Toyota's Mika Salo shares his thoughts on the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix. "As events transpired, the Monaco Grand Prix was very frustrating for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team. Prior to the race we'd been hopeful of a good result because we'd...
Toyota's Mika Salo shares his thoughts on the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix.
"As events transpired, the Monaco Grand Prix was very frustrating for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team. Prior to the race we'd been hopeful of a good result because we'd done a lot of testing for the race. When qualifying went as well as it did - me 9th, Allan 10th - I thought we were sure to be in the top-6 come Sunday.
So it was very disappointing to end my 100th grand prix in the barriers after brake problem on lap 70. At least our qualifying pace bodes well for the other twisty tracks on the Formula 1 calendar.
And so to Canada for the next race. There are two things that matter at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: straight-line speed and stability under braking. We have both, so I hope this race will be good to us. I think a top six finish is possible. Yes I had a brake problem in Monaco, but the brakes that we use in Canada are completely different, so I'm not worried about it happening again. We have just completed a three-day test at Silverstone, where I ran Canada gear ratios and wing settings. The car performed quite well, although the weather was a nightmare - wet-dry-wet-dry! It made it impossible to get any meaningful work done. I've been racing in England for more than 15 years, I like the country but I don't care what any of my British friend say, the weather is always awful!
The Panasonic Toyota Racing didn't test in Canada last year as part of its 11-circuit test-fest, so we go there with no data whatsoever. The track is usually very dirty on the first day of practice, which results in the lap time improvement coming from the track and not the car. Once the track comes in on Saturday morning, we'll need to make swift progress to ensure that we find a good set-up for qualifying.
But, even if qualifying doesn't go well, the track offers real overtaking opportunities, thanks to the long straights and heavy braking areas. The main chance is under braking for the final corner, but you have to be careful not to hit the wall on the exit. It you get it wrong, it is very embarrassing because your accident is in view of everyone on the pit wall!
Canada is always a busy race from a PR point of view. I will fly to the race via Toronto with my team-mate Allan McNish and Panasonic Toyota Racing's president Ove Andersson. We will visit a Toyota production plant there, which should be fun. I've already visited Toyota's main production plant in Japan, so it will be interesting to compare the two.
Once in Montreal, there are some functions that I have to attend, but there will still be time for some fun. My good friend Jacques Villeneuve has his restaurant there - called Newtown - so I'm expecting a few free meals! The city has a really good buzz over the grand prix week, so it's always fun to race there.
After the race I usually spend a couple of extra days in Montreal for some rest and relaxation, but this time I have to fly straight back to Europe on the Sunday night because I am testing in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) on the following Tuesday. It's a pity, but my duties to the team come first! See you all next time."