgestone tyre report
Bridgestone has allocated the Medium and Super Soft tyre compounds and for Canada it is also the first time since 1997 drivers will race with slicks again. The circuit is very demanding for the tyres, especially the rear tyres, and drivers will have to look after their tyres, especially during the first part of the race with fully loaded fuel tanks.
Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima: "Previously, we have always found this a difficult circuit for deciding tyre allocations, and this will also be the first time we have raced at this track with a gap between compounds. The circuit's heavy traction and braking demands mean that a lot of heat is generated in the tyres so drivers need to be vigilant with their tyre management. The track surface can change a lot over the course of the weekend, and the weather in Montreal is often very variable too. I think that these factors will make our visit to Canada a good test for teams, drivers and Bridgestone".
The F-duct, an essential tool in Canada
Cars equipped with an optimal working F-Duct system will be able to use it to their advantage on the very fast Gilles Villeneuve circuit. It's a circuit with very long straights separated by slow-speed chicanes, which means a driver has to accelerate on the straights, break hard for the chicane, and again accelerate hard out of the chicane onto another straight, a sort of stop-and-go lap. All teams except McLaren are frantically working on the F-Duct, Ferrari had a lot of problems with it in Turkey, but will not run major aerodynamic upgrades this weekend. Mercedes is also struggling with the system, and are having problems to make it work with the rear wing of the MGP W01.
Red Bull's F-Duct design didn't work too well in Turkey and the team will not use the system in Canada. Toro Rosso's technical director Giorgio Ascanelli said the F-Duct is not a priority, and the team is concentrating on other parts of the car to improve their pace. Renault and Williams have tested their version of the system, and are hoping to use it this weekend, Sauber already had a working system, although it doesn't give them the advantage they hoped for. The three new teams Lotus, Virgin and HRT have no plans to introduce the system this year.
Force India has developed a SRW (Switchable Rear Wing) system, a system that also alters the airflow over the rear wing, the device is manually controlled by the driver. The team ran the device in Turkey, but not during qualifying or during the race. Force India have improved the system and will do more testing in Canada.
Who to watch this weekend
Red Bull and McLaren will without a doubt be the pace setters on the fast Gilles Villeneuve circuit, Mercedes and Renault have significantly improved their performance, and they are next in line for a victory this weekend. Norbert Haug about the chances of the Mercedes team, "We are certainly not where we want to be yet, namely in a position to challenge for victories on a regular basis, however we are dedicated and have a very good spirit to achieve our targets. It is difficult to predict where we could end up in Canada but we will certainly try as hard as we can."
Renault driver Robert Kubica had a huge crash in 2007 and was lucky to escape without serious injuries, one year later he won the Canadian Grand Prix for BMW (now BMW-Sauber). Renault, who are currently fifth in the Constructors' Championship, want to close the gap to Mercedes. The team has made a lot of progress this season and Kubica is optimistic, "I think the car should work well in Montreal so I'm quite confident we can go there and get a strong result. I'll be aiming to score good points, as we have done all season, which is very important for our position in the championship." Force India has also made a lot of progress and have scored points on a regular bases and are looking to close the gap to Renault. Team principal Vijay Mallya is confident ahead of the race, "We have some more development parts coming for this race, including some new aero parts for the low downforce configuration, and we are testing the SRW further on both cars this weekend. We're not so far away from Renault and there are plenty of opportunities left to rack points up and some circuits that we should really fly on, including Montreal."
The start of the race is always tricky in Montreal, after the long start- finish straight the track narrows before the first chicane, and it is very tempting to brake late, but in the past many drivers braked too late, went onto the grass and lost a lot of places after they rejoined the race again. Then there is a short sprint to the second chicane where cars are still close together, again this chicane is also a bottleneck and on previous occasions many drivers didn't make it through this chicane during the first lap of the race.
Drivers will have to look after their tyres and brakes, and as we have seen during the last few races, fuel consumption is also an important factor. In Turkey Red Bull and McLaren carried as little fuel as they possibly could, a risky decision on a fast circuit. So far this season all cars had enough fuel on board to finish the race, but one tiny miscalculation, and a car could grind to a halt just one lap before the end of the race. Webber is currently leading the championship with 93 points, followed by Button (88), Hamilton (84), Alonso (79) and Vettel (78). Kubica and Massa take a joint sixth position with 67 points, and with 25 points waiting for the winner of the race, only one of the above top five drivers can emerge as the leader of the championship after they have passed the finish line in Canada.