Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
The Hairpin (L'Epingle) on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
|Location||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Time zone||GMT −5|
|Owner||Ville de Montréal|
|Former names||Île Notre-Dame Circuit (1978–1982)|
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
|Length||4.361 km (2.71 mi)|
|Lap record||1:13.622 ( Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)|
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a motor racing circuit in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is the venue for the FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. It has previously hosted the FIA World Sportscar Championship, the Champ Car World Series, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
The Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One racing, which had taken place for 30 years at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, was dropped from the 2009 Formula One calendar and replaced with the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On November 27, 2009, Quebec's officials and Canadian Grand Prix organisers announced a settlement with Formula One Administration and signed a new five-year contract spanning the 2010–2014 seasons. 
Originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit, the circuit was built and finished in 1978. In what has proven to be the venue's main event over the decades, the FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix had been part of the Formula One World Championship for 10 years, and it was previously held at Mosport Park near Toronto on 8 occasions and in 1968 and 1970, the Mont-Tremblant circuit in Quebec. With safety concerns with Mosport blighting the 1977 event, it was decided to move the race to the new circuit in Montreal. In 1982, it was renamed in honour of Canadian Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve, following his death in 1982. The circuit is located in a part of the city of Montreal known as Parc Jean-Drapeau. The park is named after the mayor of Montreal who was responsible for the organization of Expo 67. The circuit lies on Île Notre-Dame, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River most of which was originally built up for the Expo. Also the neighbouring island Île Sainte-Hélène had been artificially enlarged for the fairgrounds and a prominent remnant of the fair, the Biosphere can be regularly seen during television coverage of racing events. Almost half of the track – from the hairpin turn until after the pit area – runs alongside the Bassin olympique, a huge rectangular basin which was created for the rowing and canoeing events of Montreal's 1976 Summer Olympics.
Barriers run close to the circuit and many experienced drivers have been caught out by them. A particularly famous part of the circuit is the wall on the outside of the exit of the final chicane before the start/finish straight. In 1999 the wall, which bears the name Bienvenue au Québec ("Welcome to Quebec") giving it the nickname "Mur du Québec" (Quebec Wall), ended the race of three Formula One World Champions, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve along with FIA GT champion Ricardo Zonta. Since then the wall has been nicknamed "The Wall of Champions". In recent years 2009 world champion Jenson Button (2005) and 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel (2011) have also fallen victim to the wall. Juan Pablo Montoya (2006) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (2007) have also crashed there, while in 2010, Kamui Kobayashi also collided with the wall.
Changes made in 2005 to the curbs on the final chicane were controversial amongst drivers in the run-up to the Grand Prix. The curbs were made higher and more difficult for the drivers to see, making it even more challenging.
On June 23, 2006, the Canadian Press reported that the city of Montreal has awarded exclusive rights to stage the two allowed race weekends on the track to Normand Legault, promoter of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. The deal is for 2007 to 2011, with an option for 2012 to 2016. Legault decided to replace the Champ Car race with races from the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Series and NASCAR's Nationwide Series, respectively – the latter series' first race north of the Canada-United States border. On August 4, 2007, Kevin Harvick made history by winning the first NASCAR Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in what was one of the most controversial NASCAR races ever, as Robby Gordon claimed to have won the race.
The NASCAR races have affected the circuit layout. An expansion of the pit lane took place, since a NASCAR pit lane must accommodate a minimum of 43 cars.
As part of Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Circuit is open to visitors, between races, for walking, running, biking, in-line skating, and of course, driving. During the few days of the Grand Prix, Île Notre-Dame is one of the noisiest places in Montreal. At just about any other time of the year, it is one of the quietest, being located in the middle of a river, on an island filled with greenery and animals, joggers and cyclists. However, on June 4, 2009, administration of Île Notre-Dame has forbidden the access of competitive cyclists to the circuit, justifying this as a security measure to avoid the increasing injuries that occurred between year 2008 and 2009. A total of 27 injuries have been reported. The ban on cyclists has since been lifted due to protests.
A lap in a Formula One car
There is a slight right kink before turn 1 and you have to brake roughly 50 metres from the apex, downshifting from seventh to third gear. Turn 2 (Virage Senna) follows immediately after - one more downshift is required for the slow right-hander and a late apex can be useful for a good exit. Turns 3 and 4 are quite tricky - a good line is key - riding the kerbs and going within inches of the wall is important for a fast time. The chicane itself is a right-left taken in third gear Turn 5 is a flat-out right-hander which leads to turns 6 and 7. Again, a good line is vital and the kerbs need to be ridden well here. It is a left-right chicane taken in second gear and leads onto the backstraight. Turns 8 and 9 make up yet another chicane, and are very similar to turns 3 and 4 - a right-left taken in second gear where cars run as close to the barrier as possible to maximize exit speed. There is a slight left kink running into turn 10 (L'Epingle) which is a tight, first gear right-hand hairpin and taking a "V" line can be good to maximise speed down the following straight. Turns 13 and 14 are perhaps the most famous corners at the circuit - yet another chicane that requires plenty of kerb use and a line that takes you close to the wall, the corners are well known for catching out many drivers on the exit wall named the 'Wall of Champions'. To avoid this, you have to make sure you don't clout the kerbs too hard and if you feel like you are going to understeer into one, take to the escape road. The turns themselves, a right-left chicane, are taken in third gear after a heavy braking zone.
Comparison of different classes at the circuit
As the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve serves as host to different racing series, it is possible to directly compare different race series' lap times.
In 2002, Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya set pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix with a lap time of 1:12.836. Several weeks later, during the inaugural Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal, Cristiano da Matta set pole position with a lap time of 1:18.959.
In 2006, the last time Champ Car and F1 ran on the same track, Formula One was 5 to 7 seconds faster than Champ Car. The pole position in Formula One was set by Fernando Alonso in a time of 1:14.942, while Sébastien Bourdais set pole in 1:20.005 in Champ Car. The fastest lap in the Formula One race was 1:15.841 by Kimi Räikkönen, while Sébastien Bourdais' fastest lap was 1:22.325 in the Champ Car race.
2007 NASCAR Busch Series driver Patrick Carpentier racing in the NAPA Auto Parts 200, posted a pole time of 1:42.086. The pole time at the 2012 NAPA Auto Parts 200 was 1:40.865 by Alex Tagliani. By comparison, Carpentier's 2004 Molson Indy Montreal qualifying time in the Champ Car World Series was 1:20.836, while Sébastien Bourdais qualified with 1:20.005 in 2006.
The fastest ever lap around the circuit was set by Ralf Schumacher with a time of 1:12.275 set in the qualifying session for the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix. As this time was set during qualifying, it is not recognised as an official lap record.
|Formula One||Ralf Schumacher||Williams-BMW||1:12.275||2004|
|Champ Car||Cristiano da Matta||Newman/Haas Racing||1:18.159||2002|
|Group C||Jean-Louis Schlesser/Mauro Baldi||Mercedes-Benz C11||1:28.199||1990|
|DP||Scott Pruett||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:33.199||2008|
|GT||Leh Keen||Porsche GT3||1:39.339||2009|
|NASCAR||Alex Tagliani||Turner Motorsports||1:40.865||2012|
- Champ Car World Series
- FIA World Sportscar Championship
- NASCAR Nationwide Series
- NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
- Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series
- Atlantic Championship
- Canada returns to F1 championship – f1-live.com, 27 November 2009
- Montreal Grand Prix Is Back On for 2010 – The New York Times, 27 November 2009
- "Button scores tenth win in longest race ever". F1 Fanatic. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Automobile Year, 1978/79, page 235
- Peter Higham, The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing, 1995, Page 362
- "ESPN – Harvick wins wild Busch race, but disqualified Gordon claims he won – Nascar".
- "Circuit Gilles Villeneuve". Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- "Montreal Circuit Guide". F1 Fanatic. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- "Montreal, Canada Track Guide". BBC Sport. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- "Circuit Gilles Villeneuve". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.|
- Official site
- Circuit Gilles Villeneuve History and Statistics
- Statistics from official F1 site
- A lap of Montreal with Honda’s Alex Wurz
- Montreal – the technical requirements
- Trackpedia guide to driving Gilles Villeneuve
- BBC's circuit guide
- Ciro Pabón's Racetracks 3D views and virtual laps of all F1 circuits, including this one, via Google Earth
- Spectator testimonial of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
- NASCAR Busch Series on Play-Montreal
- Parc Jean-Drapeau
- Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Google Maps (Current Formula 1 Tracks)