Just one week on from the race in Azerbaijan, the Formula 1 World Championship is back on track for the Canadian Grand Prix, which returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019. As usual, the race is run on a track made up of the perimeter roads on the manmade island of Notre-Dame, in the Saint Lawrence river estuary. It is a semi-permanent facility named in honour of the great Gilles Villeneuve and the track is both attractive and strange in many ways. It features long straights interrupted by a series of chicanes and slow corners. The right set-up therefore involves finding a good compromise that delivers stability under braking and excellent traction, without ignoring what is an important detail at this track, namely the need to able to ride the kerbs.
In Montreal, the cars run in low downforce aero configuration to favour straight-line speed that can exceed 300 km/h at the end of the straights. This lack of downforce leads to some instability in the corners and therefore, mechanical grip going through the tyres is even more important than usual. Montreal can often deliver unpredictable weather and in several places, the track surface offers little grip, as many drivers have found to their cost over the years, ending up in the famous "wall of champions" on the outside of the exit to the final chicane before the main straight.
Sunday's race will be the 51st Canadian Grand Prix. It was first held in 1967 and has been hosted by three circuits: Mosport Park (8 times), Mont Tremblant (twice) and Montreal, which with 40 races to its name is now a calendar classic. It is run over 70 laps of the 4.361 kilometre circuit, equivalent to 305.27 kilometres.
Three questions to... Paolo Pierro, Track Electronics Manager.
What is your role within the Scuderia?
PP: "I'm in charge of electronics at the track. I see to the management of all electronics over the race weekend and during the preparation period. In practical terms, I coordinate the activities of the personnel who look after the electronics, which covers all the electrical components on the car (sensors, actuators, cabled and wireless communications), operation and programming of the strategy software, work on low level control in the car and managing the controls for the start. But electronics is also the communication systems to and from the car, between all the engineers and mechanics, as well as the telemetry systems on the car and transmitting images to Formula 1. Electronics also impacts on the work in the garage with the interface and supply to the car, as well as the electronics for the pitstops".
What are the specific aspects of your work connected to the Gilles Villeneuve circuit here in Canada?
PP: "The track is 4361 metres in length and the race lasts 70 laps. Its characteristics, especially the hairpin at turn 10 and turn 13 at the wall of champions, are very hard on the brakes. This is the track where, more than any other, we keep all eyes on the caliper and brake disc temperatures to ensure that the measures we have in place are always consistent and effective. We also have to ensure that the brake-by-wire system that controls the rear brakes and adjusts brake balance with an electric motor, always responds in a matter of milliseconds and does not lose performance".
How much telemetric data is generated over a race weekend and how much radio communication is involved?
PP: "A Formula 1 car's telemetry system requires a bandwidth of around 1MB/sec to send in real time, for around 10,000 channels. Each channel operates on a different frequency. When the car pits and we download the data, we have up to 40,000 channels available. These are then used to generate channels processed on the ground (in practice, high-level information is extracted from the information on the sensors that allow us to monitor the reliability and performance of the car). The number of these channels is even higher during Friday practice where we have some extra acquisitions. This means managing 50GB of data for each grand prix. The communication system is even more interesting: there are about 60 internal communication channels, of which 40 are transmitted to the Maranello remote garage. In a race weekend there are about 5000 internal communications, a thousand of them in the race alone. Communications to or in between mechanics account for another 1000, while engineers transmit around 150 communications per weekend with each driver".
Ferrari in Canada
GP entered 50
Debut 1967 (C. Amon 6th)
Wins 12 (24%)
Pole positions 8 (16%)
Fastest race laps 9 (48%)
Total podiums 36 (24%)
Facts & Figures
6. Emblems on the latest version of the flag of Montreal. Established on 13 September 2017, it features a red cross on a white background, with a white pine at its centre, which is the latest symbol to be added, representing the indigenous population of Canada. The cross is for the Christian principles on which the city was founded, while there are four other elements in its quadrants: the Fleur-de-Lys celebrates the French element for its role in establishing the city, the rose represents the English house of Lancaster, the shamrock for the Irish and the thistle for the Scots, from where many people migrated to start a new life.
10. The position from furthest back on the grid from which the Canadian Grand Prix was won: Jacques Laffite was the driver in question in 1981 at the wheel of a Ligier. The longest climb up the order to the podium was down to Rubens Barrichello, driving a Ferrari. In 2005 he went from 20th on the grid to third at the flag.
26. The average number of overtaking moves in the Canadian Grand Prix. The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit has nearly always produced spectacular racing with an incredible number of changes of position. In 2011, when Jenson Button won, there were 89, when Lewis Hamilton was victorious in 2010 there were 60, while in 1990 (winner Ayrton Senna) there were 52. At the other end of the scale, in 2003 there were just six passes when Michael Schumacher dominated in the Ferrari and seven when Fernando Alonso won in 2006. In 1995, when Jean Alesi driving a Ferrari took his only Grand Prix win, there were nine.
85. The percentage of the world's supply of Maple Syrup produced in Quebec. This product, famous for its use on breakfast pancakes, is used in a variety of products in Canada. It is made with sap from the tree whose leaf is also represented on the national flag and appears in deserts, butter, sweets and other delicacies.
1973. Ignoring the use of the Pace Car in the Indianapolis 500 when it was on the F1 calendar from 1950 to 1960, this is the year that a Safety Car was first used, making its debut at the Canadian Grand Prix. It was not a great success, coming out with 47 laps remaining, following a collision between Jody Scheckter and Francois Cevert. The Safety Car came out on track, driven by Eppie Wietzes, a former racer who had taken part in the 1967 Canadian Grand Prix. The car should have positioned itself ahead of Jackie Stewart's number 5 Tyrrell, but instead it ended up ahead of Howden Ganley in the number 25 Iso, who was in 22nd place at the time. Chaos ensued: several cars dived into the pits to switch from rain tyres to slicks, thus losing as little time as possible, but it threw the then manual timing system into confusion. Each team relied on its own stopwatches, the press room was in uproar, the commentator did not have a clue who was leading and neither did the crowd of 38,000 spectators. For the next 12 laps, some cars were allowed to pass the Safety Car, thus gaining a lap on those still behind the Iso. As the chequered flag fell, an incredulous Ganley was initially declared the winner. There followed hours of argument and checking after which, Peter Revson was instated as the winner for McLaren, followed by Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Oliver in the Shadow. Not everyone in the pit lane agreed and Lotus boss Colin Chapman was convinced that Fittipaldi had won. After this traumatic experience, the Safety Car would not reappear until the 1993 Brazilian Grand Prix.
75 years ago
It is 15th June 1947. After winning at Vercelli, Enzo Ferrari sets about preparing his team and car for the Mille Miglia by racing at the Vigevano circuit in Pavia (Lombardy). The 125 S is the one used in Rome with cigar-shaped bodywork and separate mudguards, but it is also fitted with an electrical system that was deactivated for the Rome event. The Ferrari is not the most aerodynamic car on the grid, but there is a new idea for the rear axle, with the differential removed to improve getting the power down to the track. Once again, it's Franco Cortese at the wheel and he takes an easy win. The 125 S romps home over a lap ahead of the Stanguellinis of Vincenzo Auricchio and Guido Scagliarni. Ferrari's recent past is represented in the shape of an Auto Avio Costruzioni, the car built after Ferrari split from Alfa Romeo at a time when he was unable to use his name on the cars. This time it was driven by Enrico Beltracchini, but he failed to see the chequered flag.