This track is classed as a street circuit but you won’t see any clubs or bars track side here. Access to this tiny, man made island on the St Lawrence river near Montreal is difficult and poses a huge challenge to all of the F1 teams. This circuit is always very much anticipated and is always very well attended. It’s unique location is only part of it’s charm, the other and more significant is it’s layout. This circuit is short, high speed and it’s kinks and twists coupled with two significant hairpins encourage overtaking opportunities. Overtaking can be difficult at times due to narrow areas of the circuit but generally, this circuit offers many thrills and spills.
Most notable of these is the “wall of champions” at the final chicane before the home straight (Turns 13/14). Drivers decelerate from near 190mph to make the tight chicane (right then left) before accelerating off down the straight to the start/finish line. Slowing the car down enough to make the chicane and to carry enough speed to get momentum out of it requires intense control, coordination and self discipline. Even world champions get it wrong sometimes which is why the wall on the inside of Turn 14 is called the wall of champions…it bears the scars from many number 1’s who have crashed into it including Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Damon Hill to name just a few.
Because this race is situated out on a river, the wind can play havoc here and this poses a serious threat to car setup. Depending on which way the wind is blowing depends on how the engineers will set up the car. Driving into a headwind down the huge straights will require shorter gear ratios in order for the cars to reach maximum speed. Driving away from the wind will require the opposite but we all know…the wind can change. This is just a tiny example of how F1 teams must adapt to each environment that they race in.
Canadian Grand Prix 2015 statistics
Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Street circuit.
Track length: 4.361 km.
Tyre allocation: Soft (yellow) and Supersoft (red).
DRS Zones: Two with one detection spot (Between turns 12 and 13 and Pit Straight).
Lap record: Rubens Barrichello – 1:13.622 (Ferrari, 2002).
2014 pole: Nico Rosberg – 1:14.874 (Mercedes).
Six races into the season and we’ve already had enough drama to last a life time. Red Bull threatening to quit, Mercedes “dropping the ball” in Monaco and teams arguing over spiralling costs are just a few of the dominant headlines the sport has created thus far. This coming weekend will see a brand new chapter written into the F1 history books.
Can the rookies continue to impress?
Felipe Nasr, Max Verstappen, Will Stevens and Carlos Sainz jnr have all been impressive this season. Will Stevens has beaten his team mate in nearly every session of any race this season except the actual race in Monaco and even though every race he’s finished he’s been lapped, he has comprehensively beaten his team mate.
Nasr and Sainz Jnr finished 9th and 10th respectively in Monaco which considering that this Monaco GP was fairly straight forward with little incident but also their first in F1 they did brilliantly well to score points. The fact that Sainz Jnr started from the pit lane (20th) makes his 10th place even more heroic and what a great job it was.
Max Verstappen fell victim to the “rookie error”. His huge crash towards the end of the race which literally decided the outcome of who would eventually win the race showed that this boy is an out an out racer with huge determination but one that needs refining. He or Roman Grosjean; the driver that he rear ended at 150mph into turn 1 wouldn’t have wanted their epic battle to have ended the way it did and despite Verstappen accusing Grosjean of attempting to play chicken by deliberately break testing him (warning off the threat of an over take by braking sharply) I believe that Vertappens inexperience is the reason why he ended up in the barrier with a smashed Toro Rosso and a headache. Despite Vertappens crash he was brilliant to watch. He was brave, a little crazy you might say to try the over takes that he did but this is racing, this is what the fans want and we should expect more.
If anything, 2015 has certainly got the rookie drivers it needs. None of them are prepared to roll over for anybody and they are there, racing AND entertaining the fans. The last rookie to leave the world aghast at his brilliance was Lewis Hamilton but I think Max Verstappen is definitely causing jaws to drop with Sainz Jnr and Nasr not too far behind him.
Lets be honest. Mercedes made one of the biggest errors in the history of the sport last weekend in Monaco when they called Lewis Hamilton in for a pit stop that he didn’t need to make. It was so significant that it immediately got the conspiracy theorists interested and media tongues wagging. For me it was interesting because it always appears that if it’s going to happen to anybody then it’s going to happen to Hamilton right?
Lets go back in time briefly. Hamilton won three of the opening four races losing one to Vettel. Nothing could stop him. The Ferrari was exceptional on it’s tyre degredation in Malaysia but significantly you have to question the decision of the Mercedes team to use up their best wearing tyres during the previous days qualifying session? This decision meant that by the end of the race Hamilton was on softer, more badly worn tyres than Vettel and Vettel cruised to an easy win. Taking nothing away from Ferrari, this win now seems that it occurred because Mercedes were at fault rather than Ferrari closing the gap to them because ever since then they’ve remained firmly behind Mercedes despite various upgrades they’ve made.
In Spain, Rosberg was rampant but significantly here, the slow pit stop that cost Hamilton firmly confirmed his second place to Rosberg. Some times pit stops go wrong (remember Hamilton suffering several bad stops in a row during his last season as a McLaren driver in 2012?) but had it worked out then he could have had a real chance of getting close up to Rosberg; indeed he asked the pit wall whether he could still close the gap after he came out of the pits.
Then we come to Monaco. Lewis Hamilton is pulling away a second or even seconds a lap over the rest of the field and claiming that he is cruising. By the time the Verstappen/Grosjean accident occurs on lap 64 and the virtual safety car is deployed, he’s 25 seconds ahead of the field. It’s important to understand that for a car to enter the pits, to stop, then to drive out of the pits will take about 20 seconds. This being the case and with 25 seconds to play with Hamilton could have pitted and got out 5 seconds ahead of Rosberg.
What went wrong was that on track, Hamilton picked up the safety car at Tabac corner. He was so far ahead that he travelled for the longest time behind the safety car on the lap on which it was deployed meaning that from his 25 second lead, he lost 10-15 seconds as the rest of the field caught him up at high speed. When he actually pitted he was only 10 seconds or so ahead of his team mate…not 25 seconds ahead as he had been moments ago. The trouble was that his track position meant that he didn’t have much time to react to the safety car and neither did the team. His thinking was reasonable in that his tyre warming issues would have been cured had he put new tyres on. He believed in the confusion that Rosberg and even Ferrari had put new tyres on and worried about the threat of being overtaken he pitted. Rosberg and Vettel didn’t pit and thus Hamilton finished a disappointing third position.
Hamilton has shouldered some of the blame for the decision but you have to say that it’s a massive error to make for a world champion team. We know from listening to team radio week in, week out that the race can be confusing for the driver because they don’t have the tools at their disposal that the pit wall and garage has. Mercedes SHOULD have calculated what was happening and they DID know that Rosberg wasn’t going to pit. I believe Toto Wolff when he says that the team mis-calculated and I certainly don’t think it was intentional.
What I do think is interesting is that Rosberg won his third Monaco GP in a Mercedes in a row. He now goes down in history as being one of only a handful of others who have achieved this honour. Some conspiracy theorists suggest that Mercedes wanted this outcome for many reasons, for instance the very fact that Rosberg won three Monaco GP’s in a row in a Mercedes car is an impressive accolade that won’t go un-noticed. After this result Rosberg is now only 10 points behind Hamilton in the title chase…this battle was almost over in Hamilton’s favour before the season had properly begun but now Rosberg is right back in it…. another inter-team mate battle will do wonders in advertising the brand of Mercedes to the world.
Will Hamilton recover his composure?
Hamilton didn’t show up for the post race photo and who can blame him. He’s been negotiating a new contract with a top team whom he’s won races, a drivers championship and a constructors championship for and two days after he signs it this happens. Rosberg and Vettel lucked in. They know it and Vettel immediately told Hamilton that at the end of the race on live TV.
Hamilton would have left Monaco feeling disappointed, angry and upset but on a positive note he absolutely blew away his opponents all weekend. He knows that he’s the fastest man out there by some margin and Canada is one of his preferred hunting grounds. He has won there three times already. He will be out for the win this weekend and will want to put the recent past behind him and build that title lead up once more.