After two successive grand prix tournaments in Europe, Formula One crosses the Atlantic for one of the most popular races of the calendar.
The Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the man-made island of Ile Notre Dame has traditionally produced exciting races and remains a favourite of the drivers.
“The circuit has a nice rhythm and it’s one of the best races we have all year,” reigning two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said.
“The atmosphere and fans are great, the whole city lives F1 for the whole week and that makes us feel very special.” The Red Bull driver goes into Sunday’s race top of the standings on 107 points after his second place in Monaco two weeks ago put him 21 points ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen in the standings.
Vettel has won two of the season’s six races but Red Bull, who have yet to take the chequered flag in Montreal, have not been dominating a season which has been strongly influenced by tyre strategies.
Tyre degradation is again expected to be a feature of Sunday’s race on a street circuit with high—speed characteristics and more opportunities for overtaking than Monaco.
Tyre supplier Pirelli has now said there will be no further changes to the compounds this season, but it is introducing a new experimental rear tyre in Canada for practice sessions on Friday.
They could be introduced at the British GP.
The race comes as international motorsport federation FIA sends the case of alleged illegal in-season tyre testing by Mercedes before its international tribunal.
The row over the three days of testing is the one real concern for Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s victory in Monaco and a better-than-expected start to the season, with four pole positions in the last four races.
Rosberg, who has started from the front of the grid for the last three of those, should be a contender again on one of his favourite circuits.
“Monaco was a fantastic weekend for the team and I’m so proud of the victory that we achieved there,” he said.
“We’ll be hoping to maintain that momentum in Canada this weekend and will be going all out for another strong performance.” While fast over a single lap, Mercedes have struggled with tyre wear over race distances, and the German acknowledges Montreal will be a challenge for the team.
“It’s a very difficult layout to drive because of the low down force levels required for the long straights and it will be tough on the tyres,” he said.
Team—mate Lewis Hamilton, who won the Canadian GP with McLaren last season, said: “There’s a really good feeling in the team at the moment following Nico’s win in Monaco and we’re continuing to work hard to make sure we have the potential for more victories this season.” Hamilton is fourth in the standings on 62 points, 16 behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who had a disappointing race in Monaco, finishing seventh, while team-mate Felipe Massa crashed out following suspension failure.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said the team regarded Monaco as “an isolated incident”. The cars will have a completely different set-up for Montreal.
The car “has proved to be strong with very good characteristics” in most races so far, Domenicali said.
“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,” he added.