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Canadian Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 06 Jun 2007

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Wednesday, 23 May 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 26 May 2007 Adrian Sutil (GER) Spyker F8-VII on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 27 May 2007 Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren on the podium. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 27 May 2007

With the circuit’s challenging layout and Montreal’s relaxed atmosphere, the Canadian Grand Prix is a firm favourite with many of the Formula One drivers. Here they explain why and reveal how they think they'll fare over the weekend...

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 13th, 2006 Race - 7th

“Like most drivers, I really like travelling over to Montreal. The race circuit occupies an incredibly beautiful location on the island in the St Lawrence river, which makes for an unmistakable atmosphere. And the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve itself has a very special character. It is a high-speed track with long straights, but also some tight chicanes and a couple of slow corners. To start with, the asphalt always has very little grip. When the track starts to get really grippy and the car is working perfectly, though, you can run hard over the kerbs in the second chicane. This chicane also goes downhill, and you get seriously close to the wall on the exit.

“Away from the track itself, I also like the city of Montreal a lot. There is always a great atmosphere there and the people get really excited about the Grand Prix. I usually travel to Montreal a few days before the race and have time to do some shopping in the city. I also like to stop by at a few galleries in the old part of town. Patricia and I have several pictures at home which I bought there.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“I am really looking forward to Montreal as it is one of my favourite tracks in the Formula One calendar. It means driving with lower downforce for the first time this season. Last year on the Friday I was quite good there. I am looking to repeat that performance and I think our car can perform very well there because of the downforce configuration. I like the track because it is a street circuit and has pretty low grip, improving during the weekend.

“It will be interesting to see how I can cope with the Bridgestone tyres compared to the Michelins of last year, and how I have to change my driving style. I will see how big an influence it was for me to change to the different tyres. Montreal was the track where my driving style of last year gave me an advantage. As I am not driving the same as in 2006 we have to see how it will be this year.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 14th, 2006 Race - DNF

“I always look forward to the Canadian Grand Prix because Montreal is such a great place to hold a race, with a beautiful city and lively atmosphere. I find it an enjoyable place to be and I have a good record in the race - I won in 2001 and was second in 2003.

“The circuit itself is one of the best of the season. It is technically challenging as it has long straights followed by heavy braking, which really takes it out of the car. But the team has taken this into account and we have made changes for this race, with a totally different aero package compared to Monaco. Obviously Monaco was a bad weekend for the team but we are working hard on the issues we had there and I hope we’ll see an improvement in Canada.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 4th, 2006 Race - 6th

“I really enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix and it is one of my favourite races because the atmosphere in Montreal is just fantastic. I certainly hope I can enjoy this weekend more than our race in Monaco, which was very difficult after the problems we had in qualifying. But Montreal it is a completely different kind of circuit which makes different demands on the car, particularly when it comes to the brakes.

“I am sure we will move forward from our Monaco performance and I expect to be fighting further up the field. It has been two races now where we have not scored points so we are really motivated to do better in Canada. I scored points there last year after one of my best races of the season and that is the target again - I’m optimistic we can get a good result.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 6th, 2006 Race - DNF

“Williams are in fifth place in the constructors’ championship at the moment which
is a nice position to be in. As a team, we’ve scored a few points this year already and we must keep that momentum going, it’ll certainly be my aim this weekend. I was really quick in Montreal last year so I’m definitely looking forward to racing there again. We’ll have a revised aero package on the cars for the weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works with our tyres. The track is great and the whole event resembles Monaco a bit. It’s a great city, so it’s always good to go to Canada.”

Alexander Wurz, Williams
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“Canada is another city Grand Prix. I enjoy these kinds of races a lot because the atmosphere is just more intense than at some ‘standard’ race tracks. In terms of track layout, Canada requires much less downforce than we had in Monaco, so it remains to be seen which team will have the best downforce package for the race weekend.

“A forecast is quite difficult for Canada. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that it will be very close again between the teams, so it will be yet another hard Grand Prix. At the front, I expect an equal match between Ferrari and McLaren, and they will probably be closer than they were in Monaco. The fight to get into the top ten in qualifying, and to get into points-scoring positions, will be as close as ever.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 9th, 2006 Race - DNF

“Montreal is a great circuit and I really enjoy racing there. The track is quite challenging with long straights and hard-braking corners, so it is completely different from the last race in Monaco. We will set the car up with a medium-low downforce level to maximise the long straights. We prepared well for this event at the Paul Ricard test a few weeks ago and the critical thing for the team will be to make sure that we get the very best out of the performance that we have available.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying -8th, 2006 Race - 9th

“The Canadian Grand Prix is one of my favourite races on the F1 calendar. Montreal is a fantastic city and the atmosphere over the race weekend is amazing. The Canadians are huge Formula One fans and Montreal puts on a terrific street parade.

“The key to a quick lap around the circuit is being able to ride the kerbs and you need to have a car which can do this comfortably. You have to be precise because if you hit the kerbs in the wrong place, then you'll probably end up in the wall. The biggest challenge is getting the last chicane before the pits just right. You can have a perfect lap all the way round but if you hit those kerbs badly, it will throw you off.

“Getting off the grid cleanly is also important as the first couple of corners are very tight with all 22 cars trying to squeeze through, although you can overtake here if the opportunity presents itself. The hairpin at turn ten is probably the best opportunity for overtaking and where you can see some pretty exciting racing.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - 1st, 2006 Race - 1st

“We have a great momentum in the team right now after such a fantastic result in Monaco, which is a positive way to be going into the North American double-header. There has been no opportunity to test since Monaco; however the team has been pushing hard off track to keep the momentum going. Until last year, I hadn’t had great results in Canada, so it was fantastic to win there.

“It is always a tough race, and you see a lot of retirements because you are stressing the whole car with the high speeds and the hard braking zones. The track conditions also change over the race weekend, the grip levels improve as more rubber is laid and the dusty conditions. On race day, it is much better than Friday. We have some new packages on the car for Montreal; we are all pushing hard to attack and fight for more race victories. It is a good circuit to race on as there are a number of places you can overtake, which makes it more exciting for the drivers, teams and fans.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“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. 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 United States, and it will be great to finally take to the track here in Montreal.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 2nd, 2006 Race - 4th

“It's a fantastic race, in a great city. I have some very good memories from this race, because I have been on the podium four times! I hope to have another good race for me and the team this year as well.

“The last test and race have given us some more confidence, and I think we will perform well this weekend. Of course, it's a street circuit, so it will be very slippery on Friday. But as the weekend goes on and the cars put rubber down, the grip levels will improve. When I start running, my focus will be on finding the braking points, rediscovering the line and keeping momentum through the chicanes, which is very important for a good lap-time. I think that we can be optimistic.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“In general, when I am preparing for a race on a circuit I don't know, I try and get the onboard camera images from previous seasons so I can see what the track looks like from the cockpit, understand the racing line and work out things like braking points, and which kerbs you can use. Then, on Thursday, I do a lap of the circuit on foot with my engineers, and along with the data from previous years, we do a kind of inspection, talking about each corner. Then on Friday, we really get down to work, and I can begin to see if my preparation has worked out. I hope it pays off this weekend.

“Canada is all about finding a good compromise between top speed, for which we use a low downforce package, and stability under braking and through the chicanes, in which we need good grip. There are some quite quick chicanes, in third and fourth gears, and we worked on this area in particular at the Paul Ricard test, as the circuit configuration we used included corners of this type, so we could evaluate the car in the right conditions.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 10th, 2006 Race - 5th

“It is always an enjoyable part of the calendar for me. My record at the Montreal circuit is not so bad: I had a fourth place with Sauber which is not such a bad result and last year, I was fifth. Because of the location of the circuit, you could say it is something of a city track, but it's nothing like Monaco!

“As it is a medium downforce track, it is important to have an efficient car here, which offers good mechanical grip as well as good aerodynamics. In other words you need a bit of a compromise and that can either work out very well or not be so good. In our case, I think the F2007 will run as a very strong package in Canada and actually, also in Indy, where Ferrari has also had good results.

“This is one of the nicest places we visit: I really like the city of Montreal and the people seem very open, so I am always happy to go there.”

Adrian Sutil, Spyker
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“We did make some improvements in the test and the performance was overall quite good. We used the low downforce set-up on the long straight, but it's not that similar to Montreal as there are not as many chicanes. Hopefully the developments we found will work in Montreal though and we will continue at the same rate we did in Monaco. The goal has definitely got to be to keep cars behind us, have a clean race and get to the finish.

“Monaco is one of my favourite tracks, it's very special. Montreal is a bit different as the walls are not so close and it's not quite as tight. But I think it will be a good race. I'm looking forward to it.”

Christijan Albers, Spyker
2006 Qualifying - 19th, 2006 Race - DNF

“We know that we are still lacking in top speed and Canada is a high speed track, but we tested some issues that will help us in the braking areas and with balance and set-up.

“I do like the Montreal circuit though. I have had some good results there before; in 2005 with Minardi I qualified 15th, which was better than we ever hoped for at the time, and I really enjoy driving there. The event is also fantastic - you are only four or five minutes from the city so there is a good atmosphere. It's great for the team as they can enjoy everything the city has to offer.

“We cannot afford to make any mistakes now, so that's got to be the goal at this race and every race now on - to be on top of everything.”

More to follow.