[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] CANADIAN GRAND PRIX: RACE PREVIEW

F1 now moves from the iconic streets of Monte Carlo, across the Atlantic Ocean to Montreal, Canada, which for part of the year is covered in snow as a winter wonderland.

But June marks the start of summer, with sunshine bringing on the action and party atmosphere – one all the drivers love.

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“It’s 100 per cent one of my favourite cities to travel to all year - one of the Grands Prix I look forward to most. I love the people, friendly, really enthusiastic about us coming here. [The] Food, the bars, the nightlife, everything it’s just got a really good atmosphere and the whole city gets involved in the weekend.”

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located on the Île Notre-Dame in the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the historic track dedicated to Canada’s most famous Grand Prix driver – who won six races for Ferrari, until his tragic death in qualifying at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

One of the toughest tracks on brakes, the 4.36-kilometre circuit features 14 turns, six left and eight right, and a top speed of 335 kilometres an hour. Rubens Barrichello still has the lap record – which he set for Ferrari in 2004. While there’s two DRS activation zones: one on the back straight, the other following onto the main straight.

This year will be the 51st time that an F1 event has been held in Canada, the 39th it’s been hosted at the Île Notre-Dame track.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is actually Canada’s third Formula 1 venue – with Mosport Park the first to host in 1967, the venue sharing duties with Mont-Tremblant until 1977.

14 Canadians have raced in F1 over the years – but only one has become F1 World Champion; Jacques Villeneuve, the son of Gilles, achieving it in 1997 for Williams at the peak of his powers.

The Canuck’s rivalry with Michael Schumacher was legendary – his pass on the German at the 1996 Portuguese Grand Prix, one of F1’s greatest, with a fiery response after the chequered flag.

SOUNDBITE (English) JACQUES VILLENEUVE,
1997 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I had the tow of the car in front of me and that was just enough to put me ahead. He was angry after that race. He was really angry because no-one had beaten him like that, I think throughout his career he had never had anyone beat him at his own game or in a way like that with muscle.”

Canada’s latest offering is Lance Stroll, with the 19-year-old in his second year of F1. Stroll scored his first points on home soil last year – before his maiden podium at the next race in Azerbaijan.

And while Stroll has come under fire for being a ‘pay driver,’ Williams has lauded his performance both on and off the track.

SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
"So young and yet so mature, and has handled a huge amount of criticism in the media and in the paddock itself with such style and grace. I’m really proud of him.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton heads to Montreal as favourite, with the track one of his strengths – the four-time F1 World Champion now just one win away from equalling Schumacher’s record of seven.

Hamilton can also make it four-straight for another record at the Montreal track. Fellow F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet has three, while it’s two for Ickx, Stewart, Jones and Senna. 

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will want to further close the gap to Hamilton in the standings, 14 points the difference after Monaco. While it’s a special one for McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who celebrates 300 Grand Prix starts.

Last year, Hamilton won at a canter from teammate Valtteri Bottas, after Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen retired with a battery issue.

High speed, and unpredictable. It’s time for the Canadian Grand Prix.