The Canadian Grand Prix was a much-loved event for Scuderia Ferrari, especially ever since the race was held on the semi-permanent track on the Ile Notre Dame in Montreal. The first race to be held here was in 1978, won by Gilles Villeneuve at the wheel of a Ferrari 312 T3 and the track was named after him, following his passing at Zolder on the Saturday of the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Today, the Canadian event is still one of the most popular on the calendar.
The 1995 edition of the Canadian event was the sixth round of the championship and Ferrari arrived in Montreal having finished on the podium in all five previous races, although it was still chasing its first win of the year. Qualifying saw Gerhard Berger fourth on the grid, ahead of Jean Alesi, but the 412 T2 seemed to have the potential to allow the Prancing Horse engineers to hope for a good showing. At the start, poleman Michael Schumacher in the Benetton kept the lead, while behind him, David Coulthard spun the Williams on the first lap and had to retire. The Berger-Alesi duo swooped past Damon Hill in the other Williams to close on Schumacher, but Berger’s pit stop went wrong and the Austrian lost time, dropping several places down the order.
Lying second, Alesi began to push Schumacher hard, while the German had to make a further unexpected pit stop as he could not change gear due to an electrical problem that required a change of steering wheel, after which he rejoined seventh. Once in the lead, Jean did a perfect job of managing the situation, counting down the laps to the chequered flag, which he took with a 30 second advantage over Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine, both in Jordans.
It was jubilation for Alesi and everyone in the Ferrari garage, as the Frenchman had gone for so long without ever having won in Formula 1. The celebrations continued under the podium, with the team surrounded by the fans, many of them Italian-Canadians. They really showed their support for Jean, for whom this would be the only Formula 1 win of his career. It was the best present he could have given himself that 11th June, it being his 31st birthday.