17 April 2019 14:41
Motorsport Live look back at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve over the years, and the races that make the track great.
The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the longest-serving events on the Formula 1 calendar, with its notoriety for thrills and spills - allied to its close proximity to Montreal - making it a favourite on the championship schedule.
The inaugural Canadian Grand Prix was held in 1961 and six years later it became part of the Formula 1 World Championship, alternating between Mosport and Mont Tremblant, before taking up a new home on the man-made Ile Notre Dame in the Saint Lawrence Seaway, as part of Montreal's legacy project in the wake of the city hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics. Local hero Gilles Villeneuve became the first, and so far only, Canadian to triumph at the circuit on its Formula 1 debut in 1978 and four years later the venue was named after the Ferrari icon in the wake of his tragic death.
Villeneuve's 1978 triumph was his first in Formula 1 and he was far from the last driver to savour their maiden successes at the circuit which was ultimately renamed in his honour. Thierry Boutsen (1989), Jean Alesi (1995), Lewis Hamilton (2007), Robert Kubica (2008) and Daniel Ricciardo (2014) all stood atop the Formula 1 podium for the first time in Canada. For some - Alesi and Kubica - it proved to be their sole success in the championship, but for Hamilton it went down in history as the first of many. It's six and counting for the reigning World Champion at the semi-permanent venue! He nonetheless remains one win behind all-time great Michael Schumacher, who not only took seven victories but stood on the podium 12 times - no-one has taken more top-three places at one individual grand prix.
Pole position is a strong advantage at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with 19 of the 40 races held so far won from top spot in the grid. But it's not a slam dunk by any means. Montreal hosted the longest-ever Formula 1 race in 2011 when Jenson Button surged from the rear of the field to win in dry/wet/dry conditions after four hours of stop-start action, passing Sebastian Vettel on the very last lap, having made a total of six trips to the pit lane!
If you're a Ferrari fan then Canada is worthy of a visit - the marque has won 11 races in Montreal, more than any team, and is the defending race victor on account of Vettel's dominant display in 2018. That ended Mercedes' hat-trick, those three wins bringing it to fourth on the all-time list, with McLaren (nine) and Williams (seven) registering their successes in previous eras.
The close proximity of the walls, and the self-titled "Wall of Champions" for the victims it's taken, means there have been some race-defining crashes over the years and that usually leads to the appearance of the Safety Car - throwing a strategic spanner into the works and potentially upsetting the normal status quo, spicing up the finishing order, and leading to some great on track battles.
With a contract recently agreed through to 2026 and facilities currently being upgraded at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Canadian Grand Prix is an event that not only has its history but it embracing a new chapter.
It is a circuit at which fan-favourites Ferrari thrive, the threat of a game-changing crash is always just around the corner while the heavy braking zones means there's action and overtaking galore - all within reach of one of North America's most-popular cities. You won't want to miss out on the action. Check out all ticket and hospitality options here.
Interested in going and what to read more about the wider area, and what Montreal has to offer? Why not check out our "Why you've got to go" article we wrote for sister company Motorsport.com here: