F1 – Canadian Grand Prix Preview – Lotus Renault GP
Lotus Renault GP keeps its colours for Montreal
Lotus Renault GP made contact with the Quebec authorities recently to discuss the conformity of the R31’s livery with the anti-tobacco legislation in force. After noting that the team has no link to the tobacco industry, and the black and gold colours used are a reference to the cars of the eighties rather than a particular sponsor, the Ministry of Health has given its agreement for Lotus Renault GP to take part in this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix with an unchanged livery.
However, the team has agreed to work with the Quebec authorities on a more noticeable way to keep complying with the local legislation in 2012.
Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director: “We’re delighted to be able to race in Montreal in our usual colour scheme. The Quebec authorities noted that the current livery makes a reference to images from the 1980s when the car was sponsored by the tobacco industry, but it has also accepted the fact that Lotus Renault GP receives no direct or indirect financing from the industry in question. We would like to thank them for acknowledging our good faith. We are fully aware of the stringent restrictions imposed by the law in Quebec on promotional associations with tobacco. As a result, we will use all means available to dispel any misconceptions that our identity and that of our partners is somehow associated with this industry”.
Nick Heidfeld interview
“Montreal lives and breathes F1”
Nick looks forward to returning to Montreal, a race he believes to be one of the most memorable on the Formula 1 calendar
Four more points for the team in Monaco – what is your reflection on the last race?
Well, naturally we went to Monaco expecting more from the weekend. We were predicting a better performance and more points all around – we thought we would be quite strong there. I do feel, however, that we have come away from that weekend having learnt a lot more about the car, which is positive, and I’m sure we can take that knowledge into Canada and the races beyond in order to bring our performance up to a higher level.
There has been much discussion about the need for the team to improve its qualifying performances. Do you think this is currently the main obstacle to more points?
This is actually the area I focus on the most with the team, with the aim of maximising our potential there. If you look at my race performances, I think it is as good as it can be, and that’s really helped us get the points we have this season. However, in Monaco especially, you cannot capitalise on the race pace if the qualifying is not at a high enough level. We know that qualifying is extremely important at all the F1 circuits.
The Canadian Grand Prix is a different type of race with long fast straights and slow, tight corners – how will you approach it?
Well, Canada is not as unique as Monaco but it does still stand out in its own way. It has slow chicanes and fast straights, so it is going to be a different kind of drive than the last race. We tend to have fast straight line speed which should help us.
You have been on the podium here in Canada before, are you looking forward to coming back?
I look forward to every race, yes, but this is a very special one because I’ve finished second here before. The race itself is unique – Montreal is a big city and it must be the only venue in Formula 1 where the city lives and breathes the sport for that week. There are postcards and souvenirs everywhere, and the support really is fantastic. It’s not every day you come across an F1 venue where the whole city gets behind the race like Montreal does.
You are now 6th in the 2011 Drivers’ Standings – is this a personal motivation for you to do well at each race?
This is what I targeted two races ago so it is nice having achieved this short term goal. I’m now ahead of Nico (Rosberg) and Felipe (Massa), so it is a motivation for me to keep striving to do well and scoring points to stay ahead. I am quite a way off Fernando (Alonso) in fifth position still, however the season is long and my target is to move further forward. What’s more important, though, is that we continue to understand and develop the car so that our performance improves as a team. Once this happens, the chance of securing big points will become more and more likely.
Vitaly Petrov interview
“Canada’s long straights mean opportunity” After an unfortunate end to his Monaco race, Vitaly discusses his excitement at getting back to action in Canada
Looking back at Monaco, you were having a good race up until the incident weren’t you?
Definitely, yes. Up until the incident, things were going really well, fantastically well in fact given what our qualifying positions were beforehand. We could have finished third or fourth I think. Third would have been a real push but fourth was not beyond possibility, because my pace was not bad and I managed to save the tyres. I had some bad luck and there was a lot of traffic in front of me. Pastor (Maldonado) and Adrian (Sutil) were both slow, and it was very difficult to overtake them. Everything else on the day was going to plan, so it’s just a shame we could not have had more success with the final result.
How are you feeling now as we look forward to Canada?
Physically I’m feeling fine with no problems. I’m feeling better than I was after the race in Monaco. My ankle is fine and I don’t see any problems for the race here in Canada.
The Canadian Grand Prix has always been a popular one, is it a circuit you enjoy racing at?
Last year was my first time at the track, so it’s not a circuit I know that well. It’s not an easy race because the tarmac is quite unusual and we had so much degradation there with Bridgestone. We hope that it will be a different story with Pirelli, but we are going to have to see because so far this year, the tyres have been a hot topic at every race. The track does have long straights, which will offer us a chance to show our quick straight line speed, but there are also slow corners so it will be important to brake well to help preserve the tyres – it’s a real balancing act here in Montreal.
What are your objectives for this race?
Above all, we must get to the finish line and score some good points because we know we can do it. We are well aware that our car is very quick so we need to minimise our mistakes and the results will come.
Do you think the Pirelli tyres will play a big role here?
It’s a difficult question to answer because in Monaco we did not feel we would be able to race with just one pit stop, but in the end we did manage to. The tyres are certainly a talking point this season, and we have seen some heavy degradation at the different circuits over the last couple of months but you can’t argue it hasn’t made the sport more exciting for spectators.
Eric Boullier interview – ‘A word with the boss’
Fresh from an eventful weekend in Monaco, Eric explains his views on the Canadian Grand Prix, a race which he feels is one of the sport’s greatest assets.
It was an eventful race in Monaco, what’s your verdict now you have had time to reflect on that weekend?
Firstly, I was relieved to learn that Vitaly had not broken or fractured anything after he was caught up in the crash. It was a worrying moment when it happened but we were glad to learn soon afterwards that there was nothing seriously wrong at all. After that, came the disappointment of missing a good opportunity to score points. Vitaly was in a strong position to finish in the top three or four so we view that as a missed opportunity, but we also need to work on our qualifying to give ourselves a better chance each Sunday afternoon.
Some drivers (such as Jenson Button) have called for improved safety in Monaco following the crashes we saw last weekend – what’s your view?
I can understand the views of some drivers when they see the dramatic crashes like we saw in Monaco. However, I think we need to keep a cool head on this issue. Our sport – in fact, any sport including speed – can be dangerous, and what has been impressive is that when there have been serious crashes, most drivers have emerged from the car without injuries. That, in itself, is a clear indication that our sport is quite safe. Formula 1 and the FIA have really raised their games in the last twelve months in terms of safety; there has been a lot of work on improving track design and car safety. I think that we now need to start working on more specific areas like the exit to the tunnel in Monaco. If we do this, there won’t be so much drama in the future.
Last year in Montreal, Robert finished eighth and Vitaly fourteenth – how do you think we will fare this time around?
Canada is a special case because it’s a low downforce track and a street circuit too. We expect Vitaly to perform stronger than last year because he has really stepped up to the plate so far this season. We’ve also got a better understanding of the Canadian Grand Prix now, after what we learnt when we were there last year, so I’m pretty sure both cars should be able to finish in the top eight.
You mentioned the need to improve qualifying performance – what steps can be taken to achieve this?
James Allison and the guys on the race team are working really hard on this. They have looked at the various issues and are starting to have a really clear understanding about what is missing. Our car is fast – sometimes very fast – and I’m confident that we can put everything together to ensure we are quick at any given time. There’s no magic wand though, so we’ll need to put in the hours in the wind tunnel to get to where we need to.
As a household name on the F1 calendar, what importance does the Canadian Grand Prix hold?
Canada is a massive asset for the sport because it is the one race in North America. The atmosphere and the fans are just amazing. A lot of races could only dream of having the attendance Canada has, and of getting such a great level of support. It really is magical to come back because of the tremendous level of support from everyone in the city.
James Allison – Tech Talk
“We’re looking forward to delivering stronger performances, starting in Canada”
James Allison looks ahead to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where the car’s brakes will be tested to the very limit
From Monaco to Montreal – another street course, but one of a very different nature…
The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is different from Monaco. It’s very power hungry and has relatively few corners. The corners we do see are comparably slow, with only one above 200kph. Most importantly, it’s the hardest circuit on the brakes we will visit all year.
What changes have been made to the car?
Montreal requires a medium-low level of downforce and this is the first circuit of the year to have this requirement. This means we will debut a new rear wing, and this will incorporate a new DRS which loses more drag when it is being utilised.
In addition, we have a new front wing to complement the downforce levels of the rear and there will be various other refinements on the car, with particular emphasis on ensuring there is good airflow to assist with brake cooling.
How much of a concern is braking in Canada and what can you do because of this?
There are several high speed straights into low speed corners so the brakes receive repeated extreme use over the course of a lap. Canada is the most challenging circuit of the year from a brake wear point of view. Brake wear is largely a function of brake temperature, and so a lot of work must be done (using tools such as CFD, the wind Tunnel and a Brake Dynamometer rig) to ensure adequate aerodynamic cooling of the disks and pads.
A further complication is that our drivers prefer different brake materials from each other, which adds to our workload in terms of validating each solution to ensure that both drivers can apply the brakes in a carefree manner throughout the GP.
Is it fair to say that Monaco didn’t go to plan?
Even before Vitaly’s accident, where thankfully he was unhurt, it was a weekend we’d rather forget. Our performance in very slow corners at Monaco was unexpectedly poor and we are working hard to understand why this is the case.
We also didn’t get as much performance out of the super soft as we should have done in qualifying. Our use of this tyre in Free Practice was interrupted by various red flags which meant we approached qualifying rather blind, leaving the drivers with the disadvantage of having to feel their way on the Option tyre in the crucial sessions of Q1 and Q2. This meant that arguably we were around 0.4-0.5 sec shy of our ultimate performance with the super soft. However, even allowing for this we were still well off where we expected to be.
Can you turn things around in Montreal?
Hopefully, we will get a less disturbed build up to qualifying in Montreal. Even without the plethora of red flags we saw at the last race, Monaco is a tricky place to organise a clear lap. Montreal is much easier in this regard. In addition, we expect to have addressed some of the issues that had plagued us in the slower corners at Monaco.
How would you review the year to date?
Looking at the season thus far, we started rather brightly and scored a couple of very good results early on, and while we have been credible since then, I don’t like the trend that we’re on. We are all adamant that we will get the car back up to the much more impressive level of running that we had earlier in the year, and there are several things in train at Enstone to make that happen. There’s no doubt our stronger performances need to begin here in Canada.
Bruno’s Guide to Montreal
Describe Canada in three words
Cosmopolitan (Montreal), lively, cool
Favourite restaurants and bars in Montreal?
La Queue de Cheval is a great steakhouse with a bit of an old school vibe. I also like Altitude 737 for views of the city – that’s a pretty unbeatable spot at 737 feet!
What do you think of the track?
It’s a challenging track because of the long straights and tight corners, so you have to make good use of the kerbs. We’ll want to maximise the potential of our car because of our good straight line speed.
Best memory of Montreal?
Driving there is good fun, but I particularly remember the fans because they become so immersed in F1 when it’s in town – they are really great.
Did you know?
Nick Heidfeld finished in second place behind his BMW Sauber team-mate Robert Kubica in 2008. He also finished second in 2007, behind Lewis Hamilton.