The BMW Sauber F1 Team and its Formula One rivals will be embarking on the second of five back-to-back race weekends during the 2007 season when they line up on the grid at the picturesque Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on 10th June. A week later, they will be limbering up for the next race on the calendar at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the US.
The BMW Sauber F1 Team will arrive at the Canadian Grand Prix full of confidence. Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica are aiming to add to their points totals at the demanding high-speed track and to further strengthen the team's third place in the constructors' championship. The team has scored points in every race so far in what is only its second season on the grid.
Nick Heidfeld: "Like most drivers, I really like travelling over to Montreal. The race circuit occupies an incredibly beautiful location on the island in the St Lawrence river, which makes for an unmistakable atmosphere. And the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve itself has a very special character. It is a high-speed track with long straights, but also some tight chicanes and a couple of slow corners. To start with, the asphalt always has very little grip. When the track starts to get really grippy and the car is working perfectly, though, you can run hard over the kerbs in the second chicane. This chicane also goes downhill, and you get seriously close to the wall on the exit.
"Away from the track itself, I also like the city of Montreal a lot. There is always a great atmosphere there and the people get really excited about the grand prix. I usually travel to Montreal a few days before the race and have time to do some shopping in the city. I also like to stop by at a few galleries in the old part of town. Patricia and I have several pictures at home which I bought there."
Robert Kubica: "I am really looking forward to Montreal as it is one of my favourite tracks in the Formula One calendar. It means driving with lower downforce for the first time this season. Last year on the Friday I was quite good there. I am looking to repeat that performance and I think our car can perform very well there because of the downforce configuration. I like the track because it is a street circuit and has pretty low grip, improving during the weekend.
"It will be interesting to see how I can cope with the Bridgestone tyres compared to the Michelins of last year, and how I have to change my driving style. I will see how big an influence it was for me to change to the different tyres. Montreal was the track where my driving style of last year gave me an advantage. As I am not driving the same as in 2006 we have to see how it will be this year."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The two races in North America represent not only the next challenge for us as a team in terms of collecting more World Championship points – they also carry a lot of weight for the BMW Group. The USA was the most important single market for the BMW Group in 2006, with sales of some 314,000 BMW and MINI cars. Canada is the Group's second largest market in America after the USA. BMW, therefore, has a large fan base in the country, and we also feel the strength of this popularity as a team.
"Last year, we crossed the Atlantic in fifth place in the standings. In 2007 we will be arriving in Canada as the third best team. In 2006 we were only able to take two points away from the pair of races in North America. This is something we are naturally looking to improve on, and we are aiming to collect as many points as possible on the back of our good result in Monaco in order to further strengthen our position in the championship.
"The atmosphere at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the island in the St Lawrence river, with its paddock running along the side of the former Olympic rowing basin, is simply captivating. With the colourful hustle and bustle in the city and a race circuit on the waterfront there are certainly parallels in terms of atmosphere with the Monaco Grand Prix. However, the type of challenge presented by the Montreal track could hardly be more different. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve places totally different aerodynamic demands on the cars and pushes both the brakes in particular, and the engines, to the limit. In line with the F1 regulations, our cars will continue with the same engines as we used in Monaco. Sebastian Vettel will be with us in America in his capacity as test and reserve driver."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "The combination of long straights and chicanes makes Montreal what we call a 'medium downforce' circuit, and we have developed a special aero package that takes this into account. The long straight leading up to the final chicane offers the drivers the best overtaking opportunity if top speed allows. Montreal is harder on the brakes than any other circuit on the F1 calendar, so maximum brake cooling and high-performance specifications for discs and pads are the order of the day.
"This is a circuit that punishes even the slightest error, as the crash barriers are largely extremely close to the track and there are not many run-off areas. We were very competitive in Canada last year, and I am extremely confident that we will be able to come away with good results again this year."