Canadian GP: Williams preview

The Event The first round of the North American double header takes place this weekend, race nine of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Canadian Grand Prix. This year's event will mark the 38th Canadian Grand Prix since its inception in...

The Event

The first round of the North American double header takes place this weekend, race nine of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Canadian Grand Prix. This year's event will mark the 38th Canadian Grand Prix since its inception in 1967 and the 28th time the race has been held in Quebec's cosmopolitan capital, Montréal.

Named after the first race victor, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located on the picturesque Ile Notre Dame, and is one of the most unique and technically demanding tracks on the calendar. Having secured eight victories in Canada out of 27 starts, the WilliamsF1 Team will be looking to draw upon its experience for a points finish this Sunday.

Between the races

Away from his testing responsibilities, Mark has been busy watching the World Cup on TV and celebrating Australia's 3-1 victory over Japan! He was also paying particular attention to the Australia v Brazil game as Mark has been invited to report on it for the "VIPs Love Football" section on before heading off to Canada on Tuesday.

Nico has also enjoyed some down time to catch up with events on the pitch, but will head out to Canada early to assist team sponsor, Budweiser, in their annual promotional event which takes place on Wednesday in downtown Montréal. Alex will also join in the fun and spend the day meeting and greeting Budweiser customers and Formula One fans before undertaking a series of media interviews to conclude the day.

Making the car go faster

In preparation for the high speed nature of the Canadian track, the team spent three days after its home race at Silverstone in Monza. Mark, Nico and Alex were all on duty and completed a series of tests on tyre compounds, aero items and brake materials as well as working on suspension and gearbox development and set-up comparisons all ahead of this weekend's race.

The trio lapped just over 2,500kms of the Italian circuit while Nico recorded the fourth fastest time of the week. As a result of the work successfully completed in Italy, the team will deploy upgraded FW28s in Montréal.

Montréal from a technical perspective

One of the few remaining power tracks, where top speeds can reach 330km/h and the average lap is driven at 210km/h, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve provides a mixed 2.7 miles of long straights interspersed with slow chicanes and imposing kerbs making a fluid rhythm hard to maintain.

Engine power is rewarded on straights such as the Pont de la Concorde so engines must provide drivability and torque but be durable enough to survive 60% of the lap spent at full throttle. Fierce acceleration is often followed by acute braking events for the slow speed corners, so heavy duty brakes and efficient cooling capabilities are crucial at corners such as L'Epingle hairpin while, over the full 70 lap race distance, brake temperatures will reach in excess of 1,000°C.

A temporary track, Montréal lacks grip in the opening practice sessions so set-up is often a conundrum while the track beds in, but the drivers must find the balance in time for qualifying. With few overtaking opportunities, a good qualifying position and a strong strategy are, therefore, of the essence.

Mark Webber:

"I'm looking forward to the two North American races. It's always good returning to Montréal because the atmosphere reminds me of Melbourne in some ways. It's a bit more relaxed than some of our more recent races, and the track is set in a nice location."

"The circuit requires a completely different aerodynamic package to the ones we've used for the first part of the season, which means a low to medium downforce level to help our top speeds. It also means we could see a slight change in performance from some teams as it's a fresh opportunity to find pace, I'm certainly hoping it'll provide us with a chance to improve our performance in the right direction.

"Traditionally, Montréal is heavy on brakes and that's why we were testing in Monza last week. It's also a circuit which rewards good horsepower from the engine, so that should be a positive for us. We certainly need both Williams' in the points at Montréal."

Nico Rosberg:

"I'm really looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix for two big reasons. Firstly, we had a good test in Monza last week running the low to medium downforce set-up so everything is in order for the Montréal track. We should be stronger there than we were at Silverstone and we have the potential to score some points."

"The second reason is that everybody keeps telling me that the Canadian Grand Prix is one of the nicest races of the season. It will be my first time there and, although that makes it a greater challenge, I'm looking forward to getting everything out of it that I can."

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1

"Montréal is a low drag circuit, more so now with the v8s, and is made up of long straights, a lot of slow corners and chicanes. There are two or three good overtaking opportunities every lap which always makes for good racing at this circuit. Traditionally hard on brakes and temperatures, the window will shift slightly this year following the reduction in power levels and the increase in tyre grip compared to last season."

We have a full car upgrade for Canada in the shape of front and rear wings, winglets, nose and diffuser revisions which were all tested and successfully signed off at the Monza test. Strategy at Montréal is always interesting and this year will be no exception."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth:

"Cosworth will install two fresh CA2006 Series 4 engines for the Canadian Grand Prix, as scheduled. Results from last week's Monza test are directly relevant to Montréal and this data will now be used to define the engine control system calibrations for the event. Montréal features notoriously tough braking events and so we'll be working closely with Williams to optimise the engine braking settings for this circuit."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber , Gilles Villeneuve , Nico Rosberg
Teams Williams