Start, Montreal, 2012

Weak track for Red Bull offers hope to their rivals

2013 Canadian Grand Prix preview

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Start, Montreal, 2012The Canadian Grand Prix is a firm favourite on the F1 calendar. It may no longer be F1’s only visit to North America yet it still attracts a large and passionate crowd regardless of the fact there hasn’t been a local driver in the race since 2006.

The track can be relied upon to provide plenty of action as well. For the most part it features long straights punctuated by hairpins or chicanes, and there are several places where an error will be punished by a bruising encounter with a wall.

“It’s the first circuit we run at with a medium downforce level,” explained Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane. “Monaco is super high and everywhere else we?ve visited so far is high, so it will be interesting to validate our performance with lower downforce levels on the car.”

“There are similarities to Monaco; no real high speed corners, with most turns taken in first or second gear and the kerbs used for the majority of them. As most of the corners are chicanes, you have a set-up trade-off between sufficient roll stiffness to allow the driver to have a sharp car for change of direction, but with suspension soft enough to ride over the kerbs.

“The track used to be very bumpy ?ǣ especially under braking – but recent resurfacing has improved this enormously.”

The track has a reputation for being punishing on brakes: “It?s the highest brake energy circuit of the year, but this won?t pose any significant problems,” explains Permane.

“In years gone by we would have spent a lot of the weekend focusing on brake wear and ensuring we weren?t running too hot. Brake disc development over the past five years means this isn?t an issue or concern anymore. Our focus will be ensuring the brake temperatures are in the optimal range for operation and ensuring the brakes are matched at both front and rear for stability.”

Montreal circuit information

Lap length4.361km (2.71 miles)
Distance70 laps (305.3km/189.7 miles)
Lap record*1’13.622 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
Fastest lap1’12.275 (Ralf Schumacher, 2004)
TyresMedium and Super-soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Montreal track data in full

Another feature of the track is that being a temporary facility it holds a few events per year. The track surface evolves rapidly during a Grand Prix weekend as it cleans up and rubber is laid down.

That can provoke graining in the tyres as they struggle for grip. Pirelli are bringing their super-soft and medium compound tyres. “We?d expect two to three pit stops per car,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery, “but we?ll only be able to make a precise forecast after Friday once we?ve seen some running out on track.”

The drivers will also have a chance to evaluate Pirelli’s revised tyres as they strive to eliminate the delaminations seen at some races. Each will have two extra sets of prototype medium tyres with a revised rear construction to use during practice.

But how much running they get out of them will partly be decided by the weather. Early forecasts indicate showers at the beginning of the race weekend – more on that tomorrow.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has always seemed like one of the tracks that was least in need of DRS. The rain that hit the 2011 race probably spared us two hours of ridiculously easy passing, for as the track began to dry it was clear anyone with a car one second behind them was completely defenceless.

For last year’s race the sensible step of cutting it back to one zone was taken. This improved matters, yet still many people thought the DRS effect was too strong. This year we’re back to two zones.

Canada Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 2013Sebastian Vettel’s near-miss in 2011 means this is the only circuit which appears on the calendar every year where Red Bull haven’t won yet. Their two-three in that race and David Coulthard’s third in 2008 have been their only visits to the podium.


Felipe Massa has a new chassis following his race-ending smash in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali is hopeful the F138’s strength under braking will help them claim their first win in Canada since 2004: “I think the Montreal circuit should allow us to exploit those strong points such as braking, which is a key factor at this track, so let?s hope that works in our favour.”


If Jenson Button or Sergio Perez were to win this weekend it would be the fourth consecutive victory for McLaren at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. But they’ve mustered just one top five finish between them so far as they struggle with the MP4-28.

But there have been steady signs of progress from the team and this McLaren-friendly track might finally see one of them on the podium – as Perez was last year.


Kimi Raikkonen could become only the second driver since Michael Schumacher to score points in 24 consecutive races this weekend.

But team mate Romain Grosjean needs to atone for a disastrous weekend in Monaco, which won’t be easy as he’s carrying a ten-place grid penalty into this event.


Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2013The three-pointed star are playing down their chances after winning in Monaco – not least because any perceived improvement in their form might be linked to that controversial test.

Nico Rosberg is riding high following his Monaco win and run of three pole positions in a row. But this has always been a strong track for Lewis Hamilton, who has won here three times before. The arrival of Paddy Lowe from McLaren this week may be the catalyst he needs to start getting the most out of his new team.


Esteban Gutierrez is unusual among F1’s five rookies in that he has prior experience of this track from his Formula BMW days.

Sauber head to the Canadian Grand Prix looking to end a three-race streak without scoring any points.

Force India

Force India have started the season strongly and will be aiming higher than their previous best finish of ninth in this race. Paul di Resta said he was disappointed to finish that low down in Monaco while team mate Adrian Sutil claimed fifth.


With every passing race this year Williams’ need to finally get some points on the board grows ever more urgent. They believe they’re getting to grips with their FW35 but as ever the competition is strong. Valtteri Bottas has another new track to learn and Pastor Maldonado often looks as likely to fall victim to attrition as he is to benefit from it.

Toro Rosso

Alexander Rossi, Caterham, Barcelona, 2012Daniel Ricciardo has been leading the way at Toro Rosso this year but Jean-Eric Vergne hit back in Monaco. Both are contenders for the lower reaches of the points at the moment.


Reserve driver Alexander Rossi will have his first run of the year in practice for the team before jetting off to France to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours.


This looks like being a tough weekend for Marussia. Neither of their drivers have raced here before and team principal John Booth admitted “the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has not necessarily favoured our car on our three previous visits”.

2013 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Sebastian Vettel3.172.5146/6Form guide
Mark Webber7.834.6275/6Form guide
Fernando Alonso4.173.8185/6Form guide
Felipe Massa7.56.63155/6Form guide
Jenson Button9.679.175176/6Form guide
Sergio Perez10.510.336166/6Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen641106/6Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.1773104/6Form guide
Nico Rosberg3.175194/6Form guide
Lewis Hamilton3.55.333126/6Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg12.1711.28155/5Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez18.1713.411185/6Form guide
Paul di Resta11.177.2495/6Form guide
Adrian Sutil109.55134/6Form guide
Pastor Maldonado16.171311143/6Form guide
Valtteri Bottas15.8313.3311166/6Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne13.8310.58124/6Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo11.6712.757184/6Form guide
Charles Pic201614175/6Form guide
Giedo van der Garde19.517.415215/6Form guide
Jules Bianchi19.171613195/6Form guide
Max Chilton20.6717.1714206/6Form guide

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Weak track for Red Bull offers hope to their rivals”

  1. Going to call Alonso for the race win this weekend. He went well last year and is in a better car this year.
    Hamilton for pole, the Mercedes as we all know is mega on a single lap and this is Lewis’ best track.

    1. As was mentioned in the article the car’s performance under braking is incredibly important here. Given the fact that Lewis is still struggling to get used to the W04’s performance under braking I think he may well struggle this weekend. I’d love to see him do well though, this is his best track as you mentioned.

      1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
        5th June 2013, 12:06

        American tracks are usually Hamiltons best, because, like Richard Hammond, is an American deep down :-)

        1. +1 Maybe we should see how Lewis gets on in NASCAR! BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY!!!!

    2. @calum Ferrari isn’t good on traction. The Mercedes are going to destroy their rears. Lewis has had some brake issues. Red bull on the other side may not have the most bhp but they have incredible traction, I think this year is their best chance without the McLaren threat.

      1. highly doubt lewis will have any brake issues going into montreal as the team would be frantically going round the clock to resolve his issues after monaco. Watch out for nico too, hes always consistently good on every track in qualifying dubbed a qualifying specialist as he is very technical in handling his car. If MERCEDES get another front row lockout its gonna be hard for teams to attack from behind and its clear that mercedes has always been good on a one lap pace. And now, for this track with its low reliance on aerodynamic grip (which is mercedes’ Arcilles heel) and strong reliance on mechanical grip, in which the team is well verse with, i would tip for mercedes to be one of the front runners of this grand prix.

        REDBULL are significantly weaker when it comes to less aerodynamically demanding circuits such as Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Vettel who has been the favourite to win the title since 2010 has never won here. Even in his toro rosso days, he has never been strong in this leg of the championship. @Pennroyaltea i don’t think you mean Redbulls have good traction. they have good aerodynamic grip which is not equivalent to mechanical grip (aka traction). Please don’t be confused between the two.

        MCLAREN now with its less developed car, even with its updates to be brought into Canada will still be a step behind the frontrunners.

        FERRARI, although a huge step from where they were last year still showed signs of weakness in Monaco in terms of poor traction.

        LOTUS on the other hand here, to me, will be a wildcard. I don’t see why Raikonnen will not be challenging for the win. Unless, another Perez incident is to happen. Though i would love to see Perez gets punch in the face.

      2. “The Mercedes are going to destroy their rears”

        Traction isnt Mercs problems. Their tyre problems come from lateral loads in high speed corners.

        1. +1 Pennyroyal tea doesn’t know what he is talking about.

          Traction aka Mechanical grip is the boon of the W04. However, high lateral load especially during high speed turns seem to wear out the rears of the mercedes causing alot of blistering as observed in the recent Spanish GP.

          However in light to the Canadian grand prix with a majority of slow speed corners, it wouldn’t affect much of its lateral loading. Tire wear is minimal here, however break wear is high due to heavy breaking that cars will undergo during the weekend.

  2. While I have no desire to go back to the kind of racing that we had in 2004 and while I do completely understand and agree with the various changes which have been (and which will be) made to the technical regulations since 2004, it really does leave a bad taste in my mouth when I read pre-race build up articles like this and see that the lap record was set in 2004. I know that lap records mean absolutely diddly squat in the grand scheme of things, but knowing that this years cars have no chance of beating that lap record makes me sad.

    1. In fact, as we have seen in Monaco – or rather would have seen without the worsening weather for Saturday – they could be pretty close or circuits, where low-speed corners dominate. That’s for the Pirelli’s modifications on the tyres, which made them quicker for this year in general compared to 2012 and in traction in particular.

      I think we would be close again, if it weren’t for the rain, which is again forecasted.

  3. Question for Mercedes is whether or not they have fixed their tire wear issues, or that Monaco was just the perfect storm for them. With how tyre wear was the deciding factor for the front runners last year, Mercedes will have no chance if they’re back to the old wear.

    1. Imho nothing will have changed with respect to their rear wear issue, and everyone will still be on the usual tires, so I don’t expect to see anything other than a strong quali performance followed by a falling down in the order during the race. That said, I know the forecast at least here in Southern Ontario is for 22 degrees on Sunday so Montreal might be similar, I haven’t checked, so that might be Merc’s only saving grace.

      1. @robbie
        Is 22 degrees hot, cold or normal for this time of year ?

        1. Put it this way…22 degrees is no surprise for this time of year, certainly not hot for this time of year, but is a bit below seasonal, so about normal, and I’ve been at that race when it was 33 but thankfully not that humid so we sat their sweating in the hot sun but I still found it relatively manageable.

  4. Ferrari and Lotus and maybe Mercedes will be the teams to beat. RBR is the underdog if it stays dry.

  5. Still not seeing how this is a weak track for RBR, pole in ’11 and ’12 (by some margin..), and they blew it both times while they were leading, so yeah, wouldn’t play down their chances (unfortunately)

    1. Exactly. Monza used to be a bogey track for them too until they set that right in 2011.

  6. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
    5th June 2013, 12:09

    Sebastian Vettel strokes his car and says “Is there nothing you can’t do?” :-)

    1. Heidi is Hungry!

  7. I’m glad there’s a gap between the tyre compounds, as the rules state there always should be. This is what really gives us tactical battles, not everyone doing the same thing.

    Question: If teams were to complain to the FIA, would the FIA do anything? Quite a few races this season have operated illegally, with regards to tyre compound differences. It’s kind of funny actually. The FIA want a show, so disregard a sporting regulation. Bit dodgy no?

    1. @timi

      Quite a few races this season have operated illegally, with regards to tyre compound differences.

      What rule are you referring to here?

      1. @keithcollantine The one that stipulates a one – compound – gap between Prime and Option at a race weekend. I know it was in operation season before last, and I think last season. But this season there have been adjacent compounds raced at a few GPs

        1. The one that stipulates a one – compound – gap between Prime and Option

          That isn’t actually a regulation, Its just something Pirelli did in the past more than there doing now.

          They decide which compounds to use at each race based on known data & how they ‘expect’ each compound to behave on each track.
          One of the problems in 2013 has been the tyres not acting as expected hence why they have been a bit more conservative deciding which compounds to use.

          At Monaco for example the Soft’s were suffering from warm-up issues, Had they taken the Medium (To run alongside the Super-Soft) those problems would likely have been worse & due to the tyres been outside the operating window they would have suffered a great deal more graining (And maybe even blistering).

  8. If mercs are going to struggle with tyre wear and this isn’t red bulls best track, then Alonso or Raikkonen to win this one. Hamilton as an outsider. Mercs could improve because of the Pirelli test. Should be epic.
    Also expecting a McLaren in the top 5

  9. But this has always been a strong track for Lewis Hamilton, who has won here three times before. The arrival of Paddy Lowe from McLaren this week may be the catalyst he needs to start getting the most out of his new team

    I don’t see it happening again to be honest. Hamilton gains so much time on his braking, and in light of his recent problems in this area, the advantage he had at Montreal will now be gone. I think Red Bull will break their duck this weekend with Ferrari a close second.

  10. I seriously hope that it’s a fully wet weekend. I’d even accept another 2 hour rain delay if it meant DRS would be deactivated for the whole race.

    1. +1. A pure Wet race would be fun

    2. The fact that DRS is so powerful here means the race will be rubbish. Bloody shame.

  11. Sebastian Vettel’s near-miss in 2011 means this is the only circuit which appears on the calendar every year where Red Bull haven’t won yet.

    That’s not quite right, unless I’ve read it incorrectly: they haven’t won at Austin of course!

    1. Traverse (@)
      5th June 2013, 15:51

      Austin has only appeared once, so it doesn’t count.

    2. Traverse (@)
      5th June 2013, 15:55

      To clarify – Until the Austin GP is completed at least twice, you can’t describe it as having appeared on the calender “every year”. So the way Keith worded it is correct.

      1. I’ve got to remember to refresh the page between reading the article and posting comments – I keep on posting stuff that’s already been said !

        1. Traverse (@)
          5th June 2013, 20:17

          Don’t sweat it, we’ve all done it. :)

      2. @hellotraverse true, but it seems like very loose wording is all!

    3. @vettel1
      I think “circuit which appears on the calendar every year” implies he’s only talking about tracks that have been raced on over several seasons, or at least that’s how I read it :-)

  12. This shouldn’t be too bad a track for Mercedes as there aren’t many high-energy corners: it’s mainly traction zones where their car is quite good. So I wouldn’t discount them (although as has been said Hamilton has been having his braking issues) but I wouldn’t expect them to win.

    Ferrari I think will be very strong as will Lotus and Red Bull may be quite good here (as the RB9 seems to be a very quick package, just it is having degradation issues). If they nail strategy, it’s possible they could win also.

    So basically to summarise I have absolutely no idea who’ll win this: it’s anybodies’ game in the top 4 currently as far as I’m concerned!

    1. Ferrari are going to struggle Lotus will have a shot at Red Bull. The Mercedes are probably going to have another Bahrain. I think you should be more positive that Seb wins.

      1. @peartree I’m not so sure: they were good last time out with the soft/supersoft combination (although crucially behind Lotus) and last year they would’ve ran well had they not made an error on strategy by not making the second stop. I don’t think they should be discounted.

        Again though, I reckon it’ll all come down to who has the least degradation but due to the nature of the track you’re right Mercedes and Red Bull should run well enough in the race.

        1. @vettel1 I think the race should resemble Bahrain a lot, even if the allocation is not the same.

    2. Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen and Rosberg all have good chances at winning this. The same cant be said for their teammates though.

      1. @austus Webber no chance, Massa no chance, Grosjean slim chance (he was on the podium last year remember) and Hamilton some chance (if he sorts out his braking issues).

  13. “The track has a reputation for being punishing on brakes: “It’s the highest brake energy circuit of the year, but this won’t pose any significant problems,” explains Permane.”

    Uh….. what about Singapore? (Remember Webber in 09?)

    Maybe highest brake energy doesn’t necessarily mean highest break wear. Thoughts?

    1. @thrillerwa09 – Given the development that has gone into brakes in the past 5 years, brake wear (as was seen in 2009) isn’t much of a problem any more, and isn’t really something the teams have to take into consideration largely.

  14. Hard to tell. I think Red Bull will have the 3rd best, possibly 4th best car in terms of race pace if Mercedes respond well to the tyres. Ferrari and Lotus have been the best cars all season except Monaco. Monaco was more indicative of Alonso and Kimi’s performances as drivers than the pace of the cars. Their usual poor qualifying laps really hurt them. I find it hard to believe that McLaren and Force India where all of a sudden quicker.

    Shouldn’t matter here since they have great race pace and it’ll be easy to overtake on the straight.

  15. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    5th June 2013, 16:58

    Super soft? Drivers overtaking and blocking tyres in the hairpin will make this compound get overworn very fast. 4 pitstops again …

  16. “Pastor Maldonado often looks as likely to fall victim to attrition as he is to benefit from it.”

    I found this excellent phrasing, very politically correct!!

  17. Esteban Gutierrez is unusual among F1′s five rookies in that he has prior experience of this track from his Formula BMW days.

    Pretty ironic that he missed the chance to drive here when Perez was ill then, or he would have had prior experience in an F1 car too :P

  18. Off the cuff random premonitions and ruminations of this Canada Grand Prix weekend –
    A big black presides over every race until the great tire debacle comes to some sort of critical resolution.
    And weather may be a factor too with clouds of rain on Friday and Saturday.
    Whether Mercedes does well or poorly they are the scourge of the grid. Damned if they do or if they don’t. If they win they lose.
    Alonso and Kimi will shine.
    Maldonado may fall off the track, again.
    The surprise of the weekend will be – – -> Button.
    Force India could score a podium.
    Perez, bolstered by his team’s comments, will continue to push his nose in too far and break something.
    Out on a limb – – -> 1-Kimi, 2-Alonso, 3-diResta, 4-Hamilton, 5-Massa

    Could be totally wrong…

    1. forgot – 6-Button

  19. Michael Brown (@)
    5th June 2013, 19:08

    I’m going to the race. The forecast so far shows rain on Friday and Saturday and sunny on Sunday. I’m hoping Hamilton will win this one but I expect Vettel and Alonso to be in the mix.

  20. Mercedes are the ones to beat for shore. They will make a move like they did at Monaco, but, overthere they were not challenged for the 1st place, here they will be by Alonso and Kimi.
    Vettel and the Red Bull are the underdogs and trying to go under the radar, watch out for them…

  21. According to another site, ‘injudicious use of the throttle ‘ will not benefit our heroes at Montreal .So 2 Grand prix in a row I will not have watched .

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