The Canadian GP and Villeneuve’s first victory

After its break last year, the Canadian Grand Prix is back on the 2010 F1 calendar with a contract through 2014. Almost all the Formula 1 teams appreciated the return of the race in Canada, as it is one of the most popular events regarding motorsport, but also because of the appeal of the hosting city Montreal.

The track has some unusual characteristics. It was built in the 1960s on the site where the 1967 Expo was held. It is the only track, which can be reached by metro, as there are no parking spaces for the fans on the island. The track is surrounded by water, while the paddock was the headquarters of the canoe competitions during the 1968 Motreal Olympic Games. The space in the paddock is extremely limited and also the track itself has only tight run-off areas, as it is somehow a mix between a permanent race track and a city circuit. Nevertheless there are some high-speed sections, which means that the drivers have to pay some extra attention. One of the track’s main characteristics is that it is extremely hard to the brakes, which it even more important this year, because there won’t be any refuelling; therefore the cars will be much heavier especially in the early part of the race.

The first Canadian GP was held in the year 1967 (won by Jack Brabham in a car bearing his name). Since then it hasn’t been part of the race calendar for only three races. This year the GP will be held for the 41st time in the country of the maple leaf. The race in 1967 was held on the Motorsport circuit, where it was raced another seven times, while the Mont Tremblant circuit hosted the race in 1968 and1970. The Gilles Villeneuve track on the Ile de Notre Dame, just outside the city centre on the St Lawrence Seaway has been used since 1978.

The Scuderia Ferrari has won here eleven times, six times by one man: Michael Schumacher, who has won the Canadian GP seven times.

After Villeneuve’s win in 1978, another Ferrari driver with the number 27, Jean Alesi, gained a very popular victory here in Canada, his only win in F1, in the year 1995, on the day of his 31st birthday, while the first victory for the Prancing Horse was 40 years ago, thanks to the Belgian Jacky Ickx.

As far as our actual drivers are concerned Felipe Massa’s best result here was a fourth place with Sauber in 2005, while Fernando Alonso won the race with Renault in 2006. There is a huge Italian community here in Montreal and Scuderia can count on their support during the race weekend under the sign of the Prancing Horse, also because the North American series of the Ferrari Challenge is usually held on the same weekend.

There’s no doubt that the most exciting race here was the one in 1978, when it was first held in French-speaking Montreal. The race was won by a popular man from Quebec, Gilles Villeneuve, behind the wheel of a Ferrari with number 27, in front of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The race was started with Jarier with Lotus leading the field, followed by Scheckter, Villeneuve and Watson. On the 25th lap Villeneuve gained the second position, passing Scheckter, right behind Jarier, who was still leading the race. The Lotus later had to retire due to an oil leak and the Canadian driver celebrated his first victory behind the wheel of a Ferrari – an unforgettable day. Today Villeneuve would be 60 years old and he is one of the icons of motorsport, a genius on the race track.

“Gilles with his generosity, his destructive capacities he had when racing, grinding gears and shifting at highest speed, abusing the clutch and the brakes, showed us what we had to do, to give the driver the possibility to defend himself at any moment.[...] I loved him." (Enzo Ferrari)

> Go to Villeneuve’s biography

> Exclusively for the Community: Ferrari race book – 1978 Canadian GP

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