Formula 1’s visit to Europe is interrupted this weekend, with the Grand Prix action taking place at the longstanding home of the Canadian Grand Prix – and a fan favourite – the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The Circuit

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - 2019 Canadian Grand Prix

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Location Montréal, Canada Circuit Length 4.361 km / 2.710 mi
Opened 1978 First Grand Prix 1978
Direction Clockwise Capacity 100,000
Lap Record 1:13.622 – Rubens Barrichello  – 2004 2018 winner Sebastian Vettel

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 in 1982.

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 puts teams in the awkward position of having to sacrifice downforce in favour of straightline speed. It is also murder on brakes, and there are usually a few retirees and bent chassis’ along the way…

Combining 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 over the years…

The Event

Formula 1 Pirelli Grand Prix du Canada 2019 – Schedule
Event Dates 07-09 June 2019 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 (70 laps) Sun 14:10-16:10

Session times quoted in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT – 04:00)

Rewind to 2018

Sebastian Vettel claimed a lights-to-flag victory at the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the fiftieth of his Formula 1 career. With Lewis Hamilton consigned to a lowly fifth the German moved back into the lead of the World Championship standings by a single point over the Mercedes driver.

After narrowly qualifying on pole on Saturday, Vettel looked set to have a tough fight with the Mercedes and Red Bull Racing runners. In reality, the race promised far more than it delivered.

He led the pack from pole position, blasting ahead of fellow front-row starter Valtteri Bottas to claim the lead into Turn 1. Bottas was left to fend off a faster starting Max Verstappen, who pulled alongside the Finn through Turns 1 and 2. Bottas held his nerve and Verstappen held his cool, dropping behind the Mercedes into third place.

The race’s most dramatic moment came a few corners later, when Brendon Hartley and local driver Lance Stroll collided through the fast Turn 5 sweeper. Stroll appeared to lose rear-end grip on his Williams and clipped Hartley, running on his left. Squeezed between the Williams and the tyre barrier, the luckless Hartley was launched into the air and slid off into the Turn 6 run-off with Stroll at high speed.

Up front, Vettel was able to pull out a gap over Bottas and Verstappen, with Hamilton leading Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen.

Having started on the Hypersoft tyres compared to the Ultrasoft-shod Ferraris and Mercedes’ both Red Bull Racing drivers were in the pits early to make their single pit stops. Verstappen did enough to keep a theoretical third, while Ricciardo managed to get the jump on Hamilton after the Englishman was forced to pit much earlier than planned.

Running the same power unit with which he had started the season, Hamilton’s car had not had the pace to match the race leaders all weekend and after reporting momentary power cut-outs, he pulled into the pits early.

A slower stop meant he dropped behind Ricciardo into fifth place, and it looked as though he would fall down to sixth when Ferrari opted to delay Räikkönen’s pit stop in the hope he could emerge in front of the championship leader.

It almost worked, but he would emerge just inches behind the Briton. Despite having tyres that were almost twenty laps fresher than Hamilton, Räikkönen fell back. Hamilton, meanwhile, pressed forward and closed up to Ricciardo. Despite getting within DRS range, he was unable to get close enough to mount a challenge on the Australian.

The top six finished in that order in what was a processional race for the frontrunners. The race ended bizarrely when the celebrity flag-waver, the supermodel Winnie Harlow, waved the chequered flag a lap too early after a mix-up with race officials. The race result was therefore declared at the end of Lap 68 of its scheduled 70 laps.

2018 Canadian Grand Prix podium

Sebastian Vettel notched up his 50th Grand Prix victory in Canada, reclaiming the lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Tyre Compound Selections

2019 Canadian Grand Prix - Pirelli Tyres

Like Monaco, Canada isn’t a conventional racing circuit and once more the three softest compounds in the P Zero Formula 1 range have been provided, with the C3 being the Hard (White) compound, the C4 being Medium (Yellow), and the C5 the Soft (Red) designation.

While the teams stocked up on the softest compound in Monte Carlo, the harder compounds have also been selected for Montréal. In particular, Ferrari has chosen five sets of the medium tyre: more than any other team on the grid. This could indicate that some teams are planning to use these in Q2 and to start the race.

2019 Canadian Grand Prix - Driver Tyre Selections

The Canada Form Guide

With the season almost one-third complete, Mercedes’ stranglehold on the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship standings remains. The team did, however, finally have its run of consecutive 1-2 finishes broken last time out in Monaco, but that came at the hands of Max Verstappen’s unsafe pit release into the path of Valtteri Bottas which forced the Finn to pit again with a puncture.

The Silver Arrows already have almost double the points tally of nearest rivals Ferrari (257 points to 139), while the intra-team battle for the Drivers’ Championship between Hamilton and Bottas is balanced 17 points in the former’s favour thanks to back-to-back victories in Spain and Monaco.

Hamilton will be looking to extend his lead over Bottas with victory on Sunday, which would give the Englishman a seventh win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and equal Michael Schumacher’s own tally here.

Mercedes will bring its first engine upgrade of the season, which will give the silver cars extra straight line speed against Ferrari, which – despite their roundly criticised season so far – is still considered to have the fastest car down the straights. Ferrari’s weekend in Monaco was beset by a costly strategic blunder in qualifying that ruined Charles Leclerc’s weekend on home soil, and the Italian team is clearly going all out to wrestle back some honour.

After Max Verstappen’s race-long battle with Hamilton in Monaco, Red Bull Racing will head to Montréal with a spring in their step. The team has won here twice before when powered by the less-fancied Renault motors, but their new Honda engines have given the team a lift. While perhaps its cars won’t quite have the legs in Mercedes and Ferrari in a straight line, the Canadian Grand Prix has thrown up plenty of surprise results over the years.

2019 Canadian Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Thursday 10°C – 23°C Saturday 11°C – 22°C Sunday 12°C – 27°C

Images via FIA, Mercedes-AMG Petronas, Pirelli Motorsport, Scuderia Ferrari

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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.