Canadian Grand Prix preview quotes 30 May 2008
With the Gilles Villeneuve Circuits challenging layout and Montreals welcoming atmosphere, the Canadian Grand Prix is a firm favourite with many of the Formula One drivers and their teams. Here they explain why - and reveal how they think they'll fare over the race weekend...
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 5th
Although I didn't collect any points in the last race, thus losing the lead in the championships, it's not the end of the world. Last year I was in a much poorer situation. Now we have to go to Montreal con and pay back. It's a nice city and I'm convinced that we'll have a better car than last year. Traditionally Canada is a good race for Ferrari; so let's hope that we can continue this tradition. It's possible to have strange races there, too, because it's very possible that the safety car will be employed, but we're ready for every kind of situation.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 5th, 2007 Race - DSQ
I like the Canadian circuit and I went well there earlier in my career, finishing fourth for Sauber in 2005. Last year was not so good, as I had that incident with the traffic light at the end of pit lane, and it was not a nice feeling leaving Canada having been black flagged during the race. It's an interesting track and all the teams will be in the same position of having had our Montreal track test day at the Ricard track wiped out by rain in the pre-Monaco test. I love the city and the atmosphere and I am looking forward to having a nice time there both on and off the track.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 20th, 2007 Race - DNF
Of course the ultimate result in Monaco was disappointing, but eventually I realised what we had achieved in Monaco was really special. We had the race under control and were running a strong fourth with many cars behind us - it's not everyday that happens, especially for us. My feelings after the race were very difficult to explain, I was frustrated and upset, but now it's really made me motivated to prove that Monaco was not just a one-off.
I said after Turkey that I just wanted to have a good weekend - a good practice, qualifying and then race, and we really nailed it in Monaco. It's really boosted my confidence knowing we can do it.
Montreal is a track I like a lot. Like Monaco, it is different to anywhere else we visit over the season, with long, fast straights going into deep hairpins that mean you really need to be precise. Last year it was not such a good result for the team, but with that experience I know what to avoid. The city is also fantastic, so overall I am really looking forward to going there.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 9th, 2007 Race - DSQ
Montreal is probably the event I enjoy the most. I love the city and the circuit and I have always done well, with four podiums in four years from 1997 - 2000 and two fourth place finishes. Although I have never won it, I did lead the 2005 race before retiring with a hydraulic problem.
To do well, you need to have a well balanced car with a good aero compromise and you have to be gentle with the brakes, which is always a big challenge in Montreal. For this race we will have a new aero package that we tested in Paul Ricard three weeks ago. It felt good, and again my car was well balanced and the times were in line with our expectations.
We are now about a third of the way through the season and I think we are more or less where we expected to be. I still feel we could have scored points in Melbourne and Monaco, which was not a good weekend for me in my 200th race. It was also a big disappointment for Adrian, but even so I think there were some positives from that weekend. We made no mistakes as a team in terms of strategy and drivers' performance.
From here on in we need to wait for more improvements to come and continue to push, but I still think a midfield finish is possible in Canada, unless of course the weather gives us a big hand again, as it did in Monte Carlo!
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and managing director
I was very proud of Adrian, Giancarlo and the entire team's effort in Monaco. I was delighted with how the whole team pulled together over the weekend: on the pit wall, in the garage and back at the factory, and how the old team spirit was ignited.
Of course you all know the result. It was very disappointing and we had many messages of condolences from India and all over the world that we could not score our first points in just our sixth race as Force India. I very much appreciated the fact that people should take the time out to write to us as it showed firstly that we have been accepted, and secondly that we are being taken seriously for the hard work we put in.
What we need to do now is to show that we can do this kind of race in every event, not just if the exceptional circumstances allow. I am sure that, given this kind of confidence and motivation that is now surging through the team, other great performances will follow, but in Canada we have to do what we can: stay together, keep it together and focus on getting the best result possible.
Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
Adrian drove a fantastic race in Monaco and it was very disappointing for him and the team that we could not have got the finish that we all felt we deserved.
The team were all frustrated with the result, but there are 12 races and therefore 12 chances left that we now need to concentrate on. Canada, like Monaco, could be a good race for us with all teams developing special aero and mechanical packages that will only be used in this one race. With safety car periods and rain also a possibility you could see some surprises too.
For Giancarlo the Monaco weekend was not quite as good, but Montreal is a track he particularly enjoys so I am sure he will come back at the next race. Adrian's confidence is now high, and I think he will carry this forward, but we need to focus on this weekend and not let the highs of Monaco cloud what we have to do here.
Mike Gascoyne, Force India's chief technical officer
Although at the time the Monaco result was gutting, it was a great boost for everyone at the track and at the factory that after so long at the back we were finally able to have a good race. I think it was a sign of how much we are improving as a team, and how we can make the right strategy calls and keep our heads.
We knew Monaco would be a good track for us, and it was for Adrian at least, better than we could have hoped for. I think he drove an excellent race and really did everything we asked. For Giancarlo, his 200th race was sadly not what he would have hoped for as he struggled with gearbox issues all weekend, which ultimately led to his retirement from the race. I'm confident that we've got to the bottom of these though and it won't happen again.
Montreal is, like Monaco, one of the tracks we will take a special aero package to as it is unique on the calendar with its combination of long straights going into tight hairpins. We tested this package in Paul Ricard three weeks ago and although the rain somewhat disrupted the overall day, we could gain some information that will help us in the initial stages of the weekend.
Both drivers like the track and Giancarlo in particular has had some good results there, so with the morale of the team high we should look to be running with the midfield again.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development director
"The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is certainly a challenging circuit for us. Not many races take place here and the surface is very slippery, so just like Monaco we need to bring the softest compounds in our range, soft and super soft. In contrast to Monaco, the speeds are very high in parts of the Montreal track, and very heavy braking takes place, meaning a lot of heat is generated and is transferred through the tyres. Durability from the tyres and good tyre management from the drivers are important considerations in Canada.
"We are still at an early stage of learning about the modified super soft compound. In Monaco we did not see a lot of running with this tyre because of the weather, and when it did run it was on a green track. There is still a lot to learn about this compound and it should be interesting for teams and drivers when we get to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, however we are confident in our predictions and the modifications we have made from the compound we had last season.
Timo Glock, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
"I will never forget my first Grand Prix in 2004, when I finished seventh in Canada. It was an amazing experience and I am very proud of my two points on my debut. I also drove on the same track in 2005 in Champ Car and I finished second, in fact I almost won the race but second was still my best result of the season. So far Montreal has been a great track for me and I have a good record there so hopefully I can get another positive result; certainly I believe we have a car which is capable of scoring points. As a circuit Montreal is all about chicanes and there is a lot of heavy braking as you slow from high speed, so this puts a lot of strain on the brakes. But we have prepared for this so I don't expect any problems. Monaco was very disappointing for me because we had the opportunity to score points but things didn't go our way. We have to forget about that now and focus on being competitive in the next race."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - DNF
"Montreal is one of the best cities we visit in Formula One so I'm really looking forward to this weekend. The atmosphere in Montreal and at the circuit itself is just fantastic - there are so many people around in the city, and they are so enthusiastic about F1, it's great. I quite enjoy the circuit because it has a nice flow to it and it is reasonably challenging, so a combination of a fun track and a great city make this race one of my favourites. I've never really had so much luck in Montreal and last year wasn't a nice race for me because of Robert Kubica's accident, so I expect a more positive weekend this time. We have a completely different package compared to Monaco and I'm confident we can get a better result. The weather and traffic made things difficult for me in Monaco but I know we have a much better package than the result shows. My goal is to return to the points and I think we have a good chance of doing that."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyotas senior general manager chassis
"For me Montreal is one of the best races of the season because the atmosphere is fantastic, probably second only to Monaco. The circuit is more or less a street circuit and generally there is quite low tyre grip as the track is rarely used. Obviously after Monaco we will make changes to the aerodynamic package, moving from our highest downforce configuration to medium-low downforce. We have a few improvements to bring on to the car for this race as well, with an evolution to the braking system which should bring extra performance. The most challenging technical aspect of this race comes with brake cooling. The cars reach very high speeds before the chicanes and then need to slow down quickly and this puts a huge amount of energy through the brakes, causing brake temperatures to be a serious issue. However, I am sure we will be able to cope and I am also confident we can improve on our Monaco result, which was very disappointing for the whole team."
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 7th
There is always a good atmosphere in Montreal. The whole city gets involved in the Grand Prix and it's clear that Canadians like motor sport and particularly F1, which makes it a very enjoyable race. I won the Grand Prix in 2006, so I have some happy memories, and I'm sure that this year we will have another interesting race. We must pay special attention to brake cooling and managing them in the race will be very important. But it's not something I'm worried about, and we will work on this in free practice on Friday. Overall I think that the R28 should work well.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
Montreal will be an easier circuit (than Monaco) and I am feeling confident, so I hope that I can go there and deliver a solid race. I hope that the car will handle well and that we can be competitive for the whole weekend. The team has made a lot of progress since the start of the year - we had new parts in Barcelona and we are trying to continue this progress and to always learn about the car to keep moving forward. We have to work hard in Friday practice with the set-up and hopefully get a positive start to the weekend. I still don't know what my programme will be for Friday, but I will try my best to improve the car and will work closely with my engineers to approach this weekend in the best way possible, as well as maximising my time on track. My priority will be to learn the circuit quickly as possible. Then I must make the most of each session to optimise the set-up of the car and to be in good shape for a strong qualifying session.
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 10th
Monaco was a difficult race for me, which was a real shame as wed been competitive all weekend. After two incidents in the opening stages of the race, I thought Id settled into a rhythm but, coming to swimming pool after Tabac, the rear of the car twitched suddenly, probably on a patch of water, and I ended up in the Armco. After consulting the doctors on site, I decided to go to hospital as precaution for some routine checks. Fortunately, they came back clear so I was released on Sunday evening. Following a couple of days rest, I resumed my normal training programme in preparation for Canada.
Im heading to Montreal a few days early to get used to the time difference and to see the city. There are lots of cool bars, restaurants and clubs, and there are some good places to go shopping. There are also some beautiful places around the city, especially near the mountains, where I like to go for my daily run. The locals really get behind Formula One and they seem to be quite supportive of me too as many of them remember my father when he raced there.
AT&T Williams has a strong history around the Circuit Gilles Villeneueve and have traditionally been quick there, which gives me a lot of confidence and allows me to go to Montreal with positive expectations. Im looking forward to getting back in the car because the speed we showed in Monaco was very promising and the track should suit our car.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
Ive only been to North America once when I went to Canada for last years race and drove in Friday mornings practice session. Because of that, I do have some experience of the track, but this will be my first full weekend of racing there. The circuit is very challenging with its walls and high kerbs. Its not an easy track, but it should be fun to drive. Montreal itself is a great city. Its really picturesque and I enjoyed my time there last year so Im looking forward to going back. Before heading to Canada, Im going to New York for a week to have a look around and do some training.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Montreal always produces good racing, mainly because the cars run so close to the walls so theres a higher chance than normal of the safety car being deployed. As one of the few street circuits on the calendar, the grip level changes significantly over the race weekend, so the teams are continuously chasing the perfect set-up.
The circuit is dominated by long straights so the rear wing level has to be set lower than normal to ensure that the car is running at its optimum aerodynamic efficiency. The long straights induce high top speeds but, combined with the slow speed corners, also make
Montreal the hardest track on brakes so we have to monitor their wear. Most teams opt for a one or two stop strategy in Canada. Our target for this race is to obviously score points, which we should be able to do considering the upturn in competitiveness we demonstrated at the last race in Monaco.
Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 15th, 2007 Race - DNF
"Montreal is one of my favourite race weekends on the F1 calendar. The atmosphere around the track and the city is always fantastic. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a challenging track which is good fun to drive and completely different from the last race in Monaco. We were not able to achieve much testing specifically for this race due to the poor weather at Paul Ricard, so it is difficult to know how the RA108 will perform until we have the chance to get a few laps under our belt in practice on Friday.
"The key to a quick lap 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 20 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."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 13th, 2007 Race - 12th
"It was very satisfying to score points in Monaco as the car had performed well over the weekend and we deserved a good result from the race. I hope this will be the start of better things to come. This team has a lot of potential and it is important that we all maintain our focus, keep working hard and I am confident that the car will continue to improve over the season.
"The Montreal track is a complete change from the last race where the tight and twisty streets of Monaco are all about high downforce. For Canada, the car will be set-up in our lowest downforce configuration so far, which means a lower wing level than we have seen this season, and we will spend practice on Friday and Saturday morning tuning the balance and set-up to suit the characteristics of this venue."
Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"We were pleased with the pace and performance of the RA108 around Monaco last week and it was encouraging to score further points, particularly with Rubens for the first time this season. However Canada is a completely different challenge and the downforce levels required are medium to low, the opposite of Monaco. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a big technical challenge, and with a combination of high-speed blasts, slow chicanes and hairpins, it can be very tough on the cars. Although I am pleased with the progress that the team has made over the last few races, we have been lacking the speed necessary to really maximise long straights, so it will be up to us to get the most from the performance that we have available in the car. I am expecting a more challenging weekend than in Monaco.
"We ran the RA108 in low downforce specification on a Montreal configured layout of the Paul Ricard circuit on the final day of the test before Monaco. Unfortunately the weather conditions were very poor which resulted in most of the day being washed out. However Jenson was able to achieve a few laps to obtain some basic aerodynamic data, which we have used along with data from previous years, to prepare our specific aerodynamic package for this race."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 1st
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of my favourite tracks and following my debut win there last year it is a very special place for me and I hope that we will be quick there again this year. It is renowned for its difficult track surfaces, particularly with tyre graining, and the walls. Despite being very fast, it can feel like a street circuit with the barriers very close, but it is good fun to drive at and I am looking forward to getting back there.
There is always a lot of graining at this track and because it is only used one a year, it is very dirty when we first start running. That soon clears up on the racing line, but this dirt and the marbles from the graining make it very slippery off-line. Mechanical grip is key. You also need a well balanced car that doesnt oversteer - but that is not as easy as it might sound! You have to really make a compromise on corner entry, particularly those after the long straights. This means your time through the corner will be faster.
"Last year in Canada was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to take my maiden pole and victory in Formula One was incredible. It would be great to go back there and do the same, and that is what we are working hard to achieve. Since then I think Ive matured a lot, I think I have grown stronger as a driver and have become closer to the team."
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 22nd, 2007 Race - 4th
"I am going to Montreal to get a good result with the team. The last few races have been pretty difficult for one reason or another, but all the time we know the car is quick and now I am hoping to be able to demonstrate that.
"Lewis won there last year and, if that is anything to go by, I hope and think the car will be fast again this year. Its another track that is not that normal, it is almost like a street circuit and a key characteristic that we have to manage over the race is the big change in grip levels throughout the weekend. You have to chase the track a little bit some times with the set up, and also wait for the track to come to you. Its such a different character after Monaco, which is a lot of slow, tight corners. Montreal is all about straight lines and heavy braking. I always look forward to going there, it is another big challenge and the racing is normally pretty good.
"Braking is number one for this track, it is very heavy on the brakes and we have to pay special attention to make sure they last the race. It is also definitely key to a good lap at this track to be able to ride the kerbs well; basically you are trying to straight line them so you can go faster through the corner. The most important thing is being able to take those bumps and the hits well and for it not to disrupt the car too much. So in general the car needs to be quite soft.
"I had a disastrous weekend up to Sunday (in Canada) last year and then during the race the incidents and safety cars meant the strategy played into my favour. I overtook a few cars, and then eventually I just found myself in fourth. I was close to Alex Wurz and raced against him to take third. It didnt come off, but it does show that anything can happen in a race and you must never give up, wherever you are you just have to carry on and keep pushing. The best places to pass are at the end of each of the straights. This means there are three key opportunities with one very long straight and two that are a bit shorter. You can slipstream and then pass under braking or follow the car ahead through the slower corners and make another move."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
"We have a car which excels in high speed corners and there arent too many of those in Canada, however, we have a reasonably good track record at this event. It is about high speed down the straights, braking stability, durability of the braking system, traction out of the corners, which are relatively short but with high speeds into them. All this means it is an unusual circuit that is not the easiest to forecast, but we have every reason to believe we have made improvements on the car and the whole team is looking forward to carrying our championship campaign forward.
"Inevitably all of the teams have to review their braking systems prior to the Canadian round of the championship as it would be extremely unusual if the more standard brakes used at conventional circuits would last the Canadian Grand Prix. There have been many occasions in the past where quite simply the brakes have worn out before the end and that is something that we all have to work very hard at. As the hardest circuit on brakes in terms of wear, the team and Akebono, with areas such as friction materials and cooling systems, work to have a special Canadian Grand Prix set-up. "
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"First of all, the race is renowned for its many safety car periods. In the previous five years, there has been at least one safety car period in 42 percent of all races; in Canada there have been safety car periods in three out of the last five races which is 60 percent. No other circuit is more demanding for the brakes than Montreal; four times per lap the cars slow down from 300km/h and more to about 100km/h. Montreal puts also strain on the engines; on the long straight, the cars run under full throttle for 15 seconds out of the total lap time of about 75 seconds.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 2nd
Last years Canadian Grand Prix was a very special race for me. We put in a very strong showing in 2007. I came third in qualifying and finished second in the race on my own merit. Initially that result was obviously overshadowed by Roberts (Kubica) accident. Only when we knew he was okay were we able to celebrate. Of course Im very much hoping Ill do well in qualifying this time. Im working with the engineers to get the tyres back fast enough into the temperature zone where they really build up grip. At any rate, the Montreal race is one of my favourites. I love the city, the atmosphere and the race track. Its a very fast course and features mainly chicanes and straights. We drive with relatively low downforce and the brakes come in for a great deal of punishment.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - DNF
I am looking forward to the next race in Montreal. It is a special one, as it is a very nice city and the fans there are really enthusiastic. The entire city lives Formula One over the GP weekend. Montreal has a completely different track characteristic than the last race in Monaco. Montreal is a relatively low-downforce track. I like the track because there is a lot of heavy braking and stop-and-go. It is very important in Montreal to have good traction to exit the slow corners perfectly. We have to take care especially in the beginning of the weekend: the track then has very low grip as it is no permanent race track. Although I had a very big accident there in 2007, Montreal is one of my favourite tracks.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
We have very specific memories of the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. Robert survived a horrific accident virtually without any injuries, while Nick finished second to give our team the best result up to that point. It was the most emotional weekend.
We enjoy coming to Montreal. The course is challenging both in terms of driving skills and technically. On the long straights the engines are really put through their paces, and no other circuit is tougher on the brakes than Montreal. In terms of atmosphere, as well, this race represents a climax. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is uniquely situated on its island in the St Lawrence River. The people there are enthusiastic Formula One fans, downtown Montreal really rocks during the race weekend, and the turnout of BMW fans is traditionally high.
Canada is an important market for the BMW Group. Without the US Grand Prix, theres unfortunately no North American double header this year. In Montreal we hope to build on our positive performance in Monaco.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
The combination of long straights and chicanes makes the Montreal course a medium downforce track for which we have developed a special aero package. Next to a modified front wing, this also features a completely new rear wing. In order to reduce drag we will also be dispensing with some extra wings, including the one on the nose cone.
Theres a particularly good passing opportunity on the long straight before the final chicane, if the top speed is right. No other circuit poses a greater challenge to the brakes than Montreal. That is why we employ the largest possible brake ducts along with very robust discs. Just as in Monaco, the softest tyre compounds also come into play in Canada to provide good traction when accelerating out of the slow corners. This circuit demands the utmost concentration on the part of the drivers since it will not forgive even the smallest driving errors. There are a lot of walls and the track is always extremely dirty off the racing line.