PRIXVIEW – Canadian Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round nine sees F1 return to Montreal after a two-year hiatus for the Canadian Grand Prix. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve located on an is located on an island in the middle of the island St Lawrence Seaway, which has been the permanent home of the race since 1978.

Montreal has been largely unchanged since it was built in the 1970s at the same time as the venues for the 1978 Olympic and Paralympic Games with the rowing lake running behind the pit lane. The lake currently hosting the annual Boat Race on Saturday evening when teams, FOM and the FIA compete

The circuit can be described as both a street and purpose-built circuit as it’s lined with walls and runs around the island. But unlike the last race, this is more in-between circuit with teams needing the straight-line speed of Baku but the low downforce of Monaco, overtaking is very likely as it has wide-open corners and tricky chicanes.

This Montreal circuit is fast and flowing but the chicanes and several braking points can punish the cars, there can also be the chance of changeable conditions. Mistakes can see drivers crash or become beached in the gravel traps.  The race has a reparation for throwing up odd results and surprises.

The weather can always play a role with late spring rain the 2011 race turned into a marathon lasting for over four hours. That race saw Jenson Button crash into teammate Lewis Hamilton dropping to last, making and as the circuit dried come through the field and on the last lap as Sebastian Vettel got caught out by the wet track running wide at Turn Six allowing Button to take the lead with half a lap to go and onto win the race.

The race can also be one about strategy as being a street-style circuit there can be accidents leading to safety cars and in qualifying red flags. The regulation changes this season should allow drivers to follow closely, with Montreal being a circuit where drivers should be able to overtake. But that doesn’t come without risks, this year regulation changes have created closer racing which could lead to some mistakes

However, being a street-style circuit lined with barriers and grass the circuit is very similar to Albert Park. One of the most famous corners of the circuit officially called Mur du Quebec but has been known since 1999 as The Wall of Champions, it gained that name after three champions, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve crashed into the wall in 1999.

Other champions who have crashed into the wall include Carlos Sainz Jr, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Derek Warwick and Jenson Button. A crash at the wall often results in a red flag in practice and qualifying or a safety car or virtual safety car in the race given the lack of run-off area.

The first race in the province of Québec was held an hour and a half away from the current circuit at Mont-Trembant in 1968. The circuit was a challenge and Jack Brabham lead his teammate Denny Hulme home, to take a Brabham one-two.

The 1970 event saw Ickx win again with his Swiss teammate Clay Regazzoni making the result a Ferrari 1–2. But the Mont-Tremblant circuit was not used again for Formula One because of safety concerns regarding the bitter winters seriously affecting the track surface and a dispute with the local racing authorities there in 1972.

1977 saw  Gilles Villeneuve made his debut for Ferrari. But concerns about the bumpy Mosport Park’s safety arose when Briton Ian Ashley had a horrendous accident while cresting a bumpy rise. Ashley’s Hesketh flipped over the Armco guardrails and went into a television tower.

That marked the final race at Mosport with the Notre-Dame circuit (now Gilles Villeneuve) built within a year. Alan Jones would win the first two races despite in 1980 colliding with title rival Nelson Piquet, who then jumped into the spare car before the engine blew up

Villeneuve would demonstrate his skills in the wet and car control in 1981 driving to third despite the conditions, with Jacques Laffite taking what was to be his last F1 victory, followed by John Watson and Villeneuve. The 1982 race a month following Villeneuve’s death at Zolder, the race would be overshadowed by tragedy.

Villeneuve’s teammate Didier Pironi stalled at the front of the grid. First, Raul Boesel struck a glancing blow to the stationary vehicle, and then Riccardo Paletti crashed directly into the rear of Pironi’s Ferrari at over 180 km/h (110 mph). Despite the efforts by Pironi to save Paletti died shortly after.

1983 saw Frenchman René Arnoux win his first race as a Ferrari driver, and the following year Piquet won again in a BMW-powered Brabham. Ferrari finished one-two the following season, but in qualifying Lotus took their first front row lockout.

1988 saw Brazilian Ayrton Senna take victory in the all-conquering McLaren MP4/4 with its Honda turbo engine, and the following year he so very nearly won again, but the Honda engine in his McLaren failed and Belgian Thierry Boutsen took the victory, which was the first in his F1 career.

Piquet took his final win in 1991 after Nigel Mansell’s  Williams failed on the very last lap only a few corners from the finish line. The Englishman would lose out again after spinning of after a collision with Berger’s teammate Senna.

in response to the Imola tragedies, the 1994 event saw the very fast Droit du Casino curve being turned into a chicane. Michael Schumacher won this event. Ferrari’s Jean Alesi won the 1995 edition, which occurred on his 31st birthday and which would be the only win of his career. Alesi had inherited the lead when Michael Schumacher pitted with electrical problems and Damon Hill’s hydraulics failed. The victory was a popular one for Alesi,

The races from 1997 to 2004 (except 1999 and 2001) saw a romp of Michael Schumacher victories, all in a Ferrari. 1999 saw Finn Mika Häkkinen win, and in 2001, there was the first sibling 1–2 finish in the history of Formula 1, as Ralf and Michael Schumacher topped the podium. The Schumacher brothers repeated it again the other way round in 2003.

Lewis Hamilton took his first win in Montreal, a circuit over the next thirteen years he on average would win every other season with a total of seven. The race was defined by a huge crash for Robert Kubica, but the Polish driver would bounce back the following season taking his only race win.

Hamilton returned to the top of the podium in 2010 finishing ahead of teammate Jenson Button, who couldn’t get close enough to pass him. Meanwhile further back, Nico Rosberg fended off a late attack from Kubica to finish sixth.

Button’s win in 2011 is regarded as the best of his career, after dropping to last following a collision with Hamilton and Alonso. That dropped him to last before the red flag and then in the first laps following the restart he returned to the top ten, before gaining eight after two cars touched and Alonso spun he continued to make progress into second, before what had already been a dramatic race, saw leader Sebastian Vettel spin gifting button the lead on the last lap.

Hamilton took four wins in six races in the hybrid era including a controversial win last time out. Vettel won the race on the road by failing to build enough of a gap over Hamilton after being deemed by the stewards to rejoin the track unsafely after going wide and gaining a five-second penalty.

Race & Circuit Guide

Round 09 of 22
Race Formula 1 Amazon Web Services Grand Prix du Canada 2022
Venue Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, Quebec
Configuration 2002
Circuit Length 4.361 km (2.709 mi)
Laps 70
Race Distance 305.270 km (189.694 mi)
Lap Record Race 01:13.078 (Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W10, 2019)
Outright 01:10.240 (Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, SF90, 2019)
Most wins drivers Michael Schumacher (7)

Sir Lewis Hamilton

Most wins manufacture Ferrari (14)

Fast facts

  • Alan Jones, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton are the only drivers who’ve taken back-to-back wins at this circuit.
  • Of the last twenty-two races, thirteen have been interrupted by Safety Car periods, with 1999 and 2007 both having seen 4 separate SC appearances. 2011, when 32 of the 70 laps ran behind the SC, and included a 2-hour red-flag period.
  • German drivers have more podium finishes than drivers from any other nation at this circuit (twenty-four). Strangely, Sebastian Vettel’s third-place finish in 2014 is the only time a German has finished on the final step of the podium here.
  • Pole position has been decided by less than a tenth of a second at four of the last six Canadian Grands Prix. But twenty-two of the last fifty Grand Prix’s have been won from pole.

Event timetable

Session

Local (EDT)

UK (BST)

Friday

P1 14:00-15:00 19:00-20:00
P2 17:00-18:00 22:00-23:00

Saturday

P3 13:00-14:00 18:00-19:00
Qualifying 16:00-17:00 21:00-22:00

Sunday

Race 14:00 19:00

What happened in 2019?

F1 headed to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, which saw Ferrari bring an engine upgrade, but was it enough to turn around their season. But the question was could they stop Mercedes from whitewashing the 2019 season?

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for Ferrari, beating Hamilton by two-tenths of a second. Ferrari appeared as if the upgrade was bringing the team back into the title fight. But Leclerc was forced to slow on his final run and was under investigation for driving on the wrong side of the marker bollard at the Nine-Ten chicane earlier in qualifying.

Vettel may have taken victory on the road, a dominant one to take Ferrari’s first win of the season. An incident with Hamilton saw him awarded a five-second penalty. In the closing stages, while battling for the lead, he pushed Hamilton off the track, that meant all the Mercedes need to do was finish within five seconds.

Stroll was ninth at his home race,  despite his Racing Point being fitted with an older-spec engine after a fiery failure in final practice. Daniil Kvyat completed the point scorers for Toro Rosso.

Ferrari’s 2019 campaign was effectively over, just before the halfway stage as Mercedes surpassed the teams (as Brawn) 2009 record of seven wins from seven races

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:29:07.084, 2) S. Vettel, Ferrari, +03.658, 3) C. Leclerc, Ferrari, +04.696

What to watch for?

Ferrari come to Montreal I feel needed a win after we started to see some of the questionable decisions and mistakes start to creep in in Monaco and Baku. They have a quick car, and the Montreal circuit is all about high speed and downforce where drivers need to be good in the corners. This is another street circuit, in style, the walls are close, but you normally see a lot of overtaking and cars should be able to follow closely.

Red Bull appears to have the momentum at the moment and has beaten Ferrari on track when they haven’t had technical issues apart from Barcelona. While this isn’t a Baku or Monaco, I think its somewhere in the middle a circuit where you need straight-line speed but good in the corners. Of course, the circuit is lined with barriers, grass and gravel which carries its own risks and recovery aren’t as easy as at more modern venues.

Mercedes continues to be complexed by their porpoising issues in Baku, and that could be an issue again in Montreal but the question is how much? Its going to take time and hopefully there are answers soon as in Baku saw both drivers complain about back pain. Lewis Hamilton, we saw struggle to get out of the car following the race, could solutions be found quickly with high speed circuits in Silverstone, Spielberg and Le Castellet coming up.

McLaren are emerging I feel as the biggest threat to Mercedes they are looking to be more consistent following the issues in March. There was tension in Baku about team orders, and the team need to be careful that they don’t start creating internal division as that could cost them points if things start to overboil. They are locked in a battle with Alpha Tauri, Pierre Gasly was one of the stand-out performers this season could they go well again in Montreal.

2018 vs 2019 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2019

01:12.767 01:12.177 01:10.843 01:11.200 01:11.010 01:10.240 01:29.07.804 01:13.078

Diff

-0.465 -0.021 -0.759 -0.510 -0.424 -0.524 -24.573 -0.814

2018

01:13.302 01:12.198 01:11.599 01:11.710 01:11.434 01:10.764 01:28:31.377 01:13.864

A lap of Montreal

LEWIS HAMILTON COMES ACROSS THE LINE AND BEGINS TO HEAD TO THE OUTSIDE FOR THE KINK BEFORE TURN ONE. HE THEN BREAKS AT ABOUT 100M BEFORE, HEADING TO THE APEX AND STRAIGHT INTO TURN TWO RUNNING AROUND THE APEX BEFORE HEADING TO THE OUTSIDE ON THE RUN TO THREE. BREAKS FROM THE OUTSIDE BEFORE GOING TO THE APEX AND ACROSS STRAIGHT THROUGH FOUR AND INTO FIVE.

BUILDS SPEED ON THE EXIT AND BREAKS GOING INTO TURN SIX HITTING THE APEX AND AGAIN AT SEVEN, WHERE HE RUNS TO THE OUTSIDE. BREAKS GOING UNDER THE BRIDGE FOR EIGHT, HITS THE APEX AND RUNS STRAIGHT INTO THE APE=X OF NINE. RUNS TO THE WALL ON EXIT BEGINS ALLECTARTION.

BREAKS AS HE REACHES THE HAIRPIN, RUNS AROUND THE APEX AND GOES TO THE OUTSIDE THROUGH TWELVE AND RUNS ALONG THE LONG STRAIGHT. HE BREAKS JUST BEFORE PIT ENTRY, HITS APEX OF THIRTEEN AND FOURTEEN AND RUNS ALONG THE OUTSIDE DOING A 1:11.459.

Tyres

White Hard (C3)

Yellow Medium (C4)

Red Soft (C5)

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.