The McLaren-Mercedes team arrive in Montreal on the back of scoring their first points in four races last time out in Monaco. The Woking team have disappointed more often than not in 2014, but are hopeful Monaco was the turning point of their season and they can get back to fighting for regular points and podium places with both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.
Button is a past winner of the Canadian Grand Prix, taking an epic victory back in 2011 when he overtook long time leader Sebastian Vettel on the final lap. He enjoys coming to race in Canada, and feels a little more positive after getting back into the points in Monaco two weeks ago.
“I really enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix – it’s one of those races where everything just feels right,” said Button. “The city is fantastic, the fans are friendly, loyal to the sport and incredibly supportive, the track is intense, and the racing is usually pretty hectic. It’s a place that simply produces great Formula 1.
“It was a positive for the whole team to put some points back on the board at Monaco after a difficult few races; we’re obviously still far away from where we want to be, but it’s important that we maintain our aim of continuous development throughout the whole season. Although we’re still a long way from the leaders, we’ve matched the general rate of development since the start of the season, which is a positive.
“In Canada, the weather can always play a key role – the forecast currently looks good, but you never know when you pull back the curtains in the morning whether you’re going to be faced with blue skies, or grey clouds and pelting rain. We’ll probably get a bit of both next week.”
Team-mate Magnussen is making his first visit to Montreal, a track where his father Jan made his final Grand Prix start for Stewart Grand Prix in 1998 and finished sixth. He had his strongest race since Australia last time out in Monaco, and had it not been for a clash with Kimi Raikkonen, was on for a decent haul of points.
“The Canadian Grand Prix is one of those races I’m really looking forward to: I’ve always watched it on TV, and it’s always looked like one of the very best, most enjoyable, and most dramatic events of the season,” said Magnussen. “The track looks like a lot of fun; it’s got a good blend of corners, and it’s the kind of place where you want the car nicely hooked up and beneath you because, apart from the back straight, it’s pretty much always changing direction. So it’s a bit like Monaco in that respect, but a lot faster.
“It would be nice to have a straightforward weekend after a couple of disappointing technical problems. Things didn’t quite go my way in Spain or Monaco – through no fault of my own – so I just want to get my head down, work with my engineers and work on delivering a good result, with no mishaps.
“I think it’ll actually be interesting to see what we can achieve without encountering a problem that sets us back.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier admits he is unsure where the team are compared to their rivals, with a strong showing in Monaco usually unrepresentative to the rest of the season due to the unique layout of the track, and although Canada is very different to Monte Carlo, he feels the same way about the Montreal track.
“In recent years, the Canadian Grand Prix has really developed into one of Formula 1’s showpiece events,” said Boullier. “The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the purest racetracks on the calendar, and one that invariably produces an unusual and unexpected result.
“Overall, it’s still difficult to gauge exactly where we are: both Monaco and Canada are very particular types of circuit, and don’t really offer a true reflection of our current state of development. It would be nice to get some more points on the board, but I don’t think we’ll get a clear idea of how much we’ve progressed until we go back to Europe.”
Boullier has come out and praised both Button and Magnussen ahead of the Montreal weekend, highlighting their efforts during a difficult time for the team. He knows the team has two good drivers that both want to bring the team back to the front.
“At McLaren, of course, we fondly remember the 2011 race, when Jenson enjoyed one of his greatest, most memorable victories there,” added Boullier. “Despite our current lack of pace, Jenson continues to be an absolutely fantastic ambassador for the team. Not only is he a fantastic driver, but he’s also somebody with the feel and experience to steer the team and give it direction for development. His input has been invaluable, and he remains a tireless contributor.
“Kevin, equally, has been a fantastic asset so far this season. He’ll be keen for a problem-free weekend after a couple of niggling technical issues in the past two races. That’s a shame, because they’ve robbed him of a couple of potentially strong points finishes, but he’ll surely have a weekend less beset with undeserved mishap soon. And when that happens, I think people will be impressed by his pace, in both qualifying and the race, because it’s clear that he’s the complete package and that good results will inevitably therefore come in time.”