Canadian Grand Prix

CanadianGP race report


2016 Canadian Grand Prix – race report

"A day to forget"

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Sunday June 12

After several races that have demonstrated steadily building momentum, this afternoon’s grand prix was a disappointing one for the whole McLaren-Honda team.

Fernando Alonso capitalised on the first-corner confusion to move swiftly up to eighth place, but he was soon overwhelmed by the faster cars behind him, who demoted him to 10th in short order. He switched from the Option tyre to the Back-Up tyre on lap 17, and took it to the end of the race – a commendable achievement. He ultimately finished 11th.

Jenson Button retired on lap nine while running in 11th position. The team is still investigating the cause of his retirement.


Started: 10th
Finished: 11th
Fastest Lap: 1m17.307s on lap 67 (+1.708s, 13th)
Pitstops: One: lap 17 (8.00s) [Option/Back-Up]

“A tough race – we didn’t have the pace to be competitive today.” 

“I enquired about the possibility of fitting fresh tyres for the last few laps, but I guess it was a little too much of a risk: at that point we were 11th and stood to score a point or two at the end if something were to have happened ahead of us.

“Still, I’d done more than 50 laps on those tyres – and the two-stoppers were a lot faster than me. I guess we were a bit unlucky – we really needed some rain or a Safety Car to put us back in the fight.

“Ultimately, I think our strategy was the right one – it was the quickest way home.

“Anyway, we’ll now work hard to try to improve the pace for the next race.”


Started: 12th
Finished: DNF
Fastest Lap: 1m19.456s on lap 5 (+3.857s, 21st)
Pitstops: - [started on Prime] 

“I radioed in to say I had a terminal problem, and I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a lot of smoke and sparks. I had no warning – the car just failed as I came out of the hairpin. The engine was still running, but I turned it off anyway.

“It’s a shame, since I was saving a lot of fuel at the time, and I had DRS on every lap too, so I could save even more fuel. That could have made a massive difference later in the race.

“It’s so often the way, though, isn’t it? You save a lot of fuel for later in the race, but it doesn’t last…”

ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“Bluntly, today was a day to forget.

“Having qualified adequately yesterday, both our drivers started this afternoon’s race well enough, and they both ran pretty solidly in the early stages.

“After just nine laps, however, Jenson was forced to retire his car, owing to a fault whose exact nature we’re still in the process of determining.

“Thereafter, Fernando did as well as he could, but, in the absence of the rain that we’d half-expected might come, he was unable to finish higher than 11th.

“Clearly, the fact that we’re therefore leaving Canada with no world championship points to add to our tally is disappointing. 

“However, one of the upsides of such setbacks is that, in Formula 1, there’s always another race just around the corner – in this case just a few days away in fact.

“Already, therefore, we’ve turned our attention to the challenge of a brand-new circuit, in Baku, where we hope to put up a better show than we did here in Montreal today.

“Finally, on behalf of all at McLaren-Honda, I want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those affected, and grieving, in the wake of the appalling atrocity that occurred in Orlando, Florida, in the early hours of this morning.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

“It was a disappointing result to miss out on points today, although Fernando had put in a strategic, very long stint on Back-Up tyres to mix up the race.

“The power-hungry nature of this circuit means that it was always going to be difficult for us to finish in the points unless there were more lucky opportunities on track. We’ll further push to improve our race pace performance going forward.

“At the moment, our ICE data on Jenson’s car isn’t showing any signs of issues, so his retirement cause is unknown. We’ll investigate this once the car is back in the garage.”


2016 Canadian Grand Prix preview


#14 Fernando Alonso

“Canada is a great circuit – very demanding and requires absolute concentration at all times. It goes from very slow-speed corners to high-speed corners really quickly, which means a lot of pressure is put on the brakes and power units. It’s a pretty tough circuit on the cars generally, so reliability will be the first thing we need to focus on, to make sure there are no gremlins or technical issues that could jeopardise our performance.

“Monaco was a positive result for us; to get both cars home in the points and to keep the chasing pack behind us was very satisfying, but we know there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re definitely making progress, but until we’re fighting at the front, we still need to keep pushing and constantly developing. Montreal is a completely different challenge to Monaco, so I hope we can quickly adapt our package to this circuit and maintain our recent form, but it will certainly be a tricky and unpredictable weekend.”


#22 Jenson Button

"Although this is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, and very power-hungry, one of the strengths of our chassis is stability under heavy braking, so we shouldn’t be fearful of going to a circuit like this and finding ourselves on the back foot. Our development rate is steep and there’s huge work going on behind the scenes to constantly improve the performance of our whole package, so I’m excited to see how we perform in Canada, given how different the circuit’s characteristics are compared to Monaco.

“It’s no secret that I absolutely love this circuit, and it’s the scene of one of my best race wins, in 2011 – definitely up there among my favourites. It’s a real racer’s circuit: tough on cars, tough on drivers, and usually produces stunning racing, whatever the weather. Leaving the final corner unscathed after passing the ‘Wall of Champions’ always feels like an achievement – let’s hope we can achieve that 70 times on Sunday!."



2015 winner Lewis Hamilton, 70 laps, 1:31:53.145s
2015 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m14.393s
2015 fastest lap Kimi Raikkonen, 1m16.987s (lap 42)
Name Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
First race 1978
Circuit length  4.361km/2.710 miles (only 4 circuits are shorter) 
Distance to Turn One 260m/0.162 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
Longest straight  1.16km/0.721 miles, on the approach to Turn 
Top speed 350km/h/217mph, on the approach to Turn 13 
Pitlane length 400m/0.249 miles, estimated time loss 22s 
Full throttle 67 per cent 
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 13
Key corner The Hairpin, Turn 10, a tight second-gear corner where entry and exit are equally important. The entry is a potential overtaking opportunity, but a clean exit is vital because the longest straight on the circuit follows, along which there is the second DRS zone 
Fastest corner  260km/h (162mph), Turn Five
Slowest corner 80km/h (50mph), Turn Two
Major changes for 2016 No major changes
Fuel consumption 1.8kg per lap, making it one of the highest of the season
ERS demands High
Brake wear High. There are seven significant braking events around the lap, all from high speed. This is one of the toughest circuits of the year for brakes
Gear changes 56 per lap/3920 per race



History lesson: 
The Canadian Grand Prix first became a round of the World Championship in 1967, when a 90-lap race was staged at Mosport, Ontario. It moved to its current location on the Ile Notre-Dame, Montreal, in ’78 – a race that was won by Quebecois Gilles Villeneuve. The track was re-named the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1982, following the death of the Ferrari star at Zolder.

What makes the track unique: 
It’s the first high-speed challenge of the 2016 campaign. The cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) on four occasions around the lap, placing an emphasis on braking, traction and top speed.

Grip levels: 
Poor. The combination of old, low-grip asphalt and low aerodynamic downforce levels make the cars more skittish than at most other tracks.

Minimal. The walls are close and they cannot be moved back due to the proximity of the St Lawrence river on one side and a lake on the other. The wall on the outside of the final chicane has been coined ‘The Wall of Champions’ because five world champions have hit it over the years, those drivers being Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. 

Watch out for…: 
Turns One and Two. They are two of the slowest corners on the track, and it’s rare that the cars pass through this section unscathed on the opening lap of the race. The approach to Turn One is also the first DRS zone, so a lot of overtaking manoeuvres are attempted under braking.


Start time 14:00hrs local/19:00hrs BST
Race distance 70 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/52 laps)
Safety Car likelihood 80 per cent. Limited run-off increases the probability of an accident and damaged cars cannot be moved easily out of the way. As a result, 12 of the last 17 Canadian GPs have been Safety Car-affected. It’s worth noting that the Canadian Grand Prix is the spiritual home of the Safety Car because it was at Mosport in 1973 that the Safety Car was first deployed in F1
When to press record The closing laps of the race. Fuel consumption is tight for every team and brake wear can become a factor if brake cooling has been miscalculated. As a result, teams cannot relax until the chequered flag
Don’t put the kettle on The top three drivers pitted only once last year. If that proves to be the case again this year, expect the stops to be made on or around lap 25. However, Pirelli is taking its Ultrasoft tyre compound to the race for the first time and this could spice up race strategies
Weather conditions now   22 degrees and sunny
Race forecast 20 degrees
Tyre choices Ultrasoft/Supersoft/Soft, the same as were used in Monaco at the last race



First Canadian Grand Prix: 

There’s no official slogan for the Canadian Grand Prix, but the words written in white paint on the start-finish line are enough to arrest the eyes of all F1 fans: “Salut Gilles”.

Canada's F1 heritage 
The race was inspired by Quebecois Gilles Villeneuve, who made his F1 debut for McLaren in 1977. He won the inaugural race at the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame in 1978, since when the track has featured on the F1 calendar every year, except in 1987 and 2009. World champions have a good record at the circuit, with 26 of the 36 races won by members of that select group. Michael Schumacher has the best record of all, having taken seven victories in Montreal.

Smallest winning margin  
0.174s, in 2000. The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello crossed the line side-by-side after a sensor problem slowed Schumacher in the closing laps and Barrichello was asked to hold station in second place. 

Sporting legacy
The inaugural grand prix on the Ile Notre-Dame took place two years after the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. Forty years on, evidence of the Games is omnipresent: the rowing lake lies adjacent to the F1 paddock and one of the stadia erected for the Games is used as a car park for the race. Motorsport is well served in the area, with the circuit of Mont Tremblant, which hosted the Canadian GP in 1968 and ’70, just 120km/80 miles from Montreal.

Did you know? 
The Ile Notre Dame is a man-made island, built from stone excavated during the construction of the Montreal metro system.

Don’t forget 
McLaren has enjoyed great success in Canada, having won the Canadian Grand Prix 13 times. The team’s most recent victory was in 2011, when Jenson Button won a rain-delayed race that took 4hrs4m to complete.  

Fan zone
Leigh, aged 38, from Montreal, asks: “Why is brake wear such an issue for all the teams at this race?”
McLaren’s answer: “There are seven big braking events, from high speed to low speed, and the job of the engineers is to maximise brake performance, while trying not to compromise other areas of the car. It’s a delicate balance between cooling and aerodynamic performance, and it’s not easy to get right.”


#14 Fernando Alonso

“I really like spending time in Canada and going back out to North America. Although it falls within the ‘European’ season, the atmosphere does feel quite European – the people are friendly, the food is great and it’s a melting pot of different cultures. 

“There’s really strong competition emerging at the front of the grid, as teams are getting stronger and pushing their development. It’s a really tight pack in the midfield, and a different team seems to have the advantage at each circuit, so it’ll be a tough battle against our nearest rivals both in qualifying and the race. The teams need to work hard to set up the cars to meet the demands of the circuit, and a lot can happen during the course of the grand prix, so let’s see what we can do.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Canada is definitely considered a classic on the F1 calendar. It’s a fantastic city and I love going there every year. The whole city offers an incredible welcome and the buzz is like no other place – the atmosphere is definitely unique to Montreal. It’s always a mightily unpredictable race – the weather conditions, the high walls, the narrow track, the slippery surfaces – it really sorts the men from the boys.

“Although Monaco is an adopted home for me, the race weekend there is always a massive whirlwind, so heading to Canada will be a completely different feeling, and I’m looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere there. We had good reliability in Monaco, and both Fernando and I managed to keep it on the black stuff in some pretty crazy conditions, so I’m hoping the weather will throw up a few surprises and we can get stuck in on track.”


Eric Boullier
McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“Monaco for us was a bag of mixed fortunes. A double-points finish was an encouraging boost for the team and a reward in some way for all the hard work going on behind the scenes in Woking, Milton Keynes and Sakura – but it’s no secret that until we are back at the front, we cannot be satisfied. We had anticipated a stronger performance on the twisty, slower-speed, tricky streets of Monaco, but nevertheless we’ve learned a lot about our car and cannot be too unhappy given the incredibly difficult conditions on race day, which our two world champions coped with so well.

“And now we turn our attention to Montreal, scene of 13 victories for McLaren, and some very memorable races. Like Monaco, it’s a gem of an event and holds a justifiable reputation for creating great racing on its formidable asphalt. That’s where the similarities end, as its demands present a unique set of challenges for our engineers, mechanics and ultimately, drivers.

“On paper, this power-hungry, demanding circuit is not among those that would play to the strengths of our car, but such is our rate of development that we are aiming to continue the momentum we’ve built over the last couple of races, and firmly push for more valuable points. It won’t be easy, and reliability will be key, first and foremost, but our objective is to put on the best show we can for the incredibly enthusiastic Quebecois fans, and put our package to the test at the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"The Canadian Grand Prix is always exciting, with its great atmosphere, enthusiastic fans and unpredictable racing. Honda Canada has been a big supporter of this event for a very long time, so we always feel at home there.

“The lush greens and the blue waters around the circuit are beautiful, yet the track there is unforgiving, with its power-oriented nature, stop and start corners, abrasive surface and long straights.

“It’s a very different animal to Monaco, so it will be a challenging weekend for the team, but we will keep our heads down and focus on what we can do to bring out the best in our package."


Canadian GP race map


2016 Canadian Grand Prix

The contrast between the grands prix of Monaco and Canada really shows the versatility of Formula 1, with the relatively low speeds of Monaco followed by the ultra-quick, heavy-braking layout of Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Built on a man-made island in the St Lawrence River, the circuit is, in essence, a sequence of straights linked by tight chicanes and a hairpin. Downforce is cut back to medium-low levels for the first time in the season to propel cars to top speeds in excess of 330km/h (205mph). Canada offers the season’s sternest test of brake performance with continuous heavy stops around the lap and not much time in between to cool the pads and discs. Traction is also a concern, with drivers keen to get the power down early coming out of the slow turns. The chicanes also demand a delicate hand with suspension settings: soft enough to ride the kerbs but without compromising the swift change of direction required to dive through the chicanes. It’s one of those things drivers and engineers need to fine tune during practice – so everyone looks for a dry weekend.

Montreal often has other ideas, and rain is at least as common as blazing sunshine. Neither eventuality seems to affect the crowd, however, which always fills the grandstand and makes the Canadian Grand Prix one of the most enjoyable at which to work.

Fernando took victory here in 2006, while Jenson won for McLaren in 2011, one of our 13 Canadian Grand Prix wins. With the greatest of respect to the stellar list of names that have gone before, it’s difficult to imagine a finer victory that Jenson’s, completed in atrocious weather conditions, involving a red flag and a record six safety cars. Jenson, who received a drive through penalty and made five pit stops, was running last well into the second half of the race. He took the lead coming into the final sector of the final lap. It simply doesn’t get more dramatic than that.



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