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Canadian Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 21 Jun 2006

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BMW Sauber F1.06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, 8 June 2006 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Preparations, Imola, Italy, 20 April 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, 9 June 2006

Not only is Montreal’s Gilles Villeneuve Circuit an interesting and challenging one, the city itself always extends the warmest of welcomes to the Formula One racing fraternity. No wonder then that, just like the fans, the drivers love the Canadian race…

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - 9th

“It's always nice to come to Montreal. I hold very fond memories of my home. Since my childhood, I have spent more time in Europe and I have had fewer and fewer opportunities to visit Canada. That makes it even nicer to return here for the Grand Prix every year. I have many friends that I meet on this occasion and, of course, I can see my family as well. My motto is to relax in a familiar atmosphere before completing a strenuous weekend.

“Naturally, the media and the fans are more interested during my home GP and I have a lot of PR appointments. That's all part of the game and actually fun to do in Montreal. It is fantastic to feel the support. In May we celebrated the five-year anniversary of my club Newtown in the city centre. I will definitely drop by during the race weekend as well. The difficulty on the circuit is a lot of heavy braking and we don't have many tracks like that any more. Because it is a track no one goes on in the year, we never know what to expect grip-wise, how the asphalt will be, how bumpy it will be, because there are normal road cars during the week. It is a little bit like Melbourne - always a bit of a surprise. The difficulty there is low grip, and because of the layout, all the braking zones and the chicanes and overtaking opportunities, a lot of people forget themselves once in a while and you have quite a few incidents, but that is what creates the excitement.

“It is a special weekend, and seeing how everybody is happy to be in Canada makes me proud. The crowd is fantastic for any driver. You can be from any country and they will cheer you on. They are there all weekend and it is like a party the whole time. You can really feel the positive energy. The whole town is into the race big time -it's a bit like Monaco. The attitude there is very young and upbeat.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 13th, 2005 Race - DNF

“For me, Montreal and Melbourne are the Grands Prix I enjoy going to the most. Irrespective of the circuit, I just love the city of Montreal, which is why I'm looking forward to flying out there a few days early.

“It's a circuit with a character of its own. This is one of the last high-speed tracks we still have. There are long straights with relatively slow turns and chicanes in between. I really like the second chicane. Once enough rubber has been laid down on the track to give you the right grip and provided the car is running well, you really hammer the kerbs there. But that turn also has an incline, and on exiting you get very close to the wall.

“Right now we believe our car is particularly good on fast stretches. The proof of the pudding will be when we get to Montreal.”

Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“I am now going to Montreal and facing another new circuit. I have heard a lot about it, but when I go out on Friday it will be the first time in any sort of car. This is always a challenge for me as I have to learn the circuit before I can start the hard work for the team. Luckily this year I have been able to do this very quickly, so this is another new challenge I am looking forward to. I already know that the track is hard on braking and that my tyre work will be very important.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 10th

"Montreal is a very different circuit from Silverstone. It's an extremely tough track, not only because of the heavy braking required for the slow corners, but also because of the huge kerbs, which really punish the cars and the drivers. It's the kind of track where we might struggle a bit more than usual, because the straights are very long and you need very efficient aerodynamics to reach the highest possible top speed. All in all, it doesn't present us with the best set of conditions for our kind of car but as usual, we'll just have to deal with it. I think that for the past three races we've shown much better-than-expected pace, so once again we will do everything possible to be competitive."

Christijan Albers, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 15th, 2005 Race - 11th

"Montreal is one of my favourite circuits and I cannot wait to drive it in the M16. Last year, I had an amazing lap when I qualified my Minardi in 15th position on the starting grid - one of my best laps in 2005, as matter of fact. I now have a completely different car - a much better one - and I will do my very best to show again why this circuit is so special. The team has made good progress at the recent test and our new aero package looks promising. Everyone is working like crazy to improve and I will try to deliver a strong result, as this is one of the races where the driver can really make an extra difference. This is a home race for team owner Alex Shnaider, and I'd like to wish all of Midland's guests a great weekend."

Giorgio Mondini, third driver, Midland
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"I am very much looking forward to driving in Montreal, a challenging high-speed circuit that really demands the best out of the car and the driver. We are coming off a very productive test at Silverstone, with some positive developments being made. So I am optimistic that with a bit of luck, we can continue challenging for better positions this coming weekend."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - DNF

“These two flyaway races are different to the ones at the beginning of the season when we flew to the very hot and humid climates of Bahrain and Malaysia. The Canadian weather and the track is much easier on the body so we do not need to have special training, but we do arrive earlier to condition ourselves to the time difference and to get into the rhythm. The Gilles Villeneuve circuit is very hard on brakes following long straight but most of the corners are slow speed so braking stability and good traction are essential. Also the track can be quite bumpy due to its dramatically different weather conditions from winter to summer, so hopefully we can find good mechanical grip from the SA05.”

Franck Montagny, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“It was a good result for the team that we finished the race with both cars in Silverstone. For sure we are a long way off the pace but we completed more laps and collected a lot more data, so this is very positive. I am looking forward to visiting Montreal and to the Canadian Grand Prix as the circuit is very different, with different characteristics, and I think that our performance should be better there. It will of course be another very challenging and hard race for us, but I hope a good one.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - DNF

“Canada was one of the races on my ‘to-do’ list at the start of the season. I have never finished on the podium there, and that was one of my goals for 2006. So I will be really pushing to get a strong result there. In the past few years, this has always been a very good circuit for the Renault car. I didn't finish in 2005 or 2004, but we were very quick in both races, and I set the fastest lap in 2003. It will be a good track for us, I think.

“We go there knowing that the circuit will change a lot during the weekend. For sure, there will be more grip in every corner, every braking zone, every corner exit on Sunday, than on Friday. That means we have a moving target for the set-up, because the track is changing constantly, and we need to make the best estimates of what we will require for the tyres as well. But we have good data from previous years, and by Sunday, we always have a good car. So I don't think it will be a problem.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - DNF

“I have had some strong races recently, but the results have not quite been there for me, so I want to put things right in Canada. I have always really enjoyed the challenge of this circuit.

“I have been on the podium four times in Canada, twice in third, and twice in second. So there's only one place missing from my record! I think we can go to Canada and be confident of fighting for the win. We need a clean weekend of course, to get maximum track time and make sure there are no problems in practice or qualifying. But if we get that, then I will be aiming to make it five podiums in Canada and to do it from the top step of the podium.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 7th, 2005 Race - 1st

"The Canadian Grand Prix is defined by the long, high speed straights that go into very slow corners. As a result, perhaps more so than at other tracks, you need to have really good corner balance, so that you can get on the power right away as you exit the turn. Otherwise you would lose a huge amount of time on the straights. Because the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is such a fast track, we will run with a very low downforce set-up. It is also fairly low grip, as it is not severe on our Michelins we traditionally use a softer compound, so find the grip through this. As there are no high speed corners, there are no periods of high lateral loadings on the tyres. Despite the speed, you do need to be quite precise here, as it is part road circuit so the Armco are very close to the edge of the track. It is also pretty dusty at the start of the weekend, but as rubber is laid down it starts to clear on the racing line. It was fantastic to win last year, and we had a solid weekend at the last race in Silverstone, hopefully we can put in another good result this weekend."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - DSQ

"Although Silverstone and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are both pretty high speed, it is in a very different way. At Silverstone, you don’t really need to brake all that much. At Canada however, braking is key, with the most severe demands of the year in this area. As a result, we will run with increased brake cooling, so you will see larger openings in the body work. In addition there is a real focus with the set-up on braking stability. There are various areas that can be adjusted to improve braking performance, such as weight distribution and aero and mechanical balance. Alongside braking, straight line speed is also vital at Montreal, because of all the long straights, particularly when trying to overtake. There are chances, such as into the hairpin. The Canadian Grand Prix is a great race, as it is so close to downtown Montreal, the atmosphere is like a carnival. I really enjoy the race and hope I have a less eventful time this year!"

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 2nd, 2005 Race - 2nd

"Canada is a fantastic place and Montreal a marvellous city. The people here are always relaxed and are interested in our sport.The circuit itself is completely different to any that we have raced on until now. On the one hand it is necessary to be quick and so have a low aerodynamic download, or lower than usual. On the other hands, the chicanes call for the opposite and so we need a mechanical set up able to exploit the track's many kerbs. In my opinion, Montreal is a 'stop and go' type race and brakes are very important.

"I believe that we could do well but we will have to wait for Friday for a real sense of things. Our aim is clear: we want to do well and keep going in the title race. I am looking forward to it and we can expect a tight race. How will we do in the end? We will do just great!"

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 10th, 2005 Race - 6th

“We haven't enjoyed particularly good results of late but I'm sure we will continue to improve. The TF106B has made another step and while we still have work to do to reach the level we would like, we are going in the right direction. We have made progress with the mechanical side of the car and our Bridgestone tyres have also improved. In terms of performance we are at a good level, we just need to pick up some better finishes. The Canadian Grand Prix is always a good place to come to race. Montreal is a beautiful city and the atmosphere is always great for the race weekend. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is known for fast straights and heavy braking. I have had some good results there in the past including my win five years ago so we'll hope to score again this weekend.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - DNF

“Because we don't test at Montreal it is always difficult to predict how we will get on there but the Canadian Grand Prix is always one of my favourites of the year. The atmosphere both at the circuit and away from it in the town is great. We tend to run low downforce so the car feels lighter and you have to be precise, but the track has a good flow to it. Of course this has not been a successful season for me so far. The car performance is strong but I have been hit by a lot of bad luck. I narrowly missed out on a podium in Monaco and then I had the engine problem in qualifying in Silverstone. So I am still without a points finish this year but I haven't been able to do much about it. All motor racing is the same – you just have to have patience and hope that you get what you deserve in the end. So I am still pushing and that is what I will continue to do until my fortunes change.”

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 14th, 2005 Race - 5th

“I’m looking forward to the two North American races. It’s always good returning to Montréal because the atmosphere reminds me of Melbourne in some ways. It’s a bit more relaxed than some of our more recent races, and the track is set in a nice location. The circuit requires a completely different aerodynamic package to the ones we’ve used for the first part of the season, which means a low to medium downforce level to help our top speeds. It also means we could see a slight change in performance from some teams as it’s a fresh opportunity to find pace, I’m certainly hoping it’ll provide us with a chance to improve our performance in the right direction.

“Traditionally, Montreal is heavy on brakes and that’s why we were testing in Monza last week. It’s also a circuit which rewards good horsepower from the engine, so that should be a positive for us. We certainly need both Williams’ in the points at Montreal.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“I'm really looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix for two big reasons. Firstly, we had a good test in Monza last week running the low to medium downforce set-up so everything is in order for the Montreal track. We should be stronger there than we were at Silverstone and we have the potential to score some points. The second reason is that everybody keeps telling me that the Canadian Grand Prix is one of the nicest races of the season. It will be my first time there and, although that makes it a greater challenge, I'm looking forward to getting everything out of it that I can.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 20th, 2005 Race - 3rd

"The Canadian Grand Prix is really one of my favourite races on the calendar. First of all, the track is quite challenging and we have been doing a lot of work in testing to work on the set-up for this race. We had a positive test last week in Monza and I think we should be able to have a good weekend. Secondly, Montreal is a great city and it always provides a good backdrop to the racing action. I'm looking forward to it."

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 1st, 2005 Race - DNF

"Montreal is a great circuit and I really enjoy racing there. Our car seems to be well-suited to the track; it's a medium downforce circuit which requires much less wing than we have run in the last few races and the car seems to work well on that wing level. We've done some good work in testing and I'm generally pleased with the results, but we'll have to wait and see how things go at the weekend. The critical thing is to make sure we get the very best out of what we have.

"As well as being one of my favourite circuits, there's always a great atmosphere in Montreal. It's a big weekend for Honda Canada, so I hope we have an enjoyable weekend on and off-track."