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Canada GP: Preview - BMW

NEWS STORY
01/06/2008

Although the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is also labelled a street circuit, one could hardly imagine a greater contrast to the Monaco course. When Formula One gathers for the Canadian Grand Prix on 8th June, there will be no sign of the extra wings that adorned the cars in the Principality. The picturesquely sited island circuit in the mighty St Lawrence River is no permanent race track either, but it is respectably fast. To boost speed along the straights, the aerodynamic set-up is geared towards relatively low downforce.

In 2007, Nick Heidfeld claimed the first second-placed finish here for the young BMW Sauber F1 Team. Robert Kubica, in the meantime, has secured the team's latest podium place by finishing second in Monaco. The team statistics now show four third places and four second places. This season has seen one or other driver up on the podium in four out of the six races so far.

Nobody in the team, of course, will ever forget those moments of stunned shock following Kubica's horrific accident last year – and then the tremendous relief when he emerged virtually unscathed thanks to outstanding safety technology. For the 2008 Grand Prix, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is hoping for an equally strong but rather less nerve-shattering performance.

Nick Heidfeld: Last year's Canadian Grand Prix was a very special race for me. We put in a very strong showing in 2007. I came third in qualifying and finished second in the race on my own merit. Initially that result was obviously overshadowed by Robert's accident. Only when we knew he was okay were we able to celebrate.

Of course I'm very much hoping I'll do well in qualifying this time. I'm working with the engineers to get the tyres back fast enough into the temperature zone where they really build up grip. At any rate, the Montreal race is one of my favourites. I love the city, the atmosphere and the race track. It's a very fast course and features mainly chicanes and straights. We drive with relatively low downforce and the brakes come in for a great deal of punishment.

Robert Kubica: I am looking forward to the next race in Montreal. It is a special one, as it is a very nice city and the fans there are really enthusiastic. The entire city lives Formula One over the GP weekend.

Montreal has a completely different track characteristic than the last race in Monaco. Montreal is a relatively low-downforce track. I like the track because there is a lot of heavy braking and stop-and-go. It is very important in Montreal to have good traction to exit the slow corners perfectly. We have to take care especially in the beginning of the weekend: the track then has very low grip as it is no permanent race track. Although I had a very big accident there in 2007, Montreal is one of my favourite tracks.

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: We have very specific memories of the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. Robert survived a horrific accident virtually without any injuries, while Nick finished second to give our team the best result up to that point. It was the most emotional weekend.

We enjoy coming to Montreal. The course is challenging both in terms of driving skills and technically. On the long straights the engines are really put through their paces, and no other circuit is tougher on the brakes than Montreal.

In terms of atmosphere, as well, this race represents a climax. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is uniquely situated on its island in the St Lawrence River. The people there are enthusiastic Formula One fans, downtown Montreal really rocks during the race weekend, and the turnout of BMW fans is traditionally high.

Canada is an important market for the BMW Group. Without the US Grand Prix, there's unfortunately no North American double header this year. In Montreal we hope to build on our positive performance in Monaco.

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: The combination of long straights and chicanes makes the Montreal course a medium- downforce track for which we have developed a special aero package. Next to a modified front wing, this also features a completely new rear wing. In order to reduce drag we will also be dispensing with some extra wings, including the one on the nose cone.

There's a particularly good passing opportunity on the long straight before the final chicane, if the top speed is right. No other circuit poses a greater challenge to the brakes than Montreal. That is why we employ the largest possible brake ducts along with very robust discs.

Just as in Monaco, the softest tyre compounds also come into play in Canada to provide good traction when accelerating out of the slow corners. This circuit demands the utmost concentration on the part of the drivers since it will not forgive even the smallest driving errors. There are a lot of walls and the track is always extremely dirty off the racing line.

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