For over half-a-century, various tracks around this country have been home to the Canadian Grand Prix, a Formula World Championship with some real history behind it. Ahead of this year’s June race in Montreal, we thought we’d prepare you some trivia about the GP.
1. Half-a-dozen drivers have taken either their first or last F1 career wins in Canada
Did you know three of 2018’s most high-profile drivers took their maiden Grand Prix wins in Canada? Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in his debut year in 2007; Daniel Ricciardo was victorious with Red Bull Racing in 2014; and Williams reserve Robert Kubica became the first Pole to win a Grand Prix in 2008.
They’re not alone either. In 1989, Thierry Boutsen became only the second Belgian driver to win a Grand Prix after Jacky Ickx, who, interestingly, won the race in 1969 and 1970. Local hero Gilles Villeneuve also took his first F1 win for Ferrari in 1978 at the Circuit Île Notre-Dame, a venue that would be renamed in his honour just four years later. Aptly, Frenchman Jean Alesi would take Ferrari back to the winner’s circle in Canada in 1995, with Villeneuve’s cherished #27 on his nosecone, no less.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Canadian Grand Prix has also been the last visit to victory road for some in F1. At Mosport Park in 1973, Peter Revson took his second win of the season for McLaren, but would tragically lose his life in a testing accident the following year. Jacques Laffite took his last win in a Ligier in 1981, just as Jody Scheckter secured Walter Wolf Racing’s final F1 win in 1977. By far the most famous example though is Nelson Piquet’s final career victory with Benetton in 1991, a race Nigel Mansell had dominated until gearbox issues ground the Williams-Renault on the final lap.
2. Pole position doesn’t guarantee victory in Canada
Even though four of the last five winners at Montreal have started from pole position, it’s not always a guarantee of victory: in the 48 Canadian Grand Prix held since 1967*, the pole-sitter has won only 22 of them, a batting average of just over 45%.
Perhaps the most notable example of this was Jacque Laffite’s win in 1981, a race he started from 10th on the grid, the lowest yet. Remarkably, the Ligier driver was joined on the podium by McLaren’s John Watson and Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve, who started 9th and 11th respectively.
Alexander Wurz deserves a mention here, too. Having made his F1 debut in Canada in 1997, the Austrian would stand on the podium for the final time at the same circuit 10 years later, having started 19th!
*The race wasn’t held in 1975, 1987 or 2009.
3. The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix set four all-time records
Jenson Button’s drive from dead-last to victory on the final lap in 2011 – surviving heavy rain, a drive-trough penalty and even a clash along the pit straight with McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton – is the stuff of legend, and easily the Englishman’s greatest Grand Prix win. But that’s only part of the story.
Did you know, for instance, that Button pitted more times (six) during that race than any other winner during the longest-ever Grand Prix (4h, 4m, 39s) that also had the most amount of safety car periods (six), and did so at the lowest average speed in F1 history (74.864 km/h)?
All this led to the celebratory bubbly on the top step and four F1 records in one afternoon. Not bad, Jenson. Not bad…
4. If Lewis Hamilton wins in 2018, he will tie one record, and set two more
Good grief, Michael Schumacher certainly knew how to win in Canada. Barring Magny-Cours, it’s the most successful circuit of his F1 career, the five-time World Champion taking seven wins overall at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve between 1994 and 2004. Should Lewis Hamilton win in 2018, he would equal that record. But again, that’s only part of the story.
Granted, Mercedes would be nowhere near Ferrari and McLaren’s joint-record of 13 wins at the Canadian Grand Prix. But if Hamilton-Mercedes win, it would be the first time a driver and a team have won more than three F1 races at the venue in succession. The current record-holder is, yes, Michael Schumacher, whose ’02 to ’04 run with Ferrari was ended by Kimi Raikkonen in ’05.
5. But Hamilton still has some way to go to break the record for most podium finishes
From 1992 to 2006, and including his seven wins, Michael Schumacher took a remarkable 12 podium finishes in Canada, five more than nearest active rival Lewis Hamilton. To put that another way, the reigning World Champion would need to finish on the podium every year at Canada until 2022 to equal Schumacher’s haul.
Fun fact, when Michael finished second behind brother Ralf in 2001, it marked the first-ever sibling 1-2 in F1 history. It’s a feat the pair would repeat at the same circuit three years later – albeit with the order reversed – only for Ralf’s Williams to be disqualified post-event due to a technical irregularity with the brake ducts.
Who’s your favourite to win this year’s Formula One Canadian Grand Prix? Let us know in the comments section below.