In an attempt to help you sort out your picks for the looming Your View on who will triumph in Canada, here’s a whole mess of driver and team quotes to digest.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2011 Qualifying – 12th, 2011 Race – DNF
“We have been working very hard to improve the performance of the car and I can feel it getting better all the time. I am therefore hoping for a strong finish in Canada, a circuit which I really enjoy. It has a nice combination of corners with very high speed straights followed by slow speed chicanes, and the feeling of speed is increased by the closeness of the walls. There is a big DRS effect on the straights as well so we should see some overtaking this week.”
Bruno Senna, Williams
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“Canada is one of the most challenging tracks of the season. It is a combination of a street circuit and a normal fixed circuit with a mixture of very fast, long straights and tight slow corners with heavy braking. It is also important to have as much track time as possible before the weekend to learn the track surface because it can evolve quickly. Our car is looking competitive at this stage of the season so hopefully we can show good pace here.”
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
“On the back of a mixed weekend in Monaco the whole team is looking to demonstrate further improvement in Montreal, with the aim of getting both cars home in the points. Montreal is a great race and usually full of drama with a very low pit lane loss which pushes the strategy towards having more stops. The high likelihood of a safety car deployment adds to this drama. The track layout is very hard on brakes and one must also ensure that the aerodynamic package has an appropriately high efficiency target. Pirelli bring to Montreal the same tyre compounds used in Monaco, namely the soft and super soft tyres. Weather wise we are expecting ambient temperatures into the high 20Cs with corresponding track temperatures in the high 30Cs, although there is a chance of rain throughout running.”
Remi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations
“Canada is a completely different track to Monaco and also unique in itself. The long straights demand good top end power but the heavy braking zones of the hairpin and chicane need effective engine braking and good pick up on the exit, so it’s rightly called an ‘engine breaker’ because the engine doesn’t get any respite at all. The challenge is to find the right balance between delivering maximum performance and maintaining 100 percent reliability, just like at Spa and Monza where the risks have to justify the gains.”
Jenson Button, McLaren
2011 Qualifying – 7th, 2011 Race – 1st
“Obviously, returning to Montreal will be an extremely proud and happy moment for me. My win there last year was one of those rare occasions when everything just came right – it’s still hard to believe that I was running in last place past half-distance and yet still managed to come through and take victory on the final lap. The memories of that win will always be with me.
“Montreal is always a race I look forward to anyway. The city has such a great vibe to it, the people are friendly and extremely welcoming and the fans are incredibly passionate. It’s the perfect place to go racing and you can feel the excitement building literally as soon as you step off the plane.
“This weekend, though, it’s going to be important to get a handle on the car in qualifying. At the last two races, Q2 hasn’t gone my way, so, no matter what pace you have in the race, you’re still compromised on Sunday afternoon, particularly as the pack is so tightly bunched at the moment. My aim for the weekend will be to have a stronger qualifying performance and to be able to build on that in the race.”
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2011 Qualifying – 5th, 2011 Race – DNF
“This is turning into a unique season – one where every race provides new challenges and different outcomes. Even though everything hasn’t gone right for us, I’m confident that myself and the team are doing everything we can to ensure we’re in the best possible position to challenge for victory each and every weekend. I know that the results we all want will soon come to us: I am doing everything I can to extract every tenth from the car, and I know that the guys at the track and the men and women back at MTC are doing everything they can to give me a car that’s worthy of winning. We are still very much in the hunt for this world championship and I’m looking forward to bringing that fight to Montreal, which is one of my favourite races of the season.
“The contrasts between Monaco and Montreal couldn’t be greater. Although they’re both races that take place in the middle of a city, the circuits are very different and each has its own unique personality. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a fantastic track – it’s super-fast in places, which means it requires finesse and precision, but you can also end up racing wheel-to-wheel with people at 200mph too, which is an incredible sensation. However, you still want a car with decent low-speed traction – all those long drags are usually preceded by tight hairpins, so it’s important that you can get the power down efficiently if you’re to pull a good lap time together. With KERS Hybrid and DRS in the mix, it should be an exciting Grand Prix – although, interestingly, we’re reverting to a shorter, single-DRS zone after the double-zone last year.
“On paper, I think our car will be well-suited to the combination: we showed in Spain that we’re very good in high-speed corners, but we were also quick in the final sector, which is slower and more technical. Of course, it’s still difficult to accurately predict the outcome, so I’ll be focusing on another clean weekend where I can score more consistent world championship points.”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“I think everybody in Formula One enjoys the Canadian Grand Prix – the city plays a wonderful host to the event, and the circuit is fast, challenging and unforgiving. Throw in the commonly unpredictable Quebecois weather and you have the perfect combination for an excitable and unpredictable weekend. Of course, we were the major benefactors of that very unpredictability last year, and nobody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes can think of Montreal without remembering Jenson’s magnificent victory there last year. But, let’s not forget that Lewis, too, has many happy memories of this circuit – he won his first Grand Prix there in 2007, has had pole position three times and dominated the event in 2010. Canada has been a happy hunting ground for the team in recent years and we’re fired up to make it a hat-trick next weekend.
“Finally, the Canadian Grand Prix will mark the 300th Grand Prix with our partners Mobil 1, Mercedes-Benz and Enkei. Mobil 1 kicked off their relationship with McLaren at the 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix – and, since then, we’ve never looked back. It’s been an incredibly productive partnership – on both a technical and personal level. During that time together, we’ve achieved quite a lot: three drivers’ championships, one constructors’ championship, 72 grand prix victories, 70 pole positions, 81 fastest laps and 2525 points. Let’s hope we can add to those figures in Montreal next weekend.”
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying – 4th, 2011 Race – 3rd
“I would say Montreal is one of the top five Grands Prix of the year because it’s a sensational atmosphere. It’s a really, really good venue and always provides an interesting grand prix there for whatever reason, and last year was no exception. It’s a low-downforce track with long straights and high top speed, which is a different challenge. We’ll see how that unfolds, but we’re very confident the car should work well round there. I love driving the circuit; it’s a good one to get our teeth into, a little bit like a street circuit, so I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying – 1st, 2011 Race – 2nd
“Montreal is a great city, everyone loves to go there – the atmosphere is always great. The track is on an island in the St. Lawrence river, and is a great challenge for the drivers. Like the track in Albert Park in Australia, the roads are public, so tyre wear can be high. There’s also a lot of wear on brakes, which can cause us a headache. Last year the race dragged on due to the heavy rain – but it’s a good place to go racing.”
Pedro de la Rosa, HRT
2011 Qualifying – 17th, 2011 Race – 12th
“I really like the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve because I’ve always done well there. The races are very open, with a lot of overtaking opportunities, such as the first corner and the last chicane. The surface evolves a huge amount throughout the weekend, meaning that it’s a unique circuit in terms of tyre behaviour and the hardest thing is getting to understand the track. You can be competitive with good top speed, braking and grip and it’s important to set the car up in a similar fashion to Monaco to get it coming out quickly from turns. We’re bringing a new low-downforce rear wing, specially designed for Canada, and intending on continuing with the progress shown in Monaco. After retiring in Monaco, I’m even hungrier to achieve a good result in Canada.”
Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2011 Qualifying – 22nd, 2011 Race – 17th
“Canada is a unique feature on the calendar, a mix of street circuit with no run-offs like Monaco along with purpose-built bits. I really like the track and I was 14th at the finish of the crazy race last year before getting a penalty. The weather usually throws up something in Montreal, so there may be an opportunity for us. We will be bringing a new rear wing as well, given the low-downforce nature of the circuit. We need to pick up where we left at Monaco, in terms of gap to the front-runners and our immediate rivals.”
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
“One of the most emblematic Grands Prix takes place in Montreal. As a driver I really liked it because it’s a different circuit, with a lot of braking and accelerating and various overtaking opportunities. For the team it’s also a special place because the best result in its history was achieved here last year. In Monaco things went well for us and this circuit should also be favourable for us because our car behaves well when braking and we’ve improved our traction, which are two important aspects in Canada. Our weakest point is quick corners and there aren’t many here. Our biggest handicap could be not having KERS, but we’ve brought a special rear wing for this circuit which we hope will make us more competitive. We’re in good spirits after the positive result in Monaco; Narain wants to continue with his good form and Pedro is more motivated than ever after his good performance all weekend ended in a retirement.”
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying – 13th, 2011 Race – 7th
“At the circuit in Montreal there are long straights but also slow corners. I think our car seems to be okay for this. I hope there we can have the performance we want to see. Last year I was second on the grid for the re-start after the red flag for the wet conditions, but then we suffered with tyre warm up problems and I am sure we have definitely improved on that with this year’s car. We shall have to see what we can do, but I think Montreal is one of the places where we can be strong. In case it is cold there, a key will be how the tyres work. I really like the city and the track, although, unfortunately, I have never had a great result there. This year I want to make up for this. Our car is getting better and I’m looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix.”
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“It will be my first Canadian Grand Prix, as last year I only did a few laps in the first free practice before I realised I did not feel well enough to drive. I felt very dizzy in the car which was a consequence of last year’s Monaco accident. I think at times in recent races we have been very unlucky, but the pace is there as my lap times during the Monaco race clearly proved. I’m looking forward to doing a good job in Canada and scoring as many points as possible. It is a fast and fluid circuit on which you are often close to the wall – challenging and exciting.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
“The Montreal track is narrow with walls that are very close in some places. It offers interesting challenges. The first one is to find the right level of aerodynamic efficiency, because the level of downforce and drag is lower than on most of the other tracks. The time spent on the straights requires maximising the speed, while the corners, with the exception of the hairpin, are low speed and feature changes of direction. Therefore the car needs to be well balanced under braking, needs good traction and must be reactive. The next interesting challenge is the fact Pirelli has decided to provide us with the soft and the super-soft tyre compounds as they did in Monaco. We don’t expect any problems with the super-soft tyre in qualifying, but then the more difficult part will be to find the right race strategy to get the maximum out of the tyres. What’s different to last year is that there will only be one DRS zone. However, I don’t expect this to make a big difference, because overtaking is normally possible on the Montreal track. On the car we will have a new rear wing for the medium-downforce requirement, plus some minor modifications.”
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“I have always liked the Canadian Grand Prix. I won there in 2005 so Montreal has good memories.
The city is one of the best places to visit on the calendar. I really enjoy the stop-start nature of the circuit layout and the challenge of the track.
“It’s an interesting place. Qualifying is important, but not essential to get a good result as there are a few places to overtake. To do well in Canada the car needs to be good under braking because it’s very tough on brakes at this circuit. You also make use of the kerbs and our car has been pretty good in this area. It’s also a circuit with different track surfaces and sometimes the surface itself can change over the course of the race weekend. This is interesting as it means different grip levels, so another challenge there.
“It’s a street course, but there are still places to overtake so you don’t have to change all of your focus to qualifying like you do in Monaco. It is a race that sees a lot of safety cars; there has probably not been a Canadian Grand Prix without having a safety car. Most likely it will happen again. A safety car makes it difficult for the strategy as you can’t predict when it might come. If the safety car is employed, then you have got to hope that it happens at the right time.
“We’ve been competitive in most places and we expect the same there, but like always it’s easier to say after the first day of running…”
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“It will be my first time in Canada so it’s another new experience for me this year. Obviously this means it’s also going to be my first time driving the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. I’m looking forward to it because it’s a track which many drivers have told me they like. It’s also a track which can bite you, and we’ve seen that over the years with the champions’ wall. Even though I’m not a Formula One champion, I’ll be giving that part of the track some respect!
“It’s a street circuit and normally I enjoy street circuits – I was right on the pace in Monaco. I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. There are really long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like for myself. Finally, the weather in Montreal can be quite changeable, as we saw last year. I’m sure it’ll be a challenging and exciting Grand Prix.
“I arrive on Monday to beat the jet lag. Sometimes that challenge in itself and getting decent sleep can be as hard to solve as finding the right setup for the car! I’m looking forward to discovering more of Montreal, learning the track, and hopefully getting some good sleep at the right time too!”
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
“We approach the Grand Prix as any other. We have a car which has shown good pace all season and two drivers who have both shown they can deliver podium performances in this highly competitive season. Yes, we are coming off the back of a disappointing weekend in Monaco, but we’ve shrugged off worse setbacks than that. We’re looking forward to Montreal. It’s the first low-downforce track of the season, where the E20 should be strong.”
James Allison, Lotus technical director
“Montreal is a total contrast to Monaco, however it’s another circuit which is further towards the smoother end of the spectrum in terms of track surface, so it will give us a chance to see how much this may have affected performance in Monaco, and whether we can get the business done under these kinds of circumstances.
“We’ll be taking a smaller rear wing with a front wing set up to balance that. One of the key factors is to make sure we have our braking configuration correctly set up with good levels of cooling to survive what is a very arduous race for the brakes. Luckily the car has been quite good on brakes throughout the year to date with no real issues to report.
“There are several high-speed straights into low-speed corners so the brakes receive repeated extreme use over the course of a lap. Canada is the most challenging circuit of the year from the point of view of the brake wear. Brake wear is largely a function of brake temperature, and so a lot of work must be done (using tools such as CFD, the wind tunnel and a brake dynamometer rig) to ensure adequate aerodynamic cooling of the disks and pads.”
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying – 8th, 2011 Race – 4th
“The Canadian Grand Prix is all about the great atmosphere at the track and in the city. The Canadian fans make the whole weekend into a real celebration and, for us drivers, it’s great to feel their passion for motorsport. That gives us a natural boost and it would be great to give them even more reasons to celebrate at the end of the weekend. The race in Montreal is usually action-packed, like we saw last year. The characteristics of the circuit should suit us, and we are counting on our car performing well there. As I said: a trip to Montreal is always worth it. And let’s hope we can make our trip this year especially worthwhile.”
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying – 6th, 2011 Race – 11th
“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is a great track, and I’m really looking forward to our visit there. With its low downforce and slow corners, a little bit like Monza, the track should suit our car.
We’ve made good progress over the past few weeks, and that was clear from the performance in Monaco. So I’m hopeful that we can make another step forward in Canada and have a successful weekend. The fans are always fantastic at this race and they really turn the city into a carnival for the race weekend. Gilles Villeneuve was a great friend and rival of my father, which also makes this weekend very special. I can’t wait to get there.”
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
“On the back of a successful weekend in Monaco which saw Michael qualify first on Saturday and Nico finish in second place on Sunday, everyone at the team wants to keep the momentum going and get the racing underway in Montreal next weekend. The Canadian Grand Prix is always a fantastic experience, with both the city and fans giving Formula One such a warm welcome. The circuit itself is an exciting challenge, and the first real high-speed test of the season where brakes, engine power and tyre management are crucial. Races at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve have the tendency to be eventful! We’re looking forward to putting on a good show and hope to have another strong weekend.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“As we head to Montreal, the question everybody’s asking is: will we see a seventh different winner in seven races? The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has a habit of throwing up unpredictable races, with seven of the last ten races featuring safety car deployments. Last year’s Grand Prix lasted over four hours and was not only the longest race in F1 history but probably one of the most exciting, too.
The circuit at the former Olympic venue of the Ile Notre Dame is characterised by slow corners, including three taken below 100 km/h, and four long straights on which the cars exceed 285 km/h. The overall set-up compromise favours low downforce and low drag, while the brakes are given a really tough time. At two of the past four race weekends, Mercedes AMG Petronas had the speed to qualify and race at the front of the field. Nico has converted this competitiveness into 59 points in the past four races – the most of any driver in the field. Michael has suffered several technical problems and our priority is to give him a problem-free weekend in Montreal. As his fastest qualifying time in Monaco demonstrated, Michael has the speed to compete at the front. He has won seven times in Montreal, his Silver Arrow carries number seven and Canada will be race seven of the 2012 world championship…”
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
2011 Qualifying – 19th, 2011 Race – DNF
“Montreal is a very cool track. It’s a temporary street circuit with a couple of long straights and low downforce settings and that makes the cars pretty tricky in the faster corners and into the braking areas, but it’s a great track to race on. As with everywhere we race you have to find a good balance to get the best lap times, but you need a setup that means you can really attack the kerbs, particularly in the final corner as you head back to the start /finish line. You also need to make sure you have maximum speed down the back straight, so we’ll look closely at the gear ratios we use and balance seventh gear against the speeds we could be doing with DRS and KERS both engaged. Apart from being a great race Montreal is also a really good city as well. All the teams like going there as the fans are passionate, the stands are always full on track and the city itself turns into a party town while we’re there. The Canadian people are brilliant and there’s a special atmosphere all over Montreal, which we only get at a few races we go to so it’s one of the weekends everyone’s up for.”
Vitaly Petrov, Caterham
2011 Qualifying – 10th, 2011 Race – 5th
“I have very good memories of Canada after finishing fifth there last year and I’m really looking forward to getting back to Montreal. Everyone loves racing there – it’s a great city with some really good restaurants, and enough bars to keep everyone who’s not driving happy! The track itself is a good challenge from inside the cockpit. It’s very slippery on Friday morning and while the grip does improve over the weekend it’s important to keep the rear tyres in good condition. There a few things to get right for a really quick lap – you need to manage the brake wear and cooling enough to be able to get on the brakes hard every time you need them, you have to have very good traction out of the slower corners and you need to be able to really hit the kerbs hard to save the tenths of a second that add to up to a good time. The other thing is the weather. Last year it obviously got so bad we had to stop the race and while that’s not good for the fans it’s much safer for the drivers. Hopefully we won’t have quite so much rain again this year, but if it does we’ll deal with it. I like racing in the wet, it gives us more of a chance to fight a few cars ahead and it’s an even better feeling in the car when you get it right in the wet. Whatever happens it’s always a pleasure to come back to Montreal.”
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
“The Montreal circuit is another fascinating challenge from a technical perspective. As a temporary street-style circuit it is always very green when we start running on Friday but the evolution level is not as high as somewhere like Monaco. The asphalt on the track surface is also very smooth and has very low grip levels so the tyre degradation rate is high throughout the whole weekend. As we have already seen this year, managing tyre wear is the key to both qualifying and the races, so tyre strategy will play an even more crucial role in Montreal than it has all season. The other major factor in Canada concerns the brakes. The track has a couple of very long straights with heavy braking zones at the end that lead into tight corners so it is pretty severe in terms of brake wear. We need to make sure we keep optimise the brake cooling every lap and while we do not have a specific brake duct set for Canada, we will be using the larger ones in our range to give us the best chance of managing the brake cooling.”
Tony Fernandes, Caterham team principal
“I am still on a high after the race in Monaco. Moving back into tenth place is important but there are 14 more races to come this season and we are taking nothing for granted. However, Heikki’s 13th place and the battling performance he and the whole team put in is another sign that all the hard work we have put in over the last two and a half years is starting to pay off. Vitaly has not had the best luck in the last couple of races but his hunger, enthusiasm, humour and determination are all evident whenever he is with us so he has everything he needs in his locker to succeed with us long-term. I am very realistic about what we have achieved so far, and I know that Monaco is a unique circuit that gave us the sort of opportunity we grabbed last Sunday, but I also know that as we continue through this season we keep making small but significant steps forward. During the Monaco race I had some very good news from the factory about a new update we have planned for Silverstone and to see that come in while we were having our best race of the season was another sign that we are doing this in the right way. Next it is Canada, a race the whole team looks forward to and possibly another one where we can spring a surprise. Unfortunately I will not be in Montreal but I will be watching every session and I know everyone wants to build on what we achieved at the last race.”