The Canadian Grand Prix held on the Isle St Helene in the St Lawrence river provides some interesting technical challenges to the team that are not found on any other circuit in the 2002 Championship. The overriding challenge for each team is...
The Canadian Grand Prix held on the Isle St Helene in the St Lawrence river provides some interesting technical challenges to the team that are not found on any other circuit in the 2002 Championship. The overriding challenge for each team is their car's braking system. It is the hardest track of the year on brakes, compounded by the fact that the race is run over one stop, which means braking with a heavy fuel load at the start of the race.
The reason for the tough brake wear is the circuit's series of fast straights followed by very slow corners that adds up to a maximum braking effort several times a lap. "We run the biggest brakes that the regulations allow," explains Brawn. However, the uncertainty over the brakes that the drivers and teams suffered in the past during this race has now been largely overcome by the increasing use of sophisticated electronics and on-board telemetry back to the pits.
The team can monitor brake wear and temperature throughout the race and advise the driver accordingly before the situation becomes critical. Friday practice is used to work out a wear base line for the race and the race strategy and allowing for increased braking forces as more rubber goes down on the surface throughout the weekend.
From a chassis set-up point of view this track is also unique. Aerodynamically the downforce levels are almost as low as Monza and, even though the team can add a little more downforce for the ultimate qualifying time, they have to be careful in the race not to slow the car's straight line speed too much because of the number of overtaking places at the end of the straights.
Although the team has a computer-simulated set-up prepared for the cars when they arrive, Canada always contains an element of surprise when the cars run for the first time because the track suffers considerably from the ravages of every Canadian winter. There is one particular bump on the return side of the circuit that is notorious. "We have to set up the ride height of the car to cope with that one bump," points out Technical Director Ross Brawn.
The Canadian race has been good to Ferrari in recent years and there are always a lot of U.S. and Canadian Ferrari fans at the race. The track itself is narrow and there is not a lot of run-off area at many points. This often results in safety car periods during the race that can call for some quick thinking in the pits on a changing race strategy.
One welcome bit of news for the drivers is that the wall on the outside of the last corner has now been moved further back, a spot which has seen many drivers come to grief in the past.
Another question mark over the Canadian GP is the weather. It can be very hot or quite cold while there is always a strong chance of rain, a situation that makes tyre choice a difficult one for everyone.