Jenson Button is aiming for an big improvement in qualifying performance next weekend in Canada as he looks to take a second consecutive win in Montreal.
The 2009 champion took a fantastic victory last season in an epic, rain-affected race that finished over four hours after it started. He was running last at half distance, but took the lead from Sebastian Vettel on the final lap of the race when the German made a mistake.
“Obviously, returning to Montreal will be an extremely proud and happy moment for me,” said Button. “My win there last year was one of those rare occasions when everything just came right – it's still hard to believe that I was running in last place past half-distance and yet still managed to come through and take victory on the final lap. The memories of that win will always be with me.
“Montreal is always a race I look forward to anyway. The city has such a great vibe to it, the people are friendly and extremely welcoming and the fans are incredibly passionate. It's the perfect place to go racing and you can feel the excitement building literally as soon as you step off the plane.
“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.”
Button’s McLaren team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, was not quite so lucky last year, tangling with his team-mate mid-way through the race. However, he has won this race twice in four attempts, and took his first victory at this track back in 2007.
Hamilton is still looking for his first victory this season, and is hoping that one of his favourite tracks will be the scene of that win.
“This is turning into a unique season – one where every race provides new challenges and different outcomes. Even though everything hasn't gone right for us, I'm confident that myself and the team are doing everything we can to ensure we're in the best possible position to challenge for victory each and every weekend.
“I know that the results we all want will soon come to us: I am doing everything I can to extract every tenth from the car, and I know that the guys at the track and the men and women back at MTC are doing everything they can to give me a car that's worthy of winning. We are still very much in the hunt for this world championship and I'm looking forward to bringing that fight to Montreal, which is one of my favourite races of the season. He also noted that the Canadian circuit is a little different from the last one they were racing at:
“The contrasts between Monaco and Montreal couldn't be greater,” he said. “Although they're both races that take place in the middle of a city, the circuits are very different and each has its own unique personality.
“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a fantastic track – it's super-fast in places, which means it requires finesse and precision, but you can also end up racing wheel-to-wheel with people at 200mph too, which is an incredible sensation.
“However, 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.
“On paper, I think our car will be well-suited to the combination: we showed in Spain that we're very good in high-speed corners, but we were also quick in the final sector, which is slower and more technical. Of course, it's still difficult to accurately predict the outcome, so I'll be focusing on another clean weekend where I can score more consistent world championship points.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, is optimistic that the team will have a good weekend at a track at which they have traditionally done very well.
“I think everybody in Formula 1 enjoys the Canadian Grand Prix – the city plays a wonderful host to the event, and the circuit is fast, challenging and unforgiving,” he said. “Throw in the commonly unpredictable Quebecois weather and you have the perfect combination for an excitable and unpredictable weekend.
“Of course, we were the major benefactors of that very unpredictability last year, and nobody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes can think of Montreal without remembering Jenson's magnificent victory there last year.
“But, let's not forget that Lewis, too, has many happy memories of this circuit – he won his first grand prix there in 2007, has had pole position three times and dominated the event in 2010. Canada has been a happy hunting ground for the team in recent years and we're fired up to make it a hat-trick next weekend.”