Danger factor part of Montreal’s appeal – Vergne

2014 Canadian Grand Prix

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Jean-Eric Vergne says the lack of run-off at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is part of what makes the circuit so rewarding to drive.

“This event is on my personal podium for the best races of the year,” said the Toro Rosso driver.

“People say the track is dangerous and maybe that’s part of its appeal,” he explained. “I find the circuits where the barriers are a hundred metres away from the track a bit dull.”

“Taking a corner flat out, right on a knife edge, with walls to your left and right is a completely different feeling to going flat out where you know that if you go off you have several hundred metres of run-off.”

One of the most famous examples of the limited run-off at the track is the ‘Wall of Champions’ at the chicane at the end of the circuit.

“The last corner here before the pit straight is a good example,” said Vergne. “It’s a nice corner, as it’s quick and you have to jump two big kerbs, so it feels a bit like going back to one’s karting days, throwing the car around at high speed. It’s a work of art getting it right.”

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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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23 comments on “Danger factor part of Montreal’s appeal – Vergne”

  1. While I don’t think he’s among the best 22 drivers in the world, I do like Vergne’s personality. Statements like these and, for instance, his Cevert tribute helmet in Monaco last year make him a very likeable driver to me.

    1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      3rd June 2014, 9:32

      @roald – I agree that a) he’s a great guy (I met him at Spa last year) and b), that he is lacking the raw speed needed to be one the very best in the world, and with rookie Kvyat immediately on his pace, despite not having competed in a high powered junior division such as GP2 or FR3.5 (suggesting he will soon be faster than JEV), he is now under intense pressure from both Sainz, but also from da Costa, with Marko recently confirming that he has been impressed with the speed he has shown in the DTM so far (with da Costa showing well against a very strong grid in DTM – by comparison Sainz has meanwhile gone unchallenged in FR3.5).

    2. @roald Disagree completely. He’s proven to me beyond any doubt that he’s one of the top 22 drivers in the world(And in the wet top 10)

      @william-brierty Kvyat on his pace? it’s 4-2 in qualy(Where it’s said JEV is lacking), and on race pace JEV is faster as well, when he’s not having troubles, none of which were of his own making. In fact in race pace JEV was faster or as fast as DR more often than not. Same Ricciardo who is beating SV at the moment. Of course SV is having problems of his own at the moment, but that only magnifies my points: It’s very complicated to know the driver’s raw speed compared to others, not black and white at all. I fail to see the logic, based on what I’ve seen so far in declaring he doesn’t have the raw speed or he’s not one of the top 22 drivers in the world(even more ridiculous statement IMO). Perhaps I’m watching a different F1 to the both of you

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        4th June 2014, 12:17

        @montreal95 – And yet it should be 4-0 at the moment to JEV, who not only has two seasons of STR under his belt, but a further two seasons in FR3.5, over Kvyat who has come straight from GP3, having made the equally big step up from FR2.0 Eurocup to GP3 last year. If Kvyat is, if sporadically as you say, on Vergne’s pace then I fear, on that basis of the increased momentum we saw at the tail end of Kvyat’s 2013 GP3 campaign, that Kvyat will soon be faster. For that reason, and because of the ongoing qualifying balance woes that haunt JEV’s F1 career, his seat is now under intense pressure primarily from Sainz, but also from Da Costa and Lynn. I agree that a better driver is certainly somewhere inside JEV, the qualifying speed he showed in the junior divisions and the brilliant wet weather speed he has shown confirm that, but at the moment, in the dry and crucially on low fuel, JEV has a fundamental aversion to the way an F1 car handles. On that basis Red Bull will asking whether it is worth the time to try and help JEV solve his issues, or whether it is quicker and easier to simply unscrew this lightbulb and fit another from the lightbulb warehouse that is the Red Bull Junior Programme. For me, unfortunately for JEV, there appears to be a logical answer to that question.

    3. I knew he had an Alesi helmet in 2012, did he do something special this year?

  2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    3rd June 2014, 9:55

    It’s just a great circuit. I drove it many years ago in a rented 911, and although I’m no Frédéric Makowiecki, it was an intoxicating experience. The tarmac has very little grip, so I was glad that particular iteration of the Stuttgart stallion had plenty of steering lock, especially with the close proximity of the barriers that make the track feel a lot tighter than it appears on TV. The final chicane is simply brilliant. The first apex curb is flatter than the second, so you can carry great speed; when I drove the track that was also where I also conveniently found the grippiest tarmac. Never has a track missed a lack of high speed corners less, and when you compare Spa, Monza, Suzuka, Silverstone, Monaco and Montreal and subsequently notice that each and every has their own character, the instant subsidiary is to mourn the loss of truly great circuit design in the modern day.

    1. @william-brierty Thanks for sharing this. I only ever drove the track in the Grand Prix 3/4 racing simulators and always thought it’s one of the most enjoyable. I could only imagine how much better it is to drive it for real. and yes, “full of character” is the perfect description

    2. I think it’s a pity the New Jersey race hasn’t happened, as that layout seemed to have some of the characteristics that make Montreal. I hope something comes of the plans to bring the WEC to Montreal though – witnessing the closing speeds of the LMP1s & GTs in among the concrete walls would be amazing!

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        3rd June 2014, 13:00

        @bullfrog – I do hope the circuit can afford to field the WEC, because that would truly be a spectacle, and would certainly see me hop aboard a quick transatlantic flight to take a look see. I would imagine that if the WEC does go to Canada that Makewiecki might just manage a better lap-time in his 911 than I did…

    3. Oh you’re so lucky, looking at it I get the impression that the circuit is very easy to memorise and go around quickly but to be right on the limit, because of the walls and how narrow it is, you must be completely fearless and have lots of confidence with the car.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        3rd June 2014, 19:20

        @mantresx – Absolutely, the slippery tarmac meant I really had to build my confidence up with the walls so close, but fortunately I had paid for an hour of track time and because I had a 911 (i.e. no overheating brakes or knackered clutch), I spent none of that time in the pits. So whilst it is intimidating, even for someone who has driven the Nordschleife, with time to learn it, and a nicely balanced car in the shape of the 997 Turbo, I was comfortable by the end of the hour and doing respectable times. I happy to inform you that apart from the nutter who turned up in a Radical prototype, I was best of the rest on the timesheets that day. Up yours Mr Gallardo Superleggera!

        1. Hehe that’s a nice little story, thanks for sharing.

  3. no doubt there is very little run off. I haven’t been there but when you look at the size of the cars now and how little track space there is around the whole thing, it’s sort of understandable where he is coming from (again I cannot judge because I don’t race and I am not an expert, it’s just general knowledge)

  4. Definitely one of my favourite circuits on the games. I can only imagine how great it will be in cars with more horsepower, and I feel we are going to see many people get it wrong into the hairpin and the last chicane.

  5. That is part of why Canada is one of the best circuits on the calendar! Unfortunately the DRS zones have taken away part of its magic.

    I hope that Vergne gets a good result in Canada, he has had a lot of bad luck this year and deserves some compensation for that. Ricciardo’s performances this year make JEV look better, too. That said, the Frenchman’s future doesn’t seem very bright. Red Bull won’t be needing any new drivers in 2015, STR have never held a driver at their team for longer than three years and other youngsters are already knocking at their door. Maybe Vergne can find another team like Liuzzi did but given the competition and the teams’ need for sponsorship money, I believe that he’s more likely to end up like Alguersuari or Buemi.

    1. @girts I hope that if JEV loses the STR drive and can’t find a decent seat in another team(unfairly for him given his talent IMO), he will go to Indycars. The low-grip tracks and oversteery cars will suit him like a glove

      1. @montreal95 I was pretty sceptical about his abilities until this year but I didn’t expect much from Ricciardo as well and Vergne seems to have upped his game in 2014 so now I would love to see what he can do in a Red Bull or in a Force India if the Big Bad Wolf drops him.

  6. Agree with JEV completely on the subject of circuit being more exciting when there’s less run-off. Montreal is always one of the best races, one of the more exciting places to watch the cars dance at high speed close to the walls

    Also it’s one of JEV’s best tracks(he had a fantastic race there last season). Unsurprising, as he’s very good when it’s low grip

  7. Careful – too many more positive remarks from the drivers like this, about this being a ‘proper’ circuit, and I’m sure it won’t be long until it’s replaced by a brand new track with 5 hectares of run-off in Baku..

    1. Apparently it isn’t contracted for next year yet :( They have Azerbaijan, Mexico and New Jersey among the new tracks for next year and India could be hosting again. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Canada back on the calendar though, only because so many of these race deals fall through or are postponed a year.

  8. Ron (@rcorporon)
    3rd June 2014, 15:14

    I’ll be there this weekend. Hope to see lots of action but hope more that the drivers stay safe!

    1. I’d like the same @rcorporon.
      The absence of run off zones and wide tarmac at Montreal means it is very unforgiving. I don’t want to see cars smashing into the barriers but it seems more of a test of skill to me. I keep thinking back to when Daniel Ricciardo went wide at 130R last year – in years gone past that would have been the end of his race (or worse). Instead there was time to talk on the radio then he was back into it. I don’t mean to criticise Daniel in particular here, he is doing amazingly and deserves all his great results, but it just a sign of the times.
      Anyway, no room for that sort of thing at Canada.

  9. This is always one of the best races each year. I’m fairly new to F1 (watched for about 5 years now) and 2011 was once of the most breathtaking to watch. Being a Button fan it was even more epic but even if it hadn’t been him who won, it was still a fantastic spectacle of the sport.

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