2017 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix preview

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Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, home of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, home of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix

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The 2017 Formula One World Championship arrives in North America for the Canadian Grand Prix on this weekend. It’s the 50th anniversary for the event which once again is being held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The 2.71-mile semi-permanent circuit is situated on the man-made Ile Notre Dame in the St Lawrence river and is known for its combination of high-speed straights and low-speed corners. Such a combination means a serious workout for brakes.

Drivers spend 60 percent of a lap at full throttle, before hammering the anchors into the several heavy braking zones. Teams are also running their cars in low-drag guise, so there’s less aerodynamic drag to help with slowing down.

Drivers experienced an average deceleration of 4.3 g in 2016’s race. But with the introduction of extra downforce and wider tires in 2017, we can expect to see average decelerations of over 5 g! The cars also average speeds in excess of 130 mph, so the race is quite the challenge for car and driver alike.

There is also changeable weather to contend with, although at present the outlook for the weekend is looking good. To deal with the changeable weather and relatively slippery surface of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Pirelli has nominated its three softest compounds for the Canadian Grand Prix: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft.

Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel leads the 2017 Drivers’ Championship with 129 points. Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton remains in second with 104 points and fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is third with 75 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari leads with 196 points versus the 179 of Mercedes and 97 of Red Bull Racing. Last year’s winner in Canada was Hamilton.

There was a bit of drama at Thursday’s press conference when McLaren’s Fernando Alonso suggested he might choose to quit the struggling team unless it manages to win a race before September when he decides on whether to renew his contract. McLaren hasn’t won a race in five years and is at the bottom of the team standings. Alonso's comments follow quotes in the media from McLaren boss Zak Brown suggesting strained relations with power unit supplier Honda.

 
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