Canada GP: Preview - McLaren


Fernando Alonso: "Canada is a great circuit - very demanding and requires absolute concentration at all times. It goes from very slow-speed corners to high-speed corners really quickly, which means a lot of pressure is put on the brakes and power units. It's a pretty tough circuit on the cars generally, so reliability will be the first thing we need to focus on, to make sure there are no gremlins or technical issues that could jeopardise our performance.

"Monaco was a positive result for us; to get both cars home in the points and to keep the chasing pack behind us was very satisfying, but we know there's still a lot of work to do. We're definitely making progress, but until we're fighting at the front, we still need to keep pushing and constantly developing. Montreal is a completely different challenge to Monaco, so I hope we can quickly adapt our package to this circuit and maintain our recent form, but it will certainly be a tricky and unpredictable weekend."

"I really like spending time in Canada and going back out to North America. Although it falls within the 'European' season, the atmosphere does feel quite European - the people are friendly, the food is great and it's a melting pot of different cultures.

"There's really strong competition emerging at the front of the grid, as teams are getting stronger and pushing their development. It's a really tight pack in the midfield, and a different team seems to have the advantage at each circuit, so it'll be a tough battle against our nearest rivals both in qualifying and the race. The teams need to work hard to set up the cars to meet the demands of the circuit, and a lot can happen during the course of the grand prix, so let's see what we can do."

Jenson Button: "Although this is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, and very power-hungry, one of the strengths of our chassis is stability under heavy braking, so we shouldn't be fearful of going to a circuit like this and finding ourselves on the back foot. Our development rate is steep and there's huge work going on behind the scenes to constantly improve the performance of our whole package, so I'm excited to see how we perform in Canada, given how different the circuit's characteristics are compared to Monaco.

"It's no secret that I absolutely love this circuit, and it's the scene of one of my best race wins, in 2011 - definitely up there among my favourites. It's a real racer's circuit: tough on cars, tough on drivers, and usually produces stunning racing, whatever the weather. Leaving the final corner unscathed after passing the 'Wall of Champions' always feels like an achievement - let's hope we can achieve that 70 times on Sunday!"

"Canada is definitely considered a classic on the F1 calendar. It's a fantastic city and I love going there every year. The whole city offers an incredible welcome and the buzz is like no other place - the atmosphere is definitely unique to Montreal. It's always a mightily unpredictable race - the weather conditions, the high walls, the narrow track, the slippery surfaces - it really sorts the men from the boys.

"Although Monaco is an adopted home for me, the race weekend there is always a massive whirlwind, so heading to Canada will be a completely different feeling, and I'm looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere there. We had good reliability in Monaco, and both Fernando and I managed to keep it on the black stuff in some pretty crazy conditions, so I'm hoping the weather will throw up a few surprises and we can get stuck in on track."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "Monaco for us was a bag of mixed fortunes. A double-points finish was an encouraging boost for the team and a reward in some way for all the hard work going on behind the scenes in Woking, Milton Keynes and Sakura - but it's no secret that until we are back at the front, we cannot be satisfied. We had anticipated a stronger performance on the twisty, slower-speed, tricky streets of Monaco, but nevertheless we've learned a lot about our car and cannot be too unhappy given the incredibly difficult conditions on race day, which our two world champions coped with so well.

"And now we turn our attention to Montreal, scene of 13 victories for McLaren, and some very memorable races. Like Monaco, it's a gem of an event and holds a justifiable reputation for creating great racing on its formidable asphalt. That's where the similarities end, as its demands present a unique set of challenges for our engineers, mechanics and ultimately, drivers.

"On paper, this power-hungry, demanding circuit is not among those that would play to the strengths of our car, but such is our rate of development that we are aiming to continue the momentum we've built over the last couple of races, and firmly push for more valuable points. It won't be easy, and reliability will be key, first and foremost, but our objective is to put on the best show we can for the incredibly enthusiastic Quebecois fans, and put our package to the test at the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: "The Canadian Grand Prix is always exciting, with its great atmosphere, enthusiastic fans and unpredictable racing. Honda Canada has been a big supporter of this event for a very long time, so we always feel at home there.

"The lush greens and the blue waters around the circuit are beautiful, yet the track there is unforgiving, with its power-oriented nature, stop and start corners, abrasive surface and long straights.

"It's a very different animal to Monaco, so it will be a challenging weekend for the team, but we will keep our heads down and focus on what we can do to bring out the best in our package."

Name: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

First race: 1978

Circuit length: 4.361km/2.710 miles (only 4 circuits are shorter)

Distance to Turn One: 260m/0.162 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)

Longest straight: 1.16km/0.721 miles, on the approach to Turn 13 (the longest of the season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)

Top speed: 350km/h/217mph, on the approach to Turn 13 (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)

Pitlane length: 400m/0.249 miles, estimated time loss 22s (longest of season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles)

Full throttle: 67 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)

DRS zones: Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 13

Key corner: The Hairpin, Turn 10, a tight second-gear corner where entry and exit are equally important. The entry is a potential overtaking opportunity, but a clean exit is vital because the longest straight on the circuit follows, along which there is the second DRS zone

Fastest corner: 260km/h (162mph), Turn Five

Slowest corner: 80km/h (50mph), Turn Two

Major changes for 2016: No major changes

Fuel consumption: 1.8kg per lap, making it one of the highest of the season

ERS demands: High

Brake wear: High. There are seven significant braking events around the lap, all from high speed. This is one of the toughest circuits of the year for brakes

Gear changes: 56 per lap/3920 per race

Start time: 14:00hrs local/19:00hrs BST

Race distance: 70 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/52 laps)

Safety Car likelihood: 80 per cent. Limited run-off increases the probability of an accident and damaged cars cannot be moved easily out of the way. As a result, 12 of the last 17 Canadian GPs have been Safety Car-affected. It's worth noting that the Canadian Grand Prix is the spiritual home of the Safety Car because it was at Mosport in 1973 that the Safety Car was first deployed in F1

When to press record: The closing laps of the race. Fuel consumption is tight for every team and brake wear can become a factor if brake cooling has been miscalculated. As a result, teams cannot relax until the chequered flag

Don't put the kettle on: The top three drivers pitted only once last year. If that proves to be the case again this year, expect the stops to be made on or around lap 25. However, Pirelli is taking its Ultrasoft tyre compound to the race for the first time and this could spice up race strategies

Weather conditions now: 22 degrees and cloudy

Race forecast: 20 degrees

Tyre choices: Ultrasoft/Supersoft/Soft, the same as were used in Monaco at the last race

The Canadian Grand Prix first became a round of the World Championship in 1967, when a 90-lap race was staged at Mosport, Ontario. It moved to its current location on the Ile Notre-Dame, Montreal, in '78 - a race that was won by Quebecois Gilles Villeneuve. The track was re-named the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1982, following the death of the Ferrari star at Zolder.

What makes the track unique: It's the first high-speed challenge of the 2016 campaign. The cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) on four occasions around the lap, placing an emphasis on braking, traction and top speed.

Grip levels: Poor. The combination of old, low-grip asphalt and low aerodynamic downforce levels make the cars more skittish than at most other tracks.

Run-off: Minimal. The walls are close and they cannot be moved back due to the proximity of the St Lawrence river on one side and a lake on the other. The wall on the outside of the final chicane has been coined 'The Wall of Champions' because five world champions have hit it over the years, those drivers being Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.

Watch out for: Turns One and Two. They are two of the slowest corners on the track, and it's rare that the cars pass through this section unscathed on the opening lap of the race. The approach to Turn One is also the first DRS zone, so a lot of overtaking manoeuvres are attempted under braking.

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Published: 06/06/2016
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