Canadian F1 drivers Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi set off for the Montreal Grand Prix

Their faces are splashed on billboards in Montreal as the two Canadians cheer on this week at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

It should be a week of celebration for the two Canadian Formula 1 drivers Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, as the Montreal Grand Prix makes its triumphant return – finally – after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the race in 2020 and 2021.

« It’s amazing, » Stroll said of his first chance to race at home in three years. « I definitely feel it every time I come back to Montreal, it’s always special to see the Canadian flags in the stands and the hometown cheering you on, it’s an amazing feeling. It’s energetic and that makes it even more more special when you get a good result here, it’s even more special to celebrate it in Montreal. »

Latifi said it was good to have two Canadians in F1, « because it’s a great thing for the sport, in Canada in general, and especially now that we’ve finally come back after a few years. »

But both Canadians are having tough seasons. Stroll’s best results were consecutive 10th places in Rome and Miami, but he crashed twice in two rounds in a disastrous qualifying session last week in Baku, Azerbaijan, en route to finishing 16th. .

Latifi, making his Montreal debut, was a season-high 14th in Miami, and there are rumors he won’t keep his seat with Williams after this season. He picked up two time penalties last week in Baku and finished 15th.

Part of the inconsistency concerns rule changes for this season. And they certainly aren’t the only two riders reeling from the changes.

On Thursday, Formula 1’s governing body said it was taking action to reduce the rebound effect the cars have struggled with this season after several drivers, including seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, complained of the aerodynamic problem that causes their vehicles to jump on the track. .

The FIA ​​said in a statement that it had decided « to intervene after consultation with its doctors in the interests of driver safety after the problem persisted for eight races into the season ».

Switching to « ground effect », where the ground generates aerodynamic grip, for this season was aimed at tightening competition between the teams. However, several teams, and in particular Mercedes, have struggled with cars bouncing at high speeds – known as « porpoising » – or collapsing and hitting the track surface.

“It was definitely a transformation for a lot of drivers”

Stroll, 23, said the rule changes had been made this season to a car (Aston Martin) that was very different from previous years.

« We learn every weekend how to set up the car, » said Stroll, speaking over the torrential downpour that battered the Aston Martin paddock tent. « From a driving style point of view it’s definitely different, they’re much stiffer in handling, they’re also much heavier. So tuning the car and adjusting the driving style has been our focus. » point this first part of the season.

« But everyone’s in the same boat, it’s definitely been a transformation for a lot of drivers and teams, just how to set up the car and drive the cars, but we’re definitely learning every weekend, and we’ve got some good current ideas. » forward. »

Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack said he supported the FIA ​​management.

« Because it’s about driver safety, » Krack said. « And if there are serious problems like that, we have to support the FIA, in these conditions. It’s not about who has an advantage or who has a disadvantage.

“We never exceeded a level that the driver was not happy with because at the end of the day he has to drive two hours,” he added.

« We are the two faces of Canada »

The FIA ​​said that in a sport where competitors are going over 300 kilometers per hour, the driver’s full concentration must be on driving.

« Excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver could have significant consequences if it results in loss of concentration, » the statement said.

Hamilton suffered severe back pain in Azerbaijan, cautiously exiting his Mercedes after finishing fourth.

Latifi, a 26-year-old born in Montreal but raised in Toronto, said degenerative spinal problems are already common in motor racing, with G-force drivers facing year after year.

Every team, he said, is struggling this season to find a balance between punishing ride heights and performance.

« So some cars maybe it’s the difference of a few millimeters to get rid of it, and maybe they don’t lose a lot of performance. Other cars maybe they really have to do aggressive change, and then that’s too much of a negative effect on performance,” he said.

He believes Williams « found a balanced middle ground ».

While Canadian fans will be keeping a close eye on Latifi and Stroll this week, Latifi said their passports don’t mean there’s a rivalry between the two.

« From an advertising perspective it makes sense, obviously we’re both Canadian faces, » he said. « Maybe the fan, who may not be a huge motorsport Formula 1 fan, could say, ‘Okay, this Canadian is going to beat the other Canadian. [But] Lance has been a faster racer in faster cars in my three years in Formula 1.

« So, I never really thought about it like that. »

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