Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and its famous Wall of Champions
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, located in the city of Montreal, is a top racing venue in Canada and the home of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix.
Venue on the island waited to get the right purpose
The venue was opened in 1978 and was originally named Ile Notre-Dame Circuit, situated at the artificial island in the St Lawrence Seaway. The plan of the local authorities was to build a venue for Expo ’67 and futuristic parkland, but when the Expo was finished, the site struggled to find a proper purpose. In 1976, it was used during the Summer Olympic Games before the decision was made to make this venue the home of the Canada’s most prestigious racing event – the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Named after a Formula 1 fallen hero
Works at the site were finished relatively fast and the first Canadian Grand Prix was held as the penultimate race of the 1978 season. The winner was the local hero Gilles Villeneuve, Canadian best and most popular racer. The track was renamed after his death in 1982.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a twisty track
The circuit, owned by the City of Montreal, is 4.361 km long and has 13 turns. The stands capacity is around 100.000. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has FIA Grade 1 license and over the years became popular among the drivers because ot its high-speed straights, twisty sections and pretty tight hairpins.
One of the best-known parts of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is “The Wall of Champions” at turn 15, named after Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all ended the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix after they hit the wall which was originally named “Welcome to Quebec“. Many champions from the other racing series like Ricardo Zonta, Juan Pablo Montoya, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button or Sebastian Vettel, also had unpleasant meetings with the wall.
Video : Circuit Gilles Villeneuve guide
The track layout never was drastically changed
During the second half of the 1980s, some major modifications were made to make more space for pit buildings. Later over the years, some chicanes were added or moved for safety reasons, but the layout of the track never was significantly changed. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve hosted F1 Grand Prix for the first time in 1978, but the race has not been held each year. The year of 1987 is one such exception as the race wasn’t held because of the dispute between the sponsors, while in 2009 the organizers couldn’t reach an agreement with F1 administration.
Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix is one of the main events in Montreal
Except Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the very few in the world which was the host of NASCAR races and Grand Am Sports Cars Series’ races. Many other series races were also held in Montreal, including the FIA World Sportscar Championship. The 2007 NASCAR Busch Series race won by Kevin Harvick was one of the most controversial in the series’ history after Robby Gordon claimed that he won the race before being disqualified.
Barrichelo holds the fastest lap record, Ferrari scored most wins in Montreal
The fastest lap time was set in the 2004 Formula 1 race when Rubens Barrichello in Ferrari drove a lap in 1:13.622. By comparison, the fastest lap in NASCAR Nationwide Series was set in 2012 when Alex Tagliani in Chevrolet Impala scored the time 1:40.865.
The most successful Formula 1 driver at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is Michael Schumacher who scored seven wins while Lewis Hamilton had won there on four occasions. Ferrari has the most wins in Montreal (10), only one more than McLaren.
Parc Jean Drapeau is easy to get to
Given that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located in the center of Montreal, getting there is easy. From the Pierre Elliott-Trudeau International Airport, you need around 20 minutes to get there. There are plenty of various accommodation types, so everybody who wants to attend the F1 Canadian Grand Prix can easily find good lodging. The only problem that may arise would be to find a parking place near the circuit because the island is closed on racing days while in the city center there isn’t a sufficient number of parking places; one of the options is to use the public transport.
Address: Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC H3C 6A1, Canada
Phone: +1 514 350 0000