Image courtesy of www.mercedes-gp.com
This is the first race of the year where the teams run a lower downforce configuration. Last season Force India were very quick in these conditions so they could be competitive this weekend. At the back of the field, HRT will hope that their high top speed as well as the track's lesser reliance on aerodynamics will allow them to be a bigger threat to Virgin and Lotus. The rookies amongst the field will want to avoid the walls that surround the circuit, there is now asphalt run off at turns 6 and 8 but the margin for error is still low compared to some of the newer venue's. It's the second shortest circuit track of the year so the potential for Q1 traffic problems is there but i would suspect that the margins will not be as huge as it has been at other tracks.
So racing in North America is back and here are some reasons why you should make sure you are tuned in come 5pm BST on Sunday:
Track: Montreal provides plenty of action, the final chicane, Casino hairpin and turn 1 are all viable overtaking places. The walls are close to the track and the surface has had break up problems in the past. Banging in consistent lap times is very difficult, the drivers face a great challenge as track conditions can really change over the course of the 70 laps. A slippery track can lead to accidents and damage, hammering the kerbs is needed for lap time but could hurt the fragile cars. Will this be the achilles heel of Red Bull this weekend?
Safety Car: This usually makes an appearance and was deployed 4 times as recently as 2007. This is due to the tight confides of the track, indeed the area between turns 3-5 are all fenced up and make it very difficult to clear cars or debris. With a one stop strategy now the norm, the safety car has a less decisive role in effecting strategies but if we get one in the early stages it will mix things up. People at the back may get rid of the soft tyre or do 1 lap on it and then switch back to the hard tyre. We seen in Turkey how tight Mclaren fuelled their cars. A possibilty in Canada is to factor in the potential for a safety car period and fuel the cars lighter but it is a very risky strategy which could go embrassingly wrong. The other effect of a safety car deployment is that the field is bunched up again, increasing the potential of close racing
Weather: It's been a very wet Thursday in Montreal. Bernd Maylander almost had a bad moment with the puddles on track when practising with the safety car earlier! The current forecast is for a clear and sunny Friday, overcast but dry on Saturday but Sunday morning currently shows a band of showers hitting Montreal and with the race starting at 12 noon local time it could mean the race at least starting in wet conditions. We've already had one street track with a wet start this season and that was a thriller so we could be set for another classic