Do you have your pass? Check. McLaren team? Check. Okay, well, now turn off your phone and follow us through the glass doors to the Paddock Performance Centre. Grab a coffee on the way in and we’ll kick off our engineering briefing for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Cédric Michel-Grosjean is leading this weekend’s briefing and there’s a lot on the agenda.
After two rounds of street racing, we hit a slightly more traditional track at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Formula 1 cars have not raced on this semi-permanent, partially street track since 2019, so we have little data to begin with, making these practice sessions key. Given the importance of trust here, we’ll need your help to ensure drivers are as comfortable as possible.
Take notes if you need them, but keep them to yourself.
Engineer: Cedric Michel-Grosjean
Event: Canadian Grand Prix
Circuit: Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
There are many things to learn during practice at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, but what everyone is most concerned about is the state of the surface. We haven’t been here since 2019, so we don’t have a lot of data, and the cars are very different now than they were back then.
We will try to do a lot of laps in practice. We have a lot to understand, and it is useful for data collection in that respect, but the drivers haven’t been here for a while, and this is a circuit where confidence plays a big part in delivering lap time.
Of course, these questions really do need a dry session to be answered properly, and we’re not sure when or if we’ll have dry sessions this weekend. The weather pattern is constantly changing which makes planning very difficult, but we know there is bad weather.
What we can say is that investigating all of the following is compromised on a wet track: wet tires behave very differently, but also, the car travels slower: not as excitable over bumps and curbs; and the learning we would get is not that representative, but sometimes we just have to take what we can get!
1 | track surface
The main thing we need to find out is how rough the track is. We know there have been a lot of potholes in the past, and we don’t think there has been any major resurfacing since we were last here. So between two very cold winters and two very hot summers, it may have degraded even further, so we don’t really know where it will be.
It’s significant because, as everyone knows, bumps with this generation of cars are hard to deal with – we want to run as low and stiff as possible, especially in the rear, so the risk of porpoise is high, as was the case in Baku. In the past week. The problem is that bumps excite porpoise mode, and you take it into braking zones.
Aside from discomfort, this can alter drivers’ driving style and is not ideal for front and rear tire lockup.
2 | downforce
With only a few days since the last race, there are no significant new parts on the car. The demands of Montreal are different from those of Baku, so we will go back to the medium downforce rear wing that we used at the beginning of the season.
Obviously, in the last few races, we’ve seen the car at full downforce in Monaco and then low downforce in Baku. Montreal is somewhere in the middle – there is a lot of low speed and over that time this wing has evolved and perfected so it will require a bit of study during practice.
3 | tires
We use the same tire distribution that was provided in Baku and Monaco, and what we will want to study during practice is a high fuel pace, because this is a circuit where following is quite easy and it will be possible to overtake, but that does not make qualifying be irrelevant.
We’ll want to learn how to do a good lap out, without putting too much power on the rears, because we don’t want them to be stressed before the start of the lap, as this will create problems towards the end of the push lap. .
4 | Braking
The Gilles-Villenueve circuit is also famous for its harshness on the brakes. There is a large amount of support and three DRS zones. The latter are significant because, if the car is in a DRS train, it loses some airflow and also gets to each braking zone a bit quicker, increasing the power input to the brakes.
We need to have some leeway on the brakes to ensure they cool down properly, even in the toughest conditions. Figuring out how much margin we need is always an important element in the practice schedule at this track.
5 | curbs
The curbs here are also interesting. You have to ride the curbs through the chicanes, because cutting the corners buys lap time, and going around the corners wastes too much time and doesn’t prepare for the next straight. It’s tricky to judge how much curb to take, but the laps will help drivers get a feel for that.
The game, of course, is to run as stiff as you can, but too stiff and the car can react poorly to curbs, jump and have poor acceleration out of the corner and slow down on the next straight. Practice will help drivers figure out how they can cope.
Full briefing. It’s time for Lando and Daniel to hit the track so we can collect some data and put our hard work to the test.
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