Nico Rosberg at Istanbul Park last weekend. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas
Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher recognized the need for more straightline speed if they are to compete successfully with McLaren and Red Bull at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Montreal circuit is 4.361 kms long and features a variety of long straights and low speed coners which can be difficult to negotiate with cars typically set up with lower downforce to allow for high speed. The twitchy nature of the cars in those slower corners make it challenging for the drivers and if it rains the issue is exacerbated.
Nico Rosberg expressed ethusiasm for being back in Canada again and the team's need for speed on the technically demanding circuit. "Montreal is a great race venue and I always like to get there a few
days early to get used to the time difference and have the chance to relax. The city really comes alive for the Grand Prix weekend and the atmosphere is fantastic so I'm pleased that we're heading back there
again this season.
(Nico Rosberg, a keen footballer and fan, gets to meet German defender, Peer Mertsacker, as the team prepare for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas)
The circuit is technically challenging and fun to drive with the very long straight combined with short and slow corners. Our Mercedes-Benz engine will certainly be a big help on the main straight. We will have some further upgrades for the race weekend and the fact that the circuit characteristics are quite different from Istanbul Park makes me go there with high hopes. I think we might just put in a great result."
It will be interesting to see what those further upgrades will be. Neither Ross Brawn or Schumacher indicated that they were running any changes, perhaps they are specific to Rosberg's car?
Schumacher was equally enthusiastic about the Canadian Grand Prix. It's a circuit he is familiar with despite his three year absence from the sport, so he will not be too disadvantaged getting back to up to speed. "Canada is definitely one of the places on the Formula One calendar which everyone is keen to visit, myself included of course. I have always had nice weekends in Montreal and enjoyed flying over to North America. I will combine this trip with some days off and I am sure that once I enter the paddock, I will very much be looking forward to starting the race weekend. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is all about
top speed so we have worked very hard on this, especially as we know that we are not right at the top in that area. However I am convinced that we will be able to get the best out of our package."
(Michael Schumacher in the pits during last weekend's Turkish Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas.)
Ross Brawn: "We are not yet quick enough"
Team Principal Ross Brawn was full of praise for their results in Turkey which were collectively their best effort of the season. They benefited from the Red Bull crisis and the out of form Ferrari team who struggled last weekend in qualifying and the race. However, it's obvious that to compete at the front with McLaren and Red Bull, Mercedes needs to extract more speed from its chassis and they don't have that just yet.
"Looking back at our last race in Turkey, the team and drivers performed well throughout the weekend to achieve our highest points score of the season however we are simply not yet quick enough." admitted Brawn. "We know the solution, the continuation of our hard work and application, and we will keep pushing until we are back to competing right at the front of the field."
Certainly the team took a step in the right direction last weekend, but given the gaps between them and Red Bull at the end of the race, there is as Brawn suggested, a lot of work to do. You can't finish half a minute behind the front runners and be entirely satisfied. Rosberg was possibly faster than Schumacher last weekend, but Renault's Robert Kubica also complained that he was faster than both Mercedes cars, but couldn't overtake. That indicates that there is improvement across the field and Renault could be another immediate threat ahead of Ferrari.
It will be interesting to see how the week progresses as the teams fly in to Canada and prepare for Friday's free practice.
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