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Canada - the drivers' preview 08 Jun 2005

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, 27 May 2005 Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte Carlo, Monaco, 22 May 2005 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, 27 May 2005 (L to R): Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault and team mate Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 29 May 2005

The Championship heads west for round eight

With its fun-loving, laidback atmosphere, Montreal is a favourite destination with the Formula One drivers - and the city's Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is pretty highly rated too, as they explain ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 2nd, 2004 Race - 3rd

"The circuit is a very stop-start type of track which doesn't really flow very much at all. The circuit has been resurfaced, so it's going to be a bit of a challenge for the teams and tyre manufacturers to choose the right tyres for the race. There are some reasonably good overtaking opportunities and so the drivers and the fans should be able to look forward to a great race. We ran quite well there last year, finishing in fourth, so we are hoping for an improvement in our performance this week.

"Montreal is a great place to visit. The city is beautiful and there are some great places to visit. It's always one of my favourite pit stops on the calendar."

Takuma Sato, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 17th, 2004 Race - DNF

"The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a tricky one as it has a long straight, features heavy braking, a hairpin and a chicane. You need a car that is stable and performs well under braking. We had a good test at Silverstone on Thursday which was important for our overall development and we also had a positive feeling from the test team in Monza, who were looking at Montreal specifications. So I am very excited to go to Canada and I believe that we should have a good race there next weekend.

"I always enjoy visiting Montreal as it is a great cosmopolitan city. Its unique fusion of historic architecture and the modern downtown district makes it very interesting. The fact that it also has a very good race track with a great atmosphere makes it even more exciting!"

David Coulthard, Red Bull
2004 Qualifying - 9th, 2004 Race - 6th

"Montreal is one of the most fun cities on the F1 calendar, the circuit is great and the people are always extremely hospitable - they remind me a bit of the Scot's. I have a very good friend in Montreal who always lays on something a little bit special when we all arrive in town. Grand Prix week is now synonymous with the post race party held by Guy Laliberte (the founder and president of Cirque Du Soleil), which is one of the highlights of the F1 season. I like the city, there are great places to eat, including Jacques Villeneuve's restaurant and club ‘Newtown’, where we are always made to feel very welcome. As for the track itself, it is a combination of very high speed corner entries and some kerb-hopping chicanes. It is tough on engines and particularly on brakes and represents a difficult challenge for the drivers and engineers alike. All in all, Montreal is one of the most popular venues on the calendar and I'm looking forward to being there - great city, nice people, good race, it's got the lot!"

Christian Klien, Red Bull
2004 Qualifying - 10th, 2004 Race - 9th

"Montreal is a place I really like. I'm impressed by the huge shopping malls, while the city has a very European and international feel to it and the people are very friendly. The track has an interesting location, surrounded by water. I was quite successful there last year and out qualified my team-mate Mark Webber. I have been testing in Silverstone for two days and as usual the weather was not so good which made it tricky to get as much work done as we planned. However, we tried some new bits on the aerodynamic side, as well as some electronic modifications, which we will use in Canada and hopefully they will bring us a little step forward. For sure I am really looking forward to be racing again."

Scott Speed, third driver, Red Bull
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"This is an incredible opportunity for me. Putting aside the fact that my second appearance at a grand prix will be in my homeland, it is really exciting to be driving an F1 car in front of a big crowd. I have never driven at either Montreal or Indy, so it will be a good experience for me. I don't know what to expect, but I am there to do a job, so I don't feel any extra pressure at the thought of the media interest that might come with it. Apart from last week's session at Silverstone, I did a two day test at Barcelona after the Malaysian GP. An F1 car is completely different to anything else I have ever driven, so the more miles I can do, the better.”

Mark Webber, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 14th, 2004 Race - DNF

“Montreal reminds me of Melbourne in many ways as the city really welcomes and embraces the Grand Prix every year. The track itself has a street circuit feel to it as there are plenty of walls around it and is very challenging for the driver. There’s always a great atmosphere in the city, and at the circuit, and I know all the teams enjoy going there.

“Montreal is a track that requires good braking and traction performance, as well as lots of horsepower from the engine for the long straight. To help achieve the top speed, we need to run a different downforce level to that which we’ve been using on the tracks we’ve visited so far this year. This race has been a fairly happy hunting ground for WilliamsF1 in the past and, although I didn’t finish the race there last year, I had a points finish in 2003. I’m looking forward to the race and I hope we can continue the points-scoring run the team is enjoying at the moment.”

Nick Heidfeld, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 15th, 2004 Race - 8th

"I’m looking forward to going to Canada, not only because it’s such a good race track, but also because I like the city and the people. The circuit will present a new challenge this year because the organisers have just re-surfaced it, so no-one really knows what to expect. We will have new parts on the car, again, so I hope they will work well and I also hope Michelin will again provide us with a good tyre choice.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Montreal is a special race for me. That's not only because this is my home race so it feels special to come here, but because there are many great aspects to this event. The track is located in a very nice area and the crowd is fantastic. The drivers are closer to the fans than at most tracks and it creates such a great atmosphere. The city offers a lot of entertainment and the people are very welcoming. I don't know of anyone coming to Montreal without being literally charmed. In terms of racing, the qualifying laps are not so exciting as there aren't any real fast corners, but racing is great because of the many heavy braking areas available around the track, where it is possible to overtake. Down the main straight you reach speeds between 330 and 340 kph but the mid-speed chicane halfway down is a tricky one: You have to carry a lot of speed into this corner and change direction quickly. A lot of drivers have had accidents there, me included! I hope that we will be able to score some points here as we suffered from bad luck in recent races and the team really deserves some good results. I know that my week is going to be very intense but I am very excited about it and look forward to being there."

Felipe Massa, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - 19th, 2004 Race - DNF

"Montreal is a great city, and I like the track, too. It's quite special and a little bit like Imola. Lots of straights and chicanes. That makes it hard on the brakes, but it means there are overtaking opportunities because of the straights. The secret is being able to get out of the preceding corners well, especially the hairpin. It's usually better to try passing somebody down the following straight after getting a good exit, than trying to out-brake them going into that corner. That's only a small chance, if you catch somebody out. I think it should suit our car better than some other circuits, the way that Imola did, so I think we can do well here."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 5th, 2004 Race - DNF

“Before we go there (Montreal) we do tests to simulate the downforce levels, so it is not a complete surprise when we drive on the first day, but the car still feels very light - it is quite nervous, so you need to find the right limit between attacking for a good lap-time, and not attacking too much. The chicanes can be tricky, because you must balance an attacking style with being careful not to crash. But I enjoy the circuit and since I have been with Renault, I have had good races there, so I am optimistic.

“I said after the Nurburgring that during the race, the car had felt good to drive again - I could attack all the way to the end of the race, and did not have to be defensive like in Spain and Monaco. I hope that will be true again in Canada. Every year I have been there with Renault, we have been quick in Montreal - with the R23 I set fastest lap, and with the R24 we were in a position to win, so with this year's car, there is no reason not to expect a podium or perhaps the victory, as long as we have no problems during the weekend. I am really confident that the car will be competitive there.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 11th, 2004 Race - 4th

“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a great circuit for me. It is tough for the brakes, there are the chicanes where you need to be precise and the track surface is very slippery, so it is quite easy to make mistakes. But I just feel confident with the car every time I go there. I feel comfortable with the low downforce levels, and I seem to find the limit straight away.

”I am feeling very confident. Renault were quick there last year, and personally, I have had four podiums at this circuit and even last year with Sauber, I finished in fourth position. Looking at qualifying, I will be going out near the end of the session which means we will have some more options with the strategy, so things are set up for a good race. As long as the preparations are trouble free, I think we will have a good enough car to be aiming for at least the podium.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2004 Qualifying - 1st, 2004 Race - 1st

“Lately, I have not made very accurate predictions. I will be going to Montreal and there, with the team, will be doing the best that we can. First of all we have to wait for free practice on Friday and only then will we have a clearer idea of how things stand. There are many teams who have worked hard and so I would prefer to wait before evaluating the situation. What is certain is that we will be fighting right down to the last. We want to get back to the top. If there had not been the untidy start at Nurburgring that compromised my race, Rubens (Barrichello) and I would now be in a very good position. However, we have taken a step in the right direction and it is in this direction that we have to continue.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari
2004 Qualifying - 7th, 2004 Race - 2nd

“I go to Canada hoping the championship changes a bit for us and that we can start winning. The next two tracks are ones where we are usually very strong so I go there in a positive frame of mind. I really like the atmosphere in Canada and I am enthusiastic about it. We are not going to Canada just to score points. We are thinking we can win. We need to see if we can get the best set-up and the best possible tyre. Renault and McLaren are very strong. But with a bit of luck and a good strategy, the car is good so if we make the right tyre choice we should be okay.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 3rd, 2004 Race - DNF

"The Canadian Grand Prix is one of my favourite races. The atmosphere you get in Montreal both at the track and in town is great. In June the weather is nice and you can enjoy the long evenings to relax in the town after a hard day at the circuit. The time difference to Canada is not to hard to adjust to, but I always try to arrive at overseas races early so my body clock can adapt. I like driving on this track, too, and I especially like the way the circuit flows. The circuit's long straights mean you need a low downforce set-up. That makes things slightly more difficult for drivers because the car feels lighter, and more critical to drive when you are braking and turning in. So we have to get used to that. I really can't say yet how we will perform in Canada. It's still my first season with Toyota and I haven't yet had a chance to drive the car around the circuit. But I remain positive looking ahead to the race and I hope we can bring home yet another great result for the team."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 1st, 2004 Race - DSQ

"I always look forward to the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal is one of my favourite places on the calendar. The city is beautiful and welcomes Formula 1 with open arms with a lively and unique atmosphere. The people are friendly and everyone gets behind the thrill and excitement of our sport. That makes our annual visit extremely enjoyable. Montreal also boasts one of the best circuits on the calendar in Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It is a track which offers a special technical challenge with its fast straights and heavy braking, which demands a lot from the car. I have quite a good record in Canada – including a win here in 2001 and second place in 2003. Here we are yet another two years on, so logically, I look set for another good result, this time with Panasonic Toyota Racing. After the disappointment and frustration of the Nurburgring, I think we have a package that can perform well around the part street circuit in Montreal. With a fresh RVX-05 engine I am looking forward to adding to my 17 points from the season so far."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 8th, 2004 Race - 5th

"The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the fastest tracks we race on, with speeds reaching 320 kph on the back straight. This of course means there are big braking zones, and as a result we will run with larger brake ducts than normal, and have a set-up that gives us good stability under braking. If you were looking to compare it to another track, the Canadian circuit would be most similar to Imola, and, despite the end result, the MP4-20 was suited to its characteristics, so hopefully we will run well this weekend. However, I will be out pretty early for Qualifying on Saturday, which will be a disadvantage as the track is always really dirty."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 4th, 2004 Race - DSQ

"I always enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix, the atmosphere is really lively and the fans are so enthusiastic, so it is great fun. The track itself demands high speed grip, whilst running a low downforce set-up. This in particular means that the car has a feeling of being lighter, you feel like you are on the limit with it the whole time. Because the Armco are very tight and you have the high speeds, this means you have to be very precise, as with Monaco. The set-up of the car also needs to give good traction out of the slow corners. There are also good overtaking opportunities, for example going into the hairpin, so hopefully we can have another exciting race for the fans."

Pedro de la Rosa, third driver, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"As the Montreal circuit has been re-asphalted, the new asphalt characteristics are unknown for everyone. We will do as much work as we can during the two Friday sessions to understand how this will affect temperatures and wear on our Michelin tyres."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"The two North American races will be a bit difficult for me as I have never driven on these circuits; which will be different from my team mate who has already raced in Montreal when he was in Champ Car. However, I think I will enjoy driving in Canada as it seems to be very similar to Australia, a track that I particularly liked. I will have to spend the first sessions learning the layout but that should be ok. I know this is a circuit which has been quite successful for Jordan Grand Prix; I will then give my all and try to have a good race and a good result for the team."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Montreal is a very nice track for the drivers but for the public as well. Its location on the island and the scenery around it are amazing. It usually a track where you can fight, as there are quite high speed chicanes and a lot of hard braking, so there is a potential to overtake. I have enjoyed racing in Montreal when I was in Champ Car and I am really looking forward to driving a Formula One car there. It is also the start of two fly away races, therefore we have to keep fit, focused and improve on the good work we have been doing."