Canadian GP – History, Stats, Circuit Guide

The seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship will take place this weekend at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada (June 8-10 2018). The Canadian Grand Prix, the first flyaway race in North America, provides exciting races because of the layout of this street circuit and the mixed weather conditions.

Canadian GP Preview – History, Stats, Circuit Guide

The History

The Canadian Grand Prix started in 1967 and moved in 1978 to the current circuit in Montreal, first called the Ile Notre-Dame circuit. Since 1978 the race has been held 38 times at this circuit and attracts a large TV audience worldwide, especially in North America.

Gilles Villeneuve, a native of Quebec, recorded his maiden F1 victory at the first ever Grand Prix hosted at this circuit. The Canadian has acquired legendary status because of his bold and fast driving-style that bordered on recklessness.

Villeneuve has been immortalized in F1 history after his tragic death in 1982 driving for the Ferrari team at the Belgian Grand Prix. A few weeks after the tragic death of Villeneuve, the circuit was renamed after the iconic Canadian as “the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve” and the Canadian GP will forever be associated with him.

The inaugural Canadian GP was held in 1967 at Mosport Park and was won by the Australian Jack Brabham. After that venue was deemed dangerous, the Grand Prix was moved to the current venue. The first race was won by Gilles Villeneuve at his home venue for Ferrari.

The Teams and Drivers

Ferrari has won ten times at this circuit, but not since seven-time winner Michael Schumacher’s 2004 win. McLaren has won nine times at this venue, followed by Williams as the third-most successful constructor with seven wins. Mercedes have won three races and Red Bull Racing twice in the last five races here.

Michael Schumacher made this race his own by winning seven times. Lewis Hamilton (2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017) has six wins and won the last three races here. Nelson Piquet gets an honorable mention as a three-time winner. Red Bull notched their first win in 2013 with Sebastian Vettel recording his first win at this circuit. Daniel Ricciardo recorded his maiden Grand Prix win in 2014, making the most of Mercedes reliability issues.

The other past winners on the grid are Fernando Alonso (2006) and Kimi Raikkonen (2005). Alonso will make his 300th Grand Prix appearance this weekend. Lance Stroll (Williams) is the only Canadian driver on the grid currently.

The Circuit

The 4.361 kilometers road circuit built on a man-made island has fourteen slow and medium-speed corners connecting the straights. The track surface is very smooth and offers very low grip, though the track rubbers down after every session during the weekend. It is a medium down-force circuit with medium fuel consumption, but very heavy brake wear. The narrow circuit is enclosed and hemmed in by walls all around which does not forgive any driver errors.

The straights are connected by chicanes and a hairpin which creates high speed zones followed by heavy braking zones that cause extreme wear on the brakes. High G-forces of upto 5G is experienced by the drivers. Getting pole position is not so important on this track with the most overtaking opportunities of any current F1 track.


Sectors and Corners

Sector 1 (Turn 1 to Turn 5) starts with a slight kink before Turn 1 followed by a slow right-hander at Turn 2 (Virage Senna). Turns 3 and 4 are a right-left chicane followed by a flat out right-hand corner at Turn 5.

Sector 2 (Turn 6 to Turn 9) consists of two chicanes and two straights. A left-right chicane at Turn 6 and 7 leading to a straight and a right-left chicane Turn 8 and 9 (a right-left chicane) leading to another straight.

Sector 3 (Turn 10 to Turn 14) starts with a hairpin at Turn 10 (L’Epingle ). This is followed by the longest straight (Casino Straight) leading to the chicane at Turn 13 and 14 which is the most famous part of the circuit. The drivers are forced to take a racing line here which is very close to the wall at the exit and has seen champions like Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve crash into the wall. The wall has been nicknamed the “Wall of Champions” and most recently saw Vettel crash here during a practice session in 2011.

DRS Zones

The FIA has added a third DRS zone to improve overtaking opportunities. The detection point is after Turn 5 and the DRS Activation Zone is on the straight between Turns 7 and 8.

The previous two DRS zones had a single detection point after Turn 9 in the lead up to the hairpin at Turn 10.  The second DRS Activation Zone is before Turn 12 (Casino Straight) and the third DRS Activation Zone is after Turn 14 (Start-Finish Straight). On a circuit with many overtaking opportunities, the three DRS zones will make the race interesting.

Tyre Strategies

Pirelli tyre choices for this race are the red-striped supersoft tyres, purple-striped ultrasoft tyres and the pink-striped hypersoft tyres. The drivers have chosen seven or more sets of hypersoft tyres of the thirteen sets allocated to them.

The Mercedes drivers have only chosen five sets of hypersoft tyres. The team has problems with performance on the softest compound of tyres. The new hypersoft tyres made its debut in Monaco. The performance of these fast tyres in this race will be the key to team strategies. The race is likely to see mixed strategies from the teams with a two-stop race.

Current Form

Mercedes (178 pts) lead in the constructors’ championship by 22 points from arch-rival Ferrari (156 pts). Red Bull Racing (107 pts) stays in third position, buoyed by Ricciardo’s win in Monaco.

Renault (46 pts) leads the tight midfield in fourth position. McLaren (40 pts) completes the top 5 positions. Force India (26 pts) is now in sixth position.

The top 3 teams have two wins each in the six races so far. The Mercedes team, winners in the last three races here, will be challenged strongly by rivals Ferrari and Red Bull. The drivers of these two teams have made aggressive tyre choices with eight sets of hypersoft tyres. The performance of the teams on this tyre and the durability of this tyre on this demanding circuit could be the key to victory.

Drivers’ Championship

Hamilton (110 pts) leads the title race, by 14 points from Vettel (96 pts). The reigning world champion was in damage limitation mode in Monaco and had his lead cut by three points there.

Daniel Ricciardo (72 pts) is now third, after he won in dramatic fashion in Monaco. Valtteri Bottas  (68 pts) is in fourth position. Raikkonen (60 pts) is in fifth position and rounds out the top 5 positions in the drivers’ championship.

The current top 3 drivers in the drivers’ championship, Hamilton, Vettel, and Ricciardo, have between them won the last six races of the Canadian GP. They will again be among the top contenders for the 2018 race win. Ricciardo however will most likely be hampered by a grid penalty related to his damaged MGU-K being replaced here.

Many drivers will be looking for redemption with a good performance at the race this weekend. Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean, Brendon Hartley and the Williams drivers will be the drivers hoping for a good race. The 2018 season has been exciting because of the race winners coming from different teams. This is one of Hamilton’s favourite circuits. Can he be dethroned and could there be a new winner in this race?

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