The Canadian Grand Prix Preview 07 Jun 2007
This time last year Ferrari really began to make inroads into Renaults technical advantage, though much of that was hidden by the fact that Michael Schumacher needed a late-race crash by Jacques Villeneuve to throw him the lifeline that put him back in contention with eventual winner Fernando Alonso. stuf-This time last year Ferrari really began to make inroads into Renaults technical advantage, though much of that was hidden by the fact that Michael Schumacher needed a late-race crash by Jacques Villeneuve to throw him the lifeline that put him back in contention with eventual winner Fernando Alonso.
This year Alonso is still the man to beat, for McLaren, and Ferrari are a lot more confident of reversing the result from Monaco the week before last. The F2007 should suit the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, a tightish track that demands excellent aerodynamics, a powerful engine, good traction and good stability under heavy braking. These are also characteristics of the McLaren MP4-22, so we can again look forward to another tough clash between the two major teams. It will be heightened by Lewis Hamiltons increasing desire to get his first victory under his belt, something that he clearly believes he could - and should - have achieved in Monte Carlo.
The result in Monaco was great for everyone in the team, it was a dream result considering it was my first year there in a Formula One car, and it means we are going to North America at the top of both championship tables, Hamilton says. I cannot wait to get back on track and continue to focus on racing. This will be my debut at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve; because of the chances there are to pass, it looks like a great track to compete on. It has some very distinctive characteristics, such as the low grip, the long straights, hard braking and so on, so my initial laps will focus on understanding all these and how best to drive the track to get good times. I have completed preparation work with my engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre specific to Canada and the US, and it will be great to finally take to the track here in Montreal.
The track comprises several quick corners and long straights with a mixture of slow corners that demand heavy braking from more than 320 km/h four times during the lap. Complicating this issue is the fact that, unlike Monaco, the cars run in low-drag, low-to-medium downforce configuration, so the engineers also need to attain the right mechanical set-up in the suspension to give the drivers as much feel as possible. Additionally, brake disc and pad wear can be a problem, the rear tyres take a beating, and this is a tough track for engines too, with full throttle for 65 percent of the lap. Small wonder so many engineers relish the challenge of Montreal.
Behind McLaren and Ferrari, BMW Sauber are keeping a wary eye on Renault, who have improved significantly in recent races as they chase after the Swiss-German team for third place overall. Toyota were buoyed by their testing form at Paul Ricard in preparation for this race, but Red Bull have also been making progress, Williams clearly have a pretty good car, and Honda are keeping their hopes up. A dark horse for strong midfield performance may be Toro Rosso, who will be running a new aero spec here for the first time, together with seamless-shift transmission, also for the first time.