F1 Power Rankings: Canadian Grand Prix

After six races, we’ve seen six different race winners and six different drivers set the fastest lap of the race. It looks like removing downforce through the exhaust-blown diffuser ban has levelled the playing field as parity is at an all-time high. With any one of a number of drivers capable of winning any given Sunday, it’s hard to figure out who are the best drivers in F1 right now. I suppose that’s why this week’s F1 Power Ranking has so much change in it.

#1 Fernando Alonso (Last Race #4)
Fernando thinks unpredictability hurts F1. After all, who wants to see a race break out when we’d much rather see one fast team lead a parade: “It’s a fantastic season, it’s so unpredictable. I think people stand in front of the TV with some surprises every race and it’s good for the audience, it’s good for the sport to bring attention to the races. On the other hand we can lose credibility. We cannot lose that the best teams, the best drivers, the best strategies or whatever, they win the races. Because at the moment from the outside it seems that in every race [anyone] can win and it doesn’t matter the talent, it doesn’t matter the team, the performance – it’s like a lottery.”

#2 Sebastian Vettel (LR #1)
The twice-defending champion wants to talk about tyre and brake wear not last year’s brain fade: “The track is on an island in the St. Lawrence river, and is a great challenge for the drivers. Like the track in Albert Park in Australia, the roads are public, so tyre wear can be high. There’s also a lot of wear on brakes, which can cause us a headache. Last year the race dragged on due to the heavy rain – but it’s a good place to go racing.”

#3 Mark Webber (LR #5)
@AussieGrit like the unpredictability of the Canadian GP. Take that, Alonso: “It’s a really, really good venue and always provides an interesting grand prix there for whatever reason, and last year was no exception. It’s a low downforce track with long straights and high top speed, which is a different challenge. We’ll see how that unfolds, but we’re very confident the car should work well round there. I love driving the circuit; it’s a good one to get our teeth into, a little bit like a street circuit, so I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

#4 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #2)
The 2007 World Drivers’ Champion talks about the challenges of running the Canadian GP: “It’s an interesting place. Qualifying is important, but not essential to get a good result as there are a few places to overtake. To do well in Canada the car needs to be good under braking because it’s very tough on brakes at this circuit. You also make use of the kerbs and our car has been pretty good in this area. It’s also a circuit with different track surfaces and sometimes the surface itself can change over the course of the race weekend. This is interesting as it means different grip levels, so another challenge there.”

#5 Nico Rosberg (LR #8)
Keke’s kid thinks that his car suits the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve quite well: “The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is a great track, and I’m really looking forward to our visit there. With its low downforce and slow corners, a little bit like Monza, the track should suit our car. We’ve made good progress over the past few weeks, and that was clear from the performance in Monaco. So I’m hopeful that we can make another step forward in Canada and have a successful weekend.”

#6 Romain Grosjean (LR #6)
Grosjean talks about getting up to speed on tracks he’s never seen before: “Over the last few years I seem to have always been learning new circuits so I guess I must have a pretty good approach to it! This season it helps that the E20 is such a forgiving car and we have a very good baseline setup which means we can quickly look at refining it and finding more pace rather than trying to compensate for any chassis imbalance or difficult handling characteristics from the car. I work very closely with the team and my engineers to understand all the requirements of a new circuit, and there are always aspects of one track which can be likened to another.”

#7 Lewis Hamilton (LR #3)
Louise Hamilton notes that there’s only one DRS zone this year. After the debacle of two DRS zones with one detection point last year, the decision makes sense: “You still want a car with decent low-speed traction – all those long drags are usually preceded by tight hairpins, so it’s important that you can get the power down efficiently if you’re to pull a good laptime together. With KERS Hybrid and DRS in the mix, it should be an exciting grand prix – although, interestingly, we’re reverting to a shorter, single-DRS zone after the double-zone last year.”

#8 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #16)
If Hulkenberg thinks that being close to the walls means it’s easy to make a mistake, I’d hate to have seen him run the old Indy road course: “It’s one of my favourites and I love Montreal as a city. There’s a good atmosphere because the whole place gets behind the race and the city is always full of fans. It’s quite an unusual circuit being a mix between a permanent track and a street circuit, so there are lots of corners where the walls are very close. It’s easy to make a mistake because you have to use the kerbs and get close to the walls to get a good lap. It’s two years since I raced there, but I was able to do Friday practice last year.”

#9 Paul di Resta (LR #13)
Dario’s cousin thinks that Force India is as good as the rest of the middle four teams. He’s right for now: “I think we’ve demonstrated that we can carry on where we left off last year and fight for points everywhere. The teams around us are all strong, but we’ve shown that we are consistent and can take on teams like Lotus, Williams and Sauber, who are all looking competitive. In terms of points scored we are well ahead of where we were this time last year we take a lot of positives from that. I believe we can keep picking up points and be even stronger in the second half of the year.”

#10 Michael Schumacher (LR #11)
Old seven-time is looking forward to this weekend. If only he can actually finish a race this year: “The Canadian Grand Prix is all about the great atmosphere at the track and in the city. The Canadian fans make the whole weekend into a real celebration and, for us drivers, it’s great to feel their passion for motorsport. That gives us a natural boost and it would be great to give them even more reasons to celebrate at the end of the weekend… As I said: a trip to Montreal is always worth it. And let’s hope we can make our trip this year especially worthwhile.”

#11 Jenson Button (LR #9)
Jenson’s focus for this weekend is his qualifying pace. Easy track to pass on and he wants to worry about qualifying. Seems a little backwards: “This weekend, though, it’s going to be important to get a handle on the car in qualifying. At the last two races, Q2 hasn’t gone my way, so, no matter what pace you have in the race, you’re still compromised on Sunday afternoon, particularly as the pack is so tightly bunched at the moment. My aim for the weekend will be to have a stronger qualifying performance and to be able to build on that in the race.”

#12 Felipe Massa (LR #15)
Old Phil Massa is planning to use his Monaco setup as a baseline setup for the rest of the season: “The set-up required for Monaco is very different to that at other tracks and, even if the street circuit is unique, we can at least follow the direction we took there and make it work at other tracks. It might not be a normal situation, but maybe it is the best direction to go in to make the F2012 work for me.”

#13 Bruno Senna (LR #10)
I like when drivers call the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve challenging. It’s a nice contrast to the Tilke-dromes: “Canada is one of the most challenging tracks of the season. It is a combination of a street circuit and a normal fixed circuit with a mixture of very fast, long straights and tight slow corners with heavy braking. It is also important to have as much track time as possible before the weekend to learn the track surface because it can evolve quickly. Our car is looking competitive at this stage of the season so hopefully we can show good pace here.”

#14 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #12)
Kobayashi Maru thinks that the key to his performance will be getting heat in the tyres: “Last year I was second on the grid for the re-start after the red flag for the wet conditions, but then we suffered with tyre warm up problems and I am sure we have definitely improved on that with this year’s car. We shall have to see what we can do, but I think Montreal is one of the places where we can be strong. In case it is cold there, a key will be how the tyres work.”

#15 Pastor Maldonado (LR #7)
Pastor said roughly the same thing as his teammate: “We have been working very hard to improve the performance of the car and I can feel it getting better all the time. I am therefore hoping for a strong finish in Canada, a circuit which I really enjoy. It has a nice combination of corners with very high speed straights followed by slow speed chicanes, and the feeling of speed is increased by the closeness of the walls. There is a big DRS effect on the straights as well so we should see some overtaking this week.”

#16 Sergio Perez (LR #14)
Checo Perez is actually going to be making his Canadian GP debut this year after missing last year’s: “It will be my first Canadian Grand Prix, as last year I only did a few laps in the first free practice before I realised I did not feel well enough to drive. I felt very dizzy in the car which was a consequence of last year’s Monaco accident. I think at times in recent races we have been very unlucky, but the pace is there as my lap times during the Monaco race clearly proved. I’m looking forward to doing a good job in Canada and scoring as many points as possible.”

#17 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #17)
Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembry talks about the importance of tyres on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: “Tyres have traditionally played a very important role in this race, especially if it rains. We saw how being on the right tyre at the right time enabled Jenson Button to win the Canadian Grand Prix last year even after six visits to the pit lane. That race was far from typical though, so we’ve not yet had experience of running the supersoft in Canada under normal conditions… We think we will see several different strategies at work, with teams likely to split their strategies in order to cover every possibility.”

#18 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #18)
It’s not been a very good season for Daniel Ricciardo and Toro Rosso. The eighth place they scored in the 2011 championship didn’t reflect the speed the STR6 had at season’s end. Now 8th would be good for STR. They haven’t had the pace since Australia where the team would have had both cars in the points if not for bad luck. Since Malaysia, they haven’t looked like a threat for points. They need a classic “anything can happen” Canadian GP moment to give them some momentum for the return to Europe.

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)
Heikki wanted to talk about the crowd and city so I figure that’s a good quote to run with: “Apart from being a great race Montreal is also a really good city as well. All the teams like going there as the fans are passionate, the stands are always full on track and the city itself turns into a party town while we’re there. The Canadian people are brilliant and there’s a special atmosphere all over Montreal, which we only get at a few races we go to so it’s one of the weekends everyone’s up for.”

#20 Vitaly Petrov (LR #20)
Petrov talks about the weather for the race which can get pretty wet and wild: “The other thing is the weather. Last year it obviously got so bad we had to stop the race and while that’s not good for the fans it’s much safer for the drivers. Hopefully we won’t have quite so much rain again this year, but if it does we’ll deal with it. I like racing in the wet, it gives us more of a chance to fight a few cars ahead and it’s an even better feeling in the car when you get it right in the wet.”

#21 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Tim O’Glock’s advice for the weekend is to expect the unexpected. He means that in terms of the race, not the protestors: “I’m really looking forward to this race as it’s the scene of my first Grand Prix, where I scored two points. Every time since, Canada has been very good to me. It’s another quite special track. Once again it is a street circuit, although maybe not in the same way as Monaco. There are a lot of straights here, so you need a compromise between low downforce and high downforce. It’s also a place where you never know what might happen.”

#22 Charles Pic (LR #22)
Chuckie’s goal for the weekend is to be on the pace of his teammate. Well, no one likes losing to their teammate so that’s entirely fair: “I’m very excited about my first experience of racing in F1 in Canada next weekend. It’s a great circuit and another new and different challenge. My first objective is to learn the track quickly. This is a circuit Timo knows well, so this will be a good benchmark for me. The potential is certainly in the car. With regard to performance, I am quite happy about the last three races, but unfortunately we didn’t finish them because of some car-stopping problems. We need to put that behind us and look forward to Canada in a positive way.”

#23 Pedro de la Rosa (LR #23)
Did you know Pedro de la Rosa has scored one point in six races in Canada: “I really like the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve because I’ve always done well there. The races are very open, with a lot of overtaking opportunities, such as the first corner and the last chicane… You can be competitive with good top speed, braking and grip and it’s important to set the car up in a similar fashion to Monaco to get it coming out quickly from turns. We’re bringing a new low-downforce rear wing, specially designed for Canada, and intending on continuing with the progress shown in Monaco.”

#24 Narain Karthikeyan (LR #24)
Karthikeyan had some token things to say about needing weather and luck to bail him out of last place: “Canada is a unique feature on the calendar, a mix of street circuit with no runoffs like Monaco along with purpose-built bits. I really like the track and I was 14th at the finish of the crazy race last year before getting a penalty. The weather usually throws up something in Montreal, so there may be an opportunity for us.”

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