The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was once a staple on the sport’s calendar, however due to contractual reason the event was absent from last year’s calendar.
However, the Formula One fraternity are pleased to welcome the race back with open arms, as its passionate crowd often creates a superb atmosphere all weekend long. The event is also seen as crucial as it gives many sponsors the opportunity to advertise their product to a North American audience.
So will McLaren and Red Bull fight it out for top honours? Will Ferrari be back on form and how many drivers will actually make it to the end of the race?
Race Distance: 189.69miles
2009 Pole Sitter: N/A
2009 Winner: N/A
Fastest Lap: 1:17.387 (Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2008)
Bridgestone has chosen to use its Super Soft compound as the option tyre for this weekend’s race, with the Japanese manufacturer nominating its Medium tyre as the Prime.
Hiroshi Yasukawa Director of Bridgestone Motorsport:
“The North American market is obviously very important for Bridgestone as well as motor manufacturers and Formula One sponsors, so we are very pleased to return to Canada for 2010. This country has many sports fans who enjoy Formula One very much. Historically, this has been one of the most watched races during the course of the season, which makes this event another good advertisement of our brand. We usually see a lot of action here, which will be part of an extensive programme for our guests. We expect big spectator numbers and millions of television viewers all around the world.â€
Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development:
“This will be the first time since 1997 that we will race in Montreal with slick tyres. Previously, we have always found this a difficult circuit for deciding tyre allocations, and this will also be the first time we have raced at this track with a gap between compounds. The circuit’s heavy traction and braking demands mean that a lot of heat is generated in the tyres so drivers need to be vigilant with their tyre management. The track surface can change a lot over the course of the weekend, and the weather in Montreal is often very variable too. I think that these factors will make our visit to Canada a good test for teams, drivers and Bridgestone.â€
Given the configuration of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, drivers and teams have to avert extra attention on to conditioning their brakes. As a result, sufficient cooling is needed to make sure that the drivers can finish the race.
If they do not, then they often find themselves parading into one of the many concrete walls which litter the Montreal circuit. The most famous being the â€˜Wall of Champions’, found on the exit of turn 13. This stretch of concrete first came to the attention of Formula One fans during the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix a race which witnessed Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and hometown hero Jacques Villeneuve all crash there.
Another test is the track surface itself. Given that the circuit is largely unused for most of the year and that Montreal experiences harsh winters, the tarmac is usually prone to break up in heavy braking areas. Furthermore, the street circuit is notoriously bumpy.
To master the circuit’s long straights, drivers must elect for a low downforce set-up, but also make sure that their car is nimble enough to change direction fluently through the chicanes and hairpin corners.
Consequently, the challenges that are thrown up make the Canadian Grand Prix one of the most exiting races on the calendar. Overtaking places are in abundance. The most notable would appear to be between turn 1 and turn 2 (Virage Senna) or down at the hairpin of turn ten (L’Epingle).
Between 1961 and 1977 the race was held around Mosport Park, with a three year gap between 1968 and 1970 which saw the notorious Circuit Mont-Tremblant take centre stage. Thereafter the race moved to a man-made made island on St Lawrence river in Montreal. From 1978-1982 the track was known as the ÃŽle Notre-Dame Circuit. However following the death of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve, the circuit was renamed in his honour and has remained this way up to the present day.
The French-Canadian was a victor at the circuit in 1978 mastering attorcious conditions and benefiting from the retirement of Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Lotus with around twenty laps to go. A star was born and this has meant that the Villeneuve name has remained synonymous with Canadian motor sport for a number of years.
Around eighteen years on, Jacques Villeneuve set out to emulate the Ferrari driver by winning on home soil. However, the Canadian driver failed to achieve his dream, with a second place in his debut race being his best result.
Over the years Canada has produced some classic Grands Prix. Who could forget Thierry Boutsen recording Williams’ first ever victory with Renault power in 1989, when appalling conditions caught out the best of drivers and the dominant McLaren duo of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost retired with mechanical issues?
Flash forward to 1991 and the race saw Nigel Mansell commit one of the most embarrassing moments in the sport’s history. The British driver was leading comfortably in his FW14 when, rounding the final waving the final hairpin and waving to the crowd, he let his engine revs drop too low and stalled the engine. Although the Williams driver was awarded the final points finishing place in sixth, his costly error handed victory to old nemesis, the Benetton of Nelson Piquet.
The 1995 race has become almost folk law to Formula One fans the scene of Jean Alesi’s sole career victory for Ferrari. The mercurial Frenchman took control of the race when Michael Schumacher was relegated to fifth after experiencing gearbox problems during his final pitstop for Benetton.
Although 1995 was not his day, Schumacher has tasted the most success of any driver in Canada winning seven times throughout his career.
Formula One cars last competed in Canada in 2008. The race is best remembered for the infamous pitlane incident between Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, but also for Robert Kubica’s maiden victory, a year after his horrifying accident.
The One to Watch
Given the speed advantage of the MP4-25 and Montreal’s long straights, McLaren will head to Montreal as favorites. Therefore, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will be hoping for a private battle on Sunday as both continue to take the fight to Red Bull Racing.
Although the Renault engine is admittedly down on power, it would be foolish to rule out Red Bull either with rain forecast throughout the weekend.
Ferrari will be looking to make up for a its dismal performance last time out in Turkey. The F10 should be closer to the front, due to the characteristics of the circuit, however will the Scuderia really have enough to keep up with the front runners in a race which is make-or-break for its championship ambitions?
The event usually tends to be a race of attritions, resulting in a number of surprise results. Mike Gascoyne believes that his Lotus team may be in with a chance to pick up points at the expense of some of the midfield teams (that is if the T127 finishes of course).
Could Force India be in with a chance of a big points haul this weekend? The team is well known to be quick on low downforce circuits like Monza. Will Sutil and Fisichella be able to come out on top of the midfield teams this weekend?
Selected Team & Driver Quotes ahead of the 2010 Australian Grand Prix:
Jenson Button, (2008 Qualifying – 20th, Finished – 11th):
“It’s fantastic to be going back to Montreal after a year away. I think everyone in Formula One loves the city, the people and the track, so it’s very fitting that we’re heading back – particularly during one of the best seasons we’ve had for years. Looking back at the pace of the Turkish Grand Prix, which was run pretty much flat-out from start to finish, it’s going to be interesting to see how Canada plays out. It’s an extremely fast circuit, but it isn’t a place that tolerates even the slightest mistake – because of the proximity of the concrete walls. The track configuration should suit the MP4-25, it’s got a couple of slowish corners that lead onto long straights, so we should be able to use the combination of the Mercedes-Benz engine and our aero package to be competitive in both qualifying and the race. Canada is always an unpredictable weekend – it’s a bit of a one-off, which is great for Formula One and I think this year’s race has all the ingredients for a classic.â€
Lewis Hamilton,(2008 Qualifying – 1st, Finished DNF):
“I won my first Grand Prix in Montreal – 2007 seems like such a long time ago, but I still have some absolutely fantastic memories of that weekend: the pole position, the crazy number of safety cars, the uncertainty in the final laps, and then, at last, crossing the line, which just a massive feeling of relief and amazement at the same time. It was fantastic. Returning for 2010 is great, because it’s such a fast, demanding and unforgiving circuit – I love racing here. It’s an incredibly tough track – even if you can avoid the walls, which are really close and exciting at some places, the surface is very treacherous offline because of all the marbles. It’s a place where you don’t want to make even a tiny mistake. And the city is a fantastic place too. It’s great to be heading back to North America after two years away. The people in Montreal really embrace their race and there’s a lot of support for the drivers and the teams. I can’t wait to get back there.â€
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“The return of Formula One to North America is a very positive move for the sport. After a two-year absence, I think everybody is tremendously looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix, a race that has long been a staple of the calendar. The residents of Montreal really take this race to their hearts, and there’s always a fantastic atmosphere throughout the race weekend. The circuit itself is fast and unforgiving – practically the perfect recipe for exciting, unpredictable and close racing. Additionally, I believe we return to North America with a product that is strong and healthy, with a depth of driver talent that is probably as great as any other time in the sport’s history. Off the back of a very strong result in Turkey, we feel that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be well suited to the characteristics of MP4-25. It’s a low-downforce track where straight-line speed is fundamental to a good lap time. Once again, we’ll be looking for another strong result before the circus returns to Europe for the rest of the summer.â€
Nico Rosberg, (2008 Qualifying – 5th, Finished 10th):
“Montreal is a great race venue and I always like to get there a few days early to get used to the time difference and have the chance to relax. The city really comes alive for the Grand Prix weekend and the atmosphere is fantastic so I’m pleased that we’re heading back there again this season. The circuit is technically challenging and fun to drive with the very long straight combined with short and slow corners. Our Mercedes-Benz engine will certainly be a big help on the main straight. We will have some further upgrades for the race weekend and the fact that the circuit characteristics are quite different from Istanbul Park makes me go there with high hopes. I think we might just put in a great result.”
Michael Schumacher, (2008 Qualifying – N/A, Finished – N/A):
“Canada is definitely one of the places on the Formula One calendar which everyone is keen to visit, myself included of course. I have always had nice weekends in Montreal and enjoyed flying over to North America. I will combine this trip with some days off and I am sure that once I enter the paddock, I will very much be looking forward to starting the race weekend. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is all about top speed so we have worked very hard on this, especially as we know that we are not right at the top in that area. However I am convinced that we will be able to get the best out of our package.”
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
“Looking back at our last race in Turkey, the team and drivers performed well throughout the weekend to achieve our highest points score of the season however we are simply not yet quick enough. We know the solution, the continuation of our hard work and application, and we will keep pushing until we are back to competing right at the front of the field. Looking ahead, we are delighted to be returning to Canada next week and the race is always one of the most popular weekends on the calendar with the city of Montreal putting on a great show. This year will be no exception and we hope that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve produces its usual standard of exciting racing and the weekend is a success for our sport in the important North American market. The circuit is an interesting one from an engineering perspective and should be a track where our slow to medium speed performance, good braking stability and strong engine performance will be an asset.”
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“First of all, it is great news that the Canadian Grand Prix is back on the Formula One calendar in 2010. This is a very unique event on the Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal where the Olympic Games took place in 1976. The track is very different to the purpose-built circuits and requires high-speed, very good braking and of course strong engine power. Our team has achieved 100 points in the seven races so far this season which is roughly one-third of the points available if you do an absolutely perfect job. We are certainly not where we want to be yet, namely in a position to challenge for victories on a regular basis, however we are dedicated and have a very good spirit to achieve our targets. It is difficult to predict where we could end up in Canada but we will certainly try as hard as we can.”
Fernando Alonso, (2008 Qualifying – 4th, Finished DNF):
“I have every confidence in our team and I am convinced that here in Canada we will see a different situation to the one we had in Turkey. This track has more in common with those where we have been more competitive so far this season and I think we will be in the hunt. The situation in the championship is still very open, but clearly we have to get back to fighting for a podium finish as soon as possible.â€
Felipe Massa, (2008 Qualifying – 6th, Finished – 5th):
“I have arrived in Montreal, ready for this weekend’s Grand Prix and I have to say it’s nice to be back after Formula One’s year away, because this is one of the nicest races of the year, with the whole city making all of us feel very welcome. Even though I like the circuit here, with the challenge of running in low downforce configuration on a narrow track that is an unusual mix of a race track and street circuit, I have not had much luck in Canada. In fact, my best result dates back to my final year with Sauber in 2005, when I finished fourth. The last two races here were particularly tough for me. In 2007, I was penalised for leaving pit lane when the red light was on and the last time we were here, in 2008, there was a problem with the refuelling at my pit stop, which cost me at least a podium finish, but my car was really working well and I managed to move up from the back of the pack to finish fifth at the flag. This year, I hope we have a better time and that should be possible, because I expect our F10 to be more competitive than in Turkey. A good race should be on the cards, as the track has some similarities to Melbourne and Sakhir, where we were frontrunners. But as usual, we won’t really know where we stand until the end of Friday’s two practice sessions.â€
Robert Kubica, (2008 Qualifying – 2nd, Finished 1st):
“I’m glad that after a year’s break we are returning to Montreal. I enjoy driving there and I like the characteristics of the track. It’s kind of a mix between a high and low-speed track because there are big braking zones and some long straights where top speed is important. We haven’t been to a track with these characteristics yet, so we will have to wait and see how all the teams perform there. Also, because it’s not a permanent track, the grip level changes quite quickly during the weekend and you can push more with each lap, which always feels nice.
“I think the car should work well in Montreal so I’m quite confident we can go there and get a strong result. I’ll be aiming to score good points, as we have done all season, which is very important for our position in the championship. It would be great if we could repeat the performance we showed in Monaco and fight for the podium, but if it’s not possible I will simply concentrate on getting the maximum from the car and bringing home as many points as I can.â€
Vitaly Petrov, (2008 Qualifying N/A, Finished N/A):
“It will be a totally new experience for me because I have never been to Canada before. So it’s a new country and a new track for me to discover. I’ve been told that there is always a good atmosphere in the city and that the public really support the race so I’m looking forward to experiencing that.
“First of all I just want to get there and see how things go in practice before I start setting myself targets. I need to get a feel for the car and learn the track so that is the priority. It’s a track with lots of big braking zones and chicanes, so I think it will suit the R30 because our car is easy to drive and is good at jumping over the kerbs. I will be targeting the top ten in qualifying and we’ll see what happens in the race.â€
James Allison, Renault technical director
“I think we will be in reasonable shape. There are aspects of the track that will suit us very well. Most of the corners are low speed and you need to be able to hammer across the kerbs quite aggressively, which is something the R30 is good at. The circuit is also very demanding on the brakes, but we are confident that we will be able to attack the circuit even on the very heavy fuel loads that are run in 2010. We will have further updates to the car and I would hope that we can take another step forward in Canada.â€
Adrian Sutil, (2008 Qualifying – 16th, Finished DNF):
“I’ve raced in Montreal twice in 2007 and 2008. I’ve not had such a good history there so far but I’m older and more experienced now. The first years I went there I think I was a little impetuous and went for a position that wasn’t there, but I feel there’s a new person going back with more self confidence and understanding. I’m really looking forward to the race as I enjoyed Turkey, it was always challenging and, despite it not being the easiest weekend, we still scored points, which shows we can still do well even when the conditions are tough. I love Montreal and the atmosphere and the track itself is quite a challenge. There isn’t a lot of grip as it isn’t used very much over the year, although it does improve slightly over the weekend. The long straights and hairpins need a low downforce configuration and it feels a bit like a street circuit as well, which I love. It’s still good for racing as you can slipstream into the corners and brake late. To do well there you need a powerful engine and high straight-line speed and a low drag car that’s efficient and a good, soft balance over the kerbs. That’s exactly what we’ve got so I’m feeling really good going into this race. The SRW (switchable rear wing) was a development item in Turkey and we didn’t use it on my car in qualifying or the race as we didn’t get enough information on it after the various issues we had in practice. It’s a really good system for me as I can use it without taking my hands off the steering wheel and once we introduce it long-term it will be very easy to use. We saw on Vitantonio’s car that it gave a big improvement, so if we can use it on my car it will be a real step forward. We will test it some more in Canada and hopefully get some good data together.â€
Vitantonio Liuzzi (2008 Qualifying N/A, Finished N/A):
“The last few races have been pretty tough as we’ve been struggling with a general lack of grip that makes it hard for me to give the maximum. Monaco was OK and I thought we had solved the issues so it was quite frustrating in Turkey that I couldn’t make the most of our new development items. We’ve put in some long hours at the factory and found some minor damage on the chassis that we picked up in Monaco. We thought we had fixed it but as a precaution we are switching back to the chassis I used in the first four races. We’ll look at the chassis again back in the factory and see if we can find any other areas we need to address. Overall I like the Canadian event and I’m pretty fast there, I’ve qualified in the top 12 before and I’ve had some exciting races. If the car behaves well I could be in good shape because I’ve been fast there in the past and we should have an advantage with the new aerodynamic improvements we are bringing to this race. Additionally, we have all the right items to be quick over one lap. We have a good straight-line speed and good traction out of the tight corners so we are pretty optimistic that we will go well in Montreal. If I can get the grip I need I hope I’ll be back knocking on the door of Q3 and in the hunt for points. As we’ve seen before Canada is pretty unpredictable and if we are up at the front we could get some really decent points, hopefully another double points finish, which will be good for the team at this stage.â€
Paul di Resta, Force India third driver
“I’m not driving this time out in Canada as Adrian and Tonio need some more time in the car. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve driven at the track and, as it’s such a specific track with the low downforce and tight hairpins, they will benefit from some extra track time to refamiliarise themselves. Also we’ve got some more work to do on the SRW. I’m comfortable with sitting out the session as I’ll be back out in Valencia. As usual I’ll be participating in the meetings and walking the track – I’ve never been to Montreal so the experience will be good. During the sessions I sit on the pit wall to listen into the discussions but also to help with spotting and any feedback the team might need. I’m feeling really integrated and even when I’m not driving there’s still plenty I can contribute.â€
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“Looking forward to Canada, I firmly believe we’re still in good shape. We have some more development parts coming for this race, including some new aero parts for the low downforce configuration, and we are testing the SRW further on both cars this weekend. Tonio will also revert back to the chassis used for the first four races as we continue to look into why he’s got the lack of grip. But both the drivers like the track, and on a personal and professional level I’m delighted to be going back there. It’s great for Formula One to be back in North America, which has been conspicuous in its absence as it’s such a big market and it opens up new doors for sponsors and marketing activities. We are fully focused on the task in hand, which is to score as many points as we can and to regain that fifth position in the championship. We’re not so far away from Renault and there are plenty of opportunities left to rack points up and some circuits that we should really fly on, including Montreal. Any actions we’re taking away from the track won’t affect the team’s focus on sealing our most successful season to date. Our technical team, despite reports, is still very much intact – Mark (Smith) will stay with us until April 2011 and we will, in due course, announce a structure that will take us to the next level of performance. I’m very comfortable with where we are as a team and where we are going. The structure and any off track events are for me to worry about, so the team can get on with doing what they do best at the track.â€
Pedro de la Rosa, (2008 Qualifying N/A, Finished N/A):
“It is great to have the Canadian Grand Prix back on the calendar, as everybody always enjoyed it so much because of the atmosphere and the great racing there. I think the layout of the Montreal circuit is good for exciting races, and it is definitely one of the tracks where overtaking is easiest. It is a track where you run less downforce compared to previous races, and it is also one of the few tracks that has a distinctive personality. Last time I drove there was in 2005 in a Friday practice. One of the most enjoyable races for me was the 2001 Canadian Grand Prix. I was in the top five cars and fighting with Mika Hakkinen and some other guys – we had great fun. It is one of the hardest races for brakes and also a tough one for the engines. Physically for the drivers it is a rather easy one.”
Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber, (2008 Qualifying N/A, Finished N/A):
“I have only been in Montreal once, and this was for the 2008 Grand Prix, which I attended as a reserve driver for Toyota. Obviously back then I had time to enjoy the atmosphere. I have to say in a way it reminds me of Melbourne, with people partying and having fun over the Grand Prix weekend. I’m very much looking forward to racing in front of that crowd, and, after we had a reasonable race in Turkey, I really hope this is the beginning of a much stronger period in the championship for us. We have to keep working hard to make this happen.”
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
“It is great to go back to Montreal because it is such a popular place. The Montreal circuit is unique in many respects. It is the first time this year we will be running with a medium downforce level, therefore we will be taking drag off the car to optimize the lap times. Secondly you have very heavy braking in Montreal. We will be watching the brake wear levels and temperatures very closely and also paying close attention to the car’s braking stability, while traction out of the corners is also important. It is a bit of a stop and go circuit and the kerbs in the chicanes are another major aspect you have to consider when setting up the car. On top of that, tyre wear and grip levels can be strange and difficult to manage there. It can be very low grip and in the past we have sometimes seen grip levels have not improved over the sessions. At the same time you can have heavy tyre wear and loads of marbles off line, and perhaps this is track surface related. Finally there are some clear overtaking opportunities on the Montreal circuit, so we expect an exciting race and hope to continue the good form we had in Istanbul.”
Sebastien Buemi, (2008 Qualifying N/A, Finished – N/A):
“I came here during the winter time, as part of a promotion that involved driving the Formula One car on ice. I didn’t see much of the track because it was under one metre of snow! However, the last time there was a Grand Prix here, I was the Red Bull reserve driver, so I got a feeling for how the weekend pans out and how the track changes over the practice days. I remember they had problems with the asphalt breaking up and I understand that much of it has now been resurfaced. It will be the first race of the year where we run the cars in low downforce trim and that’s something I’m looking forward to, as those conditions can make for a few surprises. It’s the sort of track where the driver can make a difference and therefore I really hope I can pick up some points. I enjoyed visiting the city back in January, when I attended an NHL Hockey game and generally I really like Montreal and the fact they speak French here is neat. Oh, and the food is really good too!â€
Jaime Alguersuari, (2008 Qualifying – N/A, Finished N/A):
“I only have a â€˜virtual’ memory of Canada, from seeing the races on television and, more recently, driving the circuit on our simulator. It looks like a very interesting circuit with the barriers very close to the track. I actually like this feeling of being on a street circuit, or a fast track with the walls very close. I know it is a very tricky circuit to get the best from because of the combination of low downforce and the fact the surface has very little grip, given that in winter it’s covered in snow and ice and then hardly used during the year. I think my first race weekend here will be really interesting, getting used to the low downforce and its effect on braking, which in any case is an important factor here. It should all be about finding the right compromise in terms of your set-up to deal with these unusual characteristics that we do not encounter on any other track on the calendar. I will have a lot to learn, but I am really looking forward to another new experience as part of my F1 learning curve.â€
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal
“At Toro Rosso, we are looking forward to coming back to Montreal, as the city is a great venue that always gives Formula One a good welcome. It is also an important market for Red Bull and, until we return to the USA, this is our only North American venue and therefore it is commercially important for all teams and partners. In Montreal, you get the feeling that the people are very keen on F1, with a party atmosphere that lasts all weekend and is only rivalled by the Monaco event. The track itself puts the emphasis on engine power and brakes. Both our drivers will be racing here for the first time and the plan will be for them to do as many laps as possible on Friday to learn the track, because getting the most out of it is harder than it looks on paper.â€
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
“I remember Kubica’s spectacular accident in 2007, partly because it opened the door for Sebastian Vettel to race in F1, at the following week’s United States Grand Prix; an important moment in our future history and that of the whole Red Bull family. I also have mixed feelings about the last time we were there in 2008. Both our drivers – Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais – had accidents on Saturday morning. We could not repair Vettel’s car which needed a new chassis and with Bourdais, we had to change the gearbox: not an ideal way to go into the rest of the weekend. Bourdais had to take a penalty therefore and started from 19th on the grid, while Vettel started from pit lane. But he managed to work his way up the order and eventually brought home one point for eighth place, which is Toro Rosso’s best Canadian result to date. It would be nice to better it this time.â€
Gerard Lecoq, Toro Rosso chief mechanic
“On the racing side, I remember Kubica’s 2007 accident, as a reminder that this is still a dangerous sport. Fortunately, I have many more pleasant memories, including the Raft Race for teams which was held on the Thursday for many years: you had to build a raft to cross the rowing basin and it was a bit of light hearted fun for everyone, with some teams even converting their spare race chassis into a raft. This event was replaced by inter-team races for rowing skiffs. It was very tough as you had to go up and down the entire length of the rowing basin, with one member of the local rowing club and five F1 personnel. As one side of the boat was inevitably stronger than the other, the hardest part was keeping the skiff in a straight line! I have always tried to spend some extra time in Canada around the Grand Prix, to go fishing or whale watching in the St Lawrence which is a superb experience. The people are fantastic and after the long Canadian winter they all seem to make the most of their short summer and are very welcoming to the Formula One community.â€
Heikki Kovalainen, (2008 Qualifying – 7th, Finished 9th):
“I’m really looking forward to Canada. Montreal is an amazing city and everyone there really loves the fact they have a race on their doorsteps. It’s pretty impressive how the whole place almost becomes like a festival – some streets are closed for parties, events and all sorts of things, and everyone really gets behind the whole race. With the circuit being practically in the city it’s hard to escape the noise and goings on, but I love it. The circuit itself is a real challenge, for the cars and the drivers. Braking is very important because there are long straights and it’s the second hardest circuit on the brakes in the whole season – cooling them is a priority and getting your braking points right is the key to a good lap. There’s always a lot of action in the braking zones, so we’ll see how we get on in the race. Riding the kerbs well is also critical, so it’s important to set up the car for them, and we’ll focus on that on Friday.â€
Jarno Trulli, (2008 Qualifying – 14th, Finished 6th):
“Canada’s a funny one for me – even though I love Canada – the track, the people and the city – the race itself has never loved me! It’s a great challenge, and I’ve always performed pretty well there, but I’ve never had much luck there, so maybe that will change this year. As it’s a temporary circuit it’s a major challenge the whole way round. There’s the constant threat of the walls and it’s critical not to make any mistakes. You have to have confidence in the car and a good setup gives you the chance to push, but you’ve got to be perfect the whole time, otherwise it will bite you. It’s also very quick, and hard on brakes, so the cooling and the stability under braking are both important, and I think we’re pretty good in both areas, so we should be ok. Our car has been performing better and better over the last few races, so we’ll see what happens when we get out there, but I think we’ll continue to move away from the other new guys, and towards those ahead.â€
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
“It’s been a busy few days since Turkey for the team and they’ve been working very hard in the factory, particularly focusing on our reliability. We have to aim to get two cars home whenever we can and consistent reliability is the key to doing that. We have developed well in a number of important areas, but so far reliability is one where we need to work harder – I hope Canada’s where we can turn that around. It’s one of the great races on the calendar, and we’re all looking forward to getting out there. North America’s an important area for us, particularly bearing in mind CNN is one of our partners and the heritage Lotus has on the continent, so I hope we put on a good show in Montreal. The steps we’ve taken so far this season should help us do that, and we’ve also just announced how we’ve strengthened the senior technical team, so the building blocks for the future are in place for us to keep moving forward.â€
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“Canada’s a race we all look forward to. It’s a great city and a great race and we’re all glad to be going back to Montreal. It’s a temporary circuit where you often see quite a few people hit the wall, bringing out the safety car more than it’s usually seen. It’s one of those races where it’s possible to pick up points, and we’ve got to put ourselves in a position to do that. We’ve got two very experienced drivers in the car which will help us be there at the finish and that’s the primary goal. It’s going to be hard on brakes, but we’ve had no problems in that area. We’re also bringing a few more new parts, including a low downforce package specifically for Canada, so overall we want to build on the performances we’ve been putting in, aim for bullet-proof reliability, and have two cars see the flag.â€
Bruno Senna (2008 Qualifying – N/A, Finished – N/A):
“I am looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix and the great ambiance in town and at the circuit. I only know the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from television and videogames. The track is a mixture of low speed corners and long straights on which top speeds are very high and very challenging for the drivers. I hope that this low downforce nature helps us and that both cars could pass the finish line at the end of the race.â€
Karun Chandhok, (2008 Qualifying – N/A, 2008 Race N/A):
“I never raced in Montreal before and therefore I am really looking forward to get to know this circuit. I was told by people in the paddock that the atmosphere is supposed to be unique there. The track itself is pretty tricky with a lot of bumps and kerbs which are typical of a street circuit. Because of the long straights and many braking actions you need a car, which is stable on the brakes and has good traction. Our aim is still to finish the race with both cars.â€
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a mix of long straights, fast and slow corners. The hard braking is going to be a big challenge for our drivers, who didn’t race in Montreal before. But we are prepared for our first race in Canada and we could improve the performance of our car like it was already shown in Turkey. It feels good to see the fruit of our hard labour and that we could do a step forward. We want to build on this for Canada and to perform well.â€
Timo Glock, (2008 Qualifying – 11th, Finished 4th):
“We head to Canada in good spirits after a positive outcome to our weekend in Turkey, which saw both myself and Lucas (Di Grassi) take the chequered flag. I’m pretty excited to be coming back to Montreal. It’s a race that everyone has a lot of affection for – drivers, team members and fans – so I hope it’s back on the calendar for good. I’ve had a lot of fun races and good results here in the past. In fact, this was the scene of my first F1 race and I got my first championship points in it. I raced here in Champ Car in 2005 and finished on the podium, so it’s a circuit that has a lot of happy memories for me. Montreal is also a great city with a fun carnival atmosphere, especially on Crescent Street. Virgin Mobile are presenting the activities there this weekend, so Lucas and I will be down there on Saturday night to say hello to the Virgin Racing fans. In terms of our racing objectives for the weekend, we’ll be looking for another two-car finish with more clear signs that we are making good progress with car performance. I’m looking forward to it.â€
Lucas di Grassi, (2008 Qualifying N/A, 2008 Race N/A):
“I’m really looking forward to racing in Canada for the first time. We had a good result in Turkey and I hope we can achieve the same outcome this weekend but with fewer frustrations along the way. With regard to the problems we had with the engine, we don’t expect to have any similar issues this time. We need a clean start on Friday in Free Practice and to keep building from there. This will be my second race with the new chassis. I’ve done some work in the simulators to prepare for this race. The first two corners are pretty tight, so it will be interesting to see how 24 cars get through there at the start of the race because it was always pretty hair-raising when it was only 10 teams rather than 12. This is a big race for Virgin on and off the race track with plenty of fun things happening at the Crescent Street Festival and hopefully the reward of best of the new teams once again.â€
John Booth, Virgin team principal
“We were very pleased with our result in Turkey which underlined the continued progress we are making on the track and operationally. It’s been another tight turnaround for us, getting the cars and equipment back from Turkey and turning them around in time to send them on their way across to Canada, although the task is made much easier by the fact that we have equal equipment again. We’re very excited to be racing in Montreal at what is a fantastic and technically challenging race track, although it does of course have a record as a bit of a car breaker. The main areas of concern are brake wear as the cars slow from seventh to second gear six times during the lap, high rear tyre wear due to the traction demands of the circuit and an unusually high number of gear changes. Having said that, we have in Timo and Lucas two great young drivers who have coped incredibly well with everything that we’ve thrown at them so far this season and no doubt they will do another good job here again this weekend.â€