After two races in Europe, Formula 1 visits North America this week for the Canadian Grand Prix, round seven of the 2014 FIA F1 World Championship. Following Monaco, Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is another temporary track with unforgiving walls just millimetres off the racing line – but that’s where the similarities end.
From the slowest race of the year, F1 moves to one of its fastest and teams will unleash medium-low downforce packages for the first time in 2014 in an attempt to stay competitive on the long straights of the Île Notre-Dame. In essence, the long, thin circuit is a series of high-speed straights linked by slow corners.
The start-stop nature of the lap, in which cars may hit more than 300 km/h on four separate occasions before braking down to first or second gear, has long been recognised as exceptionally harsh on brakes and engines but this year there are the added demands of the MGU-K, which will have to deal with these heavy braking loads, and the MGU-H which will be kept busy with unrelenting demand from the turbocharger.
Cars will be set-up for high top speeds but the demands of the three chicanes and the hairpin prevent use of ultra-low downforce packages. There is much fine-tuning to be done as teams seek to find the right balance between low downforce and good stability in those all-important braking zones.
With the added requirements of riding the kerbs well and getting good traction from low-speed, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has plenty to keep engineers occupied. Lewis Hamilton comes to Montreal as the form driver of 2014 with four victories and four pole positions from the six early season races.
The Briton, however, arrives narrowly trailing German team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Drivers’ Championship. The Mercedes pair are waging a fascinating battle for dominance at the top of the table, and this provides an added dimension to what is always a thrilling weekend in Canada.
Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve Data
- Length of lap 4.361 km
- Lap record 1:13.622 (Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)
- Total number of race laps 70
- Total race distance 305.270 km
- Pitlane speed limits 80 km/h in Practice, Qualifying and the Race
- Asphalt has replaced gravel around the outside of Turns 10 and 13.
- The barrier on the outside of Turn 13 (right of the pit entry), has been moved further back and a new debris fence has been installed.
- New guardrail posts have been added in order to ensure that no spacing is greater than two metres.
- The speed bumps used in 2013 at the exit of Turn Nine and the final chicane will be in place again this year.
- There will be two DRS zones in Canada. They share a single detection point, located 110m after T9. The first activation point is 55 m before T12, the second 70 m after T14.
Canadian Grand Prix Fast Facts
- McLaren lead the way with 13 F1 World Championship victories at the Canadian Grand Prix. Ferrari are second with 11.
- Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in the history of the race, winning at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on seven occasions. Of the current field, Lewis Hamilton has the best record with three victories.
- Hamilton won this race in 2007, 2010 and 2012. The first of those was his debut victory in F1. Of the seven other grand prix winners in the current field, he is one of five to have taken a maiden victory on the same weekend as a maiden pole position – the others being Felipe Massa (Turkey 2006), Sebastian Vettel (Italy 2008), Nico Rosberg (China 2010,) and Pastor Maldonado (Spain 2010).
- Three venues have hosted the Canadian Grand Prix. Mosport Park was the original venue in 1967 and also held the race in 1969, 1971-4 and 1976-7. The Mont-Tremblant circuit held the race in 1968 and 1970. The first grand prix at the track now known as the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was held in 1978.
- History does not favour Nico Rosberg this weekend. The Canadian Grand Prix has held a date in the first half of the calendar since the early 1980’s and on 17 occasions during that time it has been the race following the Monaco Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna in 1990 is the only driver to win in Monaco and follow that with victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. When the races have not been consecutive, Michael Schumacher (1994, 1997), Kimi Räikkönen (2005), and Fernando Alonso (2006) have all won both events.
- In total there have been 44 Canadian Grands Prix – the race did not run in 1975, 1987 or 2009.
- A dispute between sponsors led to the race being cancelled in 1987 but the circuit made use of the hiatus, moving the pitlane to its present home from an original location after the hairpin. Other significant changes that have brought the circuit to its present state include the gradual straightening of the Casino Straight, a tightening of the final chicane to lower speeds (1991) and a relocation of the pitlane exit to prevent cars merging directly onto the racing line (2002).
- Jenson Button won the race in 2011 in a time of 4 h 4 m 39.537 s. This holds the record for the longest (duration) race in the history of the Formula One World Championship and was caused by a two-hour suspension brought about by torrential rain. The race also holds the records for the most appearances of the Safety Car (six) and – technically – the lowest average race-winning speed (74.864 km/h).
- The duration of that race led to an amendment to the F1 Sporting Regulations. A limit of four hours duration has been placed on a race interrupted by red flag suspensions. At the four-hour mark, the chequered flag will be waved the next time the leader crosses the finishing line.
Canadian Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies
- Lars Österlind is a highly experienced FIA steward who has officiated at more than 100 grands prix and a similar number of World Rally Championship rounds. A social sciences graduate and lifelong motor sport enthusiast, Österlind was President of the Swedish Rally Commission from 1978-1982, then President of the Swedish Automobile Sport Federation from 1982-1996. He became Honorary President in 1996 and has been a member of the FIA World Council since 1984. Outside motor sport Österlind has specialised in management, working as a consultant and pursuing his own business interests. He is also experienced in local government at city council level.
- Radovan Novak has been actively involved in motorsport since 1963 and rose to become Secretary General of the ACCR in 1990. Since 1991 he has held the role of President of the FIA Central Europe Zone and over the past two decades he has acted as a steward and observer in WRC and ERC rallies, EC autocross and rallycross events and WTCC and GT races. He has been a Formula One steward since 1994. From 1994 to 2006, he was a member of the FIA Off-road Commission and was made a member of the World Motor Sport Council in 1998. In 2000 he became a member of the Sport Commission at the Ministry of Sport of the Czech Republic. An avid racer and co-driver, Novak has won a number of Czech rallying events.
- A former Williams driver and veteran of 49 grand prix starts. Derek Daly, Irish-born, but now a US resident, raced Champ Cars in America, after the end of his F1 career in 1982. He enjoyed seven seasons in top-level US motorsport, despite a 200mph accident at Michigan International Speedway in 1984, in which he sustained extensive multiple injuries and which threatened to end his career. Daly, 58, described the accident as “life-changing” but he returned for the start of the following season. Since retiring from full-time racing in 1990, after some notable additional success in sportscars, Daly moved into race commentary with Speed TV and ESPN and has subsequently developed a business as a motivational speaker. He also owns the Derek Daly Academy driver training school.