Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, also spelled Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve (French pronunciation: [siʁ.kɥi ʒil vilnœv]), is a 4.361 km (2.710 mi) motor racing circuit on Notre Dame Island in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is the venue for the FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. It has previously hosted the World Sportscar Championship, the Champ Car World Series (Grand Prix of Montreal), the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NAPA Auto Parts 200), and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Grand Prix Circuit (2002–present)
LocationParc Jean-Drapeau
Montreal, Quebec
H3C 6A1
Time zoneUTC-05:00 (UTC-04:00 DST)
Coordinates45°30′02″N 73°31′21″W / 45.50056°N 73.52250°W / 45.50056; -73.52250
FIA Grade1
OwnerCity of Montreal
Broke ground1978
Opened6 October 1978; 45 years ago (1978-10-06)
ArchitectRoger Peart[1]
Former namesÎle Notre-Dame Circuit (1978–1982)
Major eventsCurrent:
Formula One
Canadian Grand Prix (1978–1986, 1988–2008, 2010–2019, 2022–present)
Champ Car World Series
Grand Prix of Montreal (2002–2006)
NASCAR Nationwide Series
NAPA Auto Parts 200 (2007–2012)
World Sportscar Championship (1990)
Grand Prix Circuit (2002–present)
Length4.361 km (2.710 miles)
Race lap record1:13.078 (Finland Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W10, 2019)
Grand Prix Circuit (1996–2001)
Length4.421 km (2.747 miles)
Race lap record1:17.205 (Germany Ralf Schumacher, Williams FW23, 2001)
Grand Prix Circuit (1994–1995)
Length4.450 km (2.781 miles)
Race lap record1:28.927 (Germany Michael Schumacher, Benetton B194, 1994)
Grand Prix Circuit (1988–1993)
Length4.430 km (2.753 miles)
Race lap record1:21.500 (Germany Michael Schumacher, Benetton B193, 1993)
Grand Prix Circuit (1978–1986)
Length4.410 km (2.740 miles)
Race lap record1:25.443 (Brazil Nelson Piquet, Williams FW11, 1986)

Formula One at Montréal

Start-finish-line at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve

The Canadian Grand Prix was first held at the circuit in 1978, where hometown hero Gilles Villeneuve (1950–1982) won for Scuderia Ferrari. The Grand Prix quickly became a mainstay of the Formula One calendar, with the race taking place in Montreal for the next thirty years. Once held in late September, the event was moved to its present location on the calendar of mid-June in 1982, to provide a warmer, more pleasant race weekend. Many great races have occurred at the track over the years, cementing its reputation as a truly unpredictable venue. However, the race was dropped from the 2009 Formula One calendar and replaced with the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after running over two decades uninterrupted. On November 27, 2009, Quebec's officials and Canadian Grand Prix organizers announced a settlement with Formula One Administration and signed a new five-year contract spanning the 2010–2014 seasons.[2][3]

The 2011 edition of the race was the longest World Championship Grand Prix ever at over 4 hours in length, due to a lengthy rain delay.[4]

Circuit history

Île Notre-Dame Circuit in the middle of the St. Lawrence river (1978)

Originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit,[5] 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 Montréal. In 1982, it was renamed in honour of Canadian Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve, following his death earlier in the year.[6] The circuit is located in Parc Jean-Drapeau in the city of Montréal. The park is named after the mayor of Montréal who was responsible for the organization of Expo 67.

The race circuit is on Notre Dame Island, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River most of which was originally built up for the Expo in 1967. Saint Helen's Island to the northwest was artificially enlarged for the Expo '67 fairgrounds and a prominent remnant of the fair, the Biosphere is located adjacent to the circuit. Almost half of the track—from the hairpin turn until after the pit area—runs alongside the Olympic Basin, a huge rectangular basin which was created for the rowing and canoeing events of Montréal's 1976 Summer Olympics.

Over the winter of 2018–19 the paddock—in use since 1988—was demolished and replaced with the current structure.

Circuit layout

Satellite picture of the circuit, taken in May 2018

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 subsequent years, 2009 world champion Jenson Button (2005) and four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel (2011, during free practice) also became victims of the wall.

For the first few years of its existence, the track consisted of technical, medium speed chicanes and a relatively low overall lap speed. However, over the years the circuit has transformed into a power track, with straight line speed being very much a priority. Between 1986 and 1988 (with a one-year hiatus occurring in 1987), the pitlane and start-finish straight were relocated from the hairpin to the exit of the fast right-left chicane, which became the final corner. After the fatal crashes of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola earlier in the year, in 1994 a chicane was inserted between the Casino corner and the hairpin to decrease top speed. The 1996 race saw both the chicane and the Casino corner removed and the layout changed; the run from the hairpin at the bottom of the circuit was turned into a straight.

In 2002 the exit of the pitlane was changed to make exiting the pitlane safer for drivers. This also shortened the length of the circuit.

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 Montréal had 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 was 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 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 Xfinity 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.[7] 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. The 2008 race made history as the first NASCAR race to run on rain tires.

In 2017, due to the higher cornering speeds of the new Formula One cars and the new safety requirements imposed by the FIA, the circuit had additional Tecpro barriers installed, following the removal of older tire barriers by May 2017. With the 2017 technical regulations, experts predicted the F1 cars to be quicker by three to five seconds a lap in June at Montréal. 2017's F1 event also saw a change to the exit of the last chicane (the Wall of Champions) with its angle modified, because the FIA found it was dangerous.

Exit of Turn 2, Senna 'S' during F1 event

Senna 'S' turns


The complex of turns one and two has become known as the Senna 'S'. From a bird's eye view turns one and two together can represent an 'S' shape.

Pont de la Concorde corner

The Hairpin (L'Epingle) on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

The very fast Pont de la Concorde corner (Turn 8) is after the bridge underpass and is known as a 'quick kink' before Turn 9 and the rush to a passing zone at the Hairpin curve.

The Hairpin Curve


Turn 10 at Île Notre-Dame is probably the best example of a 180° hairpin turn design with full wheel lock during F1 competition. The various lines taken entering the hairpin curve can lead to overtaking on the apex, or exit during race competition. Braking too late can see cars offline into the runoff area, and some spinning in front of packed grandstands. Many[quantify] overtakes can be seen[by whom?] at this location[when?] due to engine differences and drivers' skills.

Wall of Champions

Bienvenue au Québec slogan on the Wall of Champions

Entering turns 12 & 13 drivers encounter one of the best passing zones, completing the long straight after the hairpin. Many duels have been seen exiting turn 12 with some race cars deciding to cut corner 13 into the run-off, with many going a bit 'too hot' apexing Turn 13 and not exiting intact. Turn 14 is dubbed the "Wall of Champions" after three former Drivers' World Champions found the outside wall in the 1999 race. In Formula 1 races, a car damaged after gracing the Wall of Champions brings out a Safety Car or VSC. The exit barrier is poignantly marked with advertising by Tourisme Québec ("Bonjour Québec"; “Bienvenue au Québec” in previous years) during the F1 event.

Other circuit activities


As part of Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Circuit is open to visitors, between races, for walking, running, biking, in-line skating, and driving.[8] During the few days of the Grand Prix, Notre Dame Island is one of the noisiest places in Montréal. Other times 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 Notre Dame Island 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.[citation needed]

Layout history




The events at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are listed as:[9]


Lap records


As the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve serves as host to different racing series, it is possible to directly compare different race series' lap times.

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 fastest lap in the Formula One race was 1:15.841 by Kimi Räikkönen, while Sébastien Bourdais's 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.[10] The pole time at the 2012 NAPA Auto Parts 200 was 1:40.865 by Alex Tagliani.[11]

The track record for the Rolex Sports Car Series is 1:32.620. The time was set by Scott Pruett driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Daytona Prototype class in 2010.

The fastest ever lap around the circuit was set by Sebastian Vettel with a time of 1:10.240 set in qualifying (Q3) for the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix. As this time was set during qualifying, it is not recognized as an official lap record. Lewis Hamilton set the previous lap record with a time of 1:11.459 during qualifying for the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix, earning him pole position. This was Hamilton's 65th pole position which put him level with Ayrton Senna in the F1 history books. After qualifying, Hamilton was awarded a helmet that belonged to his hero as a celebration. This helmet was sent by Senna's family and was awarded to an emotional Hamilton in front of the crowd.

As of June 2024, the fastest official race lap records at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are listed as:[12]

Category Driver Car Lap Record Event
Grand Prix Circuit: 4.361 km (2002–present)
Formula One Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ 1:13.078[12] 2019 Canadian Grand Prix
CART Dario Franchitti Lola B02/00 1:20.238[12] 2002 Molson Indy Montreal
Champ Car Sébastien Bourdais Lola B02/00 1:20.840 2004 Molson Indy Montreal
Formula Atlantic A. J. Allmendinger Swift 014.a 1:31.974[13] 2003 Montreal Formula Atlantic round
Daytona Prototype Scott Pruett Riley Mk XX 1:32.620[12][14] 2010 Montreal 200
Ferrari Challenge Dylan Medler Ferrari 294 Challenge 1:35.369[15] 2024 Montreal Ferrari Challenge North America round
Trans-Am Klaus Graf Jaguar XKR 1:37.340[16] 2005 Montréal Trans-Am round
Star Mazda Ryan Justice Star Formula Mazda 'Pro' 1:37.791[17] 2006 Montreal Star Mazda Championship round
Porsche Carrera Cup Zacharie Robichon Porsche 911 (991 II) GT3 Cup 1:37.828[18] 2018 Montreal Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada round
GT2 Scott Russell Chevrolet Corvette C6.R 1:39.353[12] 2010 Montreal 200
GT Jeff Segal Ferrari 458 Italia Grand-Am 1:39.640[19] 2012 Montreal 200
Barber Pro Series Leonardo Maia Reynard 98E 1:40.095[20] 2003 Montreal Barber Pro round
Superbike Pascal Picotte [it] Yamaha YZF-R1 1:40.756[21] 2004 Montreal CSBK round
Formula BMW Stefano Coletti Mygale FB02 1:45.224[22] 2006 Montreal Formula BMW USA round
F1600 Trenton Estep Spectrum 014 1:51.599[23] 2016 Montréal Canadian F1600 round
Grand Prix Circuit: 4.421 km (1996–2001)
Formula One Ralf Schumacher Williams FW23 1:17.205 2001 Canadian Grand Prix
Formula Atlantic Michael Valiante Swift 008.a 1:36.484[24] 2001 Montreal Formula Atlantic round
Ferrari Challenge Lucio Nicolodi Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge 1:48.276[25] 2001 Montreal Ferrari Challenge North America round
F1600 Frederick Martel AERO II 1:53.244[26] 1998 Montréal Canadian F1600 round
Grand Prix Circuit: 4.450 km (1994–1995)
Formula One Michael Schumacher Benetton B194 1:28.927 1994 Canadian Grand Prix
Formula Atlantic Felipe Giaffone Ralt RT41 1:38.745[27] 1995 Montreal Formula Atlantic round
F1600 Mike Sauce Swift DB1 1:57.176[28] 1994 Montréal Canadian F1600 round
Grand Prix Circuit: 4.430 km (1988–1993)
Formula One Michael Schumacher Benetton B193 1:21.500 1993 Canadian Grand Prix
Group C Mauro Baldi Mercedes-Benz C11 1:28.725[12][29] 1990 480 km of Montreal
Formula Atlantic J. O. Cunningham Swift DB4 1:38.031[30] 1989 Montreal Formula Atlantic round
Grand Prix Circuit: 4.410 km (1978–1986)
Formula One Nelson Piquet Williams FW11 1:25.443 1986 Canadian Grand Prix
Formula Atlantic Jeff Wood March 79B 1:39.443[31] 1979 Montreal Formula Atlantic round

See also



  1. ^ Roger Peart design Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for Formula One Canadian Grand Prix 15 March 2023.
  2. ^ Canada returns to F1 championship Archived November 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine –, November 27, 2009
  3. ^ Montreal Grand Prix Is Back On for 2010 Archived December 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine – The New York Times, November 27, 2009
  4. ^ "Button scores tenth win in longest race ever". F1 Fanatic. June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on September 13, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  5. ^ Automobile Year, 1978/79, page 235
  6. ^ Peter Higham, The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing, 1995, Page 362
  7. ^ "ESPN – Harvick wins wild Busch race, but disqualified Gordon claims he won – Nascar". August 5, 2007. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  8. ^ "Circuit Gilles Villeneuve". Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
  9. ^ "Circuit Gilles Villeneuve". Ultimate Racing History. Archived from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  10. ^ "2007 NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented By Dodge". Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  11. ^ "2012 NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented By Dodge". Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Montreal Fastest Lap Comparison". Archived from the original on February 26, 2023. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  13. ^ "2003 Formula Atlantic Montreal". August 23, 2003. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  14. ^ "2010 Montreal Grand-Am". Motor Sport Magazine. August 28, 2010. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  15. ^ "2024 Montreal - Ferrari Challenge North America - Race 1 Provisional Results (30 Minutes)" (PDF). June 8, 2024. Retrieved June 8, 2024.
  16. ^ "Le Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, August 26-28 Août 2005 Molson Indy Montreal SCCA Trans-Am Series Race 1 / Course 1". August 28, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  17. ^ "2006 Montreal Indy Pro 2000 Race Statistics". June 24, 2006. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  18. ^ "2018 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama - Grand Prix du Canada - Race 2 Official Results (30 Minutes)" (PDF). International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). June 12, 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 27, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  19. ^ "Montreal 2 Hours 2012". August 18, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  20. ^ "Le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, August 22-24 Août 2003 - Molson Indy Montreal - Champcar Barber Dodge Pro Series Race 3 / Course 3". August 24, 2003. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  21. ^ "August 29, 2004 - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - Superbike Invitational Race Results". August 29, 2004. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  22. ^ "Le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, June 23–25 Juin 2006 Grand-Prix du Canada IMSA Formula BMW North American Championship Race 3/Course 3". June 25, 2006. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  23. ^ "Le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuves Le Grand-Prix du Canada, June 12 Juin 2016 Formula Tour 1600 Round #5/Epreuve #5". June 12, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  24. ^ "2001 Formula Atlantic Montreal". June 9, 2001. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  25. ^ "Le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, June 8-10 Juin 2001 Grand-Prix Air Canada Grand-Am Ferrari Challenge Race 3 / Course 3". June 10, 2001. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  26. ^ "Montréal Grand-Prix Player's du Canada, June 7 Juin 1998". June 7, 1998. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  27. ^ "Montreal, Grand-Prix Molson Dry du Canada, June 11 Juin 1995 SCCA Player's Toyota Atlantic Championship Round 6/Epreuve 6". June 11, 1995. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  28. ^ "Montreal Grand-Prix Molson du Canada, June 12 Juin 1994". June 12, 1994. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  29. ^ "World Sports Prototype Championship Montreal 1990". September 23, 1990. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  30. ^ "Montreal, Grand-Prix Molson du Canada, June 17 Juin 1989". June 17, 1989. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  31. ^ "Montreal, Grand-Prix Labatt du Canada, October 30 Octobre 1979". October 30, 1979. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.