One of the things I really enjoy about Renault Sport F1 is their grand prix previews. They offer some great insight into what the teams and engines will face. Here is the outlook for the Canadian Grand Prix:
The pit straight to turn 1
The lap starts on the short pit straight where speeds peak at over 300kph at the end of the straight before the driver shifts down to third gear to take the first corner, a left hander, at approx 120kph. T1 is the start of a spoon-profiled corner that demands a progressive smooth engine setting throughout. Engine revs will be at approx 11,000rpm for five seconds through this turn, the longest consistently low rev setting of the lap.
Cars brake down to 58kph for the hairpin before starting on the Droit du Casino straight. Engine maps will be created to give drivers traction on the entry to the hairpin, but also good response away as it leads onto the longest straight on the circuit (1,064m). To maximise the acceleration on the straight gear ratios will be carefully calibrated. Wind speed and direction need to be considered; going into a headwind, engineers will choose shorter ratios, but if the cars are running downwind they will go for longer. They will also pay careful attention to the fuel consumption if the wind is very strong – if the car is running into the wind, the time spent at the limiter at the end of the straight is less, meaning fuel consumption is higher.
The ‘Wall of Champions’
Drivers will accelerate through the gears to reach over 320kph in qualifying before the braking point for turn 13 or the ‘Wall of Champions’. Stability going into this chicane is key and drivers will use engine braking as well as literal braking, loading the internal parts and fluid systems very heavily. When the driver enters the turn he will get back on the throttle to accelerate back onto the pit straight, so the pedal and throttle maps must deliver exactly the correct amount of power when he needs it: too much ‘push’ and he will shoot into the wall; too little and his acceleration onto the straight will be compromised.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations:
After the slowest lap on the calendar, we go to the circuit with the shortest overall lap time. It takes just 75 seconds on average for the cars to round the track, making Montréal the quickest single lap time of the season. This is due in part to the relatively short length (just over 4km), but also to the long straights that make up a large percentage of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. This shifts our emphasis towards good acceleration and high top speed.
The straights are linked by tight hairpins where the cars brake down to a little under 60kph so the challenge is to combine this strong top-end power with effective engine braking and pick up on the entry and exits to the slow speed corners. Allied to this, the two hairpins and the chicane mean the internals are intensely loaded three times a lap and then stressed further under the acceleration forces, leading Montréal to be called an engine breaker in the past.
This heavy braking and then acceleration leads to the race starting fuel load being one of the highest of the season, along with Abu Dhabi and Australia, although this will be governed to a certain extent by race strategy and the weather, which looks like it will be just as changeable this year.