F1 Preview: Canadian GP

Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll

Formula 1 Preview of the Canadian GP

Round seven and we’re headed for our first North American stop of the tour – Montreal, land of Villeneuves, angry groundhogs, and that thing they do with French fries, cheese curd and gravy.

No offense to Quebec natives, but the ingredients that make the Canadian Grand Prix one our favorite race destinations are a little more savory than those that go into poutine: deep racing heritage, a race-made city and oh yeah, high speeds, walls and heavy, heavy braking zones. What more could you ask for?

Well, since Jacques Villeneuve last lined up here for BMW-Sauber in 2006, locals have been begging for a home hero to root for and this year their wish has been granted in the shape of 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on being the latest Canuck to race at the Parc Jean Drapeau and to get his Montreal fine dining tips.

We’ve also got a bunch of random Montreal stats to satisfy your inner F1 geek, a sideways pictorial look back at Monaco and invaluable key insights from a local. Enjoy.

A Stroll in the Parc

This Sunday Lance Stroll will become the first Canadian to race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Parc Jean Drapeau since Jacques Villeneuve in 2006. What’s the Williams’ rookie expecting? A big challenge, a great atmosphere and beautiful girls…

How does it feel to be the first Canadian to race on home soil in F1 since Jacques Villeneuve in 2006?
Is it that long ago! Wow, that’s special. Yeah I’m very excited. I’m just happy to go home really. It’s going to be great to go to Montreal and see all my friends and family come out to support me. It’ll be fantastic to see all the fans, all those Canadian flags in the grandstands, it’s going to be a dream come true, I’m not going to lie

The first time you drive around the hairpin where all those fans are, what’s it going to feel like?
Well, I’m going to be focused on what I’m doing, concentrating on driving the car! But it will be special., Throughout the weekend there’s always a great atmosphere there so very excited to experience the whole thing as a driver.

Have you raced in Montreal before?
Never, it’ll be my first time. Since I was 12 years old I’ve done all my racing in Europe, so I haven’t competed in Canada since 2010 or 2011. Then it was Rotax, in karts or something like that, so this is going to be a bit different!

How often do you get back to the city?
A couple of times a year. It’s actually been more often this year. Usually it’s over Christmas time, a summer trip and maybe Easter if I’m lucky. I go back and forth so I still know my way around the city and I have a lot of friends there

When you’re there what do you like to do? Where are the best places to hang out?
It’s mostly home! I like to spend time with family there. But there are some really great restaurants in Montreal, the food is amazing, with a lot of different kinds of cuisine there. Milos [5357 Ave. du Parc] is a great place and Park [378 Avenue Victoria] is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, I know the chef really well, he’s a cool guy. The Old Town is cool, of course. Plus, the women in Montreal are beautiful! There’s a lot going on there, it’s a great city.

The Circuit Gilles Villenueve is a track with pretty specific demands – high speeds into really extreme braking zones – are you looking forward to the challenge?
It’s going to be an interesting track to drive. It looks like a lot of fun, plus our car has been strong there in previous years. It’s going to pretty special and I’m very excited about it.

Drivers always say there home race is special, but it also comes with a lot of pressure, a massive increase in demands on your time. Are you ready for that?
Yeah, it’s a good thing. I’m happy that it’s bringing interest to the Canadian Grand Prix. I’m happy that I’m the first Canadian driver in quite a long time; I think it will all be positive energy in the air

Everyone loves a good race stat, an obscure trivia bomb with which to stun even the most numerically obsessed F1 colleague. No problem, we’ve got you covered. Here are five random Montreal mesmerizes…

Ferrari's new helium-filled lightweight driver race suit was given a test run.

After a few months away, Jenson naturally recognized Felipe, but the two kids in the middle who’d stolen their hotel towels? Not a clue.

The grid girl was very disappointed: this wasn’t what she was expecting when told she’d be given a Tag Heuer.

A clearly emotional Kimi goes completely crazy celebrating his first pole position since 2008

Ever the optimist, and despite blazing sunshine, 13th on the grid Lewis Hamilton was still humming “here comes the rain again"

Where’s the best place to watch the Canadian Grand Prix from?
Toronto. It’s too damn noisy here. At least it used to be. I dunno what’s happened in the past few years but you can hear yourself think now, though the downside is you can’t hear the bastards coming.

Is that an issue?
Not as much as when my grandfather tried to cross the track in 2007. There he was, scouting for a new burrow and then… there he wasn’t. Next thing I see is some homicidal maniac called Anthony Davidson on TV looking a bit sick as a mechanic scraped what was left of grandpa off his front wing with a spatula. We’re fighting back though, this year we built ourselves a tank.

But it guaranteed your fame as F1’s chief wildlife menace?
Yeah, and look what’s happened since, all kinds of freaks trying to jump on the bandwagon, foxes, dogs, that damn seagull last year… hell, some kind fire breathing dragon tried to eat that kid Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Clear it up for us: are you a groundhog, a marmot, a woodchuck or a whistlepig?
One prefers the nomenclature Marmota monax, of the family Sciuridae. That’s Chuck Scuridae to you. Now, get off my land!

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