Canadian GP: BAR preview

Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal The Team Few drivers are as closely associated with one race as Jacques Villeneuve is with the Canadian Grand Prix. The fact that the venue is called Circuit Gilles Villeneuve says it...

Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal

The Team

Few drivers are as closely associated with one race as Jacques Villeneuve is with the Canadian Grand Prix. The fact that the venue is called Circuit Gilles Villeneuve says it all. Jacques loves to race in front of his home crowd, however, the circuit has been less than kind to the French-Canadian since his second place finish in 1996. He has made it to the chequered flag three times in six races here. In 2001, he endured brake trouble for much of the race before a driveshaft problem finally forced him to retire.

The Canadian Grand Prix is a real handful for all of the drivers though and Olivier Panis has also had his fair share of frustrations here. Last year, in his first season with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda, the Frenchman was running 5th when this notoriously demanding circuit also began to take its toll on his brakes. His race came to an abrupt end after 38 laps.

Despite the challenges that Canada will undoubtedly present, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda will arrive in Montréal with renewed determination. The team have identified the control software problem that led to Jacques' retirement in Monaco and have put the disappointment of two DNFs behind them to concentrate all their efforts on preparing the new evolution of the BAR004 for this next Grand Prix.

The BAR004 retains the original chassis but features the latest evolution of the Honda engine, a new aerodynamic kit and a revised gearbox and rear suspension. Fundamentally, the changes are to address a mechanical problem with the clutch operation which has afflicted the team since testing began in January. In the process, the wheel base of the car has been changed and the rear suspension has been modified accordingly. At the same time, there is a new bodywork kit, comprising sidepods, diffuser and barge-boards bringing a useful step in performance but also in an effort to address some car instability problems.

During a four-day test at Paul Ricard this week (29th May - 1st June), Olivier Panis and Anthony Davidson gradually incorporated more elements of the final Canada specification. Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Lemarie focused on set-up, tyres and suspension during a simultaneous test at Silverstone. It is too early to fully appraise the new car after such a short amount of testing but the early signs have been encouraging in terms of pure driveability.

David Richards, Team Principal

"Monaco was a tough weekend and we were very disappointed to leave empty-handed. We have identified the source of Jacques' problem but for Olivier, it was another case of bad luck. We go to Montréal with the new evolution car and engine and, whilst we are under no illusions that it will cure all our problems, we are optimistic that it will go some way towards reversing our fortunes this season. The team have worked incredibly hard to meet the Canada deadline and I hope we can reward their efforts with a strong race on Sunday."

Jacques Villeneuve on the Canadian Grand Prix

"I was testing at Silverstone this week so I haven't been able to drive the new car yet, but I'm looking forward to first practice on Friday. The changes to the car won't solve all our problems but we should be a little more competitive for the rest of the season so we're in a better position to take advantage of opportunities."

"I always enjoy my home Grand Prix so I'm looking forward to the weekend. This is a good track to race on. Not so much to qualify on, because it's not very interesting, but for racing there are a lot of overtaking opportunities. Montréal is one of my favourite towns and I love the people. It's great to be back home again."

Olivier Panis on the Canadian Grand Prix

"I am pleased that we have the new car ready for Canada. I tested an intermediate specification at Paul Ricard this week and we made good progress, although it is too early to see exactly what the new developments will bring in terms of performance. It felt good to drive though, which is an improvement in itself."

"I'm not making any predictions for the race because this is a tough circuit for all of the teams. We know we have to score some points soon but we have a new car to work with and the first priority will be making sure we have reliability to finish the race."

The Circuit

Race Distance - 69 Laps. 189.543 miles (305.049km)
Circuit Length - 2.747 miles (4.421 km)

The Canadian Grand Prix is run on a temporary circuit situated on Ile de Notre-Dame - a man-made island in the middle of the St Lawrence Seaway, close to central Montréal. Set among lakes and park pavilions used in the Expo '67, and alongside the 1976 Olympic Games rowing basin, this unusual track has frequently been the scene of high drama. The start of the race is usually incident-packed, with four opening lap collisions in the last five years. Generally though, drivers enjoy the track, which gives reasonable overtaking opportunities and requires medium levels of downforce.

However, it is unlikely that the hard-working Formula One teams share their driver's enthusiasm. With so many fast blasts, slow chicanes and hairpins, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is now even harder on brakes, gearboxes and cooling systems and has a reputation for being a real car-breaker.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Anthony Davidson , Gilles Villeneuve , David Richards