2015: Canadian Grand Prix Preview

The European F1 season gets a brief interlude this weekend as teams travel to North America for the Canadian Grand Prix. Considered by many as one of the best weekends on the Formula One calendar, racing at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve always provides excitement and intrigue with different strategies coming into play. While in Monaco it was the close proximity of the barriers all around the track that drivers had to keep themselves out of, in Canada it is the infamous wall of champions which has seen the likes of Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel hit.

The main talking point coming into the Canadian Grand Prix is that moment from Monaco when Lewis Hamilton pitted under the safety car and ultimately lost the win after dominating most of the race. Team-mate Nico Rosberg is the one with the momentum having won the last two races and cutting Hamilton’s championship lead to just ten points.

Circuit: Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
Number of Laps: 70
Circuit Length: 4.361km
Number of Corners: 14
Lap Record: 1:13.622 Rubens Barrichello (2004)
Previous Canadian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: Ferrari & McLaren (13 wins)
DRS Zones: 2   
Pirelli Tyres: Soft and Supersoft

In stark contrast to the high downforce requirements of the streets of Monte Carlo, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is medium to low downforce. A lot of focus is put on power and getting good traction out of the corners. It has long straights where the speeds build as well as slow corners, giving it a very stop/start feel. Ferrari and Honda have used engine development tokens ahead of this weekend and reliability will play a key role in the weekend.

Last year Mercedes looked to have another 1-2 finish sewn up until MGU-K issues hampered both cars races. Struggling from a loss of power, the chasing pack were able to close up on Hamilton and Rosberg. Hamilton eventually retired from the race with brake failure while Rosberg drove around the issue to salvage second place. Instead it was Daniel Ricciardo who took his maiden Formula One win with team-mate Sebastian Vettel in third.

In the past it has been a track where Hamilton has excelled or retired. Since his breakthrough win in his rookie season (2007) he has won the race once more and finished third once. He has retired on his three further visits to the track with the race not being held in 2009. Red Bull have won the race on the past two occasions but before that McLaren had won three in a row. McLaren-Honda picked up their first points of the season in Monaco when Jenson Button was classified eighth while team-mate Fernando Alonso’s race came to an early end after the car overheated. The team will be focused on improving their reliability as they look to become more consistent points scorers. Max Verstappen came under fire following the last race after his move on Romain Grosjean which sees him come into this weekend carrying a five place grid penalty. Having gone second fastest in his first F1 session in Monaco, the highs soon turned to lows when he tried to make a move on Grosjean on the pit straight and crashed out. The incident brought out the safety car which in turned proved to be Hamilton’s downfall.

Verstappen’s fellow rookie and team-mate impressed after racing from the pit-lane to pick up one championship point. Vettel picked up yet another podium for Ferrari while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished down in sixth. The Finn is a previous Canadian Grand Prix winner in 2005 and will be hoping to move back up the order. Racing in Canada can often be unpredictable and it will no doubt be another exciting race this weekend.

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