Canadian F1 Grand Prix

2016 Canada Grand Prix - Preview

Circuit Stats
2015 winner Lewis Hamilton, 70 laps, 1:31:53.145s
2015 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m14.393s
2015 fastest lap Kimi Raikkonen, 1m16.987s (lap 42)
Name Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
First race 1978
Circuit length 4.361km/2.710 miles (only 4 circuits are shorter)
Distance to Turn One 260m/0.162 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
Longest straight 1.16km/0.721 miles, on the approach to Turn 13 (the longest of the season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)
Top speed 350km/h/217mph, on the approach to Turn 13 (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)
Pitlane length 400m/0.249 miles, estimated time loss 22s (longest of season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles)
Full throttle 67 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 13
Key corner The Hairpin, Turn 10, a tight second-gear corner where entry and exit are equally important. The entry is a potential overtaking opportunity, but a clean exit is vital because the longest straight on the circuit follows, along which there is the second DRS zone
Fastest corner 260km/h (162mph), Turn Five
Slowest corner 80km/h (50mph), Turn Two
Major changes for 2016 No major changes
Fuel consumption 1.8kg per lap, making it one of the highest of the season
ERS demands High
Brake wear High. There are seven significant braking events around the lap, all from high speed. This is one of the toughest circuits of the year for brakes
Gear changes 56 per lap/3920 per race
Circuit Facts
History lesson The Canadian Grand Prix first became a round of the World Championship in 1967, when a 90-lap race was staged at Mosport, Ontario. It moved to its current location on the Ile Notre-Dame, Montreal, in ’78 – a race that was won by Quebecois Gilles Villeneuve. The track was re-named the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1982, following the death of the Ferrari star at Zolder.
What makes the track unique It’s the first high-speed challenge of the 2016 campaign. The cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) on four occasions around the lap, placing an emphasis on braking, traction and top speed.
Grip levels Poor. The combination of old, low-grip asphalt and low aerodynamic downforce levels make the cars more skittish than at most other tracks.
Run-off Minimal. The walls are close and they cannot be moved back due to the proximity of the St Lawrence river on one side and a lake on the other. The wall on the outside of the final chicane has been coined ‘The Wall of Champions’ because five world champions have hit it over the years, those drivers being Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.
Watch out for… Turns One and Two. They are two of the slowest corners on the track, and it’s rare that the cars pass through this section unscathed on the opening lap of the race. The approach to Turn One is also the first DRS zone, so a lot of overtaking manoeuvres are attempted under braking.

The drivers on: the circuit

#14 Fernando Alonso

“Canada is a great circuit – very demanding and requires absolute concentration at all times. It goes from very slow-speed corners to high-speed corners really quickly, which means a lot of pressure is put on the brakes and power units. It’s a pretty tough circuit on the cars generally, so reliability will be the first thing we need to focus on, to make sure there are no gremlins or technical issues that could jeopardise our performance.

“Monaco was a positive result for us; to get both cars home in the points and to keep the chasing pack behind us was very satisfying, but we know there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re definitely making progress, but until we’re fighting at the front, we still need to keep pushing and constantly developing. Montreal is a completely different challenge to Monaco, so I hope we can quickly adapt our package to this circuit and maintain our recent form, but it will certainly be a tricky and unpredictable weekend.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Although this is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, and very power-hungry, one of the strengths of our chassis is stability under heavy braking, so we shouldn’t be fearful of going to a circuit like this and finding ourselves on the back foot. Our development rate is steep and there’s huge work going on behind the scenes to constantly improve the performance of our whole package, so I’m excited to see how we perform in Canada, given how different the circuit’s characteristics are compared to Monaco.  

“It’s no secret that I absolutely love this circuit, and it’s the scene of one of my best race wins, in 2011 – definitely up there among my favourites. It’s a real racer’s circuit: tough on cars, tough on drivers, and usually produces stunning racing, whatever the weather. Leaving the final corner unscathed after passing the ‘Wall of Champions’ always feels like an achievement – let’s hope we can achieve that 70 times on Sunday!”

Event Stats
Start time 14:00hrs local/19:00hrs BST
Race distance 70 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/52 laps)
Safety Car likelihood 80 per cent. Limited run-off increases the probability of an accident and damaged cars cannot be moved easily out of the way. As a result, 12 of the last 17 Canadian GPs have been Safety Car-affected. It’s worth noting that the Canadian Grand Prix is the spiritual home of the Safety Car because it was at Mosport in 1973 that the Safety Car was first deployed in F1
When to press record The closing laps of the race. Fuel consumption is tight for every team and brake wear can become a factor if brake cooling has been miscalculated. As a result, teams cannot relax until the chequered flag
Don’t put the kettle on The top three drivers pitted only once last year. If that proves to be the case again this year, expect the stops to be made on or around lap 25. However, Pirelli is taking its Ultrasoft tyre compound to the race for the first time and this could spice up race strategies
Weather conditions now 22 degrees and sunny
Race forecast 20 degrees
Tyre choices Ultrasoft/Supersoft/Soft, the same as were used in Monaco at the last race
Event Facts
First Canadian Grand Prix 1967
Slogan There’s no official slogan for the Canadian Grand Prix, but the words written in white paint on the start-finish line are enough to arrest the eyes of all F1 fans: “Salut Gilles”.
Canada’s F1 heritage The race was inspired by Quebecois Gilles Villeneuve, who made his F1 debut for McLaren in 1977. He won the inaugural race at the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame in 1978, since when the track has featured on the F1 calendar every year, except in 1987 and 2009. World champions have a good record at the circuit, with 26 of the 36 races won by members of that select group. Michael Schumacher has the best record of all, having taken seven victories in Montreal.
Smallest winning margin 0.174s, in 2000. The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello crossed the line side-by-side after a sensor problem slowed Schumacher in the closing laps and Barrichello was asked to hold station in second place.
Sporting legacy: The inaugural grand prix on the Ile Notre-Dame took place two years after the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. Forty years on, evidence of the Games is omnipresent: the rowing lake lies adjacent to the F1 paddock and one of the stadia erected for the Games is used as a car park for the race. Motorsport is well served in the area, with the circuit of Mont Tremblant, which hosted the Canadian GP in 1968 and ’70, just 120km/80 miles from Montreal.
Did you know? The Ile Notre-Dame is a man-made island, built from stone excavated during the construction of the Montreal metro system.
Don’t forget McLaren has enjoyed great success in Canada, having won the Canadian Grand Prix 13 times. The team’s most recent victory was in 2011, when Jenson Button won a rain-delayed race that took 4hrs4m to complete.
Fan zone: Leigh, aged 38, from Montreal, asks: “Why is brake wear such an issue for all the teams at this race?”
McLaren’s answer: “There are seven big braking events, from high speed to low speed, and the job of the engineers is to maximise brake performance, while trying not to compromise other areas of the car. It’s a delicate balance between cooling and aerodynamic performance, and it’s not easy to get right.”

The drivers on: the event

#14 Fernando Alonso

“I really like spending time in Canada and going back out to North America. Although it falls within the ‘European’ season, the atmosphere does feel quite European – the people are friendly, the food is great and it’s a melting pot of different cultures.

“There’s really strong competition emerging at the front of the grid, as teams are getting stronger and pushing their development. It’s a really tight pack in the midfield, and a different team seems to have the advantage at each circuit, so it’ll be a tough battle against our nearest rivals both in qualifying and the race. The teams need to work hard to set up the cars to meet the demands of the circuit, and a lot can happen during the course of the grand prix, so let’s see what we can do.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Canada is definitely considered a classic on the F1 calendar. It’s a fantastic city and I love going there every year. The whole city offers an incredible welcome and the buzz is like no other place – the atmosphere is definitely unique to Montreal. It’s always a mightily unpredictable race – the weather conditions, the high walls, the narrow track, the slippery surfaces – it really sorts the men from the boys.

“Although Monaco is an adopted home for me, the race weekend there is always a massive whirlwind, so heading to Canada will be a completely different feeling, and I’m looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere there. We had good reliability in Monaco, and both Fernando and I managed to keep it on the black stuff in some pretty crazy conditions, so I’m hoping the weather will throw up a few surprises and we can get stuck in on track.”

Hear from the management

Eric Boullier

“Monaco for us was a bag of mixed fortunes. A double-points finish was an encouraging boost for the team and a reward in some way for all the hard work going on behind the scenes in Woking, Milton Keynes and Sakura – but it’s no secret that until we are back at the front, we cannot be satisfied. We had anticipated a stronger performance on the twisty, slower-speed, tricky streets of Monaco, but nevertheless we’ve learned a lot about our car and cannot be too unhappy given the incredibly difficult conditions on race day, which our two world champions coped with so well.

“And now we turn our attention to Montreal, scene of 13 victories for McLaren, and some very memorable races. Like Monaco, it’s a gem of an event and holds a justifiable reputation for creating great racing on its formidable asphalt. That’s where the similarities end, as its demands present a unique set of challenges for our engineers, mechanics and ultimately, drivers.

“On paper, this power-hungry, demanding circuit is not among those that would play to the strengths of our car, but such is our rate of development that we are aiming to continue the momentum we’ve built over the last couple of races, and firmly push for more valuable points. It won’t be easy, and reliability will be key, first and foremost, but our objective is to put on the best show we can for the incredibly enthusiastic Quebecois fans, and put our package to the test at the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

“The Canadian Grand Prix is always exciting, with its great atmosphere, enthusiastic fans and unpredictable racing. Honda Canada has been a big supporter of this event for a very long time, so we always feel at home there.

“The lush greens and the blue waters around the circuit are beautiful, yet the track there is unforgiving, with its power-oriented nature, stop and start corners, abrasive surface and long straights.

“It’s a very different animal to Monaco, so it will be a challenging weekend for the team, but we will keep our heads down and focus on what we can do to bring out the best in our package.”


“A positive day – but improvement needed”
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Friday June 10

Both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso ran competitively throughout both of today’s free practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Jenson finished the day seventh overall, despite losing track-time in the morning, and having his mechanics undertake a power unit change between sessions. Fernando was briefly sidelined by a suspected hydraulics leak – which turned out to be a false alarm – before ending the day 11th fastest.

FP1 1m16.663s (+1.908s) 18 laps 10th
FP2 1m15.450s (+1.238s) 40 laps 11th

“It’s been a good Friday. We were able to try a few interesting things, including all three tyre compounds, which will for sure be the most interesting element this weekend.

“Tomorrow, I think that perhaps qualifying 11th will be the best starting position for the race, as you’ll be the fastest runner free to choose your starting compound. I reckon starting the race on the Ultrasoft might not be ideal.

“Everything worked well today, including the new turbo from Honda. However, we didn’t have too much grip, and need to look at improving our traction out of corners.

“Now we have collected all the data from both cars, we need to find the direction for tomorrow.”

FP1 1m16.788s (+2.033s) 8 laps 12th
FP2 1m15.213s (+1.001s) 35 laps 7th

“We had several different issues in FP1 – it was a very unlucky morning. We changed the power unit between FP1 and FP2 – we were a little late out this afternoon, but the guys did a pretty amazing job to build the car up. After that, we had no issues with how the engine was running – but we’ll look at the data tonight to understand if we should continue with the engine we took out this morning, or stay with the one we fitted for this afternoon.

“In FP2, I was able to do a reasonable amount of running. The car feels good and is enjoyable to drive, but there are some set-up issues to resolve, which we’ll do tonight.

“It’s been a positive day, but there’s still improvement needed – if I was another half-tenth quicker, I’d be fourth overall, and if I was two tenths slower, I’d be 11th  – so we really need to maximise everything we have for the rest of the weekend.”


“While it’s extremely positive to finish the day showing encouraging pace – particularly after suffering a succession of issues throughout the morning’s session – we’re fully aware that, on a Friday, all teams are running different programmes, so we should keep our expectations in check.

“In the morning, we chose to briefly suspend Fernando’s running after identifying what we initially thought was a hydraulics leak. Happily, closer inspection seemed to confirm that it was a simple overflow. On the other side of the garage, Jenson reported a couple of issues during his early runs, then was stopped at the end of the session by an oil leak, which smoked heavily when the car was fired-up.

“With the power unit changed during the lunchbreak, he ran without problem this afternoon – immediately setting good times despite missing out on much useful running earlier in the day.

“We’ll comprehensively analyse all today’s data ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session.”


“Today”s FP1 and FP2 were focused on confirming the functionality and the effectiveness of the new turbo that has been introduced to both cars for this weekend’s Canadian GP. So far, the results have been positive for us.

“As for the total package, the team had a few niggly issues during FP1 which included an oil leak on Jenson’s car, but overall the car has been well-balanced and it has been a good first day of running.

“As for Jenson’s power unit situation, we will continue to investigate the cause and see whether the oil leak has affected any of the other components.”


“It’ll be maximum attack tomorrow”
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Saturday June 11

Fernando Alonso underlined the burgeoning competitiveness of the McLaren-Honda package by qualifying 10th for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix, the third successive race in which the team has reached the Q3 phase of the qualifying session.

Team-mate Jenson Button proved equally competitive all weekend, but lost out on a critical tow down the back straight that would have improved his chances of also making the top 10.

If the weather remains dry tomorrow – which it may or may not – both drivers will be looking for points-scoring positions at the end of what is usually one of the most unpredictable and exciting grands prix of the year. 

FP3 8th 1m14.801s (+0.882s) 19 laps
Qualifying Q1 14th 1m15.026s on Options)
Q2 10th 1m14.260s (on Options)
Q3 10th overall* 1m14.338s (on Options)

“That was a nice surprise today – we’ll take it.

“I was definitely happy with that session – it can be a tricky circuit in these mixed conditions, and tomorrow will be tougher for us, but there’s potentially wet weather forecast for tomorrow, and maybe a bit of rain would help us.

“I’m very happy – we’ve done an amazing job with this car in the past 12 months and we’re now in a position that’s perhaps better even than we’d expected. So I have to say thanks to everyone in the team: we were only four-tenths behind Ferrari in Q2, and that should boost the belief and motivation of everyone in the McLaren and Honda factories.

“We’re ready to attack: we’re not fighting for the world championship, so we have nothing to lose. Definitely, it’ll be maximum attack tomorrow.”

FP3 13th 1m15.023s (+1.104s) 17 laps
Qualifying Q1 10th 1m14.755s (on Options)
Q2 12th overall 1m14.437s (on Options)

“Sitting on the cusp of the top 10 is essentially where we are right now – and it’s where we’ve been for the past few races. Still, this is a circuit on which we hadn’t anticipated being as competitive as we were in Monaco, so there are definitely positives to take from today.

“On my final Q2 lap, I didn’t get a tow down the back straight, and Fernando did – he got a tow from me! – so, up until the last sector, it was looking good for Q3, but then I didn’t get the tow and lost out.

“If it’s dry tomorrow, I’ll be starting on new tyres and will be aiming to make the best of it and score some points. If it’s wet, we’ll just have to see what happens; the weather can really mix things up, and we’ve shown our strengths in making the tyres work and choosing the right strategy, so there’s plenty to look forward to.”


“Fernando did a very good job to get into Q3 this afternoon – the third consecutive grand prix weekend in which we’ve made it through to the final stages of qualifying.

“Jenson missed out on a Q3 appearance by just 0.177s, and will start tomorrow’s race from P12.

“Both drivers were happy with the balance of their cars, and it’s clear that the work we’re doing between races is paying dividends – albeit little by little. Specifically, the new turbocharger that Honda has brought to this race has conferred the deployment improvements it was designed to deliver, while our new Esso fuel is worth a tenth of a second per lap on its own. So I want to offer thanks and congrats to both those partners.

“Rain is forecast for tomorrow – and, although a dry race is always easier to manage, both our drivers have proven themselves time and time again to be masters of tricky weather conditions. They’ve both won here before – Fernando in the dry in 2006 and Jenson in the wet in 2011 – and no-one who saw it will ever forget that storming charge to victory in torrential rain here five years ago.

“A McLaren-Honda victory is of course not on the menu for tomorrow, but you may be well sure that both Fernando and Jenson, and of course the team as well, will nonetheless approach the race with our customary measured verve.”


“Today’s qualifying is a positive result for us, especially considering that Fernando was able to make Q3 consecutively in Spain, Monaco and Canada, which are all technical tracks but with completely different characteristics. Jenson missed Q3 by a small margin, but strategically he has the freedom to choose his start tyres, so we are hoping that we can use this to our benefit.

“We know that this track is very tough on braking so tomorrow will be a challenging and long race, but our updated turbo’s performance has been consistent and the car balance has been good all weekend, so we are looking forward to the race.”


“A day to forget”
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Sunday June 12

After several races that have demonstrated steadily building momentum, this afternoon’s grand prix was a disappointing one for the whole McLaren-Honda team.

Fernando Alonso capitalised on the first-corner confusion to move swiftly up to eighth place, but he was soon overwhelmed by the faster cars behind him, who demoted him to 10th in short order. He switched from the Option tyre to the Back-Up tyre on lap 17, and took it to the end of the race – a commendable achievement. He ultimately finished 11th.

Jenson Button retired on lap nine while running in 11th position. The team is still investigating the cause of his retirement.

Started 10th
Finished 11th
Fastest lap 1m17.307s on lap 67 (+1.708s, 13th)
Pit-stops One: lap 17 (8.00s) [Option/Back-Up]

“A tough race – we didn’t have the pace to be competitive today.”

“I enquired about the possibility of fitting fresh tyres for the last few laps, but I guess it was a little too much of a risk: at that point we were 11th and stood to score a point or two at the end if something were to have happened ahead of us.

“Still, I’d done more than 50 laps on those tyres – and the two-stoppers were a lot faster than me. I guess we were a bit unlucky – we really needed some rain or a Safety Car to put us back in the fight. 

“Ultimately, I think our strategy was the right one – it was the quickest way home.

“Anyway, we’ll now work hard to try to improve the pace for the next race.”

Started 12th
Finished DNF – 9 laps
Fastest lap 1m19.456s on lap 5 (+3.857s, 21st)
Pit-stops - [Started on Prime]

“I radioed in to say I had a terminal problem, and I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a lot of smoke and sparks. I had no warning – the car just failed as I came out of the hairpin. The engine was still running, but I turned it off anyway.

“It’s a shame, since I was saving a lot of fuel at the time, and I had DRS on every lap too, so I could save even more fuel. That could have made a massive difference later in the race.

“It’s so often the way, though, isn’t it? You save a lot of fuel for later in the race, but it doesn’t last…”


“Bluntly, today was a day to forget.  

“Having qualified adequately yesterday, both our drivers started this afternoon’s race well enough, and they both ran pretty solidly in the early stages.  

“After just nine laps, however, Jenson was forced to retire his car, owing to a fault whose exact nature we’re still in the process of determining.  

“Thereafter, Fernando did as well as he could, but, in the absence of the rain that we’d half-expected might come, he was unable to finish higher than 11th.  

“Clearly, the fact that we’re therefore leaving Canada with no world championship points to add to our tally is disappointing.  

“However, one of the upsides of such setbacks is that, in Formula 1, there’s always another race just around the corner – in this case just a few days away in fact.  

“Already, therefore, we’ve turned our attention to the challenge of a brand-new circuit, in Baku, where we hope to put up a better show than we did here in Montreal today.  

“Finally, on behalf of all at McLaren-Honda, I want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those affected, and grieving, in the wake of the appalling atrocity that occurred in Orlando, Florida, in the early hours of this morning.”


“It was a disappointing result to miss out on points today, although Fernando had put in a strategic, very long stint on Back-Up tyres to mix up the race.

“The power-hungry nature of this circuit means that it was always going to be difficult for us to finish in the points unless there were more lucky opportunities on track. We’ll further push to improve our race pace performance going forward.

“At the moment, our ICE data on Jenson’s car isn’t showing any signs of issues, so his retirement cause is unknown. We’ll investigate this once the car is back in the garage.”