Thursday, 7 June 2012

Torque Points - Canada 2012

By Jem Ruggera and David Galton-Fenzi

Canada has one of the most fascinating circuits on the calender at the moment – a lot of that is to do with the fact that it wasn't designed by Hermann Tilke. By fascinating, I mean it contains a very particular character. The bumpy surface (numerous sections of the track have been resurfaced), the narrow straights and the unforgiving walls mean that even slight mistakes can be punished severely (just ask anyone that has hit the 'Wall of Champions', the barrier on the outside of the final chicane). Turn 4 is another tricky corner where more than one driver has come to grief.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is particularly tough on brakes. Heavy brake use inevitably sees a transfer of heat through the wheels and into the tyres. Usually this is not a significant factor, but with teams struggling to find and hold the 'sweet spot' of this years Pirelli tyres, that extra heat may make or break a drivers race.

Qualifying is now critically important in F1, and ultra-competitive to boot. Rain is forecast for Saturday, which could see the grid even more mixed up than normal. Overtaking is a distinct possibility in Montreal; into the final chicane, into the hairpin before the back straight and, if one is feeling up for it, Turn 1.

The Canadian Grand Prix has always produced an entertaining race. With a combination of factors coming together on Saturday afternoon, this could be a classic.

History was made around the streets of Monaco when Mark Webber became the sixth different winner in the first six races. This is why we I think Lewis Hamilton will extend that to seven this weekend.

Montreal is his track, although to be fair he didn't have the greatest race here last year. He only qualified fifth (still almost three tenths faster than Jenson) and was charging early when he collided with said team-mate in the rain and had to retire. Not his finest moment, but all the more reason for him to come back this year and banish those demons.

His first ever pole and victory came around this circuit in his rookie year, 2007. Indeed, in his first three trips there he banged his McLaren on pole every time by an average margin of 0.445 seconds, an age in modern F1. He also won twice over that period. The year he missed out in 2008, he was comfortably leading early by five seconds before an enforced safety car pit stop and some typically shoddy McLaren pit work put him in a position to rear end Raikkonen's queuing Ferrari at the end of the pit lane, putting them both out on the spot.

For those keeping count that's three poles and two wins from four visits to Canada. Quite a strike rate. Lewis has a way around the circuit that no one else does, but as we know, betting on the outcome of any race is a fool's game, but if you had to, you would be a bigger fool to bet against Hamilton this weekend.

Lotus, for a variety of reasons, has yet to produce a win this season, despite the fact they have often been looked upon as one of the favourites heading into a race weekend, or even a Sunday afternoon. Tactically, they have too often appeared to be on the back foot on a Sunday afternoon, being either too aggressive (China) or too conservative (Spain).

Despite this, Lotus still look to have the goods to produce a race win, and in this unpredictable season, who would bet against them in Canada. The layout of the Montreal circuit should suit the E20 with plenty of heavy braking and lots of traction zones. Kimi Raikkonen has won this race before (2005), and both drivers should, mistakes and mess-ups aside, be in with a good chance of front row starting positions.

No comments:

Post a Comment