Round seven of the 2012 Formula One World Championship may be taking place in one the sport’s most familiar and popular venues, Montreal, which hosts its 33rd Canadian Grand Prix, but this year’s visit to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve sees the sport entering uncharted territory.
With Mark Webber winning last time out in Monaco, we head to Quebec seeking either an historic seventh different victor from season’s first seven races or the campaign’s first repeat winner.
If form around the Île Notre Dame track is anything to go by then Lewis Hamilton has perhaps the best chance of being that lucky seventh winner. The McLaren driver has two wins (2007 and 2010) and three pole positions (2007-’08 and 2010) from just four starts here, making him something of a Montreal specialist. However, there are plenty more who’ll be gunning for the top step, including Monaco pole winner Michael Schumacher, who has won this race a staggering seven times, and defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who’ll be seeking to make up for last year’s final-lap error which saw him hand victory to Jenson Button at the end of a marathon four-hour race.
But the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not easy to master. Long, high-speed straights end abruptly in slow corners, and the cars often have to decelerate from near 300kph to less than 100kph in the blink of an eye. That puts heavy stress on brakes and teams will be bringing their most extreme brake ducts in order to cool their cars’ brakes efficiently.
Engines too are worked quite hard, with 60 per cent of the lap at full throttle. Add to that the close proximity of the barriers, particularly the notorious ‘Wall of Champions’, and it’s clear that Formula One’s search for some kind of consistency this season is unlikely to end in Montreal – it really is a race where anything can happen.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Length of lap:
4.361km Lap record
1:13.622 (Rubens Barrichello Ferrari, 2004) Start line/finish line offset
0.000km Total number of race laps
70 Total race distance
305.270km Pitlane speed limits
60km/h during practice
100 km/h during qualifying and race
CHANGES TO THE CIRCUIT SINCE 2011
All kerbs and lines painted around and on the track will be painted with a genuine FIA-approved non-slip paint.
The guardrail on the driver’s left before and after turn 10 has been replaced by walls, as in other locations. New debris fences have been fitted on top of these new walls.
A number of guardrail posts have been renewed.
A gate will be provided in the pit wall to allow the teams to remove all their equipment from the grid more quickly and without having to take everything to the pit exit.