Canadian Grand Prix (Canadian GP) – Biography Points

Canadian Grand Prix

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Canadian Grand Prix (Canadian GP)

The Canadian Grand Prix (French: Grand Prix du Canada) is an annual motor racing event that has been held since 1961. It became part of the Formula One World Championship in 1967. Initially, it was hosted at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, as a sports car event before alternating between Mosport and Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec once Formula One took over. Due to safety concerns, the race permanently moved to Mosport after 1971. In 1978, following further safety concerns, the event found its current home at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Notre Dame Island in Montreal, Quebec.

In 2005, the Canadian Grand Prix was the most-watched Formula One race globally and the third most-watched sporting event worldwide, trailing only Super Bowl XXXIX and the UEFA Champions League Final of that year.

The 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, following the 2021 cancellation, the contract for the Canadian Grand Prix was extended until 2031.

Spielberg, Styria, Austria

Canadian Grand Prix (Canadian GP)
 1961
Country Canadian
First Held 1961
Most wins (constructors) Ferrari (14)
Location Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Circuit Length 4.361 km (2.709 miles)
Race length 305.270 km (189.694 miles)
Laps 70
Most wins (drivers)
  • Michael Schumacher (7)
  • Lewis Hamilton (7)

History

The early Canadian Grand Prix began as a premier event in the new Canadian Sports Car Championship at Mosport Park near Toronto in 1961. This challenging and scenic circuit was popular with drivers due to its elevation changes. Initially, the event attracted several international sports car and Formula One drivers. For the first five years, winners often had prior Formula One experience or would soon enter the championship. In 1966, the Canadian-American Challenge Cup ran the event, with American Mark Donohue winning. Formula One took over the following year, though the CSCC and Can-Am series continued at Mosport in their own events.

Formula One Era

The Canadian Grand Prix joined the Formula One World Championship in 1967, held at Mosport Park. The race alternated with Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec in 1968 and 1970. Mont-Tremblant, much like Mosport, was known for its significant elevation changes and challenging layout. Jack Brabham won the first Formula One championship race there in 1967.

The 1968 event saw Chris Amon leading until a gearbox failure, allowing McLaren teammates Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren to finish 1-2. Following the 1968 season, there were proposals to move the race to a new street circuit in Toronto, but this was eventually dropped.

In 1969 at Mosport Park, Jackie Stewart and Jacky Ickx battled for the lead until a collision with a slower car ended Stewart’s race. Ickx continued to win. In 1970, Ickx won again at Mont-Tremblant, but safety concerns and track surface issues led to the circuit being dropped from the calendar. Mosport Park hosted the race exclusively from 1971 onwards.

1970s Challenges and Changes

The 1971 race at Mosport Park was delayed due to rain and fog, with Jackie Stewart winning. In 1972, safety upgrades at Mosport led to another Stewart victory. The 1973 race was marked by confusion due to a mishandled pace car deployment, ultimately seeing Peter Revson win. Emerson Fittipaldi won the 1974 event, while there was no race in 1975.

James Hunt won the controversial 1976 race after being disqualified from a previous event. In 1977, Gilles Villeneuve debuted for Ferrari, but safety concerns arose after severe accidents involving Ian Ashley and Jochen Mass. Jody Scheckter won, but ongoing safety issues led to proposals to move the race.

Move to Montreal

In 1978, due to safety concerns at Mosport, the race moved to Circuit Île Notre Dame in Montreal, now known as Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This track was developed quickly on a man-made island used for Expo ’67. The race has been held there ever since, with only a few cancellations.

Montreal and the Canadian Grand Prix

The Canadian Grand Prix found a permanent home in Montreal in 1978, with the track later renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to honor Quebec native Gilles Villeneuve after his tragic death in 1982. The inaugural race in Montreal was won by Villeneuve himself, driving a Ferrari.

Early Years and Developments

In 1979, modifications to the circuit were made to increase its speed, and Australian Alan Jones won that year and the next, also securing the Drivers’ Championship in 1980. The 1980 race saw a dramatic startline pile-up involving Jones and his Brazilian championship rival, Nelson Piquet. Piquet’s misfortune continued as his replacement car’s engine blew up, leading to his retirement from the race. Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jabouille’s career ended after a serious crash that year, resulting in severe leg injuries.

1981 saw a rain-soaked race where Gilles Villeneuve demonstrated his skill by finishing third despite significant car damage. Frenchman Jacques Laffite won, followed by Briton John Watson and Villeneuve. Villeneuve’s death in 1982 was a significant loss, and shortly after, the Montreal circuit was renamed in his honor. The 1982 race itself was marred by tragedy when Riccardo Paletti died in a startline crash, overshadowing Nelson Piquet’s victory.

Mid-1980s to 1990s: Competitive Racing and Iconic Moments

In 1983, René Arnoux won his first race as a Ferrari driver, and Piquet claimed victory again in 1984. The 1985 race saw Ferrari secure a 1-2 finish with Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson. The following year, Keke Rosberg made a remarkable charge through the field, but it was Nigel Mansell who ultimately won. The 1987 race was canceled due to a sponsorship dispute, leading to track modifications and the relocation of the starting line.

Ayrton Senna won the 1988 race, and in 1989, a late failure of his Honda engine handed victory to Belgian Thierry Boutsen. The 1990 race, held under rainy conditions, saw numerous accidents, with Senna emerging victorious again. The 1991 race featured a dramatic finale where Nigel Mansell’s car failed on the last lap, allowing Nelson Piquet to secure his final F1 victory.

Gerhard Berger won in 1992 after a collision between Mansell and Senna. Alain Prost won the 1993 event, while Michael Schumacher dominated the 1994 race, which saw significant safety changes in response to the Imola tragedies. Jean Alesi secured his only career victory in 1995 on his 31st birthday, driving the iconic No. 27 Ferrari, once driven by Gilles Villeneuve.

The Canadian Grand Prix gained prominence as the sole North American Grand Prix from 1993 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2011. In 1996, Damon Hill won, and the 1997 race, marked by a severe crash involving Olivier Panis, saw a shift in his career trajectory. Michael Schumacher dominated the race from 1997 to 2004, except for victories by Mika Häkkinen in 1999 and the Schumacher brothers in 2001 and 2003.

Recent Highlights and Modern Era

The 2007 race marked rookie Lewis Hamilton’s first Formula One victory, and the 2008 race saw Robert Kubica win his only Formula One race. The Canadian Grand Prix continues to be a key event in the Formula One calendar, showcasing thrilling races and significant moments in motorsport history.

Mercedes F1 in Action at the Australian Grand Prix

2009 Hiatus and Return

On October 7, 2008, the Canadian Grand Prix was unexpectedly dropped from the 2009 Formula One calendar, marking the first time since 1987 that the race was not held in Montreal. With the United States Grand Prix already dropped after 2007, this left North America without a Formula One race for the first time since 1958.

During the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, there were reports that the Canadian Grand Prix could return if the Abu Dhabi circuit was not ready in time. On April 26, 2009, Bernie Ecclestone mentioned that the FIA was negotiating the return of the Canadian Grand Prix for the 2010 season, contingent on circuit upgrades.

On August 29, 2009, the BBC reported a provisional schedule for the 2010 season, including the Canadian Grand Prix, which was initially set for June 6. The race eventually took place on June 13, 2010. On November 27, 2009, Quebec officials and race organizers announced a new five-year contract with Formula One Administration, running from 2010 to 2014. Under this agreement, the government agreed to pay 15 million Canadian dollars annually to host the race, significantly less than the 35 million initially requested by Ecclestone.

2010 to Present

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix became the longest Formula One race ever due to rain delays. After the restart on lap 41, Jenson Button moved from last place to first, forcing leader Sebastian Vettel into an error and winning what he described as “my best ever race.”

The 2013 Canadian Grand Prix was dominated by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull. However, the race was marred by the first Formula One-related fatality in 12 years. Track marshal Mark Robinson, 38, was run over by a recovery vehicle while removing Esteban Gutiérrez’s Sauber. Robinson died later in the hospital, becoming the first track-side death since marshal Graham Beveridge’s accident at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

Wildlife Incidents

In the weeks leading up to the Grand Prix, city officials trap and relocate as many groundhogs as possible from around the racecourse to nearby Île Ste-Hélène. Despite these efforts, wildlife incidents have occurred:

  • In 1990, Alessandro Nannini struck a gopher, damaging his tire.
  • In 2007, a groundhog disrupted a practice session, causing issues for Ralf Schumacher and later forcing Anthony Davidson to pit for repairs after hitting one.
  • In 2008, a groundhog crossed the track during the second practice session but did not disrupt it.
  • In 2018, Romain Grosjean struck a groundhog, damaging his front wing during practice.
  • In 2022, Nicholas Latifi hit a groundhog during third practice, causing damage in the braking zone of turn 8.

Wall of Champions

The final corner of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, famously known as the “Wall of Champions,” has earned its notorious reputation due to crashes involving several World Champions. In 1999, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the wall at the final chicane, giving the wall its ironic nickname.

Other notable crashes into the Wall of Champions include:

  • Ricardo Zonta, the reigning FIA GT sports car champion at the time.
  • CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya.
  • Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Carlos Sainz Jr.
  • 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button.
  • Four-time F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel during Friday practice in 2011.
  • Former Formula Renault 3.5 champion Kevin Magnussen during Q2 in 2019, who escaped serious injury.

Before being dubbed the Wall of Champions, it also claimed the likes of 1992 World Sportscar Champion and long-time F1 driver Derek Warwick, who spectacularly crashed his Arrows-Megatron during qualifying for the 1988 Canadian Grand Prix.

Winners

Repeat Winners (Drivers)

WinsDriverYears Won
7Michael Schumacher (Germany)1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004
7Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom)2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
3Nelson Piquet (Brazil)1982, 1984, 1991
3Max Verstappen (Netherlands)2022, 2023, 2024
2Pedro Rodríguez (Mexico)1963, 1964
2Jacky Ickx (Belgium)1969, 1970
2Jackie Stewart (United Kingdom)1971, 1972
2Alan Jones (Australia)1979, 1980
2Ayrton Senna (Brazil)1988, 1990
2Sebastian Vettel (Germany)2013, 2018

Repeat Winners (Constructors)

WinsConstructorYears Won
14Ferrari (Italy)1963, 1964, 1970, 1978, 1983, 1985, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2018
13McLaren (United Kingdom)1968, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012
7Williams (United Kingdom)1979, 1980, 1986, 1989, 1993, 1996, 2001
5Red Bull (Austria)2013, 2014, 2022, 2023, 2024
4Brabham (United Kingdom)1967, 1969, 1982, 1984
4Mercedes (Germany)2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
2Lotus (United Kingdom)1961, 1962
2Tyrrell (United Kingdom)1971, 1972
2Benetton (United Kingdom)1991, 1994

 

Repeat Winners (Engine Manufacturers)

WinsManufacturerYears Won
14Ferrari (Italy)1963, 1964, 1970, 1978, 1983, 1985, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2018
12Ford (United States) 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1991, 1994
10Mercedes (Germany) 1999, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
6Renault (France)1989, 1993, 1996, 2006, 2013, 2014
4Honda (Japan)1986, 1988, 1990, 1992
4BMW (Germany)1982, 1984, 2001, 2008
2Climax (United Kingdom)1961, 1962
2Chevrolet (United States)1965, 1966
2Honda RBPT (Japan)2023, 2024

 

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