2015 Canadian Grand Prix Practice Review

Motor Racing Circuits

Nico Rosberg wins the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third place. With McLaren, Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso scoring points two weeks ago, they will be looking to build upon this this weekend in Canada.

With what happened in Monaco two weeks ago with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton still being talked about; all eyes will be on both of them to get back to competitive ways this weekend in Montreal alongside Honda and Ferrari bringing upgrades to their engines.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was renamed in honour of the popular Canadian driver following his death in 1982. It is situated on the Ile de Notre Dame, a man-made island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, in the city of Montreal. The original name of the circuit was Ile Notre Dame Circuit.

The temporary road course is quite fast and tough on the cars, but it is not as challenging for drivers as other Formula 1 tracks. Teams with the best engine performance and durability have traditionally performed well here.

The circuit is 4.36 kilometers long and the driving direction is clockwise. A total of 13 corners with 8 right turns and 5 left turns. Turn 10 is a very tight hairpin, named L’Epingle, that offers the best overtaking opportunity and exit is also vital to catch the right line and carry momentum onto the following straight.

The hairpin is one of the best options for the spectators. The last chicane is also a possible overtaking spot. Because of the temporary nature of the circuit there is no grip at all to start with, but grip levels improve constantly throughout the weekend.

The barriers run close to the circuit and many experienced drivers have been caught out by them. A particularly famous part of the circuit is the concrete wall on the outside of the exit of the final chicane. The wall has been nicknamed “The Wall of Champions” since many famous drivers have fallen victims to the wall.

It acquired its nickname in the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix by ending the race of three Formula One World Champions; Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. Since then many more drivers and champions have hit the wall.

But at the moment, Mercedes are still the team to beat after the first six races of the season so far But Ferrari, Williams, Sauber and Toro Rosso have also had a reasonable performance at the first two races of the season with many wondering if they can sustain that level of performance. While many will also be eager to see how McLaren-Honda and Manor F1 perform over the weekend.

The race weekend begins now….

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.16.212 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.415 seconds behind, Romain Grosjean was in third with a gap of 1.509 seconds behind, Nico Hulkenberg was in fourth with a gap of 1.659 seconds behind and Sebastian Vettel in fifth with a gap of 1.693 seconds behind Hamilton.

Felipe Massa is sixth with a gap of 1.773 seconds behind, Daniil Kvyat is seventh with a gap of 1.809 seconds behind, Pastor Maldonado is eighth with a gap of 1.814 seconds behind, Fernando Alonso is ninth with a gap of 1.916 seconds behind and Max Verstappen is tenth with a gap of 2.045 seconds behind Hamilton.

During the session, we saw Lewis Hamilton spinning his Mercedes at Turns 1 and 10 after locking up his front tyres and spun as a result. He was able to regain control of the car and was able to continue on during the session. We also saw Carlos Sainz Jr and Valtteri Bottas spinning in the session at Turn 1 also and both drivers were able to continue running in the session.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.15.988 followed closely by Vettel with a gap of 0.316 seconds behind, Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.322 seconds behind, Rosberg was in fourth with a gap of 0.452 seconds behind and Maldonado in fifth with a gap of 0.612 seconds behind Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas is sixth with a gap of 0.861 seconds behind, Grosjean is seventh with a gap of 0.876 seconds behind, Massa is eighth with a gap of 1.053 seconds behind, Kvyat is ninth with a gap of 1.104 seconds behind and Ricciardo is tenth with a gap of 1.123 seconds behind Hamilton.

During the session, we saw Lewis Hamilton being very lucky not to hit the Lotus of Romain Grosjean as they both headed into the final corner. Grosjean was going slowly in order to give himself space; while Hamilton was preparing himself for a hot lap and was very lucky not to hit Grosjean and was able to continue running in the session.

We also saw Nico Hulkenberg suffering a left rear puncture on the track after not hitting any walls on his lap. The Pirelli tyres of Hulkenberg did not look good on the TV pictures and Pirelli have stated that the tyre lost pressure, especially on the rim and it is very unusual for this to happen without hitting anything in the process. Meanwhile, Hamilton during one of his laps in the session was very lucky not to hit the ‘Wall of Champions’ after taking too much kerb and had four wheels of his car off the ground!

With 55 minutes left of the session, rain hit the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Daniil Kvyat is suffering with a brake problem on his RB11; with the team now investigating and trying to resolve the issue for the rest of the session.

Lewis Hamilton goes into the barriers in a wet-weather FP2 session.

Lewis Hamilton goes into the barriers in a wet-weather FP2 session.

Hamilton went out onto the wet track with the wrong tyres and tried to stop the car after going into Turn 10 and went straight into the wall after aquaplaning. This then brought out the red flag while his Mercedes was being recovered by the marshals and we did not see any running for the remainder of the session.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP3.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.15.660 followed closely by Raikkonen with a gap of 0.573 seconds behind, Grosjean was in third with a gap of 1.112 seconds behind, Bottas was in fourth with a gap of 1.254 seconds behind and Perez in fifth with a gap of 1.333 seconds behind Rosberg.

Kvyat is sixth with a gap of 1.361 seconds behind, Massa is seventh with a gap of 1.462 seconds behind, Vettel is eighth with a gap of 1.537 seconds behind, Sainz Jr is ninth with a gap of 1.736 seconds behind and Maldonado is tenth with a gap of 1.913 seconds behind Rosberg.

During the session, we saw Felipe Nasr crashing into the barriers on the back straight after trying to warm up his tyres ready for a hot lap and lost the car. Luckily he was okay and the red flag was brought out in order to clear the Sauber from the track.

We also saw Jenson Button stopping on the track at Turn 7 which yet again brought out the red flag as the marshals needed to clear the McLaren-Honda from the track. After qualifying, McLaren-Honda announced that Button needs an engine change and will not be ready in time for qualifying which is a shame.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen and even Bottas or Massa also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Lotus have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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