2014 Canadian Grand Prix – Preview
Round Seven of the 2014 Formula One World Championship brings us to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, held at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
• Driver / Senior Management Quotes
o Lewis Hamilton
o Nico Rosberg
o Toto Wolff
o Paddy Lowe
• Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve: The Inside Line
o In the Cockpit
o On the Pit Wall
Driver / Senior Management Quotes
Monaco was another great weekend for the team and I’m so proud of all the hard work the guys put in to make it happen. Of course, from a personal perspective it wasn’t what I was aiming for. I race to win every time and unfortunately it just wasn’t my weekend. But I drove with all my heart and gave it all I could, so I head to the next race with even more energy and determination. Montreal is one of my favourite weekends of the year. It’s where I won my first Grand Prix back in 2007 and I’ve had another two victories there since, so it holds some special memories for me. The city itself is incredible. It’s one I always love to go to and there’s always a great crowd, so I’m hoping for them that the weather is good and we can put on a great show!
Sunday in Monaco was a very special day for me. It was a fantastic result to get another one-two and I’m really happy for the whole team. Lewis drove really, really well and pushed me massively hard but I kept it cool and was able to take the win. He has been on top of his game so it was important for me to break his momentum last weekend. I now have the lead again in the World Championship which is great. But it’s still very early days and it’s going to continue to be an extremely tight battle between us this year. From Monaco, we head across the Big Pond to Canada. Montreal is one of my favourite venues. It’s a beautiful but also crazy city where there is always a lot happening: particularly in the evenings… it’s a great place to celebrate a good result, shall we say! That’s what I’ll be aiming for again this weekend.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
We are pleased to head to Canada on the back of another strong weekend in Monaco. We went into that race convinced that our rivals could outperform us and that’s how we worked to prepare for the weekend: like we were the underdogs. So we were pleased to see that we still had a good advantage at the front of the field. The team is operating at a very high level right now but we need to keep the ball flat, stay humble and keep pushing. On paper, you might say that Canada is the kind of circuit that should suit our package. But we don’t have a crystal ball and we have been bitten by that way of thinking in the past. We know that our rivals are getting closer and that we will need to extract every bit of potential to deliver a strong performance in Montreal. Lewis has a fantastic track record in Canada, Nico has the momentum from his win in Monaco. We are all looking forward to the next chapter in the story of this season.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
Monaco provided another fantastic weekend for the team. We approached the event with cautious optimism, but without being entirely confident that our car would enjoy the same performance differential as seen at the previous rounds of the season. This made the result all the more satisfying, particularly given the special effort put in by everyone involved to prepare for the unique challenges of this race. We now head to Canada, which is another unusual circuit but in the opposite vein to Monte Carlo. It’s very much a power circuit and we’re looking forward to seeing how the Mercedes-Benz Hybrid package performs around this type of track layout. Endurance will also be an important factor given the high demands placed on the components, so this weekend will provide a comprehensive test of the Power Unit. There were some concerns after Monaco following a retirement for Valtteri Bottas but the team at Brixworth have been working extremely hard to understand that problem and ensure that it is contained across every engine. We are confident that this will be the case. In Montreal, we have a circuit at which Lewis has traditionally excelled and, with both him and Nico on top of their game, we’re expecting them to push each other all the way through the weekend once more. As always this will of course depend on the team providing a good package and equally strong reliability. We will be bringing a number of updates to the car, both on the power unit and aerodynamic side, so it should be an interesting weekend. Montreal is a fantastic venue that provides great racing, good weather and a lively atmosphere thanks to some very enthusiastic fans. Overall we’re excited about the weekend ahead.
Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve: The Inside Line
It’s a circuit where you have to be aggressive, so it’s always suited my style. Finding the braking point into the left-hander of Turn One is really important, as you then switch straight back into a very tight right-hander at Turn Two. Running too deep through the first will ruin your line into the second, which will lose you a lot of time. You have to be mindful of the kerbs through here as they can throw the car off balance quite easily, while the exit of Turn Two also has very low grip. It’s a tricky section of track to start the lap and one which quite often sees incidents: particularly on the first lap.
The first of many chicanes around the circuit comes at Turns Three and Four. You have to take plenty of kerb through the corner and then run wide, right up against the wall, on the way out. It’s so very to get that wrong. The next chicane at Turns Six and Seven is a bit tighter and slower, but good exit speed is crucial for the straight which comes up afterwards. This leads you down into another chicane at Turns Eight and Nine, where you quite often see overtaking.
It’s so important to carry good speed once again to give you a good run down into the stadium complex at Turn 10, where you find the biggest crowds of fans during the weekend. It’s a really tight right-hander and you want to brake as late as possible: running deep into the corner and making a ‘V’ shape to get the best exit possible down the crucial back straight.
The straight itself seems to go on forever and you also have DRS available for the second time around the lap. Looking into the distance it’s so hard to pinpoint your braking point before you clip the kerbs, do your best to avoid the infamous ‘Wall of Champions and put the power down across the start / finish line.
The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is the first race of the season that really calls for reduced downforce. For this reason, the teams generally arrive with a special low-downforce package. I’m particularly looking forward to this weekend as with the new generation of turbocharged Hybrid cars, this means we’ll reach absolute top speed! We will probably be peaking at somewhere between 340 and 350 km/h on the straight.
The special feature of this circuit, other than the fact it runs around the stunning Île Notre-Dame, is that there are many chicanes where you literally have to bounce over the kerbs. This makes the track a real challenge that you have to rise to as a driver. I like that, as it gives you extra satisfaction when you get it right.
The Turn 10 hairpin towards the back end of the circuit is one of the most difficult sections of the track to negotiate. You have to get the braking point just right to avoid running too deep: especially when attacking or defending, as this corner also offers excellent scope for overtaking following on from the fast section the comes before it.
The final chicane at Turns 13 and 14, which runs alongside the infamous Wall of Champions, is likewise a standout feature. You approach it at full speed and have to get the braking just right, before bouncing the car over the kerbs. Many great drivers of the past have had a close encounter with that wall – some sustaining severe damage to their cars in the process – which is where it gets its name.
On the Pit Wall
Canada stands in stark contrast to the most recent rounds of the season in Spain and Monaco. Where Barcelona is seen as a reference point for overall car performance and the streets of Monte Carlo are totally unique, Montreal presents teams with fresh challenges in terms of high power requirements and heavy braking zones. Despite a lap of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve being relatively short, the nature of the layout could well reveal larger performance differentials between cars than those seen at previous events this season.
Brakes are one of the key performance areas in Canada. There is a lot of duty going into the brakes at various points around the circuit, with some big stops following long periods at full power. Managing the brakes in the most efficient manner will be a focal point of the weekend.
The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is high power sensitivity circuit. Aside from the long straights and fast nature of the circuit, power delivery out of the slower turns, the hairpin in particular, is crucial. Furthermore, as one of the more thirsty tracks on the calendar, this is a circuit where the efficiency formula will come to the fore.
Unlike Monaco, overtaking is particularly prevalent in Canada. The DRS effect is reasonably powerful here which, coupled with big braking zones, should generate ample passing opportunities.
Problems with the track surface at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve often occur over the winter. This is most prevalent at the Turn 10 hairpin, where the tarmac is often found to be pulling up around the apex. As a result, the track surface is resurfaced quite frequently and thus changes considerably, making it tricky to predict how tyres may perform on a given day.
As per the last race in Monaco, the soft and supersoft compounds have been nominated for this event. Around the streets of Monte Carlo, these compounds behaved very sensibly with no significant issues to report. However, Montreal is a much tougher circuit in terms of tyre duty and should provide a sterner test of this particular allocation.
Although the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix was very wet indeed, it stands as the only rain-affected race in Montreal since 2001. Although there have been wet sessions throughout a handful of weekends, Sundays have tended to remain dry.
In terms of retirements, Montreal is above average for a number of reasons. The infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ has brought races to a premature end for many drivers, as has damage incurred through excessive contact with the sizeable kerbs. However, the layout itself has traditionally proven the main factor as it is particularly tough on engines. The advantage for the teams in terms of countering this threat is that, with six races complete, the season now enters a new gearbox cycle window. Some teams may also elect to use fresh engines, as this could be seen as a benefit given the power sensitive nature of the circuit and the stress it places on components.
Unsurprisingly given the potential for reliability issues, safety cars have traditionally been prevalent in Canada. Six of the last nine Canadian Grands Prix have been neutralised by a safety car at least once during the race: five in the case of 2011. Similar to Albert Park in Melbourne, removing a stricken car from the track quickly and cleanly is a tough task. In many locations, even a mechanical breakdown will require a Safety Car to neutralise the race.
9 June 1889 – 125 Years Ago:
Gottlieb Daimler has his new two-cylinder V-engine patented by the Imperial German Patent Office. The world’s first V-engine has a cylinder angle of 17° and develops 1.5 hp / 1.1 kW at 600 rpm. This power unit serves as a universal drive system for road, rail and water-based vehicles, including the motorised quadricycle designed by Daimler and Maybach.
10 – 11 June 1989 – 25 Years Ago:
37 years after the first – and to date only – victory for Daimler-Benz at Le Mans, the Mercedes-Benz powered Sauber-Mercedes C 9 takes the top two places in the legendary 24-hour race. Jochen Mass, Stanley Dickens and Manuel Reuter took the wheel of one car, with Mauro Baldi, Kenny Acheson and Gianfranco Brancatelli piloting the other.
2007 Canadian Grand Prix – Seven Years Ago:
Lewis Hamilton takes the first pole position of his Formula One career and follows is up with his maiden Grand Prix victory to cap a memorable weekend for the British driver during an impressive debut season in the sport
2010 Canadian Grand Prix – Four Years Ago:
Lewis Hamilton takes the 225th podium for Mercedes-Benz power in Formula One with victory at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
The Birth of the Silver Arrows – 3 June 1934 – 80 Years Ago:
A new racing formula introduced in 1934 saw maximum weight for cars limited to 750 kg (less driver, tyres, fuel, fluids) and proved the catalyst for a step change in racing technology. So it proved for Mercedes-Benz, with the introduction of the W 25; a machine that made a dominant start to this golden era.
With its streamlined form and powerful engine, the W 25 set a new standard on the track. At first showing, the 3.5 litre, eight-cylinder engine produced a mighty 354 hp, propelling the driver to speeds in the region of 300 km/h to the tune of a distinct whistling sound from the all-new supercharger. Hydraulic brakes, independent front and rear suspension, all coupled with a shell built around the engine made this the envy of the racing community.
Similar to the Targa Florio – an event at which Mercedes had enjoyed spectacular success 10 years previously with Christian Werner – the Eifelrennen formed a landmark event in the automotive calendar: its challenging course weaving through the Eifel Mountains, tackled by the latest high performance machines on both two and four wheels. The new W 25 had been scheduled to race at the Avusrennen in late May, but was withdrawn after problems during practice.
The 1934 instalment of the Eifelrennen – held on 3 June and staged on the Nürburgring circuit – gave birth to a story upon which the Mercedes-Benz brand built its reputation among motorsport’s elite. As famously recounted by former Team Director Alfred Neubauer, legend has it that, on the eve of the race, the W 25 was found to be one kilogram overweight, and was thus stripped of its traditional white paint to match the regulations. After taking a dominant victory and setting a new lap record on its debut at the hands of Manfred von Brauchitsch, the W 25 continued to race with the silver shine of its bare aluminium bodywork and later acquired the title of ‘Silver Arrow’.
From this debut triumph, the success of the W 25 continued to build, with notable victories for Rudolf Caracciola and Luigi Fagioli in a variety of prestigious motor racing events across Europe; the German further underlining the car’s performance by setting a raft of speed records during winter of that same year. Taking a total of 16 victories in major competitions between 1934 and 1936, the W 25 cemented Mercedes-Benz at the pinnacle of international motorsport and the forefront of a golden age of Grand Prix racing.