Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Canada preview - can Mercedes maintain momentum? 06 Jun 2013

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 26 May 2013 Pirelli tyres at Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Wednesday, 22 May 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2012 Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2012 Jean Alesi (FRA) Ferrari celebrates his only victory in Formula One whilst being given a lift back to the pits by Michael Schumacher (GER) Benetton B195. Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, 11 June 1995. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35 crashed out of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 26 May 2013 Grid girls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2012

Can Lewis Hamilton rediscover his mojo and give Mercedes a second consecutive victory to follow up on team mate Nico Rosberg’s triumph in Monaco? Will Red Bull get back on track on a circuit that historically hasn’t suited them? Or can Ferrari or Lotus reassert themselves?

This weekend’s Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2013 poses plenty of questions that make for an exciting and unpredictable encounter.

As ever, tyres will play a major role, and the big news here is that, after all, Pirelli won’t have their revised construction wares, with a Kevlar belt instead of steel to prevent the failures that have befallen the likes of Hamilton this year. At least, they won’t have them for drivers to race, but each team will get two sets of them to try out on Friday.

Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is a low-downforce track so teams seek to maximise straight-line speed, and that means the tyres do more work cornering and the rears in particular bear a heavy load accelerating out of turns. Injudicious use of the throttle can also generate wheelspin, exacerbating wear.

The numerous kerbs also punish the rubber as they are high and aggressive, especially in the final corner where they are tackled at 130 km/h. The infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ awaits those who push too hard there.

Pirelli will be bringing their red-marked supersoft and white-marked medium P Zeros, whereas last year they had the softs and supersofts. Both 2013 choices have a low working range, which makes them perfectly matched to the likely weather conditions. With rain forecast on Friday and Saturday, the green-marked intermediates and blue-marked wets are also likely to be used.

“Canada is always one of the most unpredictable races of the year and this is partly because it is so challenging for tyres, mostly due to the heavy braking and traction demands of the circuit,” says Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery.

“Coupled with a high degree of track evolution over the weekend, effective tyre management has always been a key to success in Montreal, right from when the circuit was inaugurated in the late Seventies. We’d expect two to three pit stops per car, but we’ll only be able to make a precise forecast after Friday once we’ve seen some running out on track. It’s a circuit where weather conditions often play a key role: our very first Canadian Grand Prix in 2011 actually turned out to be the longest race in Formula One history because of heavy rain and a subsequent race stoppage. Last year was dry, but we witnessed a new record with the seventh winner from seven races.

“Because of the high degree of tyre wear and degradation, we would expect to see a number of different strategies at work, as was the case last year - with teams deciding whether to go for a ‘sprint’ strategy or to do fewer stops and put the accent on endurance. Last year the ‘sprint’ approach won the race, but with so many different parameters at work, the teams will have to analyse the data - not to mention the weather forecast - very carefully before committing to any particular tactics. Often a flexible approach works best in Canada, so we can also expect many teams to be leaving their options open, allowing the drivers to really make the difference when it counts.”

Out of interest, Hamilton stopped twice last year en route to victory, while the second and third placed finishers stopped only once. The strategies all the way down the top 10 were half and half: five of the 10 stopped twice and the other five once.

Pirelli ambassador Jean Alesi has good cause to remember the track fondly. “Canada will always be an incredibly special place for me, because of course it’s where I won the race in 1995, driving for Ferrari, with the number of Gilles Villeneuve: number 27,” he says. “It’s hard to describe the emotion, but it was just an amazing feeling of joy and an incredible atmosphere, with the crowd running onto the track afterwards… Canada is always a place where the fans are absolutely fantastic; it’s a great feeling to go to a country where Formula One is embraced so enthusiastically.

“For a driver it’s a really big challenge too: as so many of the grandstands are close to the track and the walls are very close as well, so it feels a bit like Monaco in some ways. But of course it’s a lot faster than Monaco and this is why it’s challenging for the tyres as well. The main characteristic is acceleration and braking: you cover a really wide range of speeds from flat-out on the straight to very slow corners. It’s important to manage the tyres properly and have a good strategy to cope with these demands.”

Hamilton, who has won every time he’s finished here since scoring his maiden Grand Prix victory in 2007, says: “The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has been a strong circuit for me and I've been lucky enough to win there three times in my career, including last season. It's always a great weekend in Montreal with a fun atmosphere in the city and at the track.

“The circuit itself is really special; it's very high-speed, great fun to drive and it's definitely a track where late braking helps. It's not too far off a Monaco-style circuit where you need a similar set-up to bounce off the kerbs so we should be quite competitive, although looking after the tyres will be our main challenge. There's a really good feeling in the team at the moment following Nico's win in Monaco and we're continuing to work hard to make sure we have the potential for more victories this season.”

Of note, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado will both have new chassis here to replace those damaged in their accidents in Monaco, while American Alex Rossi will get his chance of a Friday morning run for Caterham.

After last year’s single DRS zone, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve reverts to two for 2013, with a single detection point just after Turn 9. The first zone is on the Casino Straight, which heads into the final chicane, and immediately after that comes the second zone, on the start-finish straight.

In other minor track changes, gravel and grass around the outside of Turn 8 and the apex of Turn 9 has been replaced with asphalt, while ‘speed bumps’ approximately 50mm high and 500mm wide have been installed parallel to the track edge on the driver’s left before the apex kerb in Turn 9 and after the apex kerb in Turn 14.

Sunday’s race takes place over 70 laps or 305.270 kilometres (189.688 miles) and starts at 1400 hours local time, which is four hours behind GMT. Note that Saturday’s FP3 and qualifying sessions start an hour earlier than usual, at 1000 and 1300 respectively.

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.