Round seven of the 2014 Formula 1 world championship takes place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada.
It is the first of two races to take place in North America this year and sees the sport briefly move away from Europe following the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
Non-championship F1 races took place in the country between 1961 and 1966 at Mosport Park, before it joined the official calendar in 1967. Following several rounds at the Ontario venue and the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, it eventually found its permanent home in Montreal in 1978.
Canada has produced 13 F1 drivers, but only two have gone on to score points – Gilles Villeneuve and his son Jacques. The track was originally called the Île Notre-Dame Circuit after the man-made island that it is located on, but it was re-named in honour of Gilles in 1982 following his tragic death at the Belgian Grand Prix earlier in the year.
The layout is very challenging and is tough on the drivers and the cars. The long straights and heavy braking zones mean it has a stop-start nature, putting considerable amounts of stress on the engine and brakes.
Despite the track surface being quite bumpy, the tarmac is smooth. This, along with the need for mechanical grip, is why Pirelli has nominated the super-soft and soft compound tyres for the race. It required a medium downforce set-up, although lower wing levels are usually tested in practice.
A lap of the 2.709 mile circuit starts on the short pit straight. There is a slight right-hand curve on the run to the first corner, which is a tight left-hand corner. It is one of several strong overtaking spots and leads directly on to turn two. The long, slow hairpin (which is where the pit exit feeds the cars back out onto the track) is followed by a short straight.
The third and fourth corners make up the first of four chicanes on the circuit. A lot of time can be gained at this right-left section by using plenty of kerb and getting as close to the wall as possible. Turn five is a fast, flat-out right that leads on to a slightly slower left-right chicane.
A good line through the sixth and seventh corners is very important to carry speed on to the following straight. Next up is the braking zone for the turn eight and nine chicane, which is another tricky right-left complex. The wall on the exit punishes even the smallest of errors.
This section will be taken in a much higher gear this season. Again, a good exit is important for the next straight – which is broken up by a gentle left-hand kink on the run to turn 10. This is the slowest corner on the track and is a tight right-hand hairpin. It is a good place for overtaking or setting up a move for the run to the final chicane.
The most popular line to be used here is the “V”, which requires a late apex to maximise speed onto the following straight. It is over one kilometre long and is followed by the tight right-left chicane that makes up turns 13 and 14; the two previous corners are barely-there curves.
This is arguably the most difficult part of the track layout. The kerbs are high and the unforgiving wall on the exit – nicknamed the “Wall of Champions” – has caught out the likes of Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. The pit entry sees drivers go straight on at the final turn.
McLaren and Ferrari are the most successful constructors at the Canadian Grand Prix with 13 wins each, although two of the Scuderia’s triumphs were at non-championship races. Michael Schumacher has taken victory seven times at the circuit, while Lewis Hamilton is the only driver on the current grid to win the race multiple times (2007, 2010 and 2012).
The track requires a strong engine, so we can expect the dominance of Mercedes to continue in Montreal. McLaren, Force India and Williams may be able to challenge Red Bull Racing for the final podium spot and expect Ferrari to be in the mix too.