Circuit Giles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame in Montreal.
In 2005, the Canadian Grand Prix was the most watched Formula One GP in the world. The race was also the third most watched sporting event worldwide, behind the first place Super Bowl XXXIX and the UEFA Champions League Final.
This weekend is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal, one of the F1 fraternity’s favourite races and a solid favourite with many drivers. Montreal is unique, with its long straights and corners lined with walls, especially the “Wall of Champions” on the exit of the final chicane once hit by three World Champs in the same 1999 race.
With a combination of long straights, numerous chicanes and the close proximity of barriers to the track, the Montreal circuit places stress on engines and brakes as well as driver concentration. The track itself is bumpy and generally low grip, due to the fact that it is rarely used outside of the grand prix weekend. With the lack of long corners and emphasis on traction, tyre wear around Montreal is relatively low. Thanks to the configuration of the Montreal track, overtaking tended to be easier on it than at most circuits.
Track length : 4.36 kilometers
Race distance : 70 laps (305 kilometers)
Corners : 12 corners in total made up of straights, chicanes and a hairpin
Aerodynamic setup : Medium downforce
Top speed : 326km/h (with Dag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 316km/h without
Full throttle : 60% of the lap (quite high, 15 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight)
Time spent braking : 17% of lap (high, 7 braking zones)
Brake wear : Very High
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h : 18.8 seconds
After the extreme of Monaco, qualifying is significantly less important at Montreal because overtaking is easy and with a short pit lane, this also has a big bearing on race strategy, generally pushing teams towards more stops rather than less.
Set on the St Lawrence seaway, Montreal can experience extremes of weather for the race; it can be very hot and humid, but also cold and wet, as it was in 2011. This will have a huge bearing on the tyres. It is common to see huge temperature variations – 15 degrees of track temperature on one day and 35 degrees on another. It is one of the most extreme circuit locations for this phenomenon.
Early forecasts for the Canadian Grand Prix weekend pointed to a strong chance of thunderstorms on the first day of practice. But as the start of the race weekend draws near the threat of rain has gradually receded. It’s now looking ever more likely the teams will get a dry start to the weekend, and conditions will remain fine after that.
There will be cloud cover and perhaps the occasional shower during the first day of running on Friday, with temperature reaching around 23C. By Saturday the cloud cover will have passed and under clear skies air temperatures are likely to be three or four degrees higher. It’s likely to be warmer than any of the three days last year, when track temperatures peaked at 33C during the race. Sunday is likely to bring more of the same.
The Montreal Plateau Webcam run by Adrian Platts is a useful way of keeping an eye on incoming weather systems at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, as it is located 2km west of the circuit and usually sees its incoming weather. Find it HERE.
Pirelli tyre choice for Montreal: Prime tyre is Soft and Option tyre is Super Soft. This is the same combination as in Monaco. With the lack of long corners and emphasis on traction, tyre wear around Montreal is relatively low.
This weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will once again have two DRS zones. Last year two DRS zone were used, but there was only one activation point – the first zone is 55m before Turn 12 (Casino Straight) and the second is 70m after Turn 14 (Start-Finish Straight). This year there will be two DRS zones as well. They share a single detection point, located 110m after T9. The first activation point is 55m before T12, the second 70m after T14.
Also ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix the FIA has revealed a number of changes to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Asphalt has replaced the gravel around the outside of Turns 10 and 13, while the barrier on the outside of Turn 13 (right of the pit entry), has been moved further back and a new debris fence has been installed. New guardrail posts have been added in order to ensure that no spacing is greater than two metres, while the speed bumps used in 2013 at the exit of Turn 9 and the final chicane will be in place again this year.
The chances of a safety car at Montreal are very high at 56%. Seven of the last 12 Canadian Grands Prix have featured at least one safety car. This is because, with the track lined with walls and several blind corners, there are frequent accidents and the conditions for the marshals when clearing debris from an accident are dangerous. Montreal has the highest rate of Safety Car deployments per race of any circuit bar Singapore.
It has taken just six races for the rivalry between the Mercedes team mates of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to transform into an intense and personal duel. Although there is two-thirds of the season still to run, the events of Monaco may prove to have been a turning point in the narrative of the 2014 championship.
And while Mercedes management will have done everything in their power to soothe any tensions between their drivers behind closed doors, once the lights go out on Sunday expect the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton to pick up where it left off. Personally I think Hamilton will have the advantage here as he has a very good track record at Montreal. Hamilton has three poles and three wins. Rosberg’s best qualifying is fourth and best race result is 5th.
Qualifying last year it was:
Lewis Hamilton: 1:25.512
Nico Rosberg 1:26.008
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