Flashback: McLaren’s triumph and tears in Canada

McLaren have won the Canadian Grand Prix no fewer than 13 times – more than any other team – and along the way the Woking outfit have had glorious moments, peppered by heartbreak on occasions. Here are 14 races that stand out for the team.


Montreal 2012 – Nailing the strategy at the last-gasp
What a nail-biter! On paper, this was a two-stopper race – so why had nobody followed Lewis Hamilton into the pitlane when he made his second stop on lap 50? For a few, tense laps, it looked as if the plan had failed, then rivals’ degradation really kicked in, and Lewis surged to the front for a beautifully judged win. Team effort, that one.


Montreal 1999 – Mika steers clear of ‘the wall of champions’
This was the race that earned the narrow run-off at the exit of the final chicance the title of ‘the wall of champions’ – the barrier that, in one afternoon, claimed the races of Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. Call it luck or judgment, but Mika Hakkinen kept it clean, taking the sole Canadian GP win of his career.


Mosport 1974 – Emmo sets his sights on the title
The ’74 championship was ferociously tight, see-sawing between Emmo, Jody Scheckter, Clay Reggazoni and Niki Lauda. At Mosport, a much-needed win for Emerson Fittpipaldi narrowly edged him to the top of the table, on equal points with Regazzoni. He nailed it a fortnight later in Watkins Glen, winning McLaren’s first-ever world championship.


Montreal 1990 – Senna steers clear of startline chaos
Chaos on the startline as McLaren’s Gerhard Berger jumps the start, incurring a one-minute post-race penalty. It adds to the race’s confusion as the Austrian is forced to build an advantage reduce the invisible deficit. In mixed conditions, this was an afternoon all about keeping your head, which Ayrton Senna did in true style, sailing to his second Canadian GP win.


Mont-Tremblant 1968 – McLaren comes of age at Mont-Tremblant
The 1968 season was a year of breakthrough for the fledgling McLaren team. Bruce McLaren took the team’s first victory at Spa in May, then Denny Hulme underlined the team’s inherent pace with wins in Italy (aided by severe attrition) and Mont-Tremblant, taking the lead when the ever-luckless Chris Amon’s Ferrari faltered and failed. McLaren was up and running…

Formula One World Championship

Mosport 1976 – Hunt claws his way back into contention
It was one of the most topsy-turvy seasons in history – even with Niki Lauda sidelined for the summer with near-fatal injuries, few would have put money on James Hunt overcoming a 35-point deficit. Yet victory at Mosport, with Lauda failing to score, helped bolster his fightback, underlining the awesome competitiveness of a driver whose on-track reputation is often overlooked in the history books.


Montreal 2007 – The rookie who was born to do it
It takes nerve to control a race from the front, particularly if you’re on course for your first-ever F1 win, and the pace is being pushed and pulled by numerous Safety Car periods – the numerous restarts only adding to the pressure. But Lewis Hamilton kept his cool and took his first win – liking it so much he followed it up with another a week later at Indianapolis.


Montreal 2011 – Jenson’s day of days
There are days when it just doesn’t seem worth it: you’re comfortably last, sloshing through the puddles, and you can’t even keep up with the Safety Car. It took oodles of belief, five pitstops (for, variously, a drive-through penalty, a puncture, a new nosebox and a couple of tyre changes) and some mighty pace on a drying track to change it all. One of the all-time greatest grands prix.

Formula One World Championship

Montreal 2008 – Lewis loses it – at 40mph!
Lewis had crushed it in Qualifying (0.6s faster than anyone), and was running away with the race – but lost it all when the Safety Car induced a flurry of early pitstops. He charged headfirst into a pitlane traffic jam, suffered – to use an Americanism – a classic ‘fender bender’, rear-ending Kimi Raikkonen and putting his and the Finn’s cars out on the spot.


Montreal 2005 – Red light stops mighty Montoya
After a tricky start to the year, it finally all seemed set to go right for Juan Pablo Montoya in Montreal. He was set for the win, until a late-race Safety Car came out at just the wrong time, ruining his race. He’d just passed the pitlane, so had to wait a lap to stop, tumbling down the order. Even worse, he then sped out of the pitlane while it was closed, ignoring the red light and getting disqualified.

Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday 12 June 2011.

Montreal 2011 – The moment every team dreads
No team wants to see its team-mates collide. But during a scrappy race on a slippery track it was almost inevitable: Lewis closed down on Jenson along the pit straight, jinking left just as Jenson began to steer leftwards to adopt his line for the first corner. Blindsided, the two made contact, Lewis clattering into the pitwall and damaging his rear suspension. Game over.

Formula One World Championship

Montreal 1989 – Montreal misery for Ayrton
‘To finish first, first you must finish’ goes the old motorsport saying. And it just adds to the pain when you retire from the lead almost within sight of the flag. That’s precisely what happened to Ayrton Senna when his Honda V10 cried enough just three laps from the chequer, handing an unlikely victory to Thierry Boutsen (his first of three). Motor racing can be a cruel sport sometimes.


Montreal 2010 – Lewis’s Cool Runnings moment
Lewis left it until the last lap to secure pole at the 2010 race, breaking Red Bull’s season-long domination of top spot. It was so close, in fact, that Lewis ran dry on his slow-down lap, patting the car like a racehorse as it slowed along the back straight. He was made-up when he discovered the moment had been recreated as a web video to mimic the climax of his favourite film, Cool Runnings!


Mosport 1973 – When is a win not a win?
What a mess! This was F1’s first-ever appearance of the Safety Car – and it caused mass confusion, failing to catch the leader, and allowing slower cars to gain a lap on the rest of the field. It took several hours of post-race head scratching to declare McLaren’s Peter Revson the winner, yet there are still some who believe that Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus was the rightful victor! Chaos. (GP247-McLaren)