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Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Formula 1 circuit

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Credit: Mercedes
Vital statistics for Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
CircuitCircuit Gilles Villeneuve
Race debut1978
Results for the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix
Pole positionLewis Hamilton
Race winnerLewis Hamilton
Fastest lapLewis Hamilton

The Canadian Grand Prix was sorely missed when it was left off the calendar in 2009 but it has been a mainstay since then. The lush and green surroundings hide a challenging track that can feature such unique issues as meandering groundhogs, intense and delaying rain, plus that tricky Wall of Champions that has ended many a driver and champion's race. Named after the Canadian champion, the track is squeezed onto the Ile Notre-Dame and features a challenging hairpin at one end.

F1 history

The Canadian Grand Prix was the sole representative of Formula One in North America, when Indianapolis lost the US race, and the Circuit of the Americas was yet to arrive. When the Montreal circuit was left off the calendar in 2009, it only served to show just how popular the race was, and how much it was missed.

The track produces good racing in a picturesque setting, with some unique challenges. A particular highlight is the Wall of Champions, a tricky chicane right at the end of a lap, and so-called because of the many future and current F1 champions that have seen their race end in disgrace due to that particular stretch of barrier. The track is long and challenging, and keeping focus until the very end is key to avoid the embarrassment of crashing out just moments from the finish line.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve turns things around after the twisting track of Monaco. With long straights ending in tight corners, top speed is a key element of getting a good lap. Canada is supremely heavy on braking, and the black dust that can pour from those components is a regular sight during the race. The tarmac can also provide additional difficulties, as it gets very bumpy at certain points. Although resurfaced on a regular basis, the tarmac can actually break up and cause sessions to be halted while emergency repairs are completed.

There’s also a relatively short pit lane in Montreal, which makes strategy more important than ever. The safety car often makes an appearance, and making sure pit stops occur at exactly the right moment is what keeps the heads on the pit wall busy.

The lap starts with a short run to the first corner, where the brakes get their initial test. The second corner twists back 180 degrees, and the following chicane keeps speeds slow. Drivers hit the kerbs as much as possible, but aim to keep control and not damage the car at the same time.

The second sector gets things moving, with a handful of corners peppering the straights. The deceptively hard hairpin is surrounded by grandstands so any small error is seen by hundreds of people. It’s also a prime overtaking spot, and can see drivers down to first or second gear. Finally, hustling back towards the start/finish line, drivers navigate the Wall of Champions, hopefully without incident, and then cross the line to finish the lap.

Learn more about Canada with the Pocket F1 Handbook.