Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: What You Need to Know

Fact File: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada

Laps 70
Lap Length 4.361 km (2.71 miles)
Race Length 305.270 km (189.686 miles)
First Race 1978
Fastest Lap R Barrichello 1:13.622 (Ferrari, 2004)
2010 Winner Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

Layout and Approach:

Let’s set the scene, this is a temporary circuit constructed out of a series of straights strung together by slow corners so the challenges come from several angles across the lap. And that’s not mentioning the Wall of Champions. But back to the lap,  it’s dirty off the racing line so drivers getting wide will suffer the consequences, therefore full concentration is required to get a clean and incident free lap in. The slow corner after a straight is tough both on the brakes (6/7 are heavy braking) and gearbox, so management and reliability is key. Then before the drivers have a chance to fully consider this, the heady combination of close-quarter walls and low downforce and grip opens up the podium to someone who races hard and avoids hitting anything. Including groundhogs (Anthony Davidson, 2007) and the Wall of Champions. The latter has claimed many legends since it joined the rostrum.

Shall we go for a lap? Shooting along the relatively short pit straight and it’s not long before the drivers reach their first turn, a left-right weave soon leads into the slow right handed Virage Senna hairpin. Pushing hard out of the exit, the drivers head towards the turn 4/5 chicane which could be a trouble spot for some hitting the raised kerbs. Once they’ve mastered the exit they go flat out through the long right-handed curve which is turn 6. Turn 7 is next on the list which quickly leads into turn 8, both a heavy braking zone. Another pair of turns 8/9 (right/left) is punctuated by a short straight, 8 features a bumpy braking zone under the bridge. Passing turn 10 they’re on their way to the second, tighter, hairpin of L’Epingle (11) which requires another burst of heavy braking. They hit the longest straight of the circuit (which features turns 12/13, gentle kinks) and the first DRS zone, but must remain focused to tackle turns 14/15 and avoid the Wall of Champions (Quebec Wall) before starting the lap again.

Overtaking and Strategy:

We’re being treated to two DRS zones for the first time in Montreal, and it will prove to be the toughest test yet for the new regulation. There might be two chances to use the rear flap, but the drivers will have only one opportunity to earn it and gain a huge boost. The detection point will feature upon the exit of the famous L’epingle hairpin, and if they are within that magic 1 second of the car in front they’ll be able to use it first on the following straight. Whether the driver overtakes or not, he’ll then be able to use it again at the start of the pit straight. If the driver nips ahead in the first zone, he’ll still be eligible to use the DRS in the second section and therefore be able to pull away significantly. Good overtaking spots include, the hairpin at turn 10 due to the reduction in speed, and the last chicane before they cross the start/finish line is a fine chance to take advantage of a slipstream of your car it up to the challenge.


We have the same tyres as we did in Monaco, the softs (prime) and supersofts (option), but Pirelli are also chucking in some of the medium compound for the teams to test out.

Why Canada Rocks:

The whole of Montreal gets behind this race which makes it incredibly exciting for fans and teams alike, with a real buzz in the air drivers welcome the visit to Canada. As the track is only used for Formula One and NASCAR is shared a few similarities with Monaco as a street circuit, times improve as the weekend unfolds and the track rubbers in. The nature of the track also elevates the atmosphere, close walls, overhanging trees and spectators in close proximity bring the circuit alive. Good crowds are expected across the weekend, with packed grandstands from practice onwards and this energy translates well on screen and to the teams.

5 Key Points:

  • Fan power
  • A track that doesn’t favour Red Bull
  • Groundhogs
  • Wall of Champions
  • Two DRS zones

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