Sound Off – F1 Drivers on the Canadian Grand Prix

The F1 drivers arriving in Montréal for the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix is as diverse as the cultural city itself. The group of 20 is made up of rookies who have never run on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, past winners who are looking for a repeat performance, as well as losers with a score to settle. Here’s what some had to say about the city, the track, and their expectations for this weekend’s race.

Canadian GP track map for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Lando Norris, McLaren: I’m very excited to head to Canada and Montréal. It will be my first time there, and the track is one I’ve always liked driving on the sim. It definitely looks like you can overtake and have a bit more fun there. The racing can be a bit unpredictable at this circuit, and the weather often plays a part. My focus, as always, is on making sure I’m in a position to take any chances I can for both myself and the team and gaining as much experience of a new track as possible.

Carlos Sainz, McLaren: Canada has offered some great racing in the past, and the layout of the track is interesting. It shares characteristics with the street circuits, but it also has some high-speed sectors which are fun to drive with these cars.Montréal is a cool city to visit, and the atmosphere is always very welcoming.

I look forward to getting the weekend started.

Romain Grosjean, Haas: The midfield this year is super, super tight. Three-tenths of a second in qualifying can put you in P6 or P7 or even P15. It’s very exciting. It’s a good challenge for the drivers. You’re pushing to the limit all the time. We’ve got the potential of getting fourth place, but we need to put everything together, stop the small mistakes, and get those points going.

I’m looking forward to being in Canada.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas: It was good to try the new engine [in Monaco]. It looks like it’s a bit better and a good upgrade. Let’s see how it goes in Montréal with the longer straights.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point: Montréal is a very unique track all about straights and high-speed chicanes, which I think will suit our car. As a circuit, it looks simpler than it is. Getting together a clean lap is difficult, and it’s easy to make small mistakes that really hurt your lap time. Everybody talks about the final chicane and the ‘Wall of Champions,’ and I have to agree; it’s the most exciting part of the lap. You arrive at top speed, jump on the brakes, and have to be so precise. Even if you’ve had a perfect lap, you can lose it all in the final corner.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point: Nothing beats your home race! I was born in Montréal and grew up there, so it’s always a really special week. As a track, it’s very technical. You need to be strong on the brakes and set the car up so that you can ride the kerbs and carry the speed through the chicanes. Turn one has always been quite bumpy, and you can carry so much speed into this corner, but you have to make sure you get the car slowed down and hit the apex of turn two. I’d say the best overtaking opportunity is down the back straight approaching the final chicane – if you can get in the DRS, you have a good chance to make a move. You have to respect the final chicane too because it can make or break your lap. There’s a lot of lap time to be found through there, and there’s no room for error.

Robert Kubica, Williams: Montréal is a great city and one of my favorite Grand Prix. Although it was a long time ago, I have good feelings there, and I am excited to return. It is a unique track, very demanding, and can be quite tricky.

I am looking forward to racing once again in Canada. Let’s see what we can achieve this weekend.

George Russell, Williams: I am really looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix as I hear that it is an amazing place. I enjoy driving new circuits, and it looks like a very fun and unique place to drive. Off the back of a few positives in Monaco, we are hoping to continue our momentum getting closer to the rest of the field.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull: Montréal is always a nice city to go to. The track is actually pretty challenging even though it looks like there are quite a lot of straights. The chicanes and how you ride the kerbs is important as it can compromise you a lot if you make a mistake. It’s all connected, left to right or right to left, if you make a mistake on one of them, then your whole sequence is destroyed. It’s a fun track, at least you can overtake if needed, and I always enjoy going there. I expect Ferrari to be more competitive in Canada, so for us, it may be a bit more difficult, but as always we will try and maximize the result.

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull: Canada is a great place and the fact people speak French there also makes life a bit easier for me! It’s a good track with a lot of history, and it usually produces some decent racing with its long straight. I’ve only been to Canada once before, so I don’t know much about Montréal, but I’m happy to be going back, and it’s a track that’s usually good for the Team. Max finished third there last year, and Daniel got his first win with the Team in Montréal, so it’s always been pretty successful for Red Bull. I think you always relate a track with your previous performance there and I was P11 in 2018, so it was ok, but this year I will be aiming for much better.

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso: I think we can look forward to the Canadian weekend in a positive frame of mind because of the way things have been going in recent weeks. As for the Montréal circuit, it’s a very fast track, obviously. Lots of straight line performance is needed there. Then, there are a few chicanes in the middle. They’re all change of direction kind of corners. The road surface is quite dirty there on Friday because the track is not used during the year, so you need to understand where the track goes during the weekend and how it evolves.

It’s a very classic event, and it’s an enjoyable track to drive. The long straights and the big braking zones mean the racing there has always been quite exciting, as you can fight with other cars and the DRS zones mean there is plenty of overtaking, which make it interesting for the spectators. With long straights and slow corners, you always need some kind of compromise with the car’s aero and mechanical setup, so you spend Friday trying to understand what works best for the car and where are the limitations to work on those.

Alex Albon, Toro Rosso: This will be my first time racing at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and based on the last couple of Grands Prix, I am hoping for a strong performance and more points. I’m excited to go to a new track, and it looks really cool. It seems like a true driver’s track, where you play with the walls, and every driver loves that.

I enjoyed learning the track on the simulator, and it looks very technical. In terms of setup, the compromise is a bit like Baku as you need the speed down the long straights, but the corners are slow and require plenty of downforce. It’s the sort of track for which I will need to do my homework. It is very bumpy, and there are lots of tricks you need to know to get a fast lap, making good use of the kerbs. I’m excited!

Nico Hülkenberg, Renault: I love the Canadian Grand Prix weekend. The circuit is great, the city is really cool, and the Canadian fans create a superb atmosphere. Montréal always embraces Formula 1 when it comes to town, and there’s a real buzz about the place. The circuit itself is a mix of a permanent track and a street course based on an island, which makes it unique. It has a nice flow to it: long straights, fast sweeping corners, hairpins, and big kerbs to ride.

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault: It’s good to go straight into Canada on the back of racing on a street circuit as we’re already quite dialed in. The circuit is usually a little dirty in the early running as it’s not used that often, but once it’s rubbered in, we’ll be up to speed. Canada will always be a memorable place for me, as it’s where I won my first Formula 1 race in 2014. We had to battle from sixth on the grid and were fortunate with some problems for other cars ahead of us, but nevertheless, winning for the first time was incredibly special and something I’ll never forget!

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: Canada is a race we drivers really look forward to. We race on an island right in Montréal, a fantastic place full of fans that ensure a unique atmosphere. Usually, the track starts off really slippery, and it takes quite a while to rubber in and provide a decent level of grip. The track is also known for being stop-and-go, with long straights and heavy braking points, split up by a few slow corners and some chicanes where you need to use the kerbs a lot.

The final part of the lap is usually the key: you have to brake perfectly at the big hairpin so that you get the best exit to have a lot of speed on the long straight that leads to the pit lane or the final chicane. This is where you can try and overtake. Last year, I started from pole and won the race, 40 years after Gilles Villeneuve won here. I will do my utmost to get a good result.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: The Canadian Grand Prix should be an opportunity to try and bring home a good result. We must do everything well to prepare the car right down to the last detail so that we can get the most out of it. Last week, I was in the simulator in Maranello to work on settings and on improving the car and myself for this round. I find this track very interesting because it includes various types of corners and a long straights where it should be possible to overtake. Last year, I managed to finish in the points and so this year, the aim is to do better.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo: The track in Montréal should suit us, but to be honest, so far this season, not a lot went according to plan. I hope we’ll get the tyres working and then we should be able to get the full potential out of the car.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo: I can’t wait to race in Montréal for the first time in my career. I’ve had two good weeks to charge my batteries, going to the Giro d’Italia and to the MotoGP in Mugello, and now I am pumped to get back in the cockpit. The circuit in Canada delivered plenty of interesting races in the past, and it’s a place with good overtaking opportunities, so I am looking forward to a fun day on Sunday. Hopefully, we can score the results we deserve.

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