In 1978, after similar safety concerns with Mosport, the Canadian Grand Prix moved to its current home at the 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.
F1 returns to Montreal this weekend for the running of the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix. One of the more popular and hotly anticipated races on the F1 calendar, the tight, street circuit feel, coupled with a design for high speed and overtaking down its long straights, has produced many memorable races and individual performances over the years. Add to this the fantastic atmosphere produced by the always friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic Canadian crowd, and we have a race weekend that you certainly won’t want to miss.
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
The key stat about Montreal is that it’s the least important pole position of the season. This means that, more often than not, things do not got according to plan in Montreal. Since 2000 the pole sitter has enjoyed a conversion rate to race victory of just 35%. And add in the fact that this year there are three tyre compounds to choose from and the softest one is not capable of giving you a one-stop strategy and you have what looks to be an entertaining weekend ahead.
Montreal is experiencing cool, almost autumnal conditions ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix. Although it is forecast to become warmer over the coming days the race itself could see some showers.
A low pressure weather system is keeping the air chilly in Montreal at present – a peak of just 17C is forecast on Thursday. However that will improve over the coming days with outbreaks of sunshine pushing temperatures to 20C during practice on Friday and 24C for qualifying on Saturday.
Following showers on Thursday the rain should stay away for the first two days of track action. That may change on Sunday, however, giving us the possibility of a second consecutive rain-affected race.
At present it is unclear whether the rain will arrive during the race or, as some forecasts indicate, fall earlier in the morning of race day. However it is expected to be a much cooler day on Sunday, with temperatures closer to that seen on Thursday, and quite a bit cooler than last year’s peak of 22C during the grand prix.
Just two weeks after the debut of the new P Zero Purple ultrasoft tyre in Monaco, it appears again as part of exactly the same nomination for Canada: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft. Canada however will present a number of different challenges to Monaco, with notably higher speeds and higher loads that generate more temperature and put increased energy through the tyres.
Tyre options are:
1. Yellow soft: the hardest compound in the selection, poised to play an important role in the race.
2. Red supersoft: two teams have interestingly chosen not to nominate this compound at all.
3. Purple ultrasoft: very popular on its Monaco debut and chosen extensively in Canada.
Paul Hembery: "In Canada there's the potential for some quite mixed weather conditions, as we also saw in Monaco, so this could make it a very complex race as has often been the case in the past. The compounds that we have nominated mean that there is plenty of scope for strategy, on a circuit where it's definitely possible to overtake on the track as well. The ultrasoft made its mark when it first appeared in Monaco but Canada is a very different type of circuit with more demands on tyres. This could lead to a number of different tactics coming into play, as evidenced from the tyre choices made by each team prior to the race."
There are two DRS zones to look out for in Montreal. The detection area for the first DRS zone is after Turn 9 in the leadup to the hairpin at Turn 10. The first DRS zone is then on the long straight after Turn 12, while the second DRS zone follows immediately after the chicane at Turns 13 and 14.
The chances of a safety car at Montreal are very high at 60%. Eight 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.
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX IN NUMBERS
Montreal is a race that tends to feature close finishes, according to F1 statistician Virtual Statman. In the last 13 runnings of the Canadian GP, eight of them have been won by a margin of less than three seconds.
Lewis Hamilton made another piece of history in Monaco as he moves closer to some all time great records. His win meant that he has now won at least one race in each of the last 10 consecutive seasons. Only Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher have achieved that. He has also now led 87 different Grands Prix, more than Ayrton Senna and second only to Michael Schumacher who led 142 races. Hamilton is closing in on Senna’s tally of 65 pole positions, he is now on 52.
Hamilton is the form man at Montreal with four wins there. He is also chasing a front row start there for the fifth season in a row. Red Bull and Mercedes are now tied on 58 pole positions each, so the battle on Saturday should be intense.
The Mercedes team will be very wary of the increased threat posed by Red Bull, but will rely on their dominant power unit to keep them clear of the pack in Canada. This is one of Lewis Hamilton’s favourite circuits, having taken his first victory here in 2007 and reaching the top step three times since.
This could be a race where we see a wide variety of different strategies, like China were 13 finishers used all three Pirelli tyre compounds. Montreal is a strange track and the temperature fluctuations in any given day are as big as any venue on the calendar. This can often catch people out. There is some rain forecast for Sunday, with Friday and Saturday likely to escape the rain, but the prevailing temperatures are low. This could lead some teams to have issues with tyre warm up, especially in qualifying and at the start of a race stint after a pit stop.
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