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Canada GP: Preview - Spyker

NEWS STORY
02/06/2007

After two races in Europe, the FIA Formula One World Championship now heads away for two more 'flyaway' events. This time, the series travels to North America, making a stop in Montreal and the 4.361km Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix from 8 - 10 June and just one week later to the USA and the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Despite a frustrating Monaco race, the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team came away from the weekend pleased with its overall improvement in pace relative to the rest of the field. It now looks to continue to improve over the next two races before returning to Europe for the French and British Grands Prix.

The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is a street circuit set on an island in the Saint Lawrence sea-way. It's a spectacular venue, just next to the rowing venue from the Montreal Olympics of 1976.

For the second consecutive race, there are concrete walls close by and mistakes can be very costly: the so-called 'World Champions' wall has ended many driver's laps within sight of the finish line as they exit the quick final chicane.

The overriding character of the circuit is hard braking into slow first and second gear chicanes and hairpins, which make it the most testing circuit of the year for brakes. Other considerations for the set-up are based around the traction because you've got quite a high maximum speed, and a low minimum speed, so there's a lot of braking and a lot of accelerating in first, second and third gears from the chicanes. You end up with a set-up that's obviously biased towards stability under braking, but usually that gives you some understeer, so it's a trade-off between those two for the best set-up.

The generally slow, short corners and numerous traction and braking events can make it hard to warm-up the front tyres if the weather is on the cooler side. Usually the grip starts low but there is quite a lot of circuit improvement during the weekend. The track is, because of the harsh Canadian winters, quite bumpy despite fairly regular maintenance.

Tyre compounds are as soft as Monaco, and during last year's race rubber 'marbles' worn off the tyres by understeer and wheelspin made it almost impossible to drive off-line. Overtaking is anyway quite difficult, with only two real opportunities where you have any real chance of passing being the two quickest straights, into the hairpin and back up to the final chicane. We tend to start with a slightly higher wing level when the track is green and try to decrease it as the grip goes up, trimming it out for the maximum possible top end for the race.

It's quite often a race of attrition with accidents, engine problems and brake issues that often cause retirements and, as with Monaco, a safety car period in the race is likely due to the close proximity of the walls. In addition, at certain parts of the track, the difficulty of clearing cars - for example, after T7 there is a sheer drop alongside the circuit down into the sea where you run a risk of being mowed down by the huge tankers and freighters that come and go within sight of the circuit!

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