Canadian Grand Prix preview quotes
With the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit’s challenging layout and Montreal’s welcoming atmosphere, the Canadian Grand Prix is a firm favourite with many of the Formula One drivers and their teams. Here they explain why - and reveal how they think they'll fare over the race weekend...
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 10th
“Monaco was a difficult race for me, which was a real shame as we’d been competitive all weekend. After two incidents in the opening stages of the race, I thought I’d settled into a rhythm but, coming to swimming pool after Tabac, the rear of the car twitched suddenly, probably on a patch of water, and I ended up in the Armco. After consulting the doctors on site, I decided to go to hospital as precaution for some routine checks. Fortunately, they came back clear so I was released on Sunday evening. Following a couple of days’ rest, I resumed my normal training programme in preparation for Canada.
“I’m heading to Montreal a few days early to get used to the time difference and to see the city. There are lots of cool bars, restaurants and clubs, and there are some good places to go shopping. There are also some beautiful places around the city, especially near the mountains, where I like to go for my daily run. The locals really get behind Formula One and they seem to be quite supportive of me too as many of them remember my father when he raced there.
“AT&T Williams has a strong history around the Circuit Gilles Villeneueve and have traditionally been quick there, which gives me a lot of confidence and allows me to go to Montreal with positive expectations. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car because the speed we showed in Monaco was very promising and the track should suit our car.”
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
“I’ve only been to North America once when I went to Canada for last year’s race and drove in Friday morning’s practice session. Because of that, I do have some experience of the track, but this will be my first full weekend of racing there. The circuit is very challenging with its walls and high kerbs. It’s not an easy track, but it should be fun to drive. Montreal itself is a great city. It’s really picturesque and I enjoyed my time there last year so I’m looking forward to going back. Before heading to Canada, I’m going to New York for a week to have a look around and do some training.”
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“Montreal always produces good racing, mainly because the cars run so close to the walls so there’s a higher chance than normal of the safety car being deployed. As one of the few street circuits on the calendar, the grip level changes significantly over the race weekend, so the teams are continuously chasing the perfect set-up.
The circuit is dominated by long straights so the rear wing level has to be set lower than normal to ensure that the car is running at its optimum aerodynamic efficiency. The long straights induce high top speeds but, combined with the slow speed corners, also make
“Montreal the hardest track on brakes so we have to monitor their wear. Most teams opt for a one or two stop strategy in Canada. Our target for this race is to obviously score points, which we should be able to do considering the upturn in competitiveness we demonstrated at the last race in Monaco.”
Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 15th, 2007 Race - DNF
"Montreal is one of my favourite race weekends on the F1 calendar. The atmosphere around the track and the city is always fantastic. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a challenging track which is good fun to drive and completely different from the last race in Monaco. We were not able to achieve much testing specifically for this race due to the poor weather at Paul Ricard, so it is difficult to know how the RA108 will perform until we have the chance to get a few laps under our belt in practice on Friday.
"The key to a quick lap is being able to ride the kerbs and you need to have a car which can do this comfortably. You have to be precise because if you hit the kerbs in the wrong place, then you'll probably end up in the wall. The biggest challenge is getting the last chicane before the pits just right. You can have a perfect lap all the way round but if you hit those kerbs badly, it will throw you off. Getting off the grid cleanly is also important as the first couple of corners are very tight with all 20 cars trying to squeeze through, although you can overtake here if the opportunity presents itself. The hairpin at turn ten is probably the best opportunity for overtaking and where you can see some pretty exciting racing."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 13th, 2007 Race - 12th
"It was very satisfying to score points in Monaco as the car had performed well over the weekend and we deserved a good result from the race. I hope this will be the start of better things to come. This team has a lot of potential and it is important that we all maintain our focus, keep working hard and I am confident that the car will continue to improve over the season.
"The Montreal track is a complete change from the last race where the tight and twisty streets of Monaco are all about high downforce. For Canada, the car will be set-up in our lowest downforce configuration so far, which means a lower wing level than we have seen this season, and we will spend practice on Friday and Saturday morning tuning the balance and set-up to suit the characteristics of this venue."
Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"We were pleased with the pace and performance of the RA108 around Monaco last week and it was encouraging to score further points, particularly with Rubens for the first time this season. However Canada is a completely different challenge and the downforce levels required are medium to low, the opposite of Monaco. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a big technical challenge, and with a combination of high-speed blasts, slow chicanes and hairpins, it can be very tough on the cars. Although I am pleased with the progress that the team has made over the last few races, we have been lacking the speed necessary to really maximise long straights, so it will be up to us to get the most from the performance that we have available in the car. I am expecting a more challenging weekend than in Monaco.
"We ran the RA108 in low downforce specification on a Montreal configured layout of the Paul Ricard circuit on the final day of the test before Monaco. Unfortunately the weather conditions were very poor which resulted in most of the day being washed out. However Jenson was able to achieve a few laps to obtain some basic aerodynamic data, which we have used along with data from previous years, to prepare our specific aerodynamic package for this race."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 1st
“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of my favourite tracks and following my debut win there last year it is a very special place for me and I hope that we will be quick there again this year. It is renowned for its difficult track surfaces, particularly with tyre graining, and the walls. Despite being very fast, it can feel like a street circuit with the barriers very close, but it is good fun to drive at and I am looking forward to getting back there.
“There is always a lot of graining at this track and because it is only used one a year, it is very dirty when we first start running. That soon clears up on the racing line, but this dirt and the marbles from the graining make it very slippery off-line. Mechanical grip is key. You also need a well balanced car that doesn’t oversteer - but that is not as easy as it might sound! You have to really make a compromise on corner entry, particularly those after the long straights. This means your time through the corner will be faster.
"Last year in Canada was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to take my maiden pole and victory in Formula One was incredible. It would be great to go back there and do the same, and that is what we are working hard to achieve. Since then I think I’ve matured a lot, I think I have grown stronger as a driver and have become closer to the team."
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 22nd, 2007 Race - 4th
"I am going to Montreal to get a good result with the team. The last few races have been pretty difficult for one reason or another, but all the time we know the car is quick and now I am hoping to be able to demonstrate that.
"Lewis won there last year and, if that is anything to go by, I hope and think the car will be fast again this year. It’s another track that is not that normal, it is almost like a street circuit and a key characteristic that we have to manage over the race is the big change in grip levels throughout the weekend. You have to chase the track a little bit some times with the set up, and also wait for the track to come to you. It’s such a different character after Monaco, which is a lot of slow, tight corners. Montreal is all about straight lines and heavy braking. I always look forward to going there, it is another big challenge and the racing is normally pretty good.
"Braking is number one for this track, it is very heavy on the brakes and we have to pay special attention to make sure they last the race. It is also definitely key to a good lap at this track to be able to ride the kerbs well; basically you are trying to straight line them so you can go faster through the corner. The most important thing is being able to take those bumps and the hits well and for it not to disrupt the car too much. So in general the car needs to be quite soft.
"I had a disastrous weekend up to Sunday (in Canada) last year and then during the race the incidents and safety cars meant the strategy played into my favour. I overtook a few cars, and then eventually I just found myself in fourth. I was close to Alex Wurz and raced against him to take third. It didn’t come off, but it does show that anything can happen in a race and you must never give up, wherever you are you just have to carry on and keep pushing. The best places to pass are at the end of each of the straights. This means there are three key opportunities with one very long straight and two that are a bit shorter. You can slipstream and then pass under braking or follow the car ahead through the slower corners and make another move."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
"We have a car which excels in high speed corners and there aren’t too many of those in Canada, however, we have a reasonably good track record at this event. It is about high speed down the straights, braking stability, durability of the braking system, traction out of the corners, which are relatively short but with high speeds into them. All this means it is an unusual circuit that is not the easiest to forecast, but we have every reason to believe we have made improvements on the car and the whole team is looking forward to carrying our championship campaign forward.
"Inevitably all of the teams have to review their braking systems prior to the Canadian round of the championship as it would be extremely unusual if the more standard brakes used at conventional circuits would last the Canadian Grand Prix. There have been many occasions in the past where quite simply the brakes have worn out before the end and that is something that we all have to work very hard at. As the hardest circuit on brakes in terms of wear, the team and Akebono, with areas such as friction materials and cooling systems, work to have a special Canadian Grand Prix set-up. "
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"First of all, the race is renowned for its many safety car periods. In the previous five years, there has been at least one safety car period in 42 percent of all races; in Canada there have been safety car periods in three out of the last five races which is 60 percent. No other circuit is more demanding for the brakes than Montreal; four times per lap the cars slow down from 300km/h and more to about 100km/h. Montreal puts also strain on the engines; on the long straight, the cars run under full throttle for 15 seconds out of the total lap time of about 75 seconds.”
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 2nd
“Last year’s Canadian Grand Prix was a very special race for me. We put in a very strong showing in 2007. I came third in qualifying and finished second in the race on my own merit. Initially that result was obviously overshadowed by Robert’s (Kubica) accident. Only when we knew he was okay were we able to celebrate. Of course I’m very much hoping I’ll do well in qualifying this time. I’m working with the engineers to get the tyres back fast enough into the temperature zone where they really build up grip. At any rate, the Montreal race is one of my favourites. I love the city, the atmosphere and the race track. It’s a very fast course and features mainly chicanes and straights. We drive with relatively low downforce and the brakes come in for a great deal of punishment.”
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - DNF
“I am looking forward to the next race in Montreal. It is a special one, as it is a very nice city and the fans there are really enthusiastic. The entire city lives Formula One over the GP weekend. Montreal has a completely different track characteristic than the last race in Monaco. Montreal is a relatively low-downforce track. I like the track because there is a lot of heavy braking and stop-and-go. It is very important in Montreal to have good traction to exit the slow corners perfectly. We have to take care especially in the beginning of the weekend: the track then has very low grip as it is no permanent race track. Although I had a very big accident there in 2007, Montreal is one of my favourite tracks.”
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
“We have very specific memories of the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. Robert survived a horrific accident virtually without any injuries, while Nick finished second to give our team the best result up to that point. It was the most emotional weekend.
“We enjoy coming to Montreal. The course is challenging both in terms of driving skills and technically. On the long straights the engines are really put through their paces, and no other circuit is tougher on the brakes than Montreal. In terms of atmosphere, as well, this race represents a climax. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is uniquely situated on its island in the St Lawrence River. The people there are enthusiastic Formula One fans, downtown Montreal really rocks during the race weekend, and the turnout of BMW fans is traditionally high.
“Canada is an important market for the BMW Group. Without the US Grand Prix, there’s unfortunately no North American double header this year. In Montreal we hope to build on our positive performance in Monaco.”
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
“The combination of long straights and chicanes makes the Montreal course a medium downforce track for which we have developed a special aero package. Next to a modified front wing, this also features a completely new rear wing. In order to reduce drag we will also be dispensing with some extra wings, including the one on the nose cone.
“There’s a particularly good passing opportunity on the long straight before the final chicane, if the top speed is right. No other circuit poses a greater challenge to the brakes than Montreal. That is why we employ the largest possible brake ducts along with very robust discs. Just as in Monaco, the softest tyre compounds also come into play in Canada to provide good traction when accelerating out of the slow corners. This circuit demands the utmost concentration on the part of the drivers since it will not forgive even the smallest driving errors. There are a lot of walls and the track is always extremely dirty off the racing line.”