Canadian Grand Prix
Held almost every year since 1961, the Canadian Grand Prix is one of the oldest events on the Formula 1 calendar. The Canadian Grand Prix was originally based at Mosport Park in Brownenville but it now has its permanent home at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the St Lawrence River in downtown Montreal.
The Canadian Grand Prix was not originally a part of the Formula 1 World Championship, but it was introduced as one of the major events at the Canadian Sports Championship, which were founded in Mosport in 1961.
Despite being detached from Formula 1, the race was an important competition for top-class drivers and many international drivers would enter the World Championship, once they had won the Canadian Grand Prix. In 1967, following a win by American driver, Mark Donohue, Formula 1 took over the race and shortly after, the circuit was moved from Mosport to Montreal, after the track was deemed unsuitable for F1 cars.
In 1978 legendary Canadian driver, Gilles Villeneuve, won the Canadian Grand Prix for the first time. Four years later, he was tragically killed in a crash on the final qualifying lap for the Belgian Grand Prix and, following his untimely death, the Montreal race circuit was re-named in his honour.
Canadian Grand Prix
That same year, the Canadian race was tarnished by another tragedy, after Villeneuve’s former team mate, Didier Pironi, stalled on the grid. Italian driver, Riccardo Paletti, slammed into Pironi’s stationary car, causing his own car to catch fire. The fire was put out and Paletti was extracted from his vehicle but the impact of the crash was too great and he later died in hospital from crash-related injuries.
In 1987 the Grand Prix was cancelled due to sponsorship disputes between local breweries Molson and Labatt, and race organisers used the opportunity to move the starting line and make other modifications to the track.
Ten years later, the race was stopped prematurely after Olivier Panis had a horrific accident, breaking both his legs which put him out of the World Championship for nine races. In 1991, Nigel Mansell had an unfortunate race when, on the second to last lap and a long way ahead of his fellow drivers, Mansell began his victory celebrations a lap prematurely. Failing to focus on ending the race, Mansell was overtaken by Nelson Piquet at the last second and ended in a disappointing second place.
The most popular race to date occurred in 1995 when, on his 31st birthday, Jean Alesi had the one and only win of his F1 career. After Michael Schumacher retired early from the race due to electrical problems and Damon Hill went out with hydraulics failure, Alesi assumed the lead position.
Alesi completed the race in a red Ferrari, the very Ferrari once driven by Gilles Villeneuve at his native Grand Prix. Having had a number of close races when Alesi was denied a victory, the crowd were behind him from the start and the race was made more memorable when Schumacher gave Alesi a lift to the pits, after his car ran out of fuel just before the Pits Hairpin. In 2001, Alesi finished in fifth place, racing for Prost, and earning them their best position of the year. In celebration Alesi made several donuts on the track and threw his helmet into the crowd.
In 2001 Michael and Ralf Schumacher were the two favourites of the race and a sibling rivalry ensued. Ralf finished in first place, with Michael coming up in second but two years later the roles were reversed and it was Michael who took the trophy.
2007 saw the first win by new British driver, Lewis Hamilton, but, despite his success, it was Takuma Sato who earned ITV’s ‘driver of the day’ award. After dropping down from the middle of the group to the back at the beginning of the race, Sato ended the Grand Prix on top form, overtaking Kimi Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher and Fernando Alonso to finish in an honourable sixth place.
Groundhogs also took the limelight during the 2007 race. Knowing the potential hazard of their furry friends, Canadian officials preceded the competition by rounding up as many groundhogs as they could. Nevertheless Anthony Davidson struck a groundhog part way through the race which forced him to make a premature pit-stop in order to repair the damage the creature had done to the front wing of his car, forcing him to relinquish his 3rd place grid position.
After the original circuit at Mosport was deemed too dangerous for F1 racing, a new circuit was designed and built on the St Lawrence River in Montreal. Now known as the Gilles Villenevue circuit, the track is renowned for its unusual design, consisting of several fiddly corners connected by high speed straights.
Each lap covers a distance of 4.461 km and the race consists of 70 laps, covering a total distance of 305.27 km. The track begins with a tricky hairpin bend which requires drivers to make a sharp 90 degree turn before the circuit moves to the right through turns 2- 6.
Turn 7 breaks up a long straight by a quick right-left turn with turns 8 and 9 requiring the driver to move into 3rd gear. There is another hairpin at turn 10 and then turn 11 marks the hardest braking point, with drivers moving through it at around 60 mph, before accelerating to the finishing line.
Although the turns provide a challenge for even the most experienced driver, the circuit is not known for its driving excitement and most drivers resent the hard braking followed by fast acceleration, that the track requires.
A particularly notable aspect of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit is the final corner of the track which has famously caught out many championship drivers. In 1999 Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the wall at the final corner, which ironically has a ‘welcome to Quebec’ sign painted on the side. Since then several other drivers have met their fate at the corner and the wall has affectionately been dubbed the ‘Wall of Champions.’
Below is a list of the Canadian Grand Prix winners since its inception in 1961:
- 2007: Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom) McLaren-Mercedes
- 2006: Fernando Alonso (Italy) Renault
- 2005: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren-Mercedes
- 2004: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
- 2003: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
- 2002: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
- 2001: Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Williams-BMW
- 2000: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
- 1999: Mika Hakkinen (Finland) McLaren-Mercedes
- 1998: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
- 1997: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari
- 1996: Damon Hill (United Kingdom) Williams-Renault
- 1995: Jean Alesi (France) Ferrari
- 1994: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Benneton-Ford
- 1993: Alain Prost (France) Williams-Renault
- 1992: Gerhard Berger (Austria) McLaren-Honda
- 1991: Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Benneton-Ford
- 1990: Ayrton Senna (Brazil) McLaren-Honda
- 1989: Thiery Boutsen (Germany) Williams-Renault
- 1988: Ayrton Senna (Brazil) McLaren-Honda
- 1987: No Race
- 1986: Nigel Mansell (United Kingdom) Williams-Honda
- 1985: Michele Alboreto (Italy) Ferrari
- 1984: Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Brabham-BMW
- 1983: Rene Arnoux (France) Ferrari
- 1982: Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Brabham-BMW
- 1981: Jacques Laffite (France) Ligier-Matra
- 1980: Alan Jones (Australia) William-Ford
- 1979: Alan Jones (Australia) William-Ford
- 1978: Gilles Villeneuve (Canada) Ferrari
- 1977: Jody Scheckter (South Africa) Wolf-Ford
- 1976: James Hunt (United Kingdom) McLaren-Ford
- 1975: No Race
- 1974: Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil) McLaren-Ford
- 1973: Peter Revson (USA) McLaren-Ford
- 1972: Jackie Stewart (United Kingdom) Tyrell-Ford
- 1971: Jackie Stewart (United Kingdom) Tyrell-Ford
- 1970: Jacky Ickx (Germany) Ferrari
- 1969: Jacky Ickx (Germany) Ferrari
- 1968: Denny Hulme (Australia) McLaren-Ford
- 1967: Jack Brabham (Australia) Brabham-Repco
- 1966: Mark Donohue (USA) Lola-Chevrolet
- 1965: Jim Hall (USA) Chaparral-Chevrolet
- 1964: Pedro Rodriguez (Mexico) Ferrari
- 1963: Pedro Rodriguez (Mexico) Ferrari
- 1962: Masten Gregory (USA) Lotus-Climax
- 1961: Peter Ryan (Canada) Lotus-Climax
Unlike other circuits which are known for their remote location, the Canadian Grand Prix is conveniently situated in downtown Montreal. The Ile St. Helen metro station is in walking distance from the circuit and there is a good network of buses within the city centre.
Tickets for the Canadian Grand Prix can be bought at the following prices (subject to change):
Stands 1 & 2
- 3 days: $495
Stands 11, 12, 15, 21, 24
- 3 days: $395
Stands 22, 31, 33, 34
- 3 days: $225
- 3 days: $100
- Friday only: $25
- Saturday only: $50
- Sunday: $74
For information about tickets or for general enquiries contact the Canadian Grand Prix by:
Post: Grand Prix du Canada
Post Office Box 340,
Tel: (514) 350-0000
Fax: (514) 350-4709