F1 DRIVERS CANADIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Jenson Button:“I really enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix – it’s one of those races where everything just feels right. The city is fantastic, the fans are friendly, loyal to the sport and incredibly supportive, the track is intense, and the racing is usually pretty hectic. It’s a place that simply produces great Formula 1.
“It was a positive for the whole team to put some points back on the board at Monaco after a difficult few races; we’re obviously still far away from where we want to be, but it’s important that we maintain our aim of continuous development throughout the whole season. Although we’re still a long way from the leaders, we’ve matched the general rate of development since the start of the season, which is a positive.
In Canada, the weather can always play a key role – the forecast currently looks good, but you never know when you pull back the curtains in the morning whether you’re going to be faced with blue skies, or grey clouds and pelting rain. We’ll probably get a bit of both next week.”
The Canadian Grand Prix is one of those races I’m really looking forward to: I’ve always watched it on TV, and it’s always looked like one of the very best, most enjoyable, and most dramatic events of the season.
“The track looks like a lot of fun; it’s got a good blend of corners, and it’s the kind of place where you want the car nicely hooked up and beneath you because, apart from the back straight, it’s pretty much always changing direction. So it’s a bit like Monaco in that respect, but a lot faster.
“It would be nice to have a straightforward weekend after a couple of disappointing technical problems. Things didn’t quite go my way in Spain or Monaco – through no fault of my own – so I just want to get my head down, work with my engineers and work on delivering a good result, with no mishaps.
“I think it’ll actually be interesting to see what we can achieve without encountering a problem that sets us back.
Do you have good memories of Montréal?
I have very good memories from 2012 when I went from seventh on the grid to my first second place in Formula 1. It was a really great day and it was really a strong team result as we used a one-stop strategy to get on the podium after a disappointing qualifying session the day before. Last year wasn’t so good and we struggled with the wet weather and conditions but the place itself? Montréal is a wonderful city to visit. There are obviously a lot of French speakers so it’s like another home race for me, and the fans are so welcoming and knowledgeable. There are also some very good restaurants in Montréal which is always a bonus.
How much of a challenge is the Gilles Villeneuve circuit?
Montreal is in-between a normal circuit and a street circuit. The walls are very close in some places, while other parts are similar to a European circuit. It’s definitely unique and we normally bring a different downforce package for that reason, which adds another unknown factor to the weekend. The circuit is not used for the rest of the year so the grip will change a lot – something we’ll have to adapt to – and the weather can also be tricky. Hopefully it’ll be nice and sunny because it’s a race I really like – and it’s my favourite circuit to race on the Xbox. The last chicane is a notable feature and overall it’s a good track.
What is it about street or street-esque circuits that you like?
I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. Montréal is different from Monaco as there are some long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like this year and that will certainly be on your mind as you take to the track for the first time over the weekend.
How would you sum up Monaco given that the car wasn’t reacting as you wanted, but you still matched your best result of the year?
The start of the Monaco Grand Prix was a nightmare because I was hit on the first lap and suffered a puncture. Then I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t overtake. Of course when you have a predictable car with plenty of grip it is easy to attack, but we struggled to find a base set-up and it clearly wasn’t good enough in the race. But anything is possible in Monaco, we didn’t give up and managed to recover from 19th to 8th. We scored points and we know where to improve the car, which is not quick enough in low speed corners and certainly we’re trying to get more power for Canada too!
And the high speed corners?
They are not a concern. The aerodynamics are stable and the power unit management is getting better so now we are more focussed on the suspension side. Last year we had a very good car in that aspect, so we’ll compare the E22 with the E21 and possibly revert to some previous settings to make it better at low speed. I believe our downforce is pretty good so it’s mechanical grip we’re after. Even at Monaco we improved the car, even if it didn’t look like it on the timesheets.
In previous seasons the car was good out of the box, while the E22 has required a lot of development. How does that change things in terms of your approach?
It’s always easy to go quick when the car is good. You just have to concentrate on your driving. When the car is a bit more tricky you have to think about your driving and what the car is doing, because it can react unpredictably. Add to that all the different systems management we now do in the car, it becomes a real mental test! That’s not ideal for Monaco, so it was a very demanding Grand Prix, but at other tracks with more margin for error you can push more. I’m happy we made it to eighth at Monaco and we go to Canada with more confidence.
“Race seven is Montreal in Canada, one of the most popular races of the year and one where the weather can play a very big part in the race. At the moment the forecasts look dry For Friday, Saturday and Sunday but if that changes it could definitely be in our favour and we need to make sure we’re ready to take anything that comes our way. I was in the factory last week to start preparations for Canada and even though Monaco didn’t end for me as we’d planned, despite us doing everything we could, everyone is still fighting harder than ever. Crazy races like we had last week don’t come too often, but when they do we need to be ready and after talking to a lot of the team last week I know that they are all focused on making progress, not looking back at what might have been.
“On track Canada is a good place to go racing. The local fans are very passionate and knowledgeable – seeing the whole track full on a Thursday with people really excited about F1 being back is great as it shows just what it means to them to have us race in their home town, and that’s good for everyone in the sport. I’ve had a couple of points finishes in Canada in 2011 and 2012 and it would obviously be cool to have the same again this year – as I say, that will probably take a crazy race but if that happens I’ll be prepared ready, as will the whole team.”