MONTREAL, Thursday, June 15, 2000 - Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix marks the first of two stops for the Formula One in North America this season. The series will be back for the inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept.
MONTREAL, Thursday, June 15, 2000 - Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix marks the first of two stops for the Formula One in North America this season. The series will be back for the inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24.
Much of the attention this weekend focuses on Jacques Villeneuve, not only because he is Canadian but also because of intense speculation over which team he will drive for next year. Villeneuve's two-year contract with British American Racing ends after this season.
"Rumors are fun," Villeneuve said. "But it doesn't help your work in the team because it means a lot of people are stressed out. We are still concentrating on getting this car to go quick and on getting some results. That is very important right now, but there will come a point when I will have to make a decision on what I want to do."
That decision, Villeneuve said, will only be made when he knows all the facts about the teams he is negotiating with.
"You can't make a decision until you have all the cards in your hands," he said. "You want to know what you're choosing from. You want to know where the teams are heading."
Villeneuve refused to comment on any specifics of his negotiations. "Once things are signed, only then will I say what it is," he said. Villeneuve joined the Williams-Renault F1 team in 1996 after winning the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1995 CART championship. Villeneuve won 11 Grands Prix and the 1997 Formula One World Championship with Williams before joining the new BAR team in 1999.
The past season and a half have been hard work for Villeneuve and BAR as they struggled to make the car competitive. He has thanked his fans for supporting him during the time of "frustration."
"Thanks for sticking with me," Villeneuve said, "but don't give up because things will get better."
Villeneuve hasn't had much luck in the Canadian Grand Prix since he finished second in 1996 at the track named after his late father. David Coulthard, currently second in the World Championship, has been competitive at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but often failed to turn that into points-paying results.
"I scored my first world championship points here," Coulthard said. "I have also led a couple of races here, until I was stopped by mechanical problems." Coulthard won the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago in his West McLaren-Mercedes.
"It is important not to get carried away just because of a slightly fortunate win at Monaco," he said. "To start third, not overtake anyone and then to win the race is something that you can't forget. I am feeling good about my performance, and I am looking forward to the race."
Coulthard, Villeneuve and the rest of the drivers, including championship leader Michael Schumacher, all enjoy the atmosphere of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, located on an island in the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the city of Montreal.
"The Canadian Grand Prix is one of my favorite events," Michael Schumacher said. "I like the country, and people are very friendly. The track has some similarities with a street circuit, but it is also very fast and offers several overtaking opportunities. It is very hard on the brakes, and it is also not that easy to find the ideal setup."
FORMULA ONE NOTEBOOK
Where to watch: Television viewers in the U.S. can watch the Canadian Grand Prix live on Fox Sports Net and Speedvision at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) June 18. Speedvision will show qualifying live at 1 p.m. (EDT) June 17.
McLaren's 500: This race marks the 500th Grand Prix start for Team McLaren. Since team founder Bruce McLaren drove the first McLaren F1 car in its debut Grand Prix in Monaco in 1966, the team has won eight Constructors Championships, 11 Drivers Championships, 126 Grands Prix and 107 pole positions.
Comedian Coulthard: After cracking jokes on "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday night in New York, David Coulthard continued the trend when he arrived in Montreal.
Asked what benefits he got from appearing on an American TV show, Coulthard quipped: "It's good for (me), especially as we are coming to (race in) America this year, to go on an American TV show because maybe it gives you a little bit of an increase of popularity over the other drivers, and that might impact on your cap and T-shirt sales!"
Ralf Schumacher will drive: Ralf Schumacher, who suffered a cut on his left leg when he crashed in the Monaco Grand Prix, will race this weekend. "I still feel a bit of pain when putting pressure on my leg," Schumacher said, "but I don't expect to have any problems in practice. I usually brake with my left foot, but if necessary I can also use my right foot. In order to reduce the vibration, we will stick some padding in the cockpit where my heel is."
If Schumacher is unable to drive, Formula 3000 winner Bruno Junqueira is on hand to substitute.
Downforce needed: Jacques Villeneuve says his Lucky Strike British American Racing-Honda needs more downforce.
"The engine is good," he said. "I am very happy with that. The car seems to be working well, too. It's just that it seems to be very slow whenever we need to put downforce into it. This is a track which should suit us a lot better, and the Monza testing (last week) was good: We didn't do much work on the car and it was easily quick.
"That means it should be good here."
Paddock over water: In order to increase the paddock area behind the pits, the Montreal organizers have extended the paddock out over the water of the canal behind the pits. The rowing canal was used in the 1976 Summer Olympics.