Canadian GP: BMW Sauber preview

The next venue played by Formula One will rob the Football World Cup of some of its limelight, with Montreal keyed up for the Canadian Grand Prix to be held on 25th June in its picturesque island location in the St Lawrence River. The BMW Sauber...

The next venue played by Formula One will rob the Football World Cup of some of its limelight, with Montreal keyed up for the Canadian Grand Prix to be held on 25th June in its picturesque island location in the St Lawrence River.

The BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park in downtown Montreal could well become a new magnet for fans, who are particularly thrilled at the prospect of seeing their compatriot Jacques Villeneuve perform on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve named after his father.

This is a fast circuit and the BMW Sauber F1 Team believes it has a good chance of making it into the points again in the ninth World Championship race this season. By way of preparation, the team spent three days at the high-speed Monza track, with Villeneuve, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica taking it in turns at the wheel of the BMW Sauber F1.06.

Nick Heidfeld:

“For me, Montreal and Melbourne are the grands prix I enjoy going to the most. Irrespective of the circuit, I just love the city of Montreal, which is why I’m looking forward to flying out there a few days early. It’s a circuit with a character of its own. This is one of the last high-speed tracks we still have. There are long straights with relatively slow turns and chicanes in between."

"I really like the second chicane. Once enough rubber has been laid down on the track to give you the right grip and provided the car is running well, you really hammer the kerbs there. But that turn also has an incline, and on exiting you get very close to the wall. Right now we believe our car is particularly good on fast stretches. The proof of the pudding will be when we get to Montreal.”

Jacques Villeneuve:

“It’s always nice to come to Montreal. I hold very fond memories of my home. Since my childhood, I have spent more time in Europe and I have had fewer and fewer opportunities to visit Canada. That makes it even nicer to return here for the Grand Prix every year. I have many friends that I meet on this occasion and, of course, I can see my family as well. My motto is to relax in a familiar atmosphere before completing a strenuous weekend."

"Naturally, the media and the fans are more interested during my home GP and I have a lot of PR appointments. That’s all part of the game and actually fun to do in Montreal. It is fantastic to feel the support. In May we celebrated the five-year anniversary of my club Newtown in the city centre. I will definitely drop by during the race weekend as well."

"The difficulty on the circuit is a lot of heavy braking and we don’t have many tracks like that any more. Because it is a track no one goes on in the year, we never know what to expect grip-wise, how the asphalt will be, how bumpy it will be, because there are normal road cars during the week. It is a little bit like Melbourne – always a bit of a surprise."

"The difficulty there is low grip, and because of the layout, all the braking zones and the chicanes and overtaking opportunities, a lot of people forget themselves once in a while and you have quite a few incidents, but that is what creates the excitement."

"It is a special weekend, and seeing how everybody is happy to be in Canada makes me proud. The crowd is fantastic for any driver. You can be from any country and they will cheer you on. They are there all weekend and it is like a party the whole time. You can really feel the positive energy. The whole town is into the race big time – it’s a bit like Monaco. The attitude there is very young and upbeat.”

Robert Kubica:

“I am now going to Montreal and facing another new circuit. I have heard a lot about it, but when I go out on Friday it will be the first time in any sort of car. This is always a challenge for me as I have to learn the circuit before I can start the hard work for the team. Luckily this year I have been able to do this very quickly, so this is another new challenge I am looking forward to. I already know that the track is hard on braking and that my tyre work will be very important.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

“For the first time in the last grand prix, our young team emerged as the fourth force to be reckoned with. It was a great success and a tremendous incentive for us. In Montreal we aim to carry on from where we left off and bring the first half of the season to a positive close."

"The Canadian Grand Prix is definitely one of the highlights of the season. That is not only because the circuit is a challenge in terms of technology and driving, but also on account of the atmosphere. The people there are great Formula One enthusiasts, and the proportion of BMW fans is traditionally high."

"Canada is an important and strong market for BMW. The American region overall, i.e. the USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Latin America, is BMW Group’s second-largest sales market after Europe."

"The race track is in an attractive location on the island in the St Lawrence River with its legacy from the World Expo and the Olympic Games. It is an idyllic place with lots of trees, but they can prove a menace as leaves can easily block the radiator."

"The long straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve push the P86 engines to the limit. The only circuits with higher speeds are in Monza and Indianapolis. Nick will race with a new engine as scheduled, while Jacques retains the P86 that has already served him well in Silverstone.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis:

“The outstanding characteristic of the Montreal race track has traditionally been the heavy braking it demands. In a few places that will not be so critical in 2006 because top speeds have come down through the switch to V8 engines. But the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve still remains the toughest endurance test for the brakes. That demands highly efficient cooling and circumspect use of the brakes on the part of the drivers."

"In aerodynamic terms, the circuit requires a medium downforce level. With that in mind, we have already tested an aero package with a new front wing and yet another new rear wing at Paul Ricard, with further testing completed in Monza during the week after the British GP. It is proving to be the case that, due to the reduced output of the V8 engines, running with maximum downforce has decreased considerably in 2006."

"Montreal has a good passing place: the hairpin is followed by a long straight with a hard braking point. It is also important to approach the right-left combination before the start/finish with caution and not drive over the kerbs too roughly. In general, the run-off zones are relatively few and restricted."

"To perform fast and safely in Montreal the car must respond with great precision. It’s an unforgiving track even if you make a minor mistake. Everyone looks forward to this circuit not only because it presents a real challenge, but also because of its scenic setting on the island in the St Lawrence River.”


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Gilles Villeneuve , Robert Kubica , Mario Theissen
Teams Sauber