Need to know ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Canada, Circuit Gilles Villeneuveca

Teams and drivers assembled in North America for the Canadian Grand Prix that takes place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. F1Technical’s lead writer Balázs Szabó picks out the vital facts ahead of the Montreal round of the 2024 F1 season.

Fast and unforgiving - The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve mixes elements of a permanent and a street circuit, offering an exciting combination of low grip and high speeds around the 4.361km track. The straights tempt drivers to apply the throttle aggressively, although the unforgiving concrete walls punish the tiniest of mistakes.

Around and around – On the relatively short track, drivers need to complete 70 laps to cover the race distance of 305.207km.

Three - There will be three DRS zones in Canada. The first zone has a detection point 15m after Turn 5 and an activation point 95m after Turn 7. The other two zones share a detection point 110m before Turn 9, with activation points 155m before Turn 12 and 70m after Turn 14.

Series of changes - The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has gone through some changes since last year's race. The track has been fully resurfaced and the kerbs have been replaced by new kerbs of the same specifications.

The track surface between Turn 7 and Turn 8 has been lowered to increase the clearance between the track and and the Concerte Bridge to a minimum of 4 metres. The run-off at Turn 8 has been rebuilt with asphalt and grass and the walls have been realigned.

The grasscrete behind the kerb in Turns 1, 3 and 6 has been replaced with concrete.

Fuel – The stop and go nature of the Montreal track usually means that fuel usage is high during the race which can play an important factor during the race.

Fastest ever – Former Mercedes, current Kick Sauber driver Valtteri Bottas holds the record for the fastest ever race lap around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Nastola-born racer set a 1m13.078s at the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix which drivers have been unable to usurp so far.

52nd – Today’s race will be the 53rd FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. Canada made its debut in 1967 and only missed the calendar on three occasions. The race was originally organized at Mosport Park which held a total of eight grands prix. Mont-Tremblant also hosted two Canadian Grands Prix before the race was relocated to Montreal in 1978.

Special venue – For six drivers, the Canadian Grand Prix must have a special place in their heart. Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, Daniel Ricciardo, Thierry Boutsen, Gilles Villeneuve and Jean Alesi all took their debut F1 victory at this track.

King of Montreal – Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton are the most successful drivers at the Canadian Grand Prix with seven victories apiece. Both drivers share the same record with winning for two different teams. The German took a victory for Benetton in Canada and six others for Ferrari while the Briton won for McLaren and Mercedes four times apiece.

Overtaking – Despite the fact that overtaking is very much possible on this track, 21 of the 42 grands prix held on this circuit have been won from pole position. The outlier from that sequence is Ricciardo’s 2014 victory for Red Bull Racing, which came from P6 on the grid. Jacques Laffite’s victory for Ligier from P10 is the furthest back from which a winner has started at this circuit.

The iconic Ferrari driver - The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the first of three venues on the F1 calendar named after famous racing drivers (all of them situated in the Americas – the others being the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City and Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paolo).

Originally named the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame, the track was renamed in honour of Gilles Villeneuve in 1982, following his tragic death at the Belgian Grand Prix just a month earlier.

Wall of champions - The track layout in Montreal is dominated by long straights and by the proximity of the barriers. Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, and Damon Hill all crashed at the ultimate corner of the track during the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix, leading it to be christened the ‘Wall of Champions'. It's continued to claim some high-profile victims ever since, including Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.

The longest ever - The weather is often a factor during a race in Montreal. The rain-hit 2011 race was the longest in Formula 1 history, lasting four hours, four minutes and 39 seconds, including a lengthy red-flag stoppage to allow the conditions to ease.