The last time I raced the FW31 on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at Montreal, was in my second ever iWCGPS race in 2013. I scored one of my best results being 12th on the grid and finishing in 8th position. At that time the technique used in the chicanes was to heavily cut the sausage curbs and jump them. With the new build everything has changed: even slightly touching the sausage curbs can be deadly! As a result, this track requires incredible precision and consistency to be fast.
During race preparation I struggled a lot to find a fast and reliable driving line: it took me quite some time to reduce my corner entry speed to avoid hitting the big sausage curbs while keeping a good pace. Finding a good compromise for the qualification setup was a real nightmare as I wanted it to be fast but also forgiving on the curbs. In the end I couldn’t find the pace I needed: I was around 4 tenth of a second slower than my team mate Sebastian. On the race setup side it went quite well as I immediately had a good pace. I tuned the setup to be very forgiving on the curbs as I knew there was no way to drive 70 laps on this track without a single mistake … The strategy chosen by the team was a 2 stopper with longer first and second stints.
I decided to drive a very cautious first qualification lap, especially through the chicanes as they can send you directly into the wall. After my first run I found myself in 15th position, which was no surprise as I completely missed the line through turn 5. I was pleased to see Sebastian in fourth position. My second flying lap was better but not perfect, loosing some precious tenth being too conservative. I got the 14th spot on the grid which is quite satisfying considering the lack of pace in qualifying trim. Sebastian took an whopping 5th spot on the grid confirming the great pace he had at Montreal. Alex started very late in the qualifying session and took the 24th spot on the grid, a strong showing for his return to the series.
I took a very cautious start, as usually mayhem happens in turn 1 and 2, allowing Isaac, Mogar and Ilkka to overtake me. Surprisingly there was no crash. I drove several aggressive laps, overtaking Isaac and Ilkka and found myself in 13th position after Sebastian‘s crash. I quickly closed the gap to Mogar but as usual I couldn’t overtake him.
After the first batch of pitstops I was again behind Mogar trying to close a 2 second gap. On lap 44 Mogar cut the last chicane and got a slowdown penalty allowing me to pass him. After Mitchell’s crash, I found myself in 10th position just before my second pitstop.
After all pitstops were completed I was chasing Tommaso, pushing hard to close the gap. Unfortunately I slightly lost the rear end of the car in the last chicane, had a very slight contact of the rear wheel with the tyre wall, which in turn made the car rotate into the wall: game over. Very disapointing as I could have easily brought home a 10th position if not a 9th position.
Lap by lap driver positions and time distance can be found in the Race Position Chart.
Because of the high number of crashes, I still finished in 26th position loosing only one spot in the championship standings. Unlucky Sebastian, too bad as he had an awesome pace. Big congratulations to Alex for a strong comeback with his 14th position.
Afterthoughts: From a championship point of view, I certainly should have taken it easy to bring home a safe 10th position. But as a racer I really had to catch Tommaso and try to take the 9th position.
Gratz to Martin and the podium.