Canadian Grand Prix - Preview

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This weekend, the 2019 FIA Formula One Championship reaches its seventh round, the Canadian Grand Prix. After a dominant start to the year, Mercedes is yet to be beaten this season, and they are adamant to continue to hold the reins this weekend.

Following the first four flyaway races, the field returned to its home, Europe, but it undertakes another long trip after the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix. The race in Canada breaks the European leg of the season before the field returns to Europe later this month. The Canadian Grand Prix will be held for the 50th time this weekend.

Mercedes has won all six races so far this season, proving its competitiveness on different track characteristics and showing that its W10 is superior to its rival machines in almost every aspect. However, Ferrari and Red Bull has showed good top-end speed across the first six rounds which could help their fortunes on the Montreal race track to break the ominous winning streak of the Anglo-German outfit.

An important milestone for Canada

The first ever Canadian Grand Prix was held back in 1961, but at that time it was not part of the Formula One Championship. The event first appeared on the race calendar in 1967. The first race was held in the Mosport Park and was won by Jack Brabham with his Brabham-Repco outfit. The next years saw Mosport Park and Mont-Tremblant host the races until 1978 when the event was relocated to the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal. Since Canada joined the sport, the field has only missed it on three occasions. In 1982, the Circuit Ile Notre Name was renamed Gilles Villeneuve in honour of the country’s most successful race driver.

This weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will take place for the 50th time. The organizers would like to celebrate this milestone with a spectacular development to the track. After years of cramped conditions and temporary team buildings, the paddock of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has undergone a massive makeover and this year teams, media and guests will be welcomed to a state-of-the-art, award-winning CAN$60m complex.

Canadian Grand Prix promoter François Dumontier explained that the changes were completed over ten months and the rebuild work was started right after the 2018 race.

The previous garages were built as far back as 1988 and F1 has changed massively since then. Those old garages were 40 feet deep and pretty tight while the new ones are 85 feet deep. That means that all of their equipment will go inside and they will have access to everything they need.

The old TV broadcast booths, which were on the other side of the track to the paddock are now gone and we have permanent facilities for broadcasters in the new building. The view of the track is great and the facilities are. The Paddock Club opportunities, the capacity here is now for 5,000 guests. So we have scope to grow the event and we can now offer a state of the art experience to guests.

Schumacher is the uncrown king of Montreal

Michael Schumacher holds the record for the hightest number of wins in Canada. The German won on seven occasions, once for Benetton and six times for Ferrari. On Sunday, Lewis Hamilton could catch Schumacher up as he has won six times in Montreal. The five-time world champion won on three occasions for McLaren and other three times for Mercedes. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has a special place in the heart of Hamilton as he scored his first ever Formula One victory in Canada in 2007.

The leading duo is followed by Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian won three times in Montreal, twice for Brabham and once for Benetton. The list of drivers with two victories in Canada is longer. Sebastian Vettel, Ayrton Senna, Alan Jones, Jackie Stewart and Jacky Icks all have two Canadian Grand Prix wins to their names.

Among the teams, McLaren hold the record with 13 triumphs, followed by Ferrari with 12 wins. Williams occupies the third spot on this list with seven wins.

Top speed enjoys priority

The 4361-meter-long Circuit Gilles Villeneuve consists of 14 corners. While searching for the best set-up, engineers have to sacrifice everything for the top speed and good traction out of the slow corners.

Drivers need to circulate 70 times around the track during the race to complete the race distance of 305.270km. Rubens Barrichello holds the record for the fastest ever race lap. The Brazilian set his 1,13.622 lap time during the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix with Ferrari. There is no offset between the start and finish line on the Montreal circuit. drivers have to adhere to a speed limit of 80kph in the tight pit lane across the whole race weekend.

Following the start-finish straight, drivers have to brake down intensively into the first section of the track. Turn One and Two create a difficult, S-shaped section to take as the entry speed is high while it is also crutial to get the best getaway onto the following full-throttle section. The sidewalls of tyres often kiss the wall at the exit of the next chicane as drivers are desperate to carry the highest possible speed onto the following curved section.

Opening the second sector, Turn 6 and 7 form another chicane. It is a remarkably difficult section as the rear end of the cars are prone to dance around. The track is usually dirty offline and the downforce level is not high enough because of the lower air speed. The next chicane invites drivers to drive aggressively over the kerbs to gain a little bit of time while its exit is confined by another daunting concrete wall.

Following another full-throttle curved section, drivers arrive to the slowest hairpin turn of the Montreal track. It is vital to get a clean exit to have a good speed onto the back straight which is arguably the best overtaking opportunity of the circuit. The last two bends, Turn 13 and 14 form another chicane where drivers have to pay respect to the frightening concrete Champions’ Wall which many drivers have fallen victim to.