Montreal - the engineers view 09 Jun 2004
The lowdown on what makes for a quick car in Canada
Find out what the sports top technicians make of the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, venue for the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend. With its stop-start nature, the track can take a heavy toll on engines, brakes and tyres, as the engineering experts explain
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams:
Montreal is a low to medium downforce circuit, dominated by traction and braking, with low cornering speeds so selecting the correct downforce level is crucial. Increased demand is therefore placed on the cars' braking efficiency, aerodynamics and engine power. Overtaking opportunities are better than those at other circuits on the calendar so we should see some good racing. Based on previous form, however, the safety car is regularly deployed at this race so we will need to ensure we develop a good race strategy.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, Williams:
Apart from the pre-requisites of aerodynamic and brake efficiency, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is going to be very challenging for the BMW P84 engine. The track's long straights will test engine power, while Montreal's high temperatures will place a strain on its reliability, but we should be well equipped for both challenges.
Dr Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance, Jaguar:
The Gilles Villeneuve circuit is an interesting and testing race-track and as a team we all enjoy going there. The R4 (last year's car) suited the lay-out and we secured two championship points. We will of course be looking to do the same or better, here this year with Mark and Christian. The track is very hard on the brakes and cars regularly lose their brakes altogether. We are confident in this specific area as we have spent much time monitoring wear and optimising cooling and the results are encouraging. The down force is medium to low with the aeroscan being reasonably flat. Engine power is, not surprisingly, extremely important around this circuit. We have been continuing to work alongside Cosworth Racing to push forward with developments on the CR6 - V10. They continue to take steps forward and we are very pleased with the base engine reliability this year so far. Finally we are confident that our Michelin tyres should prove strong this weekend and we look forward to a good qualifying and more importantly an exciting and productive race.
Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"Montreal is a medium downforce track, as the top speed is in excess of 330 kph. It's therefore something of a power circuit. It follows too that it requires very high brake performance and stability. For the brakes it is the most demanding track of the season, because they are loaded frequently and have little chance to cool down. You need to maximise brake cooling efficiency in particular. For this reason we tested our latest cooling specification at Monza last week in preparation. We will also use the hardest brake pad and disc specification.
"The track surface in Montreal is quite benign, so we can get away with softer tyre compounds. Overtaking is possible here, usually going into the hairpin or on the exit if another car does not make a clean job of the corner. This is another factor to take into account when deciding your strategy."
James Robinson, Head of Race and Test Engineering, Jordan:
"Montreal is a fantastic city and it has a very exciting race track. This is our first chance to run the EJ14 with medium downforce configuration which is an interesting prospect. The circuit is hard on brakes and hard on the heat durability of the tyres so we have been testing with Bridgestone and are confident that the tyres we are taking will stand us in good stead for the race. Part of the enjoyment of the weekend is the location as Montreal is such a great place, they love motor racing and the fans there are well-educated and knowledgeable. They follow Formula One very closely and know what they are watching so hopefully it will be a thrilling race for all."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director, BAR:
"Following our recent podium successes, the team is looking forward to racing at Montreal, where we also expect to be competitive. We have a few small car developments for this race but the main change is a new specification of engine. Our target for Canada is to finish on the podium again but most importantly to finish both cars in the points to try to close up with Renault in the Championship.
"The circuit itself is a mixture of high-speed straights broken by low-speed chicanes and hairpins, with the only real corners being in the sequence after turn two. The downforce level will be quite low but determined by the balance between braking stability and sufficiently high top speed for the race. The track is quite bumpy and, as it is used only once a year, the conditions change a lot through the weekend as the track cleans up. Good traction and stability over the bumps is important, and the circuit is always very hard on brakes. The track presents few overtaking opportunities so qualifying position and start performance will be significant factors in determining the outcome of the race."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"We have introduced a countermeasure for the problem with Taku's engine at the Nurburgring, and done some useful running at testing with the new Canada spec engine. Lap times were good at both the Silverstone and Monza tests, and we have high hopes for the race in Montreal."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
Montreal incorporates a blend of high-speed straights, slow-speed corners and fierce braking zones. It is one of the seasons most challenging tracks for a tyre manufacturer. Last season we gave our partner teams a clear technical advantage although a combination of factors conspired to deny us victory. I am confident we can redress the balance this time.
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:
After the Nurburgring, where tyres are subjected to very even loads during the course of a lap, we will stick with compounds from the softer end of our range for Montreal although the circuit parameters are very different from those we encountered in Germany. There are no quick corners and cars are constantly accelerating hard from hairpin bends or slow chicanes, a factor that inflicts a substantial load on the rear tyres. Even a slight rise in temperature can be enough to put them under great duress. Furthermore, you cant choose too hard a compound because the circuit has a low-grip surface. Its a difficult compromise that makes Montreal an interesting exercise for tyre manufacturers it would be very easy to make a mistake when finalising your options. After analysing data from the last few races and a recent test session at Paul Ricard, we have chosen three dry-weather compounds that should be capable of dealing with Montreals potential pitfalls.
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone:
"Montreal is another of those circuits that we only get one chance a year to run on so we have had to think carefully about our preparations when testing in Europe. When making their choices, the teams have had to think about both heat durability and stability under braking as it is a tough circuit with high top speeds. Bridgestone shall provide four specifications of dry weather tyre with compounds from the mid to soft range because of the track's smooth surface. We have also had to take into consideration that Montreal can be subject to a wide range of weather conditions. If sunny, track temperatures can be up in the forties but if, like last year, we have cloudy weather, temperatures can be low.