Canadian Grand Prix Preview – AT&T Williams
When: Friday 10 to Sunday 12 June, 2011
Where: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal
Round: 7 of 20
The first low downforce track of the year. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, situated on the Ile Notre Dame in the St Lawrence river, is made up of long straights, chicanes and hairpins. It’s a completely different challenge to the other tracks to date. Top-end speed, braking stability and traction are the keys to a good lap time, and the drivers need to be very precise with their lines because the walls are close.
The long straights and heavy braking areas produce close racing and, being only a short hop on the Metro from downtown Montreal, the race is well attended and has a great atmosphere.
It was here, in 1980, that Alan Jones sealed Williams F1’s first World Championship title. “It’s a good city for a party,” remembers Sir Frank Williams.
Sam Michael, Technical Director: The Montréal circuit is a great layout for overtaking and never fails to produce an exciting race. With the new tyres and DRS on two straights, I think this year’s race will be no exception. Set-up is geared towards aero efficiency on the straights and maximising traction out of the slow speed corners. We will have a new front wing, brake ducts, barge boards and modified diffuser to test during practice, as well as the obligatory new rear wing for the lower drag level required in Canada.
Rubens Barrichello: Canada is always a very special event. The atmosphere is so relaxed and the racing is fantastic. It is important to get a good car set-up with a focus on managing the brakes and getting maximum traction. The minimum speed is low but traction is hard on tyres and there are a lot of hard braking areas throughout the lap. Turn One, for example, is a corner that you carry a lot of speed into and then you brake hard into the hairpin in first gear. The hairpin is probably one of the most exciting parts of the track as the fans that base themselves there are great. I really can’t wait to get to Canada and to score some more points for the team.
Pastor Maldonado: This race will be more difficult for me, especially at the start of the weekend, as I don’t know the circuit. The grip level will improve over the three days and so the track will change between the sessions. I will need to adapt myself day by day as it is important to be fully ready in time for qualifying on Saturday. The track is really interesting and I think I’m going to enjoy racing on it. I’ll definitely be doing my best to fight for points again. The car, the team and myself are all still improving so it is looking positive. I last went to Canada in 1998 for a karting race and I really like the country, it has a great atmosphere so I’m looking forward to going back.
From Cosworth’s perspective: The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the most technically demanding power circuits of the Formula One season, although the effect of power on lap-time is not quite as high as the more traditional engine circuits of Spa and Monza. The composition of long straights and slow corners puts a premium on stability under braking coupled with good traction sustained through the corner and good engine torque when exiting. The entire lap is completed in less than 80 seconds and while the engine is only run at full throttle for around 60% of the lap, top end performance will be important.
From Pirelli’s perspective: For Canada, we’ll be bringing the PZero Yellow soft tyres and the PZero Red supersoft compound once more, just as we did at Monaco. On that occasion, we had a very close finish, so we hope that all the teams will be able to use tyre strategy to their advantage again on a very different type of street circuit, where tyres have traditionally played a leading role. Williams put in a very encouraging performance in Monaco, with both drivers managing to make the most of their PZero rubber.