Joe’s Track Preview: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Well, after two wins apiece for Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, the world of Formula 1 descends onto the Ile Notre-Dame of Montreal this weekend.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve; renamed following the Canadian’s tragic death in 1982, is a 2.7-mile, 14-turn ribbon of tarmac perfection which has become one of the most loved tracks on the circuit by both the teams and drivers due to its high-speed straights and heavy braking zones.

Perhaps two of those high-octane areas will arrive at the L’Epingle hairpin at Turn 10 and the final chicane at Turns 13 and 14 located at the end of the back straight – adjacent to the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ – where some of the biggest names of the sport have damaged much more than pride over the years.

However, another area which will undoubtedly provide an abundance of thrills and spills is between Turn 7 and Turn 8, with the FIA opting this year to implement a third DRS Zone.

But of course, with any race, particularly it seems this season – with teams excelling at specific tracks more so than in previous terms – strategy may prove to be king, and this weekend’s rubber will play a significant role within that.

For the second weekend running, Pirelli has opted for the hypersoft compound to be part of the team’s set up; which will be a carbon copy to that of the selection of Monaco a fortnight ago, meaning the teams will be able to run one step softer than last year.

“While Monaco was the first appearance for the new hypersoft, we can almost consider Montreal to be the real debut for this tyre, as Monaco is completely atypical,” Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing, Mario Isola, told F1’s official website.

“The track surface at Montreal is actually quite smooth, but we should still see more than one pit stop due to the combination of the softest tyre nomination that we have ever brought to Canada, and a more demanding track layout than Monaco.

In the past, there has been an extremely wide variety of strategies seen at this race, and the arrival of the hypersoft should now open up those possibilities still further.

In reality, nobody knows exactly how it will perform in Canada in terms of wear and degradation, so the homework done during free practice will be more important than ever.”

Tune into the Candian GP this weekend (8th to 10th of June

F1 2018: Canadian Grand Prix Preview

The Formula One circus will soon begin its busiest period of the year, with the prospect of four races in five weeks looming on the horizon, kick-started this weekend by the Canadian Grand Prix.

On the face of it, it would seem that there is no greater contrast on the calendar than the jump from Monte Carlo to Montreal. The former is known for its slow speeds where downforce is king, whereas the latter boasts one of the highest average speeds of any race on the calendar, with 45% of the lap spent at full throttle. There are, however, more similarities than you might think. Like Monaco, Canada has areas where there is virtually no run-off with the walls only a whisker away. Controlled aggression is the name of the game, and any small mistake could prove extremely costly.

Red Bull arrive at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve off the back of a strong showing in Monaco. Yes, Max Verstappen may have binned it in FP3 but he was the source of the most overtakes during the race, and you could not fault Ricciardo for his race-winning performance up front.

Unfortunately, it is likely that the Australian will be receiving a grid penalty after his MGU-K failure during that race. Each driver is only allowed two MGU-Ks per season, and Ricciardo has already used up both of his. Using a third merits an automatic ten-place grid penalty. Furthermore, he has also used up his allowance of batteries and control electronics, which would mean an additional five-place penalty for each should they have to be changed as well.

Red Bull have in recent years gone better in Canada than perhaps would have been expected of them, given their Renault power unit’s deficiency to both Mercedes and Ferrari. Last year, for instance, Ricciardo finished P3 ahead of both Ferraris and both Force Indias, and Canada is of course the place where he scored his first F1 victory back in 2014.

It is arguable that this is a must-win race for Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton has a fourteen-point gap to Sebastian Vettel in the championship, and the next few races are probably more suited to the Silver Arrows than the Scuderia. Ferrari haven’t taken the top step of the podium since Bahrain back in early April, and it was at this point in the season last year that things began to slip away from them.

A single podium, in 2016 courtesy of Sebastian Vettel, is the highlight of the team’s trips to Canada in the hybrid era – surprisingly, even Red Bull have more podium finishes than that – although it is worth noting that in 2017 Vettel managed to recover to P4 after dropping to the back of the grid when contact with Verstappen on lap one broke his front wing.

If there has been one constant in Canada in recent years, it’s that this is Mercedes’ race to lose. There has only been one Canadian Grand Prix since the hybrid era began – the aforementioned race in 2014 – that Mercedes have failed to win. This is one of Lewis Hamilton’s best tracks on the calendar – he won the race in 2010, 2012, and every year between 2015 and 2017 inclusive – and it was here last year that he matched Ayrton Senna’s record for the number of pole positions claimed.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas also has good history with the track. He finished on the podium twice when he was racing for Williams, and also last year in his first year with Mercedes. He also qualified an amazing P3 in his rookie year in 2013, in a car that only finished in the points once in the entire year.

Further down the grid, Toro Rosso will be hoping for a better showing than last year, when both Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz retired. Brendon Hartley in particular needs to put in a good performance, with questions about the safety of his seat continuing to be asked.

Williams have gone well in Canada recently. As mentioned, Valtteri Bottas finished on the podium twice during his stint driving for them, and in 2017 it was one of home favourite Lance Stroll’s best races. They struggled around Monaco, but they will be crossing their fingers that the long straights of Canada will better suit the design of their car and enable them to add to their meagre haul of points so far this year.

Force India will also be expecting good things – Sergio Perez scored a podium back in 2012, and Esteban Ocon will be keen to keep up the momentum from his P6 finish in Monaco.

Haas have claimed to have solved the braking problems that have plagued them seemingly since they joined the sport in 2016 and for that they will certainly be grateful, as a lot of time can be found around the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve just through having confidence on the brakes. They only have one points finish to their name in Canada so far, but there is a fair chance they will be able to add to that this weekend.

Renault are another team who have been on the bubble of being able to score points in Canada in the past. According to Cyril Abiteboul they are scheduled to introduce the next stage of their power unit development along with some aero upgrades, but with Canada’s long straights there will be no place to hide if those updates don’t prove fruitful.

McLaren – who will also be receiving updates from Renault – will be hoping that won’t be the case, but they are nonetheless bracing themselves for a difficult weekend.. Sunday’s race will be Fernando Alonso’s 300th in F1, but the track will not be one of McLaren’s best with its slow corners and long blasts at full throttle.

Finally, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc will be keen to bounce back from the brake failure he suffered in Monaco, and he believes Canada will be one of the best races of the year for himself and team-mate Marcus Ericsson, with both believing that the worst races are over and done with.

Wolff: “It’s painful, but we are not the favourites”

Großer Preis von Monaco 2017, Sonntag – Wolfgang Wilhelm/Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff has spoken of the challenge his Mercedes team faces if it is to come out on top in its championship fight with Ferrari.

His comments follow what he described as a “bruising” race in Monaco, which saw Lewis Hamilton struggle in practice before qualifying only thirteenth, and Valtteri Bottas beaten to the podium by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

“It’s painful, but we are not the favourites for this year’s championship,” Wolff said. “At the moment it’s Ferrari. They have a very strong package and we need to rise to the challenge to prove once again that we are the team to beat.

“Everybody at the factories is working absolutely flat out to assess the current difficulties we are facing. We’ve had bruising weekends [like Monaco] before and it’s about showing resilience and getting up after falling.

“We have to fight for all we are worth for every single win, pole position, podium finish and every point. You can no longer expect when you look at a timesheet that the two Mercedes will be right at the top.”

Großer Preis von Monaco 2017, Donnerstag – Steve Etherington

Steve Etherington/Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Wolff also likened the Monaco result to that of the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, in which the Silver Arrows again failed to reach the podium after losing pole and the win to Sebastian Vettel, and added that in both cases the team’s response has been “to define our objectives, work with the data we have and then come up with the right solutions.

“We gave ourselves a deadline [after Singapore] to address that setback before switching our focus to the next race in Suzuka, which we won. We’ve done exactly the same thing after Monaco—addressing the problems before turning our attention to Montréal.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix, the Mercedes boss said the team is confident that Montréal will offer “the chance to bounce back with a strong result”, as the circuit has been a successful one for Mercedes’ two drivers throughout their careers.

Lewis Hamilton is the only repeat winner of the race on the 2017 grid, and with five wins in Montréal to his name is the most successful driver at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve besides Michael Schumacher. Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, has finished on the podium there in the last years, and also qualified an impressive third for the 2013 race in his debut year with Williams-Renault.

James Matthews, Deputy Editor

Canadian Grand Prix: Ferrari pegged back by resurgent Mercedes

at Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Montreal, Canada, Saturday 10 June 2017.

 

If Monaco was the race in which everything went right for Ferrari, the Canadian Grand Prix was the exact opposite.

Arriving in Montreal on a high after a 1-2 in Vettel’s favour with Hamilton only seventh in the principality, the Scuderia were confident that they could repeat their form in North America.

Second and fourth for Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying put a damp towel on those expectations, but it was just the start of a frustrating weekend.

At the start, Verstappen’s jet-propelled Red Bull got ahead of and subsequently hit Vettel’s front wing as Sainz and Massa collided to bring the Safety Car out.

Vettel’s front wing was badly damaged with debris hitting his floor also hampering him for the race.

The German elected to pit two laps after the Safety Car period on lap 5, and bolted on the supersoft tyres. He emerged down in 17th position. Meanwhile, Raikkonen ran wide at turn seven and lost out to Perez.

At the front Mercedes were comfortable, Hamilton and Bottas pulling away after the retirement of second placed Max Verstappen with battery failure on lap 11.

This was just the tonic for a poor Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel’s determined drive earned him fourth place eventually after some masterful overtaking including a move on the inside of Esteban Ocon as he attacked Force India teammate Sergio Perez with five laps to go.

That result represents something of a save, as Hamilton took 13 points out of Vettel as opposed to the 19 Vettel took off the Brit in Monaco.

Raikkonen meanwhile had to limp home to seventh, after his brakes wore out towards the end. The Iceman was a little hot under the collar after an off at the final chicane, but held off the charging Nico Hulkenberg.

Formula One’s second visit to Azerbaijan in two weeks looks set to follow the rest of the season in being on a knife edge.

Jack Prentice

Image Credit: Pirelli Media

Lewis Hamilton, the Defender of the Castle Black

 

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Friday 09 June 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY2825

As the day of the new Game of Throne season is closing, I couldn’t think of a better title for this article. Lewis Hamilton this season is like the defenders of the Castle Black, he is fighting to hold the castle from Sebastian Vettel and from Ferrari.

On Sunday in Montreal, the Brit, avoided the wall of champions and defended his own wall, the wall of the world champion. A great weekend for Hamilton as he took the pole position and lead the race from the begging to the end, drove seventy laps, made zero mistakes and secured Mercedes’ first 1-2 of the season after seven races.

Valtteri Bottas finished behind his team-mate, but I’m not sure if he could achieve that if Max Verstappen didn’t have to retire due to a mechanical problem at the first laps of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo was the third man on the podium, a good race for the Australian, who once again finished on the podium and scored some points for Red Bull.

After an amazing recovery, Sebastian Vettel, who started second, finished fourth. The German, had to pit because his front wing was damaged after a collision between him and Max Verstappen at the opening lap. Verstappen had a good start and jumped from fifth up to second, but on his way up his left-rear wheel collided with Vettel’s front wing and that caused problems to Vettel.

The safety car was deployed on the first lap of the race after a collision between Carlos Sainz Jr. and Romain Grosjean. Sainz had a contact with Grosjean after the straight on turn 2, Carlos lost the control of his car and crashed on Massa’s car. Both walked away unharmed, but they had to retire and Romain pitted for a new front wing.

When the safety car returned into the pits, Hamilton defended his place from Verstappen and that was the only time in which the Brit had to do that. When Verstappen retired, Hamilton increased his lead to his competitors and had an easy evening in Montreal.

Scuderia Ferrari altered their strategy and from one-stop strategy they decided to go for a two stop strategy which gave an advantage to Sebastian Vettel during the final laps of the race. The German was unstoppable during the final part of the Grand Prix and after some flying laps he overtook his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and also passed the two Force Indias which were unable to defend their positions.

Nice drive from the four-time champion, who showed how strong he is this year and how much he wants to win his fifth world title and first with Ferrari.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Sunday 11 June 2017.
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _O3I0168

Driver of the Day

Many said Vettel, but I am between Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll. Ocon managed to control his tyres during the race and before his first pit stop, he was second behind Lewis Hamilton, both pitted on the same lap. In Canada, Esteban was better than his team-mate, but he didn’t want to risk a move on Perez, so he finished sixth behind him.

Lance Stroll scored his first points as an F1 driver in his home race and became the second youngest driver who scores points in Formula One. The Canadian, had a good race and especially compared to his previous results this time the young driver was outstanding.

Once again McLaren- Honda was a disappointment. Fernando Alonso had a good race and he was in the top-10 but an engine problem in the penultimate lap forced him to retire. The Spaniard wanted to enjoy the weather and he decided to climb in the grandstands to meet his fans.

Lewis Hamilton, with his victory, remained close to Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship, just 12 points behind his main rival. Mercedes, passed Ferrari in the constructors’ championship and they are leading by eight points.

Victor Archakis F1 Editor – @FP_Passion

 

Images Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Canadian Grand Prix: Marks out of Ten

 

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Sunday 11 June 2017.
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _O3I0085

Lewis Hamilton once again ruled the roost at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on the Ille De Notre Dame in the St Lawrence Seaway in Montreal is a highlight of the Formula 1 season, a break between the European rounds. Known as a power reliant track compared to the prior rounds at Spain & Monaco the pecking order was shuffled slightly. We analyse each driver’s race in the simplest way we can, through marks out of ten.

Lewis Hamilton – 9

Ten years on since his maiden win in F1, Hamilton once more sees the top step of the podium. Montreal is a happy hunting ground for the Brit – this is his sixth time winning in Canada. He destroyed his teammate in qualifying by 0.7secs and matched his icon Ayrton Senna’s pole total of 65. It was a weekend that he needed, the hat-trick, pole, lights to flag and fastest lap. He kept the action kept behind him and caught up in the championship as we head to Baku.

Valteri Bottas – 7

The first 1-2 of the 2017 campaign for Mercedes, signs of the previous three seasons, but with Bottas all the challengers fell by the wayside. A poor qualifying from the Finn, a quite considerable gap of 0.4secs from the front row. He was helped by Ferrari’s issues as he took a comfortable second place. A solid result from the Finn but once more in the shadow of his teammate Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo – 8

The Honeybadger made it three podiums in a row, taking advantage of other drivers and using a unique strategy of running softs on the second stint rather than the super softs. He struggled early in the weekend with car trouble, and missed most of free practice two. The most important factor was his quick out lap which managed to keep Perez in the Force India at bay. We got to see a shooey to the delight of the Canadian fans – even getting Sir Patrick Stewart himself to partake in the ritual.

Max Verstappen – 8

Verstappen looked for all the world as if he could split the Mercedes after a blistering start, clipping Vettel’s wings especially. His race ended only ten laps in after an ERS failure and battery shutdown, the Ducthman visibly angry at his misfortune. Red Bull look as if they’ve made a step forward.

Sebastian Vettel – 9

Excellent recovery drive after contact damaged his front wing. Dropped to last after repairs, and a despite a damaged floor came from 16th to 4th. The four-time champion provided entertainment in the final twenty laps, limiting the damage to his championship lead to 13 points.

Raikkonen 7: A poor start saw Kimi stuck behind Perez and Ricciardo early on, the Iceman came alive when Ferrari switched the strategy to a two-stop. Unfortunate with brake failure but did well to preserve seventh from a difficult position with ten laps to go.

Sergio Perez – 8

Perez will not have won himself many French fans as he kept a faster Esteban Ocon behind him in the race-long battle for a podium position with Ricciardo. Perez will have his reasons, while Force India showed their car to be strong once again this season.

Esteban Ocon – 9

Showed a good temperament during the race and kept his head despite losing out to Vettel late on. His tyres were fresher at the end of the Grand Prix as Force India kept him out for a longer first stint, and wanted to have a go at the podium, but Perez refused to let him by.

Nico Hulkenburg – 7

The reliable Nico Hulkenburg scores points again after taking a gamble early on with the virtual safety car switching the strategy that they more than likely had planned. Renault are still not where they want to be and with this in mind it was a solid job all weekend. Almost caught the ailing Raikkonen at the end.

Jolyon Palmer – 6

This is the second successive race that the Brit has finished just outside the points after 11th in Monaco last time out. He’s faced constant speculation about his future after Hulkenberg’s excellent start at Renault. A man under pressure, he will be heartened by the step forward made in Montreal.

Lance Stroll – 8

The Canadian rookie got the monkey off his back as ninth place secured his first world championship points, at his home race. He is the first non-Villeneuve Canadian to score points in F1. After struggling in qualifying, Stroll executed a one-stop strategy well and we may now see the tension that he’s driven with all season loosened for the rest of the year.

Felipe Massa – 5

Massa was pole-axed by a pirouetting Carlos Sainz on lap one after being boxed in at the start. A good qualifying saw the Brazilian take seventh, and with power circuits such as Baku and the Red Bull Ring coming up, Williams can be confident of further points.

Romain Grosjean – 7

Grosjean managed to snatch a point from the jaws of nothing. The Swiss-Frenchman was chopped by Sainz on lap one to spark a safety car as the Spaniard was speared into an unsuspecting Felipe Massa. Picking up the pieces from Alonso’s engine failure on the penultimate lap, Haas’ weekend was rescued.

Kevin Magnussen – 5

A weekend to forget for Magnussen. He tried to be opportunistic at the end of the virtual safety car by pouncing on Stoffel Vandoorne, but timed his jump too early and earning himself a penalty. Failed to get out of the first qualifying session as both Haas’ struggled for pace through the weekend/

Marcus Ericsson – 6

This was always going to be a case of rolling treacle up a hill for Sauber. An underpowered old Ferrari engine was always going to suffer on a circuit where top speed is crucial. Sauber will be stronger on other circuits.

Pascal Wehrlein – 5

Wehrlein did himself few favours when he spun in qualifying, breaking his rear wing and gearbox. The German’s only route to points this weekend was going to be a Safety Car strategy call as in Barcelona, but it didn’t materialise for the ex-Manor man.

Stoffel Vandoorne – 6

Stoffel Vandoorne was another man on a hiding to nothing this weekend, with his Honda engine severely lacking in power. McLaren will hope improved results come on more twisty circuits.

Fernando Alonso – 8

Alonso had tigerishly fought his way up to ninth place until the penultimate lap, when his engine expired in a familiar tale of woe for the former double World Champion. The Spaniard still found time to vent his feelings about his engine during the race at a weekend in which he demanded McLaren show that they could win races by September. That looks well off.

Danil Kyvat – 5

Failed to get away for the formation lap and couldn’t get back into position. As a result received a drive through penalty. The Russian managed to fight his way back up to tenth but damage ended his day. Another chapter in a frustrating season for Kvyat.

Carlos Sainz – 5

His race lasted a matter of half a mile before his squeeze on an unco-operative Grosjean sent him to the wall, via the Williams of Massa. At a circuit where Toro Rosso were expected to struggle, he showed solid pace until Sunday.

Chris Lord & Jack Prentice

Image Credit: Steven Tee via PIRELLI MEDIA

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is preparing to host its 39th Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, a 4.3km-long track that features the infamous Wall of Champions – which has claimed the pride, and carbon fibre, of several drivers over the years, including names such as Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and 2017 championship points leader Sebastian Vettel.

The 70-lap race often boasts excitement, not only the dramatic encounters as you enter the pit straight, a number of on-lap overtakes and manoeuvres due to the high-speed nature alongside low asphalt grip.

Ultrasoft tyres will be the preferred option in the dry this weekend, with all four title contenders holding at least eight sets of the purple-walled rubber due to the low degradation expected, meaning a split-second mistake on the usual two-stop strategy could make all the difference.

Mercedes and Ferrari will be the ones expected to top the timesheets come Sunday, with the tarmac ribbon situated on the Notre Dame Island in Montreal favouring those with higher-power over aerodynamics. Bad news for the returning Fernando Alonso. At least he won’t have any penalties to walk into this weekend unlike his part-time replacement Jenson Button last time out in Monaco.

However, one target for the rest of the field to aim for will be Rubens Barrichello’s current race lap record around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve of 1:13.662, which the Brazilian set back in 2004.

Whether it be a Silver Arrow or Italian Stallion standing aloft on the podium come the end of Sunday afternoon, it will undoubtedly provide thrills and spills and disperse crucial points in the race for the Drivers’ Championship.

By Joe Owens

Image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Will we see another name added to the Wall of Champions?

2014 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 6th – 8th June 2014
Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW36 Mercedes, Action,
World Copyright: © Andrew Hone Photographer 2014.
Ref: _ONZ1071 / via Pirelli Media

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve based on Montreal’s Notre Dame Island is a stunning track. The track has the right balance of slow- to high-speed areas that creates some spectacular racing.

There is one infamous part of the track which legends such as the great Michael Schumacher have hit—they call it the ‘Wall of Champions’. After the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix the wall on the exit of Turn 14 was christened most notably with three world champions. Drivers had hit the wall prior, but 1999 was when it was especially unforgiving.

1999:

Many drivers—or shall we say victims—had fallen prey to The Wall especially this year, but it all began with Damon Hill, he was the first notable casualty, after winning the World Championship in 1996. Now driving with Jordan he was amongst a midfield battle, and he clipped the rear of his car against The Wall—you could say he was an appetiser for it.

15 laps later Michael Schumacher mid-chicane lost control after going off the racing line, and slid helplessly into The Wall’s grasp; at the time the German was leading the Grand Prix. The difference here was that Hill managed to get away, but Schumacher & Ferrari could not, with severe damage caused. The main course? The Wall was not done there, it wanted more!

Canada’s own Jaques Villeneuve was the third champion into The Wall, only 5 laps after Schumacher, pretty much nose on, it was getting more and more of the cars at every attempt! The Wall after that had had enough, was full and had its fair share of rubber across it. Villeneuve was the dessert of The Wall’s three-car meal in 1999. From then on it was named the Wall of Champions.

Recent Years:

The Wall laid low for a few years, claiming the odd driver here and there—on a diet, you could say, but when it saw an opportunity it was more than happy to take full advantage.

The rise, then fall, of Jenson Button at the 2005 Canadian Grand Prix, for example. He took pole position in qualifying, and then threw it away in the race when Schumacher was chasing him for third. He attacked the chicane but as a result broke his rear suspension: The Wall was ready for a taste of BAR, though much like Hill he managed to escape The Wall’s grasp.

The most recent major casualty was in 2011, where we had the most incredible race that Button won. Funnily enough it was the complete opposite with Button rising to the top from the bottom.

The Wall did not devour anyone during the race, as it was still buzzing from the first practice session. Sebastien Vettel lost his rear on a very green track, and over the kerbs he headed straight towards The Wall. So early on in the weekend, Vettel could not escape, and it ended his session with The Wall covered with fresh carbon fibre and rubber, whilst leaving the Red Bull team a major headache to get his car ready for FP2.

Other notable mentions:

– Ricardo Zonta, a champion in the FIA GT series, was actually the first to hit The Wall in the 1999 Grand Prix.

– Juan Pablo Montoya—the 1999 CART and two-time Indy 500 champion—in what turned out to be his penultimate Grand Prix, did brush The Wall in 2006 resulting in retirement. Could this have been the catalyst for what ensued in the following US Grand Prix, resulting in an early Formula 1 departure?

Will there be another one this year though? It’s been a few years since The Wall last had a tasty meal. Could an F1 champion such as Hamilton or future champion Max Verstappen join the ever-growing list of victims claimed by the Wall of Champions? The cars seem to suffer more in dirty air this year, and Canada always has been a tough track on brakes. The recipe is there for The Wall to claim another driver.

Chris Lord, F1 Correspondent

Canadian Grand Prix Preview, 9-11June

GP CANADA F1/2016 – MONTREAL 12/06/16
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE). Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

 

Montreal is getting ready to host the Canadian Grand Prix, one of the most famous and historic tracks in Formula 1. In 1977, Giles Villeneuve inspired the French Canadians and they decided to design and construct an F1 circuit.

In their mind was the famous quote “simplicity is the best”, so their idea was to take the lle Notre-Dame, and connect all the roads around the island. It took them less than a year and about $2m to build and upgrade the track to meet Formula One’s standards, the first race was held in 1978.

No one could imagine a better debut for the track, Gilles Villeneuve on his debut season with Ferrari won the first Canadian Grand Prix, but the track was marked by Villeneuve’s death in 1982 and renamed in his honor.

Michael Schumacher holds the record of seven victories in Canada, whilst McLaren have won the race for thirteen times.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Laps: 70

Circuit Length: 4.361 km

Race Distance: 305.27 km

Lap Record: 1:13.622 (Rubens Barrichello – 2004)

Tyre Allocations: Ultrasoft (Purple), Supersoft (Red), Soft (Yellow)

Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

The drivers will aim to warm up their front tyres properly, because that is the key to a quick lap in Montreal, especially during the qualifying session. The circuit’s format affects the brakes and the tyres, and that is because the track applies longitudinal forces rather than lateral forces. Finally, this year’s cars are much faster than last year’s, which means that the lap record is in danger and it might be broken this weekend.

Last season Lewis Hamilton lead the race from the start to the end as the Brit took the pole position and remained first till the chequered flag followed by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Nico Rosberg, qualified second but finished fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and behind Max Verstappen.

This year Ferrari will try to build their own wall of champions, a wall which will allow them to remain first in the constructors’ championship and give the advantage to Vettel to increase his lead from its competitors.

The question is if Scuderia will manage to finish once again in the front row and secure the second 1-2 of the season.

Victor Archakis F1 Editor – @FP_Passion