The Canadian GP preview
Round 7 / 6-8 June / Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
A high-pressure, stop-start race where any hesitation can put a driver in the wall
The Canadian Grand Prix takes the Formula 1 teams away from Europe once more after only a couple of races close to base. This time, they’re heading off to Montréal on the Eastern side of Canada. Gone are the benets of being within easy reach of the factory, which have spoiled teams at the previous two races, meaning it is much harder to bring last-minute parts and xes to the track.
The circuit at Montréal is dominated by long straights and hard braking events, which means its nature is very much stop-and-go. Good top speed is therefore the key to success, as well as a good car under acceleration and traction. This makes the race all about the engine and puts it under a fair amount of strain. The brakes are also placed under a lot of stress, and it’s important to keep a close eye on both brake wear and temperatures due to the number and severity of braking zones at this track.
Although Montréal’s circuit was resurfaced only a few years ago, it remains very bumpy in parts and this can really affect drivers under braking. The entry to the hairpin at Turn 10 is one area where this is critical, because it forms one of the best areas to either overtake, or to line up an overtaking manoeuvre for the following straight.
It is a tough circuit for drivers; the ample overtaking areas mean that they cannot rest if there is a car close to them on track and they must be especially careful about getting good exits onto the longer straights. The walls are very close to the track, and one in particular, the Wall of Champions, has gathered more than its fair share of carbon over the years. What’s more, to set a good lap, it’s necessary to really ride the kerbs and be very good on the sharp changes of direction, both of which are going to push drivers closer to the limits of the their cars.
Despite the bumpiness, the Tarmac itself is very smooth here, and that explains Pirelli’s decision to bring the same tyres to Montréal as they did to Monaco (the supersoft and soft compounds). Strategies will be very variable from team to team, and, with an almost constant threat of a Safety Car deployment, they can vary between one-stop strategies and three-stop strategies – sometimes in the same race.