After the excitement of Monaco, the F1 circus crosses the pond again to Canada this week for the Grand Prix Du Canada. The tyre testing debate rages on with the FIA investigating Mercedes and Ferrari for their in-season tests, but the next race is more likely to be affected by weather than anything else.
F1 fans will remember the longest F1 race in history was at the Circuit Giles Villenueve in Montreal in 2011. Torrential downpours flooded the circuit causing long stoppages, before Jenson Button went on the sneak past Vettel to take a memorable win. According to Jenson, the win was more down to his father John’s tight budgetary control of his early karting years – in that Jenson knew how to drive on a slippery circuit on shot tyres because John was too tight to buy him new tyres every race. John, of course, says that was a deliberate strategy to make Jenson a better driver and the Montreal win would suggest he was right.
The weather forecast for 2013’s race is not great. Wind, rain and cold temperatures for practice and qualifying and then high temperatures for the race mean that the engineers will have to strike a balance between qualifying set up and race set up. Usually that results in an interesting race with the fastest qualifiers not necessarily being the fastest on race day. In Monaco, Rosberg was quickest on Saturday and quick enough on Sunday to lead every lap – luckily the rest of the field entertained us with some superb overtakes (and crashes).
This Sunday we will see cars that qualified on cold tarmac racing on hot tarmac as the temperatures increase over the weekend. One of the key issues that that teams are finding this year is the different handling characteristics depending on tyre temperature. F1 is unique in that the car do not work when driven at anything less than 99.9%. If a driver coasts along, his tyre temp drops which reduces mechanical grip and the car’s ride height changes, which reduces/changes aerodynamic grip and thus drivers have to push on to make sure the car behaves. Often this means taking risks with a car that isnt quite up to temperature and in Canada that may very well end up with a visit to the Wall of Champions.
The Wall of Champions at the Circuit Giles Villeneuve is well known to F1 drivers. It is so called due to the number of high profile drivers who have crashed there – often whilst leading the race. The ongoing tyre issues, combined with the changing conditions may well see more champions brushing the wall this weekend. The race is live on BBC and Sky at 7pm on Sunday – and I will be watching eagerly to see how this year’s championship continues to develop.