Engine upgrades key to Montreal race weekend

2015 Canadian Grand Prix preview

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Monaco was a timely reminder that a little unpredictability goes a long way when it comes to making memorable motor races.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – scene of the seventh round of the championship this weekend – is a venue which has often proved that point. Last year its unusual, brake-punishing configuration caught out Mercedes, opened the door for their rivals to take advantage – and Daniel Ricciardo was the first one through.

Ricciardo is a huge fan of the Montreal track. “Possibly winning has made me love it a little bit more,” he said, “but really I’ve loved it since my first lap, back when I was driving for Toro Rosso.”

“I remember coming back into the pits and saying ‘what a circuit,’ I was amazed at how good it was – and I’d only done an install.”

Track data: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Lap length 4.361km (2.71 miles)
Grand prix distance 305.27km (189.686 miles)
Lap record (in a race) 1’13.622 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
Fastest lap (any session) 1’12.275 (Ralf Schumacher, 2004, qualifying two)
Tyre compounds Soft and Super-soft
2014 Rate the Race 9.19/10
2014 Driver of the Weekend Daniel Ricciardo

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track data in full

The challenge of squeezing a grand prix-standard circuit into the confines of the man-made Isle Notre Dame has crated a layout which is fast, hemmed in by barriers, and largely immune to the trend for bordering every corner with vast run-offs.

As well as being a formula for great racing – no other track on the calendar gets consistently higher Rate the Race scores than this one – it’s an experience many of the drivers find exhilarating.

“You can jump across the kerbs and really get the car bouncing around,” said Ricciardo. “It’s like getting back to go-kart days, you really feel like you own it – and I love that. You can get aggressive with it, and aim to just brush the wall. There’s a lot of risk but that brings a lot of adrenaline with it.”

Ricciardo’s victory last year in his Renault-powered Red Bull went against the run of play as it came at a track where engine performance is critical. Power unit development will be a significant factor again this weekend as some engine manufacturers are taking advantage of the opportunity to spend some of their development ‘tokens’ and introduce performance upgrades.

Although this is a much faster circuit than Monaco, the temporary, low-grip surface means soft tyres are the way to go, and Pirelli is again bringing its grippiest rubber. Teams found the revised super-soft compound was harder than expected and more difficult to warm up in the cool temperatures at Monte-Carlo.

However Pirelli believes that in the event of similar conditions in Canada the new tyre should be more resistant to graining, a typical problem which occurs at this high-speed layout.

Ironically, it was this very phenomenon which helped make the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix a classic – and that thrilling race was held up as an example of the very kind of spectacle Pirelli should strive to produce with the tyres F1 has used since 2011. If there’s going to be a surprise in this year’s race it may well come from the engines rather than the tyres.

Canadian Grand Prix team-by-team preview


Mercedes are keeping their powder dry as far as engine upgrades are concerned. Besides, after the braking problems they encountered in Bahrain, they may be more preoccupied with avoiding a repeat at another track characterised by several big stopping zones.

The team is eager to move on from its Monaco strategy debacle, though Nico Rosberg heads into the weekend looking to sustain a surprise winning streak despite having been decisively out-classed by team mate Lewis Hamilton on sheer pace last time out.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so lucky,” he admitted. “However, that weekend also showed that I need to raise my game even further.”

Red Bull

The prospects of a Red Bull victory didn’t look great 12 months ago, but they are surely even more remote this time. Even in Monaco, on a track which should have suited them, the podium was elusive.

Expect to see Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat struggling to hang onto a pair of RB11s trimmed out to the absolute limit as they chase the straight-line performance their Renault engine clearly doesn’t have.


Monaco was a stunningly poor race for Williams. However the FW37 should be much more at home on a track which rewards low drag and high top speeds. Could they challenge the Ferraris?


The team which made the biggest gains to Mercedes over the winter with its power unit has a significant weekend ahead as they try to take another bite out of their rival’s advantage.

Ferrari hasn’t had a win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since 2004. But Monaco showed Mercedes are not immune to slip-ups, and their red rivals will be poised to exploit any more.


McLaren has tended to go well at this track – they won four of the five races from 2007 to 2013 (there was no Canadian Grand Prix in 2009). But if Monaco helped disguise the deficiencies of their Honda power unit – and produced their first points of the season – Montreal is likely to expose their lack of top-end grunt.

That’s not the only problem they have to worry about either. “We must target improved reliability and consistency,” noted racing director Eric Boullier in the wake of breakdowns for Fernando Alonso in qualifying and the race in Monaco.

Force India

Sergio Perez heads to Montreal on a high after a superb performance in Monte-Carlo. “I feel I’m driving at my best and getting the most from every race,” he said.

“Monaco was pretty much a perfect weekend in terms of maximising our potential. I don’t think I could have come away with more from that race.”

However his Canadian Grand Prix last year ended with a heavy crash which he copped the blame for.

Toro Rosso

Despite a violent crash after contact with Romain Grosjean, Max Verstappen shrugged off the impact and was back at the wheel of a kart the very next day.

Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jnr are new to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and the weakness of their Renault power unit could make scoring points a challenge this weekend.


Pastor Maldonado hasn’t been running at the finish of any of this year’s races so far, but he believes his Lotus is well-equipped to deliver points at tracks like Montreal if it can go the distance.

“We seem to have a car that is in the top ten on qualifying pace and quicker than some of its nearest rivals when it comes to the race pace,” he said. “At somewhere like Monaco it’s difficult to take advantage of superior race pace, but at more open circuits we’re well placed.”


The C34’s lack of downforce will count for less at Montreal and its Ferrari motor will count for more, so Marcus Ericsson and track newcomer Felipe Nasr will be eyeing the top ten.


Roberto Merhi remains for another race, and like team mate Will Stevens he is new to this track.

“I’m pleased with the way I acclimatise to new circuits,” said Stevens, “although this is certainly one to be respected as it’s pretty unique; a lot of fun but with more than its fair share of challenges.”

2015 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 1.17 1.67 1 3 6/6 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 2.17 2.00 1 3 6/6 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 6.33 7.17 5 10 6/6 Form guide
Daniil Kvyat 9.83 8.00 4 10 4/5 Form guide
Felipe Massa 6.83 7.67 4 15 6/6 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 7.33 6.60 4 14 5/6 Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 2.83 2.83 1 5 6/6 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 6.50 4.20 2 6 5/6 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 15.20 11.50 11 12 2/5 Form guide
Jenson Button 15.67 12.25 8 16 4/5 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 13.00 12.00 7 15 5/6 Form guide
Sergio Perez 13.17 10.33 7 13 6/6 Form guide
Max Verstappen 10.00 11.67 7 17 3/6 Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr 11.67 9.80 8 13 5/6 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 10.33 9.00 7 12 5/6 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 11.33 15.00 15 15 1/6 Form guide
Marcus Ericsson 13.33 11.80 8 14 5/6 Form guide
Felipe Nasr 12.67 9.67 5 12 6/6 Form guide
Will Stevens 18.80 16.25 15 17 4/4 Form guide
Roberto Merhi 19.40 16.40 15 18 5/5 Form guide
Kevin Magnussen 17.00 0/0 Form guide

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2015 Canadian Grand Prix

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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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56 comments on “Engine upgrades key to Montreal race weekend”

  1. Love this GP. One of the best. Might even make it there.
    Any bets on someone hugging the champions wall ???

    1. I bet on either Sainz or Verstappen… :P

      1. Need to look at the current set of champs and the potential Future chemaps !!!!

        1) Vettel ( Done that 2011)
        2) Button, (Done that 2005)
        3) Lewis,
        4) Alonso
        5) Kimi

        Rosberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, et all ???

    2. Pastor Maldonado:P

      1. Pastor Maldonado:P

        I’m sure the odds are against the bookie so he wont be giving that choice lol

      2. Given the way Maldonado is driving this year,

        1) Like MarkM mentioned, the odds are against the bookies.
        2) He might not land on the champions wall because it is at the end of the lap. he might take himself out much before that !!!!!!

        1. @tmax

          actually Maldonado’s been driving rather well this year and the misfortune he’s faced hasn’t been of his own making. The only moment that you might partially put down to him was the contact he had with Grojean in Spain, and that was as much as Grojean being a bit too optimistic.

          1. @uan Just watched again the Melbourne start and his spatial awareness was clearly questionable. He just clipped the path of Nasr.

          2. Yes, I just watched it too, and it was a serious of unfortunate events, which cascaded from Vettel shoving Kimi wide, who had to back out at T1, then went into anti-stall and was half on and off the track and at that point Nasr, whose spatial awareness must be in question, doesn’t see Kimi next to him, and maybe Kimi’s spatial awareness is questionable, forces himself back on the track, forcing Nasr to go wide and into Maldonado’s rear wheel.

            Yes, clearly Pastor needs his spatial awareness checked when getting clipped from behind by a car playing tag with another one…

          3. @uan I guess you learnt about “spatial awareness” recently.

      3. BTW Pastor Maldonado Contributed Once to the wall in 2012 !!!

    3. Can see Kimi doing it this time, or maybe Nasr (for some reason).

      1. My thoughts exactly. Hope Vettel doesn’t, because I don’t wanna watch Mercedes borefest.

    4. ericsson, Nasr, Massa, Stevens, Mehri, Sainz, Maldonado throughout the entire weekend.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        3rd June 2015, 16:50

        they cannot call it the ‘champions wall’ then! @peartree
        (1 future champ maybe)

        1. @coldfly Guess not. I haven’t seen if they’ve further sanitize the last chicane, I’m just feeling though that there will be a lot of scrapping this weekend.

  2. The best thing about Monaco GP is that Canadian GP comes right after that.

    1. True that

    2. Why does Monaco get so much hate?

      1. You may not agree with it, but I think it’s obvious why it gets the hate.

        1. Regardless of whether I agree with it or not, that in no way answers the question.

          Is it because it’s hard to overtake? Too flashy? Because Lewis never wins there?

          1. “Because Lewis never wins there” LOL
            For the last 2 years, it’s been maybe the only factor making it remotely exciting.

          2. Most people like Monaco including me and they do not feel the need to tell everyone. The minority do not like it but make themselves heard. I always think if you do not like Monaco you are not a true motorsport fan but of course this is a personal opinion and not fact.

          3. @mark p Everything you said was opinion and not fact. So saying something like “The minority do not like it but make themselves heard” is also an opinion.

          4. A brief from Alonso’s interview reg Monaco

            What is the essential Grand Prix every fan should attend at least once in their lifetime?

            FA: From the lifestyle experience: Monaco. For an enthusiastic fan experience: Monza.

          5. jok said on 3rd June 2015, 17:26

            @mark p Everything you said was opinion and not fact. So saying something like “The minority do not like it but make themselves heard” is also an opinion.

            That is true my whole post is opinion. If Monaco was disliked though by most it would have half empty grandstands and would not get the race for free just for the sake of it. It is popular and many drivers love the track.

      2. The circuit is too narrow to overtake with only a few marginal exceptions. I’ve heard drivers liken it to riding a bicycle in your living room. Once the grid is set things don’t change much from there.

        I always find something to enjoy about a race if at all possible. Sometimes it’s just admiring the sheer concentration these guys have hitting their marks again and again. With Monaco I get all puckery seeing how close they come to the barriers and marveling they don’t hit them more often than they do.

        1. I always find something to enjoy about a race if at all possible

          Thank you! I thought I was the only one around here. Specially with so many people nowadays rating races with 1 and 2 (like Monaco) when they were always like that.

  3. Another point will be the new tests on the flexible front wings.
    Williams and ForceIndia might lose their key advantage.

    1. What’s their key advantage?

  4. James Allen reports that Ferrari are in with an engine upgrade (upto 30HP increase). I see a Vettel win and a Hamilton crash into the wall of the champions as he attempts to ‘blow away’ Rosberg post the Monaco debacle :)

    1. I wish you wish we wish they wish. Not likely.

    2. digitalrurouni
      3rd June 2015, 17:47

      barring mechanical failure. Hamilton will have this in the bag. Don’t forget Merc is bringing an upgrade to their PU without using any tokens from last what I read. And let’s face it Catalunya plus Ferrari upgrades was not impressive. Monaco was run of the mill with the only twist if you can call it that being the Hamilton blunder which I definitely also blame him for. More him than the team actually. So Hamilton will have something to prove so it’s his to lose this weekend.

      1. It’s his to lose this season. And next season. Maybe even the season after that. I don’t know why we are watching? Habit I guess….

      2. Michael Duncan
        3rd June 2015, 18:03

        What upgrade are they bringing to their engine then? They aren’t bringing any upgrade to their engine at all, they are maybe bringing a upgrade to the car, but they aren’t bringing a upgrade to the engine. They are bringing a new engine, but that’s not exactly going to give them a big boost. So really, you are wrong, they aren’t bringing a upgrade to the engine. I think you have made that up.

      3. You were all saying Hammy had Monaco in the bag and look what happened haha . The saying don’t count your chickens springs to mind

        1. So what? He’ll still win the championship in the end. Next year too.

          1. Nostradamus part II?

          2. More like educated guess… Actually no guessing. It’s pretty clear.

    3. What should happen and what eventually happens isn’t always the same :)

      Ferrari will go for it. It is Mercedes who need to play it safe while controlling both their drivers race perfect to a T. Ferrari just want their wins this season. Kimi or Vettel, it doesn’t matter.

      Spain was an OK race until they went on hard tires. Rosberg couldn’t shake off Vettel in Monaco all race long and Hamilton didn’t have a sniff even with the new SS, post SC.

  5. Vettel needs 3 more podiums in the next three races and he has a 50% podium finish rate if I’m correct. That would be on 148 races with 74 podia.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      3rd June 2015, 16:58

      or the next 4 to beat Michael Schumacher at 50.32% (155/308)! @xtwl

      He will never catch Dorino Serafini (100%) though (link)

      1. @coldfly And still daily we have to see comments about Vettel being ‘average’. Although I must say that now he is driving for Ferrari we see it less every race. Might have something to do with comprehensively beating Kimi on all fronts and driving a red coloured car..

        1. A lot of us just wanted to see him driving a non-Newey car @xtwl.

          1. Well I’d like to see Lewis Hamilton driving a non-Mercedes engined car.

          2. @lockup An excuse getting as old as Bernie himself.

          3. lockup (@)
            4th June 2015, 8:49

            Seems quite reasonable to me @xtwl. Part of Alonso’s reputation is that he’s been good in multiple teams not just the dream team Renault on its wide Michelins. Plus Red Bull is a much less popular team than Ferrari.

            Seb is more popular now, what’s the problem? A few people being unreasonable is bound to happen and not worth focussing on. This is a great period for Sebastian. Surely most of us would love it if Ferrari have caught up so he can battle it out with Lewis :)

    2. LOL Have you ever looked at his points finish percentage? I advise you to look specifically at the points finish percentage for races finished, not started (145-DNFs).

  6. I very like this track. :)

  7. It’s time for a podium that’s not all red and silver. I’d even go far as to say its likely here. That’s about all I am really hoping for this weekend, but I’d love it if Ferrari can battle for the win also.

    1. Ferrari 1-2 and whoever wants the 3rd….

  8. i bet the engine changes are tiny in performance, and if they are big mechanically, then they will probably not run them at full power in fear of blowing them up!

  9. Seems like Hamilton put Monaco behind him. Sad day for F1 fans. Mercedes domination awaits.

  10. Evans (@earmitage)
    5th June 2015, 7:43

    So, does anyone have any confirmation yet on which engine Ferrari will run?

Comments are closed.