The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a classic racing circuit where drivers need a good balance between drag, brake cooling, downforce and mechanical grip to achieve the best lap times, Set on a man made island with an Olympic rowing lake and a canal alongside, it is a beautiful track to drive.
The Canadian Grand Prix has been staged on the Ile Notre Dame since 1978, and is a firm favourite among the drivers, teams and fans. An army of spectators flock to the circuit each year to see their heroes race, making Montreal one of the most eventful and exciting race weekends on the calendar.
FLYING LAP OF THE CIRCUIT GILLES VILLENEUVE
Coming out of the final corner, drivers need a good exit and to carry as much speed as possible to start the lap. They come close to the pit wall and turn very slightly right into the braking zone of turn 1, almost using the corner as a braking zone for turn 2, but it’s very easy to lock up. Good traction is required out of turn 2 as drivers go uphill on the run up to turn 3.
With good braking here, it is possible to ride the kerbs and take turns 3 and 4 at high speed, hugging the barrier on the exit. Drivers then bring the car slightly over to the left then sweep right for turn 5. Braking hard from 280 km/h whilst still turning slightly right, drivers turn in and catch as much apex as possible of turn 6 before controlling the throttle and power through turn 7, making sure they don’t touch the kerb at the apex. A medium length straight follows as the car reaches about 310km/h before braking again just under the bridge.
Drivers again take as much apex as possible for turn 8, powering through 9 and hugging the barrier all the while. There is another fast run into the braking zone for the slowest corner on the track, the hairpin, taken at just 60km/h; very good traction is required on exit.
Following this is the longest straight on the circuit, where the car can reach speeds of 320km/h alongside the canal, before drivers brake hard once again for the final chicane, taking lots of kerb for both apexes and try to avoid that barrier on the exit; it’s not called the ‘Wall of Champions’ for nothing…
CAR SETUP WITH WILLIAM TYSON
Powertrain performance is certainly rewarded at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, in both top speed and driveability aspects. Time is mainly found by cutting drag so skinny rear wings and deleting cascades/vanes are the best way of doing so without robbing the car of too much of its underlying characteristics during a corner.
However the result of cars sliding more and an abrasive track surface causes the engineers a few headaches, but it always promises some tantalising racing!
Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Lap Record: Ralf Schumacher 1:12.275 (2004)
Tyre Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:25.425
2013 Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:16.182
DRS Zones: Main straight (T13 to T1); back straight (T11 to T12)
Images courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari and Lotus F1 Team.