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Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal) 2002 Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal) 2002 preview.
Story by Andrew Frampton.


After its recent dramatic forays around Europe, the FIA Formula One World Championship crosses the Atlantic for the eighth round of the championship at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada. Although the Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher has dominated the championship so far this season, the McLaren of David Coulthard beat him in a straight fight in Monte Carlo. The Montreal circuit has hosted the Canadian Grand Prix since 1978, when the late Gilles Villeneuve, to whom the track is dedicated, scored a dominant victory. The circuit offers a good variety of fast and slow sections, with some tricky chicanes and constant radius corners thrown in for good measure. McLaren's Monte Carlo is likely to be a one off, with the track most likely to suit the more powerful Ferrari and Williams cars.

Monte Carlo showed that Ferrari could be beaten, with Coulthard becoming the first non-Schumacher to claim a win this season, and bring to an end the run of four successive Michael Schumacher victories. The German's domination has earned him a 33-point lead in the driver's championship, while he has finished on the podium in the two races he failed to win. Rubens Barrichello has yet to reach the top step of the podium the season, but has scored second places in San Marino and Austria, where team orders forced him to concede certain victory to his team-mate. He has also been well placed in other rounds. In Brazil he was leading before being forced out with mechanical ailments, while he finished only seventh in Monaco after clashing with the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen. His lack of consistency means the Brazilian is only fifth in the driver's championship, although his points have given Ferrari an 18 point lead in the constructor's championship. Schumacher has gone well here in the past, and has taken six pole positions on the circuit and won four times from ten starts.

Prior to Monaco, Juan Pablo Montoya had been one of the closest challengers to Michael Schumacher, leading the line in the Williams attack. However, an engine failure in Monaco was his first non-points finish of a season that has yielded four podium finishes, although he has not made the top step as yet. His consistency has earned him second position in the driver's championship, although he is now level with his team-mate Ralf Schumacher, after the latter took third in Monaco. Ralf Schumacher is the only other driver to have taken victory aside from his brother and Coulthard, after a dominant display in Malaysia. His third position in Monaco was the fourth time the German has been on the podium this season, and with the team currently 30 points ahead of McLaren in the constructor's championship it is a two-way fight between Williams and Ferrari for the title. Although Ralf Schumacher won here last season, the Williams team has introduced an updated version of the car in an attempt to close the gap to Ferrari in Canada. Will it be enough?

David Coulthard's victory in Monaco was the highlight of what has been a disappointing season so far for the McLaren team. Although it was far from a dominant performance, with the Scot under pressure from the Williams and Ferrari drivers for most of the race, it at least shows that the team has race winning pace - something seemingly lacking since the departure of Mika Hakkinen at the end of last season. His win doubles Coulthard's points haul this season, moving him into fourth position in the driver's championship. Prior to his Monaco victory, Coulthard had only been on the podium twice, in Brazil and Spain. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen has had a troubled season so far, the latest race ending in retirement when Barrichello assaulted him at the chicane in Monaco. The Finn has only made the points once this season, a third place in the opening round in Australia, which promised a false dawn of success, as Raikkonen has failed to finish an event since then.

Monaco was a disappointing event for the Renault team, although Jarno Trulli did claim his first points of the season with fourth place. The weekend started well for the team, with Trulli setting fastest times in the free practice sessions. However, a disappointing qualifying session led to a subdued race, and although Trulli went on to score points, Jenson Button had a torrid time, first jumping the start and earning himself a penalty, and then he went out after a clash with Olivier Panis' BAR. Button will be hoping to reproduce the form that earned him fourth place finishes in Malaysia and Brazil and a fifth in San Marino that leave him in sixth position in the driver's championship. Although he has failed to score in the last three rounds, he will be hoping to return to form on a track where he has never performed very well. Trulli's three points in Monaco were well deserved, after a fine start to the season that has been dogged by retirements.

Having scored their first points of the season in Austria, Jordan doubled their score in Monaco with Giancarlo Fisichella's second successive fifth place finish. The season had begun poorly with the quality of the chassis and more noticeably, the Honda engine powering the Jordan and BAR machines. For much of the season, the team has been struggling in the lower regions of the grid in qualifying, with reliability, especially the hydraulics, letting the cars down in the races. Fisichella's improvement has come alongside increased criticism for his team-mate Takuma Sato, who has yet to show the pace that made him British Formula Three champion. He has also crashed out of the last two events. He was lucky to emerge uninjured when harpooned by Nick Heidfeld's Sauber in Austria, and then he crashed heavily in Monte Carlo when attempting to let his team-mate past. The Canadian race will be Fisichella's 99th Grand Prix start, and he will be hoping to continue his run of form there, while Sato will be simply looking to make the finish. Interestingly, Eddie Jordan has not criticised Sato, instead he emphasises that Sato has the speed required and is just learning his way around in F1. I suspect we may yet see great things from him.

The Sauber team suffered with the unique challenge of Monaco's tight confines, racing near the tail of the field and unable to repeat the form that has earned the team eight points so far this season. Although Nick Heidfeld finished the event in 8th, his team-mate Felipe Massa was lucky to emerge uninjured after a 100mph impact with the tyres at Sainte-Devote. Heidfeld has generally been the strongest of the pair so far this season, having taken fifth in Malaysia and fourth in Spain. Massa followed his more experienced team-mate home on both occasions and has three points so far in his rookie season. Prior to the start of the season, the team had hoped to retain the fourth position they gained in the constructor's championship last year, but will have a tough fight to better Renault this season. Despite competing in Canada twice before, Heidfeld has yet to make the finish - something he hopes to amend this weekend.

BAR are the only team who have yet to score points this season, but it is hoped that a revamped car will help Olivier Panis and Jacques Villeneuve (racing in his home event on the circuit named after his father) achieve that goal. The new car features improved aerodynamics, gearbox and suspension, which should not only make the car faster, but also more reliable. That would be most welcome for Panis, who has yet to make the finish of any of the seven races so far this season, with mechanical problems forcing him out of five of them. Despite being a former World Champion and a front-runner for several years with Williams, Villeneuve has never won his home race. That statistic seems unlikely to change this year, although the Canadian has shown increased pace over the past few events and has taken a brace of seventh positions, so the team could well score its first points of the season.

Arrows, and in particular Heinz-Harald Frentzen, have shown a dramatic increase in pace over the last three rounds. Their season really came alive with Frentzen's sixth place finish in Austria, achieved on the back of some impressive qualifying performances. The German, and his team-mate Enrique Bernoldi have continued to show pace in qualifying, while Frentzen scored the team's second point of the season in Monte Carlo. Had he not had to make an extra stop after his fuel hose failed during his first stop, he could well have taken fourth position. As it was, he had to make do with the last point. Although Bernoldi hasn't shown the top ten pace of his team-mate, his performances are getting better all the time. More points are not out of the question for the team in Canada.

Although the Toyota team had never raced on the Monaco street circuit before, they put in a spirited performance, the latest in what has been a great debut season for the Japanese marque. Mika Salo and Allan McNish lined up in ninth and tenth positions after an excellent qualifying session, although their race didn't go quite as planned. McNish crashed out on lap 15 and Salo departed with brake failure later in the race. The team has impressed so far this season, with Salo securing points finishes in Australia and Brazil. Reliability has been a strong point and the team could be in line to extend their points haul in Canada.

After a poor start, the Jaguar team's form has gradually improved this season, but the 'cat' is still struggling to claw its way into the midfield, never mind the front of the grid. Ironically, the team gained its only points of this frustrating season in the opening round in Australia, arguably when the car was at its worst. Irvine's lucky fourth position, gained when nearly half of the field was eliminated at the first corner, is the team's only joy so far this year. At least the car has proven reasonably reliable, and in the last round at Monaco, Irvine took ninth, finishing just ahead of team-mate Pedro De La Rosa. Recent rumours about Irvine's future for next season, including talk of a move to Jordan, offer a distraction from the team's current poor form. The best the team can hope for is a top ten spot in qualifying and a points finish if they get lucky.

Despite recent rumours of serious cash problems that may force them out of Formula One by the end of the season, the Italian 'minnows' of Formula One, Minardi, come to Canada hoping to continue their recent form that has seen Mark Webber out-qualify several of the works cars. Monaco almost yielded a top ten finish for the Australian, but a last-gasp pit-stop dropped him back to eleventh. However, it was still a competitive showing from the team who hold joint eighth in the constructor's championship with the two points gained from Webber's fifth position in the opening round. Although neither Webber nor his Malaysian team-mate Alex Yoong are likely to trouble the front runners, a top ten finish is not out of the question.

Driver's Championship Standings:
1. Michael Schumacher 60pts
2. Ralf Schumacher 27pts
3. Juan Pablo Montoya 27pts
4. David Coulthard 20pts
5. Rubens Barrichello 12pts
6. Jenson Button 8pts

Constructor's Championship Standings:
1. Ferrari 72pts
2. Williams-BMW 54pts
3. McLaren-Mercedes 24pts
4. Renault 11pts
5. Sauber-Petronas 8pts
6. Jordan-Honda 4pts

2002 F1 season calendar
03/03/2002 - Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)
- Australia circuit by JR
- Australia preview by AF
- Australia grid by JR
- Australia review by AF
- Australia lap-by-lap by JR
17/03/2002 - Malaysian Grand Prix (Sepang)
- Malaysia circuit by JR
- Malaysia preview by AF
- Malaysia grid by JR
- Malaysia review by AF
- Malaysia lap-by-lap by JR
31/03/2002 - Brazilian Grand Prix (Sao Paulo)
- Brazil circuit by JR
- Brazil preview by AF
- Brazil grid by JR
- Brazil review by AF
- Brazil lap-by-lap by JR
14/04/2002 - San Marino Grand Prix (Imola)
- San Marino circuit by JR
- San Marino preview by AF
- San Marino grid by JR
- San Marino review by AF
- San Marino lap-by-lap by JR
28/04/2002 - Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona)
- Spain circuit by JR
- Spain preview by AF
- Spain grid by JR
- Spain review by AF
- Spain lap-by-lap by JR
12/05/2002 - Austrian Grand Prix (Spielberg)
- Austria circuit by JR
- Austria preview by AF
- Austria grid by JR
- Austria review by AF
- Austria lap-by-lap by JR
26/05/2002 - Grand Prix de Monaco (Monaco)
- Monaco circuit by JR
- Monaco preview by AF
- Monaco grid by JR
- Monaco review by AF
- Monaco lap-by-lap by JR
09/06/2002 - Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal)
- Canada circuit by JR
- Canada preview by AF
- Canada grid by JR
- Canada review by AF
- Canada lap-by-lap by JR
23/06/2002 - European Grand Prix (Nürburgring)
- Europe circuit by JR
- Europe grid by JR
- Europe review by AF
- Europe lap-by-lap by JR
07/07/2002 - British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
- Britain circuit by JR
- Britain grid by JR
- Britain review by AF
- Britain lap-by-lap by JR
21/07/2002 - French Grand Prix (Magny-Cours)
- France circuit by JR
- France preview by AF
- France grid by JR
- France review by AF
- France lap-by-lap by JR
28/07/2002 - German Grand Prix (Hockenheim)
- Germany circuit by JR
- Germany preview by AF
- Germany grid by JR
- Germany review by AF
- Germany lap-by-lap by JR
18/08/2002 - Hungarian Grand Prix (Budapest)
- Hungary circuit by JR
- Hungary grid by JR
- Hungary lap-by-lap by JR
01/09/2002 - Belgian Grand Prix (Spa Francorchamps)
- Belgium circuit by JR
- Belgium grid by JR
- Belgium review by AF
- Belgium lap-by-lap by JR
15/09/2002 - Italian Grand Prix (Monza)
- Italy circuit by JR
- Italy grid by JR
- Italy lap-by-lap by JR
29/09/2002 - American Grand Prix (Indianapolis)
- USA circuit by JR
- USA grid by JR
- USA lap-by-lap by JR
13/10/2002 - Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)
- Japan circuit by JR
- Japan grid by JR
- Japan review by AF
- Japan lap-by-lap by JR

2002 Canada GP circuit map. Image by John Rigby, FIA. Click here for a larger image. The 2001 grid line-up. Image by John Rigby, FIA. Click here for a larger image.
 

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