Fair warning to those planning to watch this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix: If you're going to catch some shut-eye before the race, you'll have to peel yourself off the bed by 2am, Philippine time, on Monday. At least there's a good chance the effort will be worth it.
The semi-street Circuit Gilles Villeneuve may have a simple layout of mostly long straights linked by chicanes, but waiting to claim overly adventurous drivers are gravel traps and concrete walls, including the infamous Wall of Champions. If the races here the past few years are any indication, you won't really need a caffeine fix on Monday morning--watching the on-track action should be enough to give you an all-day buzz.
1. That said, if you have anything important lined up first thing in the morning, pray there's no repeat of 2011's rained-in event--the longest race in F1 history at 4hr 4min 39.537sec long. It also holds the record for the most Safety Car appearances with six outings for the SLS AMG.
The cars were parked on the grid for more than half of that race, and with the drivers disappearing to find shelter from the storm, the camera feed had nothing to show but random birds and streams of rainwater. When the weather finally permitted a restart, however, those who patiently stayed up were rewarded with the sight of Jenson Button chasing down race leader Sebastian Vettel--and passing him on the last lap. That's Montreal madness for you.
2. Two DRS zones, with a single detection point just before the Turn 10 hairpin, make this venue an overtaking-friendly track. The first DRS activation point is located just prior to Turn 12 (the second almost-negligible kink after the hairpin), and the second is at the beginning of the main straight, immediately past the Turns 13/14 chicane. This means drivers must nail that final chicane if they want to get the best possible track position or to avoid sailing into the Wall of Champions.
3. For 2015, power-unit suppliers may carry out certain upgrades to their turbo V6 hybrid systems by spending "engine development tokens." Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault were each given 32 tokens at the start of the year; by the Australian GP, they had 10, seven and 12 tokens left, respectively. Honda, as a latecomer, was given nine tokens from that point.
On the lead-up to Canada, it was reported that Ferrari and Honda had used up tokens from their remaining balance. The Japanese supplier expended two tokens to improve reliability and efficiency. The Italian outfit consumed three tokens, but the nature of its upgrades is not known as of this writing. Given the high-power, low-drag nature of this circuit, the logical guess is the Scuderia will naturally be chasing some horsepower gains.
4. That said, outright power isn't the only crucial consideration here. Braking is a big piece of the puzzle, because on four occasions, the cars hit upward of 300kph just before a heavy braking zone. Last year, Mercedes missed out on a one-two finish when the MGU-K of both cars failed. The loss of engine braking via the MGU-K caused additional strain on the brakes, putting Lewis Hamilton out of the race and relegating Nico Rosberg to P2.
5. Merc's 2014 woes provided the opening for Daniel Ricciardo to take his maiden F1 win, but Hamilton remains the bossman of this territory, even if his record is hit or miss. Out of seven appearances, he has started from the front row six times, won thrice, and DNF'd thrice; the only time he didn't win or retire, he finished third.
"I just want to get back out there and bounce back--and I could hardly ask for a better place to do that than Montreal," the world champion said, referring to his disastrous Monaco GP. "This is always one of my favorite weekends. The racing is fantastic, the city is a lot of fun, and the crowds are really enthusiastic. I haven't always had the best of luck in Canada--but I've never finished off the podium there, either, and it's given me some great memories, including my first win."
At a glance: Canadian Grand Prix
Circuit: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Lap distance: 4.361km
Number of laps: 70
Dry-tire allocation: soft (prime), supersoft (option)
Qualifying: June 7 (Sunday), 1am
Race: June 8 (Monday), 2am
*Schedules are in Philippine time