The Formula 1 circus has ended its first brief stint in Europe with a quick trip across the Atlantic for its traditional summer race in Canada, around Montreal’s Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve circuit.

Mercedes looks likely to claim seven wins on the trot, but the battle will rage within its own ranks after a feisty hit-out last time out on the streets of Monaco.

The Circuit

FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2014Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve Date: 06-08 June 2014
Lap Length: 4.361km
Free Practice Session 1 Fri 10:00-11:30
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 14:00-15:30
Free Practice Session 3 Sat 11:00-12:00
Qualifying Sat 14:00-15:00
Race (78 laps) Sun 15:00-17:00
Lap Record 1:21.670 (2008)
2013 Winner Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)

* All session times are quoted in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00 hrs)

Built on a man-made island in the middle of the St Lawrence River, the circuit was named after Canada’s favourite F1 son, Gilles Villeneuve, who won on this very circuit in 1978 and whose legend still burns bright over 30 years after his untimely death.

While there is currently no Canadian on this year’s grid for the parochial fans to cheer on, crowds will still flock to watch what is typically an action-packed race.

Famed for being a car breaker, drivers will need to keep off the marbles and away from the walls that closely line the edge of the circuit. The track is murder on brakes, and there are usually a few retirees and bent chassis’ along the way…

The track combines some high-speed sections with some slow, sometimes blind corners, and it’s an incredible test of man and machine.

From the start of the lap, there is a hard-left kink that immediately feeds into a right-hand hairpin, followed by a sequence of chicanes and short straights before the track picks up speed. There are several long straights, cumbersome chicanes and big stopping points. The are several overtaking opportunities and the final chicane with its ‘Wall of Champions’ has caught many out…

Take a look at our Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve Track Guide:

The History Bit

The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve had never played to Red Bull Racing’s strengths, but it finally did twelve months ago when Sebastian Vettel claimed the team’s first win in Montreal after qualifying on pole.

The German finished 14 seconds clear of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, which was chased over the line by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes.

The event was marred by the tragic death of track marshal Mark Robinson, who was run over by a recovery vehicle attempting to move Esteban Gutiérrez’s damaged Sauber which had crashed out in the closing stages of the race.

So what have been some of the highlights from the many races at Montreal? Here’s our shortlist of the best – interestingly, two (including last year’s) feature in our ‘Top 10 Last Lap Wins’ countdown published on this website:

  • 1981: A downpour lashes the circuit, and the brilliant Gilles Villeneuve wrestled his Ferrari to an improbable third place after running half the race distance without his nose cone.
  • 1989: A bizarre race hit by heavy rain. The race lead swapped countless times and at the end of two hours of mayhem that featured three mid-race disqualifications, Thierry Boutsen took his first-ever Grand Prix win for Williams, the team’s first of many with engine partner Renault.
  • 1991: Six races into the season, and Williams’ Nigel Mansell had two podium finishes while McLaren’s Ayrton Senna had enjoyed four wins. The Williams’ were the better cars in Canada and cruised into the distance to look set for a comfortable 1-2 finish. But then Riccardo Patrese’s gearbox packed it in, and Mansell comically stalled his car on the final lap when celebrating prematurely with the crowds. An incredulous Nelson Piquet took an unexpected win in his Benetton, which was the last win for Pirelli before it returned to F1 this year.
  • 1998: Michael Schumacher takes a brilliant win despite incurring a stop-go penalty for running Heinz-Harald Frentzen off the road after a pit stop. Jacques Villeneuve threw away a possible win with a wild lunge to take the lead, allowing Schumacher to use a better strategy to deny Giancarlo Fisichella of an unlikely win. Fisichella’s team-mate Alexander Wurz finished fourth after starting from the pit lane, having barrel-rolled his Benetton at the first start.
  • 2007: A chaotic race that saw plenty of scrapes followed up by an almighty accident for Robert Kubica, from which he incredibly emerged with little more than bruising. Lewis Hamilton went on to score his maiden F1 victory.
  • 2008: Showing his resilience just a year after his big smash, Kubica takes his maiden – and to-date, only – F1 win, leading an imperious BMW Sauber 1-2 ahead of team-mate Nick Heidfeld. Lewis Hamilton threw away his chances of a race win after colliding with Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane.
  • 2011: Officially the longest Grand Prix ever at over four hours in length, a torrential mid-race downpour brought proceedings to a halt. Jenson Button suffered two collisions – one with McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton and the other with Fernando Alonso – but somehow tigered through the field from last place to snatch victory from Sebastian Vettel on the final lap!
Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve

The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve has been a mainstay on the F1 calendar since the late 1970s.

The Form Guide

The tussle at the front of the grid is getting a little too hot to handle in the Mercedes camp. Just when the momentum looked to have swung Lewis Hamilton’s way, teammate Nico Rosberg responded with a successful defence of his 2013 victory on the streets of Monaco. Plenty of column inches have been given to the simmering tensions between the pair, and despite claims from within the team that the frosty relationship between the two has thawed, few actually believe it.

In reality, the cracks have just been papered over. It won’t take much to open the wounds once again at an event where the only man who can beat a Mercedes driver looks like being the other Mercedes driver.

If anything, Monaco showcased that Hamilton’s psychological fragility is as apparent as ever, while Rosberg demonstrated that he’s not afraid to take the fight to his teammate. Past results suggest Hamilton – a three-time winner here  – will have the edge, and he’ll retake the Drivers’ Championship lead he lost just a fortnight before.

Defending Canada race-winners Red Bull Racing showed much improved pace at Monaco by genuinely taking the fight for pole position honours to the Silver Arrows. But Monaco is a funny circuit that does tend to mask any horsepower and chassis disadvantages; the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve, however, will exploit any weaknesses.

The development in the Red Bull camp is aggressive, and one should expect them to ease into the ‘best of the rest’ slot with Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel the most likely candidates to claim the final podium slot if the two Mercs remain reliable and avoid contact with one another.

Their improvement in part has come down to the hard work by engine partner Renault, and this was showcased with improved performance for its fellow runners, most notably Scuderia Toro Rosso and Lotus. The latter managed another points finish at the hands of Romain Grosjean last time out, while the former has suffered with a recurrent exhaust problem that led to a double-DNF in Monaco. The Italian team has been strong here in recent years, and points finishes for Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Éric Vergne should not be ruled out.

Ferrari’s development struggles continue and the team shows little sign of making major headway as the midpoint of the season approaches. Fernando Alonso wrestled the F14T to a frustrating fourth-placed finish last time out, while Kimi Räikkönen had a bit of a shocker, although he’s yet to have a seriously trouble-free weekend.

Aside from the Toro Rossos mentioned previously, the battle for the minor points places looks set to be between the Ferraris, Force Indias and Williams runners, and McLaren could also be in the mix if the MP4-29 can get itself hooked up on this peculiar circuit.

Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve

The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is one of the toughest Grand Prix venues on brakes.

Don’t forget to enter your Canadian Grand Prix Predictions!

Round 7 of the 2014 F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the race right up until five minutes before qualifying!

Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions!

All you’ll need to do is predict:

  • which driver will win pole position and the race
  • which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
  • which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
  • who will post the fastest lap of the race
  • who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position

You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the Canadian Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season! Click here to see the current points’ standings.

To enter your predictions this weekend, click here.

Images via Sutton Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.