Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Hairpin.jpg
The Hairpin (L'Epingle) on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Location Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Time zone GMT −5
Capacity 100,000
FIA Grade 1
Owner Ville de Montréal
Opened 1978
Former names Île Notre-Dame Circuit (1978–1982)
Major events FIA Formula One
Canadian Grand Prix
NASCAR Nationwide Series
NAPA Auto Parts 200
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Île Notre-Dame (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve).svg
Length 4.361 km (2.71 mi)
Turns 13
Lap record 1:13.622 (Brazil Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a motor racing circuit, venue for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

The Canadian Grand Prix that took 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.[1][2] The 2011 edition took place on June 12 at 1:00pm (17:00 GMT) and was the longest Grand Prix ever.[3]



The circuit, at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Notre-Dame, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River that is part of the city of Montreal, was originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit.[4] It was renamed in honour of Canadian Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve, following his death in 1982.[5] The venue hosted the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal from 2002 to 2006.

Bienvenue au Québec slogan on the Wall of Champions

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 2010 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, 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 Canadian-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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[citation needed]

Comparison of different series 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, former Champ Car Champion Juan Pablo Montoya set pole position for the Formula One 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 latest and currently 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. By comparison his 2004 Molson Indy Montreal qualifying time in the Champ Car World Series was 1:20.836.

The track record for the Rolex Sports Car Series is 1:33.199. The time was set by Scott Pruett driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Daytona Prototype class in 2008.

Qualifying Laps do not count towards official lap records. But if they did, Ralf Schumacher would hold the record with a time of 1:12.275 set in the qualifying session for the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix.

See also


External links

Coordinates: 45°30′21″N 73°31′36″W / 45.50583°N 73.52667°W / 45.50583; -73.52667

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