VF1blog: Canadian track preview
After the impeccable victory for Nico Rosberg in Monaco being blocked out by the secret Pirelli-Mercedes tyre test and the following fortnight was filled with Red Bull and Ferrari seeking justification of testing rules from the FIA, F1 circus moves to the first race in North America with the Canadian GP in Montreal. The street circuit named after the late great Gilles Villeneuve is a permanent member of the race calendar for over three decades barring 1987 and 2009.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of a kind street track very different to the streets of Monaco. This stop and go circuit is not being used throughout the year – prompting an asphalt surface with low level of grip – and the track evolves slowly through the weekend. The teams will be very much focused on getting the right balance as the surface evolution and the low speed corners impact the driveability.
Compared to Monaco, the average cornering speed is lower in Montreal but the long straights down to slow corners demand heavy braking stability and medium level downforce setup to maximise outright speed in the straight line cutting drag. The brakes, applied for 15% per lap, are treated as high to 1200 c on the seven braking zones in the circuit.
The heavily drilled carbonfibre discs and pads have to be sufficiently cooled to lessen the wear through the brake ducts for avoiding imminent failure. Although the surface is asphalt, the extreme degrees of temperature in hot and cold climate allow for the considerable graining of the front tyres.
The 2.709 miles, clockwise run, circuit takes 70 laps to complete the race whereas 59% of a lap is spent on the full throttle. Engine severity will be medium due to the long straights but the bumpiness and the kerb-riding are high round the circuit. 260 metres off the line, the track narrows down to the right ahead of Virage Senna and gently climbs up the hill to Turn 3 and 4 chicane topping 170mph.
The closer the drivers get to the wall up next and the speed carried through the corner will gain them enormous lap time on the approach to the heavy braking zone at Turn 6. After that, the track opens up and the cars accelerate to over 180mph before braking for Turn 8 and 9. Hard on the gas before stomping the brakes at 3.5g lateral acceleration down to Turn 10 L’Epingle hairpin. Getting a good exit there is crucial for the Casino Straight taken at 200mph and then gliding on the kerbs before driving closely to the notorious Wall of Champions.
Just like in 2011, two DRS will be used this year but with shortened length. The first activation point will be 55 metres before Turn 12 as opposed to 168 metres a couple of years ago while the second DRS zone will also be shortened by one metre with a single activation point for both at the exit of turn ten about 110 metres after the corner.
The teams will be provided with two sets of ‘rear construction revised’ 2013 tyres to sample on Friday in a hope of running it for the rest of the season from the upcoming British GP. Since the semi-permanent circuit puts a lot of longitudinal stress on tyres, Pirelli have opted to go with the Medium and Super Soft compounds as opposed to the two softer selections last year. The use of wet and intermediate rubber are possible considering the weather forecast as well.
The safety car is more certain to appear every race, in fact, it happened 14 times in the last 11 years. This is largely influenced by the overcast weather and the unforgiving walls drivers try to go as close as they can to get the best out of a lap. There is a probability of rain showers during the practice sessions while the temperature is expected to pick up for qualifying. Though the race could be relieved from the threat of heavy rain, occasional showers are also the forecast for Sunday.
Author: Suren F1
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