The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a nice antidote to last month’s race in Monaco, which former world champion Fernando Alonso derided as “the most boring race ever.” Unlike the famous winding roads of the principality, there’s plenty of excitement on offer for both the fans and drivers on the streets of Montreal.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Canadian Grand Prix:
The circuit is fun
In Monaco, where turns came fast and overtaking was rare, drivers had no choice but to be patient.
The opposite is true in Montreal.
There will be plenty of opportunities to pass, especially with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) adding a third DRS zone to the circuit.
Drivers can look forward to attacking the curbs and approaching chicanes at higher-than-normal speeds. They will also have the chance to push their engines to the limit down the 1.1-km straight into the final chicane, reaching speeds well over 300 km/h.
(Courtesy: Formula 1)
There will also be a significant test of willpower. Turn 13, named the Wall of Champions after a string of high-profile collisions involving some of the sport’s biggest names, will require drivers to drop more than 200 km/h in a few short seconds.
This is a fascinating track that should liberate most teams and allow the likes of Ferrari, who’ve decided to bring an engine upgrade to Montreal, to really put the pedal to the metal.
Hamilton’s good vibes in Montreal
This is Lewis Hamilton’s baby. It’s where he earned his first chequered flag in 2007, and where he can tie the great Michael Schumacher for total wins.
No other active driver has conquered the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on more than one occasion. He’s let his Mercedes purr, the power often blowing his competitors away. Hamilton’s more assertive driving style also suits him well in Montreal, where he can brake as late as he likes and accelerate out of the turns.
“This has always been one of those circuits for me,” Hamilton told reporters, including the Guardian’s Giles Richards. “I’ve always been very aggressive curbing and being close up to the wall. This is a place where you really need to utilise that confidence.”
The difference, however, could lay under the hood. Mercedes’ decision to save its engine upgrade for the Grand Prix de France could give Ferrari and Red Bull the advantage. Mercedes – for at least one weekend – may not be the fastest car on the track.
And if the 33-year-old has visions of winning a record seventh time on this track, he’ll have to do something special from fourth on the grid.
Verstappen needs a pick-me-up
Max Verstappen is tired of the criticism. Ever since entering F1 as a precocious teenager, the Belgium-born Dutchman has skirted controversy from rule-makers, spectators, and fellow drivers. He’s too brazen, they said. Too much of a risk-taker.
Verstappen’s dramatic maneuvering may re-energized the sport, but it’s also come at a cost to Red Bull. The fiery 21-year-old recorded DNFs in Baku and Bahrain, collided with Sebastian Vettel in Shanghai, spun out in Austria, and ran into Romain Grosjean’s Lotus in Monaco.
Sunday is his greatest shot at redemption.
After posting the fastest times in all three practice sessions in Montreal, Verstappen claimed third spot on the grid behind Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. It’s by far his best performance in qualifying at any Canadian Grand Prix – a good omen, at that.