McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh previews the Canadian Grand Prix, Round 7 of the 2013 F1 world championship, in Montreal.
“McLaren has always gone well in Canada – we’ve won 13 Canadian Grands Prix – and while we’re not heading to Montreal next week with a realistic shot at victory, we well know that this is a race where an unexpected result is always possible.
“The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the Formula 1 calendar, and a race that the whole paddock enjoys. It’s a showcase for F1 at its best – the track has a natural flow that encourages bold driving, but which punishes mistakes with narrow run-offs and uncompromising concrete walls. The track surface is abrasive and relatively gripless, and the long back straight is perfect for lengthy slipstreaming battles and overtaking.
“In addition, the Canadian and North American fans are passionate and knowledgeable about the sport – it’s one of those races that’s packed-out from Thursday to Sunday, and filled with a varied and exciting support race timetable.
“It’s one of the best races of the year.”
A McLaren 50 classic moment: Canadian Grand Prix, 12 June 1988
McLaren has an enviable record in the Canadian Grand Prix. The team scored its first ever one-two finish at Mont Tremblant in 1968, Denny Hulme coming home ahead of Bruce McLaren, and it has taken a total of 13 victories – nine of them at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Few of those wins have been more dominant than the one-two achieved by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988.
The MP4-4 was the dominant car of ’88 and McLaren-Honda arrived in Canada, round five of 16, unbeaten and with Alain leading the world championship. Ayrton took pole position by 0.1s ahead of his team-mate, but it was Alain who made the better start – much to Ayrton’s dismay. He’d asked for pole position to be moved to the outside of the track after qualifying, but his request was turned down by the race stewards.
Alain led Ayrton for the opening 19 laps, but the Brazilian snuck past at the hairpin while Alain negotiated traffic. The pair then disappeared into the distance while their main rivals faltered and Ayrton led Alain by 5.9s at the chequered flag. Benetton’s Thierry Boutsen was the only other driver on the lead lap, 45s further adrift in third place.
McLaren went on to win 15 of the 16 Grands Prix in 1988, making it the most successful season in the team’s history.