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Canada GP Preview: Michelin

NEWS STORY
19/06/2006

Located on the Île Notre Dame, in the middle of Montreal's Saint Lawrence River, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve features a blend of high-speed straights and low-speed corners – a cocktail that places particular strain on engines and braking systems.

Montreal's lively, cosmopolitan atmosphere makes it one of the most popular venues on the Formula One schedule and it has been the Canadian Grand Prix's permanent home since 1978 (although the 1987 race had to be cancelled in the wake of a sponsorship row).

Canada was first included on the F1 calendar in 1967: this year's race will be the 38th of its kind and the 28th at its current home. The race has also taken place eight times at Mosport Park (the original host) and twice at Mont-Tremblant.

With 99 F1 world championship victories to its credit (including six in this season's first eight races), Michelin will be pushing to complete its century in Canada – and the company is no stranger to landmark victories in Montreal. In 1978, local hero Gilles Villeneuve (late father of current BMW Sauber F1 Team star Jacques) scored his maiden F1 success here at the wheel of his Michelin-shod Ferrari 312 T3 – the first ever world championship grand prix victory for a Canadian driver.

Michelin has since won the event on a further four occasions, with Jacques Laffite (Ligier-Matra, 1981 – the last F1 win for the French engine manufacturer), Nelson Piquet (Brabham-BMW, 1984), Ralf Schumacher (Williams -BMW, 2001) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes, 2005).

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber F1 Team: "Tyres are obviously an important factor in Montreal. First of all, the straights are quite long and the consequent high speeds sometimes create heat and blistering. It is very different from any other track because all the corners are slow – they require heavy braking and, subsequently, hard acceleration. The demand on the tyres differs greatly from most other tracks because there is very little lateral load – it is nearly all longitudinal."

Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin: "The usually quiet Île Notre -Dame is transformed into one of the noisiest places in Montreal during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

"This is effectively a street circuit, like Melbourne and Monaco, but its design makes it very fast, with several significant straights. Barriers run close to the circuit and many experienced drivers have been caught out in the past. The first chicane in particular can be problematic.

"The track favours strong, powerful engines and its layout is very demanding mechanically, particularly on braking and transmission systems.

"Montreal is little used during the year and tends to be slippery, so tyres have to be well prepared and wisely selected. Tyres tend to be softer than those used in the previous race, at Silverstone, and we conducted our final pre-race tests at Le Castellet, Vallelunga and Barcelona. These were particularly demanding sessions and we developed some new solutions on the basis of our experience in previous races.

"This year we are bringing four different types of tyre to Montreal and two are totally new products.

"Competition in Formula One is very intense at present, so tyre preparation and selection is becoming more sensitive. Michelin spends a lot of time analysing a wide variety of test results with its partner teams, and we are then able to make final recommendations. Montreal will be no exception and the competition will be even fiercer as we look to secure our 100th F1 grand prix victory."

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