Everything you need to know about the Canadian Grand Prix

Published on
16 Jun 2022
Est. reading time
5 Min

Formula One heads back to Montreal for the first time since 2019

After a two-year absence, Formula One is returning to Montreal this weekend, where Williams Racing's Nicholas Latifi will finally get the chance to contest his home Canadian Grand Prix.
After a brace of street circuits, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is a little different with its hybrid track somewhere between a dedicated facility and a road course filled with fast sweeping corners and hard braking zones, all alongside the ever-present concrete walls ready to catch a driver out.

Track Facts

Named after the late Canadian Formula One star who won the first Grand Prix at the venue, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve runs a 4.361km ribbon around the man-made Notre Dame Island that sits within Montreal's St. Lawrence River.
The circuit was initially named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit after the island where it resides. However, following the tragic death of Gilles Villeneuve in the 1982 Qualifying session at Zolder, the circuit was renamed in his honour ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix one month later.
Although overtakes are commonplace into the Turn 10 hairpin, the final corner is the most famous turn on the circuit. The latter half of a right-left chicane is known as 'The Wall of Champions' after three F1 World Champions - Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, and Jacques Villeneuve - crashed into the same barrier during the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix.
The Montreal Biosphere – a giant steel ball structure – is often seen during coverage thanks to its location on the neighbouring St. Helen's Island. The city built it for Expo 67, and today the Biosphere is the only museum in Canada devoted to environmental issues.
Although the circuit sits on an island in a river, there are additional aquatic features here, with the cars running alongside the Lac de l'Île Notre-Dame (a lake) and the Olympic Basin (a rowing basin) on their way around the 2.7-mile track.

What are the drivers saying?

Unsurprisingly, Nicky is thrilled to finally be racing on home soil in his third season after 47 Grands Prix and two-and-a-half years in F1: “I’m super excited to finally be heading to Canada for my first home race!
“Getting the opportunity to compete at home and seeing all the Canadian fans will be a great feeling. It’s another track with long straights, which we seem competitive on.
“However, some corners may not be particularly well suited to our car, based off my previous experience from FP1 sessions, so that might balance us out a little bit.
“With it being a double-header, we’ve got the chance to put Baku behind us and immediately use what we’ve learned to make the most out of this weekend.”
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After having pace around the Baku City Circuit, Alex Albon is looking to continue his momentum with the quick turnaround between Azerbaijan and Canada: “Canada is a cool circuit and it’s great to come back.
“I’ve raced there once before in 2019 and it’s a nice mix of chicanes with a good flow to it. So, if you’re good in chicanes you tend to go pretty well around there.
“You’ve also got the walls which make it really exciting to drive.
“I really enjoy being in Montreal and obviously it’s a home race for Nicky. I can’t wait for the weekend to get started.”

From the Pit Wall

The transatlantic double-header event is a challenge for both drivers and team, as Dave Robson, our Head of Vehicle Performance, explains: “The Canadian Grand Prix makes a very welcome return to the calendar having been missing for the last two years due to the pandemic.
“Both the city of Montreal and the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve itself are traditional highlights on the Formula 1 calendar and as a team we are looking forward to getting back there.
“The layout of the circuit lends itself to good racing and overtaking and makes multiple stint strategies attractive. Pirelli bring their softest compounds, which are the same as we used in Monaco and Baku.
“However, the combination of the circuit layout and tarmac roughness make this circuit unique in terms of tyre behaviour. Having not seen the circuit for a couple of years, we will need to see how the tarmac has evolved since we were last there.
“Aerodynamic efficiency, PU power and strong braking performance are all key to lap time in Montreal and must be traded against bump and kerb riding, especially with the current generation of F1 cars.
“As always, we will be using the sessions on Friday to look at these trades as well as understanding the tyre behaviour.
“For Nicholas, the recent Covid-19 interruptions to the F1 calendar mean that this event marks his first full home F1 weekend. The whole team are looking forward to the local support that Nicholas will get.”
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Did you know?

After two years without racing, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve returns and will be a mainstay on the F1 calendar for another decade after the organisers announced earlier this year that they had extended their Canadian Grand Prix contract until 2031.
The race hadn't always occupied the traditional June spot it has today, and a late September race in 1980 saw Alan Jones win his sole title in Montreal – Williams Racing's first World Drivers' Championship.
Despite being named after his father, 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve never won a Canadian Grand Prix in his F1 career, finishing second in his 1996 rookie season but crashing out at the Wall of Champions in 1997 and 1999.
The longest Formula One race in history took place at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in 2011 when safety cars and a rain delay added up to a race that took 4 hours, 4 minutes and 39.537 seconds to conclude.
The rowing and canoeing Olympic Basin that runs to the left of the final straight often sees some unusual racing when F1 rolls into town as the teams' mechanics compete in a raft race that is as unorthodox as it is fun.
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