Button aiming for strong showing in Canada

McLaren hoping to challenge for back-to-back race victories in 2010; Hamilton expects Montreal to challenge drivers

Jenson Button is hopeful that the characteristics of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will prove advantageous to McLaren and allow him to challenge for victory in next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion currently lies second in the drivers’ championship and believes that the superior straight line speed of the MP4-25 will allow him to challenge for his third victory of the season.

Button has previously ran well around 2.7 circuit, having finished on the podium in 2004 and taken pole a year later.

“It’s fantastic to be going back to Montreal after a year away.” Button said in McLaren’s Canadian Grand Prix preview. “I think everyone in Formula 1 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 1 and I think this year’s race has all the ingredients for a classic.”

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh also echoed Button’s comments, and noted the importance of Canada’s return to the sport’s calendar.

“The return of Formula 1 to North America is a very positive move for the sport.” he said. “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 laptime. Once again, we’ll be looking for another strong result before the circus returns to Europe for the rest of the summer.”

Montreal is also seen as an important milestone in the career of Lewis Hamilton, with the British driver taking his maiden Grand Prix victory there in 2007. As a result, the 25-year-old is looking forward to the challenges posed by Canadian circuit as well as the warm atmosphere that he will receive from the local people.

“I won my first grand prix in Montreal 2007 seems like such a long time ago,” Hamilton said. “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.”