FIA Preview: Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

Jun.6 (FIA) Round seven of the 2012 Formula One World Championship may be taking place in one the sport’s most familiar and popular venues, Montreal, which hosts its 33rd Canadian Grand Prix, but this year’s visit to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve sees the sport entering uncharted territory.

Aerial view over the Circuit Ile Notre Dame, situated on a man-made island in the centre of the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. Montreal, Canada, 2002. DIGITAL IMAGEWith Mark Webber winning last time out in Monaco, we head to Quebec seeking either an historic seventh different victor from season’s first seven races or the campaign’s first repeat winner.

If form around the Île Notre Dame track is anything to go by then Lewis Hamilton has perhaps the best chance of being that lucky seventh winner. The McLaren driver has two wins (2007 and 2010) and three pole positions (2007-’08 and 2010) from just four starts here, making him something of a Montreal specialist. However, there are plenty more who’ll be gunning for the top step, including Monaco pole winner Michael Schumacher, who has won this race a staggering seven times, and defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who’ll be seeking to make up for last year’s final-lap error which saw him hand victory to Jenson Button at the end of a marathon four-hour race.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 crashes at the final corner in the first practice session.But the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not easy to master. Long, high-speed straights end abruptly in slow corners, and the cars often have to decelerate from near 300kph to less than 100kph in the blink of an eye. That puts heavy stress on brakes and teams will be bringing their most extreme brake ducts in order to cool their cars’ brakes efficiently.

Engines too are worked quite hard, with 60 per cent of the lap at full throttle. Add to that the close proximity of the barriers, particularly the notorious ‘Wall of Champions’, and it’s clear that Formula One’s search for some kind of consistency this season is unlikely to end in Montreal – it really is a race where anything can happen.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

  • Length of lap: 4.361km
  • Lap record: 1:13.622 (Rubens Barrichello Ferrari, 2004)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.000km
  • Total number of race laps: 70
  • Total race distance: 305.270km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h during practice & 100 km/h during qualifying and race

Circuit changes since 2011

  • All kerbs and lines painted around and on the track will be painted with a genuine FIA-approved non-slip paint.
  • The guardrail on the driver’s left before and after turn 10 has been replaced by walls, as in other locations. New debris fences have been fitted on top of these new walls.
  • A number of guardrail posts have been renewed.
  • A gate will be provided in the pit wall to allow the teams to remove all their equipment from the grid more quickly and without having to take everything to the pit exit.

Canadian Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • Podium (L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, Paddy Lowe (GBR), Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing. Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday 12 June 2011.The race in Canada has been part of the Formula One calendar since 1967, when the first race was run at the Mosport Park circuit in Ontario. This will be the 43rd running of the race and Montreal’s 33rd time hosting the event.
  • As at the Monaco GP a fortnight ago, Pirelli will offer teams their red-banded Super Soft and yellow Soft tyres here in Montreal.
  • The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve circuit firmly belongs to Michael Schumacher, the German having notched up seven wins from 17 attempts. Pretty impressive. Only Nelson Piquet can come close to that stat with three wins – 1982, ’84 and 1991 – from 13 starts.
  • In recent seasons, no one has dominated at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the top step on the podium being occupied by five drivers in the past six years: Jenson Button (2011), Lewis Hamilton (2010, ’07), Robert Kubica (’08), Fernando Alonso (’06) and Kimi Raikkonen (’05).
  • Schumacher has also notched six pole positions here. Again, no other driver comes close. Nelson Piquet and Aytron Senna started from the front three times and, of the current drivers, only Lewis Hamilton can match that, the McLaren driver grabbing a hat-trick of poles in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Starting from pole is no guarantee of a win. In the past decade, the pole sitter has won just three times – Fernando Alonso in 2006 and Hamilton in 2007 and 2010.
  • Jean Alesi took his one and only Formula One victory here in 1995. Driving for Ferrari, he inherited the lead after Michael Schumacher suffered a gearbox problem that dropped him to fourth. Alesi famously ran out of fuel on his victory lap but was given a lift back to the pits by the defeated Schumacher.
  • Nigel Mansell probably doesn’t have fond memories of his 1991 race here. The Briton was leading comfortably when on the last lap he ground to a halt. It is commonly believed that he let his engine revs drop too low while waving to the crowd in celebration, thereby stalling the engine, However, the official Williams line was that Mansell suffered a late gearbox failure. Whatever the reason Nelson Piquet swept through to score perhaps his most fortunate F1 victory.
  • The extraordinary 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is officially F1’s longest race. The total race time (including a long suspension when the wet track was too treacherous to race upon) was a whopping 4 hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds, over an hour and a quarter longer than the similarly disrupted Korean Grand Prix of 2010. Up until last year’s race in Montreal the longest Formula One event was the 1954 German Grand Prix, which lasted 3hr 45 minutes and 45.80 seconds. There was no rain interruption there though. That race  was run in dry and mild conditions and featured 22 laps of the 22.81km Nurburgring, giving a huge total distance of 501.82km.

Canadian Grand Prix Race Stewards

Martin Donnelly (GBR). Autosport International Show, NEC, Birmingham, England, Day Two, Friday 14 January 2011.Ulsterman Martin Donnelly, 47, was a star of junior racing categories in the 1980s before making his grand prix debut with the Arrows team at the 1989 French GP at Paul Ricard, substituting for Derek Warwick. He qualified 14th and raced to a creditable 12th. He was offered a race drive at Lotus alongside Warwick for 1990 and started 12 races, recording a best finish of seventh at the Hungarian GP. However, his time in Formula One was cut short when, later in the season, a suspension failure caused a huge accident in practice for the Spanish GP at Jerez. Despite the serious injuries he suffered, Donnelly recovered sufficiently to race competitively in national events. He now runs Donnelly Track Academy in Norfolk, England and has held a number of racing team management positions.

José Abed, an FIA Vice President since 2006, began competing in motor sport in 1961. In 1985, as a motor sport official, Abed founded the Mexican Organisation of International Motor Sport (OMDAI) which represents Mexico in the FIA. He sat as its Vice- President from 1985 to 1999, becoming President in 2003.
In 1986, Abed began promoting truck racing events in Mexico and from 1986 to 1992, he was President of Mexican Grand Prix organising committee. In 1990 and 1991, he was President of the organising committee for the International Championship of Prototype Cars and from 1990 to 1995, Abed was designated Steward for various international Grand Prix events.
Since 1990, Abed has been involved in manufacturing prototype chassis, electric cars, rally cars and kart chassis.

Dr Gerd Ennser has successfully combined his formal education in law with his passion for motor racing. While still active as a racing driver he began helping out with the management of his local motor sport club and since 2006 has been a permanent steward at every round of Germany’s DTM championship. Since 2010 he has also worked as a Formula One steward. Dr Ennser, who has worked as a judge, a prosecutor and in the legal department of an automotive-industry company, has also been a member of the steering committee of German motor sport body, the DMSB, since spring 2010, where he is responsible for automobile sport. In addition, Dr Ennser is a board member of the South Bavaria Section of ADAC, Germany’s biggest auto club.

  • Hawk

    Good Barichello went away with something. Given the trend of F1 speeds, he might keep it for a very, very long time. That 2004 Ferrari has the records for almost all the tracks driven at the time and currently.

  • Thierry

    Sorry to tell you but first 3 or 4 Canadian Grand Prix were held at Mt Tremblant circuit in Quebec. It moved to Mosport park several years later.