Montreal is one of the most popular destinations on the F1 calendar, with the city coming to life in June after a long, frozen winter. Canada’s second-most populous city a serious party hotspot, one that both locals and visitors look forward to each year.
… including Daniel Ricciardo who stormed to his maiden race win there for Red Bull in 2014… the first of seven career victories so far.
SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
RED BULL RACING 2014-2018:
“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.”
And in 2019, the celebrations will be next-level with this year marking the 50th time Canada has been part of the F1 World Championship calendar. The 40th to be held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
… named after Canada’s late, great racing hero whose supreme natural talent and mega wheel-to-wheel battles, will forever be admired. His duel with René Arnoux during the 1979 French GP at Dijon the ultimate…
Villeneuve’s tragic death at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, 37 years ago last month, stopped the nation says former Ferrari teammate Jody Scheckter.
SOUNDBITE (English) JODY SCHECKTER
1979 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“When we went to the [Villeneuve] funeral, the whole highway was just full of people, the bridges were just full of people. The whole of Canada were devastated because of Gilles.”
The Montreal track is Canada’s third Formula 1 venue following its debut on the calendar in 1967. Mosport Park and Mont-Tremblant sharing the duties until 1978.
…when Villeneuve won his home race for the Prancing Horse.
The then-new venue located on Île Notre-Dame in the middle of the Saint Lawrence seaway, the island hosting World Expo 1967 - and the rowing and canoeing events at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
And through the years, it’s provided some spectacular racing…Australian Alan Jones clinching his world championship there, with Williams in 1980. The squad beginning a two-decade golden era.
SOUNDBITE (English) ALAN JONES,
1980 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Beating Nelson Piquet was probably better than winning the World Championship. No, but it was great. Patrick and Frank and myself got on like a house on fire. We were all a similar age. We all had the same ambitions and desires.”
And Montreal still holds the record for the longest-ever event, 2011’s race lasting four hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds with 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button coming back from last place to win.
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 per hour. Rubens Barrichello still has the lap record, which he set for Ferrari in 2004. There’s now three DRS activation zones, with one on the back straight, the next on the main straight, and one between turns seven and eight. There’s also two detection points.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has won three of the last four races in Canada, for six victories overall in Montreal. One fewer than record-holder Michael Schumacher… but Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won last year.
And he’ll be desperate to replicate that, despite the Scuderia admitting it doesn’t have any major upgrades on the horizon to up the pace.
For F1’s only North American team, Haas, Canada is a second home race with Romain Grosjean celebrating his 150th Grand Prix start… while the local hero is Lance Stroll, his Racing Point team launching in Toronto this year.
Fast, and furious… it’s time for the Canadian Grand Prix.