Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expects the characteristics of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve layout will work to Ferrari’s favor at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Ferrari has enjoyed an advantage over Mercedes in terms of straight-line speed so far this season, but is yet to convert that into a race win. However, with Montreal featuring a number of long full throttle sections and requiring low downforce, Wolff believes the track will suit Ferrari’s car and provide Mercedes with a serious challenge.
“To a large extent, the challenges of Montreal are opposite to those of Monaco,” Wolff said. “The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a high-speed track with relatively long straights and lots of overtaking possibilities. Similar to Monaco, however, are the concrete walls that punish any mistakes heavily and a tight qualifying session around this relatively short lap.
“Canada is the seventh race of the season and we are beginning to see more clearly the strengths and weaknesses of our car. In the past six races, we were very strong in the corners but lost time on the straights. This will make Canada a huge challenge for us, as the track characteristics could favor our opponents – there are many long straights, and fewer corners in which to make up lap time.
“But we’re looking forward to the challenge; we’ve seen some great races in Canada in recent years and expect another action-packed weekend in Montreal.”
Mercedes arrives in Montreal off the back of a weekend where Lewis Hamilton won a tense race in Monaco that was overshadowed by the loss of Niki Lauda, and Wolff admits it has been a tough period for all involved.
“Monaco was not an easy weekend for the team,” he said. “On the one hand, winning in Monte Carlo is one of the best things a Formula 1 team can experience – especially if it is such a tight race with a nail-biting finish. On the other hand, the loss of Niki hit us hard. But we think he would have been proud of the performance we delivered in the circumstances.”