JUNE 7, 2003
CANADIAN GP - PREVIEW
After an exciting Monaco Grand Prix it will be back to a more normal event with the Canadian Grand Prix on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal and it will be interesting to see how the Williams-BMWs and McLaren-Mercedes square up against the Ferraris. Monaco was a blow for Ferrari as the team was beaten fair and square despite having its new car. Much of the blame for this must go to Bridgestone which did not have the tires needed to do the job in Monaco. Canada has some similarities with Monaco in that the track is often dusty and dirty on the first day which can cause confusions over tires and while temperatures can be very high there is also the possibility of it being much colder than expected if the chilling wind gets up on the St Lawrence River.
Trying to guess winners this year is not an easy task because of the tire issues and there are also major demands in Montreal on the brakes which take a heavy battering in the course of a race. Fuel strategies can be affected by brake wear because running with a heavier load can wear out the brakes early in the race.
The fast straights of Montreal will not help the Renault team which to date has shown well on circuits where good aerodynamics are needed. These days Canada is a bit of a point-and-squirt circuit where horsepower is more important than grip. But the yellow and blue team are sure to be there or thereabouts. Expect to see Jaguar up there again with Mark Webber challenging for a grid position in the top 10 and hoping that a reliable run will net him some more points, while Antonio Pizzonia's career reconstruction needs a little extra boost to keep up the momentum.
BAR should be quite competitive with the latest Honda engines squeezing out more and more horsepower and the cars having been very agile if a little unreliable. Jacques Villeneuve is overdue for a big result and will want to do well on the track which is named after his father. Jenson Button will also want to be back up to speed quickly to show Villeneuve that his recent Monaco crash is not going to effect his performance.
The midfield in F1 at the moment is so tightly packed that a team can have a good weekend or a bad weekend depending entirely on settings. Sauber, Jordan and Toyota have all shown themselves to have good cars on the right day while it is fairly clear that Minardi will be on the back row barring miracles. The race is usually a good test of reliability so do not count out some odd names in the points at the end of the day.
And let us not forget that the first corner in Montreal has often given us a few exciting moments as the cars hustle for position.