‘Salut Gilles’: A Preview to the Canadian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen driving the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 at the F1 Grand Prix of Canada. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. June 19, 2022. Montreal, Quebec. Photo Courtesy: Red Bull Media / Clive Rose/Getty Images.

Formula One is heading to the vibrant city of Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, one of the season highlights, staged at the iconic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend.

Following the Grand Prix in Spain, the FIA Formula One World Championship arrives in Canada, host to the ninth round of the 2023 calendar, the Formula 1 Pirelli Grand Prix Du Canada.

The engines will roar from June 16 to 18 on the Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal race track, a scenario as competitive as entertaining by nature.

In recent weeks, the country has been experiencing the worst-ever spring wildfire season, casting doubts on whether the race could move forwards as planned.

However, a spokesperson from Formula 1 asserted last week: “The event is not at risk, and we have been assured by all the relevant information that the situation in Montreal at this time is different to other parts of the country and northern US. The risk remains low, and air quality is good in Montreal.”

Regardless, Formula One will continue to monitor the situation closely.

The wildfires have affected the lives of millions of people in Canada and beyond borders, as the smoke from the fires reached the American cities of New York and Washington, elevating air pollution alerts.

The Circuit

The famous race track spans 4.361 kilometers (2.709 miles) over 70 laps, featuring 14 corners, six left-hand and eight right-hand turns, and two DRS activation zones.

The high-speed, low-downforce circuit challenges the finest drivers at the pinnacle of motorsport, punishing any mistakes with no mercy.

The Wall of Champions, sited at the end of the lap, likes to play tricks on the drivers, inviting the competitors to drive at the edge of their abilities to come dangerously close while avoiding kissing the wall lap after lap. One mistake often means their race is over.

In 1999 alone, all three Formula 1 champions, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and Michael Schumacher, hit the wall during the race.

Meanwhile, under pressure, the long straights provide overtaking opportunities as the heavy-braking chicanes take a toll on the drivers’ necks.

In addition, the tire degradation is traditionally high, an element the team’s race strategists seek to master but that rarely escapes the disruption inflicted by Safety Car deployments.

Writing History in Canada

The circuit debuted as part of the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar in style in 1978, with the legendary Gilles Villeneuve claiming the triumph.

As of today, seven-time Formula One world champions Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton share the crown at the Canadian Grand Prix with seven victories each.

Last season, two-time world champion Red Bull’s Max Verstappen captured the win, crossing the finish line in front of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and long-time rival Mercedes’ Hamilton, completing the podium.

Talking about the Grand Prix, Verstappen asserted: “We’ve always been super-slow around Montreal due to top speed, it’s very important to be fast in the straights, and during COVID when we couldn’t race here, we couldn’t really show that, but last year we came back and had a strong race weekend, the car was good.

The Dutch driver leads the standings with 170 points, followed by teammate Sergio Perez (117), Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso (99), Hamilton (87), and George Russell (65), completing the Top 5.

The 25-year-old comes fresh from a triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix, extending his championship advantage.

Barcelona was also a weekend to celebrate for Mercedes as the outfit’s updated package paid dividends, helping Hamilton and Russell take a double podium on Spanish soil.

Speaking about the upcoming venue, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said: “It’s not a track that we expect to suit our car as well as Barcelona did.”

No matter where the true pace of the car is this weekend, we will aim to maximize our results. The characteristics of the circuit will also provide further opportunity to learn about the W14 and feed into our development path.”

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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