The Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda team heads across the pond this weekend bound for Canada, for the first of the two long-haul Grand Prix venues which mark the mid-point of the 2004 season. The first pitstop is the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the ...
The Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda team heads across the pond this weekend bound for Canada, for the first of the two long-haul Grand Prix venues which mark the mid-point of the 2004 season. The first pitstop is the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the cosmopolitan city of Montreal, where the teams embark on the second consecutive round of back-to-back races.
B.A.R's race team have been working around the clock since they returned from another podium success at the European Grand Prix, preparing to freight 26 tonnes of chassis, engines and equipment across the Atlantic. Long-haul races always present their own special logistical challenges for the race team, but when they pitch up in Montreal this year, a gruelling 15-day schedule awaits them.
Hot on the heels of next Sunday's race will be another race against time as the team ship out of Canada, travel well over a thousand kilometres across five states, ready to do it all over again just one week later at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the United States Grand Prix. Punishing stuff! - but four races in six weeks will certainly give the fans plenty to smile about!
The Canadian Grand Prix is always a firm favourite on the race team's calendar though, as the carnival atmosphere of downtown Montreal is just a stone's throw away. The Circuit itself has rarely been kind to B.A.R, or its drivers, but 2004 has seen many firsts for the team and an inaugural Canadian podium is well within its grasp next weekend.
"We were very strong in free practice at the Nürburgring, but it showed how important it is to qualify well. I didn't get a very good lap in qualifying and this made it very difficult for me in the race. Having said that, to not have a good race and still be able to get a podium shows our strength. I'm very confident as we head to Canada. The performance of the tyres should be good at this track and I think the car will work well. We also have another step with the engine which will help us as this is a power circuit."
"The track also demands a car which, mechanically, is very strong - and our car is. There are a lot of very slow chicanes in addition to the long straights. The step with the engine should be an improvement for us. We know it's going to be quick, but we don't know by how much yet. My aim is to get on the podium and this is a race I would love to win, given the chance."
"I like the city of Montreal; the contrast between the newer developed and historical older side is beautiful. Also the fans over here are so enthusiastic and I really enjoy racing in front of them. The performance of the team has been very strong over the past few races and I am really looking forward to Montreal and Indianapolis - and to achieving what I hope will be my first podium."
"Once again, this is a track that I have raced at only once before, but the circuit characteristics - the chicane with high kerbs and the hairpin in particular - are similar to Imola, where we were very competitive. They should suit the car and I am expecting us to perform well. Honda have been working very hard to introduce a good step with both power and reliability for here, so I'm feeling confident and eager to pick up where I left off at the Nürburgring two weeks ago."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"Four races in six weeks is a fantastic treat for the fans, but pretty gruelling stuff for the race teams. A fifth podium finish in the European Grand Prix, coupled with the developments we have on the car for Canada, gives B.A.R Honda a major boost as we head across the Atlantic for the next two races. We have a strong hold on third in the Constructors' Championship and are delighted to have been responsible for a great deal of the racing action this season."
"However, the missing piece of the jigsaw at the moment is the need to get both cars to the finish as regularly as possible, and our failure to do so in four out of seven races has enabled Renault to pull away from us in second place. We have some catching up to do now and the momentum that another back-to-back race brings should help us to stay focused on our objectives."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"Following our recent podium successes, the team is looking forward to racing at Montreal, where we also expect to be competitive. We have a few small car developments for this race but the main change is a new specification of engine. Our target for Canada is to finish on the podium again but most importantly to finish both cars in the points to try to close up with Renault in the Championship.
"The circuit itself is a mixture of high-speed straights broken by low-speed chicanes and hairpins, with the only real corners being in the sequence after turn two. The downforce level will be quite low but determined by the balance between braking stability and sufficiently high top speed for the race."
"The track is quite bumpy and, as it is used only once a year, the conditions change a lot through the weekend as the track cleans up. Good traction and stability over the bumps is important, and the circuit is always very hard on brakes. The track presents few overtaking opportunities so qualifying position and start performance will be significant factors in determining the outcome of the race."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"We have introduced a countermeasure for the problem with Taku's engine at the Nürburgring, and done some useful running at testing with the new Canada spec engine. Lap times were good at both the Silverstone and Monza tests, and we have high hopes for the race in Montreal."