by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Canadian F1 Grand Prix 2013: Jenson, Sergio and Martin share their thoughts ahead of the seventh race of the season at Montréal

With an average speed of 215km/h, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the first truly high-speed track of the 2013 season. The layout is an eclectic mix of chicanes and slow corners linked by four long straights, along which the cars exceed 300km/h. Braking stability and good traction are crucial to a fast lap time.

The asphalt is very smooth and the lack of fast corners allows Pirelli to take its Supersoft and Medium tyre compounds, as it did in Australia for the season-opener. With several overtaking opportunities around the lap, and not only in the two DRS zones, strategy is likely to play a significant role in the race, with anything between one and three pitstops possible.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is situated on the Ile Notre Dame, a man-made island in the St Lawrence River that was built using rock excavated for Montreal’s metro. It has witnessed many great races since it first appeared on the Formula 1 calendar in 1978, including the longest race in F1 history when Jenson took 4hrs and 4mins to win the rain-interrupted 2011 race.

Fast facts: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

- Race distance: 70 laps (305.270km/189.694 miles)
- Start time: 14:00 (local)/18:00 (GMT)
- Circuit length: 4.361km/2.709 miles
- 2012 winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes MP4-27) 70 laps in 1hr32m29.586s (198.028km/h)
- 2012 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB8) 1m13.784s (212.778km/h)
- Lap record: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2004) 1m13.622s (213.246km/h)

McLaren at the Canadian Grand Prix

- Wins: 13 (1968, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012)

- Poles: 11 (1972, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1998, 2007, 2008, 2010)

- Fastest laps: 11 (1971, 1981, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011)

Car 5: Jenson Button

- Age: 33 (January 19 1980)
- GPs: 234
- Wins: 15
- Poles: 8
- FLs: 8

“I’ve always enjoyed the Canadian Grand Prix – Montreal is one of the nicest cities on the calendar, we’re always made to feel welcome by the Quebecois, and it’s a race that everyone in Formula 1 looks forward to.

“Like Monaco, the Canadian Grand Prix can be something of an enjoyable lottery – but whereas Monaco is a low-speed, high-grip place, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the opposite: high-speed and low-grip. It's a mix that always comes together to provide the fans with great racing, which is another reason why it’s become one of the most popular races of the year.

“Going back to Canada always brings back happy memories of my race there in 2011. Coming through from last to first really does show that anything’s possible in Formula 1. While we won’t be heading to Montreal with a winning package, we’re making steady progress, and there’s always that added motivation that you can pull off a surprising result at this race.

“I’m looking forward to a great weekend in Canada.”

Car 6: Sergio Perez

- Age: 23 (January 26 1990)
- GPs: 43
- Wins: 0
- Poles: 0
- FLs: 2

“There may not be much to show from Monaco, but it was another positive race for me – we had stronger pace throughout the weekend, and I felt that I raced hard and fairly, earning my positions the hard way – by competing for, and winning, them on the track.

“There are plenty of positives to take forward to Canada. It’s a race I enjoy – I finished on the podium there last year; and I feel like the team is bringing performance to the car at every race. Although we’re still not where we need to be, I hope the Montreal weekend will be another step. At the very least, I think we can have a good weekend – it’s a race that can reward a fighter because it’s often so unpredictable.

“For me, racing in Canada is always special because it’s one of the three races closest to my home in Mexico. As in Austin last year, I hope there’ll be plenty of Mexican fans travelling up to Montreal to support me during my first Canadian Grand Prix for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”

Martin Whitmarsh - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“McLaren has always gone well in Canada – we’ve won 13 Canadian Grands Prix – and while we’re not heading to Montreal next week with a realistic shot at victory, we well know that this is a race where an unexpected result is always possible.

“The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the Formula 1 calendar, and a race that the whole paddock enjoys. It’s a showcase for F1 at its best – the track has a natural flow that encourages bold driving, but which punishes mistakes with narrow run-offs and uncompromising concrete walls. The track surface is abrasive and relatively gripless, and the long back straight is perfect for lengthy slipstreaming battles and overtaking.

“In addition, the Canadian and North American fans are passionate and knowledgeable about the sport – it’s one of those races that’s packed-out from Thursday to Sunday, and filled with a varied and exciting support race timetable.

“It’s one of the best races of the year.”

A McLaren 50 classic moment
Canadian Grand Prix, 12 June 1988

McLaren has an enviable record in the Canadian Grand Prix. The team scored its first ever one-two finish at Mont Tremblant in 1968, Denny Hulme coming home ahead of Bruce McLaren, and it has taken a total of 13 victories – nine of them at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Few of those wins have been more dominant than the one-two achieved by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988.

The MP4-4 was the dominant car of ’88 and McLaren-Honda arrived in Canada, round five of 16, unbeaten and with Alain leading the world championship. Ayrton took pole position by 0.1s ahead of his team-mate, but it was Alain who made the better start – much to Ayrton’s dismay. He’d asked for pole position to be moved to the outside of the track after qualifying, but his request was turned down by the race stewards.

Alain led Ayrton for the opening 19 laps, but the Brazilian snuck past at the hairpin while Alain negotiated traffic. The pair then disappeared into the distance while their main rivals faltered and Ayrton led Alain by 5.9s at the chequered flag. Benetton’s Thierry Boutsen was the only other driver on the lead lap, 45s further adrift in third place.

McLaren went on to win 15 of the 16 Grands Prix in 1988, making it the most successful season in the team’s history.

~ Official photo and details courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ~

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