Charles Pic relishing Montreal challenge

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Having made a strong start to the season, Charles Pic is looking forward to the challenge posed by the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve at next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The Frenchman has recorded some impressive finishes, beating the likes of Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber and even challenging Williams driver Valtteri Bottas at the Spanish Grand Prix, and he will be hoping for some similar results at one of his favorite grands prix.

“Last year was my first time racing in Canada and I have to say it was one of the best races of the year, maybe not so much for the final result but for the atmosphere on track which was really good,” Pic explained in Caterham’s preview of the race. “We go to a few races where the track is full of fans from Thursday morning, and Montreal is one of those.

“I guess having Jacques and Gilles Villeneuve as locals to have supported in the past means F1 is very special to fans in Montreal, but whatever the reasons, they love F1!”

Canada has produced two notable drivers: the father and son combination of Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve is one of the greatest the sport has known. Gilles made his name with Ferrari in the late 1970s, finishing second in the 1979 drivers’ championship, but he was fatally injured at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. His son, Jacques, arrived in F1 in 1996 having won the Indy 500 the year before. He went on to win the world championship in 1997, but failed to win after this success, eventually leaving the sport in 2006.

The track which bears Gilles’ name is one that Pic finds challenging, proving to be a great test of driver skill thanks to the hard braking zones and the close proximity of the walls.

“On track it’s a very good challenge. It’s a semi-street circuit, with the barriers very close for most of the lap, and it’s a very technical circuit. The track surface is smooth and on Friday morning there’s very little grip. It does evolve over the weekend but it’s still hard on tires all weekend so managing deg levels is going to be even more important than normal.

“It’s also very hard on brakes – there’s a couple of very heavy braking zones and you need to be able to really attack those to get the best laptime in, so we’ll also be working a lot in the practice sessions on maximising braking stability and, depending on what the weather does, brake cooling.”

Pic will be keen on bettering 2012’s result of 20th in Canada, where he was the last classified finisher.