Canadian GP Benetton preview

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "Montreal is a low downforce circuit and preparation has taken place last week by the Benetton test team at Monza. Work has centred on examining low downforce aerodynamics and trying to optimise suspension...

Pat Symonds, Technical Director:
"Montreal is a low downforce circuit and preparation has taken place last week by the Benetton test team at Monza. Work has centred on examining low downforce aerodynamics and trying to optimise suspension settings and weight distribution for this configuration.

A new aerodynamic package will be seen on the cars for the first time in Montreal."

The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the most popular races on the calendar for the teams. It is set on a man-made island in the middle of the beautiful city of Montreal. But while enjoyable, it also presents many unique problems to the teams. The circuit is only used once a year and hence is very dirty at the start of practice. The grip increases throughout the weekend which can make predictions of tyre wear and set-up very difficult.

It is extremely bumpy in some areas and the kerbs need to be used to obtain a good lap time. It is one of the most arduous circuits for the cars on the calendar. For the last three years there have only been 10 finishers, with only eight in 1996 and nine in 1995. It is particularly hard on transmission and brakes due to the fast straights being split by low speed chicanes. The tyre choice should be relatively simple as the circuit demands a soft tyre. However it may be that, as in previous races, one or two teams opt for the harder tyre to improve their race performance on a circuit where overtaking is easier than normal.

The weather can play a part in the race as it can be quite variable and the wind from the St Lawrence seaway can have a major influence on the handling of the car.

Benetton Formula 1 have been the most successful and consistent team in Canada in the last decade, having scored 66 points with wins in 1991 and 1994, and second places for the last three years. It also happens to be one of Giancarlo's favourite circuits, having finished on the podium for the last three years."

Alexander Wurz:
"Canada was my first ever race three years ago so it is always a special race for me.

A lap of the Montreal circuit starts on the short pit straight where we reach over 300 km/h in 5th gear before braking for the very difficult 1st and 2nd corners. The first is taken at just under 120 km/h in 2nd gear and leads straight into the even tighter second corner which is taken in around 80 km/h in 1st gear. Out of this corner you are always fighting for traction on the short 255 km/h straight which leads into the first of the proper chicanes, this is taken in 2nd gear with speed increasing from around 115 km/h to 130 km/h for the 2nd part. After this is the only fast corner on the circuit taken in 4th gear at just under 270 km/h. It's a difficult corner which should be just flat in Qualifying, it requires extreme car control and has no run-off area. On leaving this corner we have to brake for another chicane, the first part of which is taken in 2nd gear at just over 90 km/h, the right-hand part is taken in 3rd gear at about 130 km/h.

I then accelerate to just over 300 km/h on the back straight before entering the very bumpy breaking area for the next chicane. This chicane is taken in 2nd gear all the way through with a minimum speed of around 110 km/h. Again I will reach nearly 300 km/h before braking for the hairpin which is the second 1st gear corner on the track taken at 60 km/h. The entry to this corner is a good place to overtake. The second main overtaking opportunity occurs at the end of the main straight, where we brake from 325 km/h to take the final chicane in 2nd gear at c130 km/h. This final corner is very difficult and has been the scene of many retirements due to cars hitting the wall."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Alexander Wurz
Teams Benetton