Canadian GP: MF1 preview

Canadian GP: MF1 preview
Jun 21, 2006, 5:30 PM

Coming off the back of a promising performance at its official home race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Midland Formula 1 Racing will be looking to build on that momentum when it crosses the Atlantic to compete at its second, informal home ...

Coming off the back of a promising performance at its official home race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Midland Formula 1 Racing will be looking to build on that momentum when it crosses the Atlantic to compete at its second, informal home race, the Canadian Grand Prix.

Although MF1's operational base is situated across the road from the Silverstone Circuit in Northampton, Midland Group Chairman and MF1 team owner Alex Shnaider is a Canadian citizen who resides in Toronto. With Montreal only a short flight away, Mr. Shnaider has invited a number of friends, family and colleagues to enjoy the Grand Prix as his guests.

The venue for the race is Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, located on Ile Notre-Dame in downtown Montreal. It is situated on an island in the St. Lawrence River that is subject to extremes of climate, and for this reason, the track surface can be quite bumpy and always starts the weekend in a 'green', or low-grip, condition.

Technically, this circuit is the first of the true medium-downforce circuits on this year's Formula 1 calendar. Despite relatively low average and minimum speeds, it does include a particularly long straight leading to a heavy braking area. The final corner presents its own set of challenges, with a tricky exit that forces drivers to negotiate their way past a barrier that has come to be known as the 'Wall of Champions', named for the illustrious victims it has caught out over the years.

Both Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers completed the race in their rookie seasons last year, finishing in 10th and 11th positions, respectively.

Tiago Monteiro:

"Montreal is a very different circuit from Silverstone. It's an extremely tough track, not only because of the heavy braking required for the slow corners, but also because of the huge kerbs, which really punish the cars and the drivers. It's the kind of track where we might struggle a bit more than usual, because the straights are very long and you need very efficient aerodynamics to reach the highest possible top speed."

"All in all, it doesn't present us with the best set of conditions for our kind of car but as usual, we'll just have to deal with it. I think that for the past three races we've shown much better-than-expected pace, so once again we will do everything possible to be competitive."

Christijan Albers:

"Montreal is one of my favourite circuits and I cannot wait to drive it in the M16. Last year, I had an amazing lap when I qualified my Minardi in 15th position on the starting grid - one of my best laps in 2005, as matter of fact. I now have a completely different car - a much better one - and I will do my very best to show again why this circuit is so special."

"The team has made good progress at the recent test and our new aero package looks promising. Everyone is working like crazy to improve and I will try to deliver a strong result, as this is one of the races where the driver can really make an extra difference. This is a home race for team owner Alex Shnaider, and I'd like to wish all of Midland's guests a great weekend."

Giorgio Mondini, Test and Reserve Driver:

"I am very much looking forward to driving in Montreal, a challenging high-speed circuit that really demands the best out of the car and the driver. We are coming off a very productive test at Silverstone, with some positive developments being made. So I am optimistic that with a bit of luck, we can continue challenging for better positions this coming weekend."

Alex Shnaider, Team Owner:

"It's always a pleasure to attend my home race, the Canadian Grand Prix, an exciting event with an unparalleled atmosphere. I am very encouraged by the progress the team is continuing to make and I would like to wish everyone who has worked so hard a successful weekend."

Colin Kolles, Managing Director:

"We've made good progress in the last few races, and after three days of testing last week at Silverstone, I hope we can continue to close the gap and qualify both cars in the top 16 in Montreal. It's an attainable goal, and if we keep working hard, good race results will also be sure to follow."

James Key, Technical Director:

"Montreal will be the first circuit this season for reduced downforce and drag settings, so we expect to see the highest end-of-straight speeds so far at a race weekend. As ever, good aero efficiency will be important. However, there are a number of aspects to this circuit which will require close attention on the first day of practice."

"Braking energy levels are very high at Montreal, so management of brake cooling and wear will be critical, although it is likely to be a little easier than last year, with the reduced top speeds and increased cornering speeds we've seen in 2006."

"In the low-speed sections, we will have to contend with chicanes with high kerbs as well as the requirement for good traction coming out of the hairpin towards the end of the lap, all of which will require high levels of mechanical grip. With the short pit lane, multi-stop strategies may also be an option, as there will be a number of overtaking opportunities."

"Overall, we expect to see some tight racing at this event. The team had an encouraging week in Silverstone and we need to ensure that our progress continues at the current rate at every race. Having said that, there is still a lot of work to do to put us regularly among the mid-field runners, so we will keep our heads down and keep pushing on with the development work."

Dominic Harlow, Chief Race and Test Engineer:

"The toughest aspect of the circuit is undoubtedly the braking; it is probably the most severe on the calendar, with high braking power and repeated stops from high speed to a series of slow, low-gear corners. Obviously, traction and braking stability is vital, and this normally leads to a setup compromise towards some understeer in the chicanes."

"Kerbing performance and the ability to quickly change direction are also important, and with the street circuit layout there is little room for error on the corner exits. This race forms the first segment of a two-race 'double header' and with a busy ten days ahead for the team, we will continue to push forward with our package for what we hope will be an enjoyable challenge for everyone."

Johnny Herbert, Sporting Relations Manager:

"Having had our most competitive weekend thus far and a positive test at Silverstone last week, we are hoping to carry our momentum to the fabulous Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montréal. This is a track that you can adopt a somewhat riskier strategy, and I hope this will work to our advantage."

"The hard work is starting to pay off, with our qualifying and race pace having moved up a gear. As we continue to develop, a big 'thanks' must go out to all at the factory and wind tunnel who keep pushing us in the right direction. They are the unsung heroes of this team."


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