The Lucky Strike BAR Honda team heads across the Atlantic this weekend to the cosmopolitan city of Montréal for the first of the two long-haul, back-to-back races which mark the mid-point of the 2005 season. The Canadian Grand Prix is always a firm favourite on the race team's calendar, as the carnival atmosphere of downtown Montréal is only a short distance away.
BAR Honda conducted an intensive four-driver, three-day test this week in a bid to return to competitive form in Canada. The test team were in action in Monza for two days, whilst the race team conducted a one-day test at its home circuit of Silverstone. Following intensive evaluation of some aerodynamic evaluations for the next two races and further development of the Honda engine, the team plans to make a solid step forward at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve next weekend.
Long-haul races always present their own special logistical challenges for the race team, and when they arrive in Montréal it will be the start of an intensive 15-day schedule. The team has been working 24/7 preparing to freight 26 tonnes of chassis, engines and equipment across the pond from its headquarters in Brackley, England.
Jenson Button: "The circuit is a very stop-start type of track which doesn't really flow very much at all. The circuit has been resurfaced, so it's going to be a bit of a challenge for the teams and tyre manufacturers to choose the right tyres for the race. There are some reasonably good overtaking opportunities and so the drivers and the fans should be able to look forward to a great race. We ran quite well there last year, finishing in fourth, so we are hoping for an improvement in our performance this week.
"Montréal is a great place to visit. The city is beautiful and there are some great places to visit. It's always one of my favourite pitstops on the calendar."
Takuma Sato: "The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a tricky one as it has a long straight, features heavy braking, a hairpin and a chicane. You need a car that is stable and performs well under braking. We had a good test at Silverstone on Thursday which was important for our overall development and we also had a positive feeling from the test team in Monza, who were looking at Montréal specifications. So I am very excited to go to Canada and I believe that we should have a good race there next weekend.
"I always enjoy visiting Montréal as it is a great cosmopolitan city. Its unique fusion of historic architecture and the modern downtown district makes it very interesting. The fact that it also has a very good race track with a great atmosphere makes it even more exciting!"
Gil de Ferran: "The two days we spent testing at Monza were for the purposes of determining tyre specification for the US Grand Prix and evaluating our aero package for the Canadian Grand Prix. The test was successful on both counts and the test drivers were pleased with the way the car was performing. We are hopeful of a better showing in both of the North American races as a result."
Shuhei Nakamoto: "We have an engine upgrade ready for Canada, so we are looking for a good result at this power circuit."