Formula One

Canadian GP Track Layout, Turns and DRS Zones Analysed

F1 will make its yearly visit to the popular Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend. Here is everything you need to know about the Canadian GP F1 track. Make sure to also check out the best F1 odds, as well as our F1 betting predictions for the Canadian GP weekend.

F1 Canadian Grand Prix Track Montreal Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
#24 Guanyu Zhou (CHN, Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN), F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on June 17, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by HOCH ZWEI) – Photo by Icon sport

Canadian GP Layout: Fast, Flowing and Challenging

The Montreal F1 track shares many similarities with the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne. Both tracks are street circuits on paper, but with a layout closer to regular tracks. Montreal’s layout is also relatively similar to the Melbourne track’s old layout.

A short, fast and flowing track, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has long straights with a sequence of medium and low speed chicanes between them. Setting up the car can be a bit tricky, as teams have to trim as much downforce as possible to make the most out of the long straights, but without sacrificing too much out of the car’s cornering speed. Striking the fine balance between grip and low drag is always a huge engineering challenge.

Drivers start the lap down a relatively short main straight, which is followed by a heavy braking zone into the turns 1 and 2 chicane. While this is a prime overtaking opportunity, the section also invites drivers into trouble: turn 1 is tight and narrow, often inviting contact as drivers try to navigate the corner side-by-side. Turn 2, a wide radius corner with only one line, comes immediately after that.

After exiting the first chicane, the cars are back on the throttle for a brief moment before going heavy into the brakes for turns 3 and 4, a medium speed right-left sequence. The wall on the exit of turn 4 often catches drivers out, and is a hot spot for safety cars in the race.

Drivers go flat out through turn 5, a quick flick to the right. Then it’s back on the brakes for turns 6 and 7, a left-right low-speed chicane. The outside wall on the exit of 7 is also a tricky spot that can catch drivers out.

Exiting 7, cars go full throttle down another short straight, and then slam he brakes again for turns 8 and 9, a left-right medium-speed chicane. Again, drivers must be careful exiting turn 9 in order to avoid the wall on the outside.

After turn 9 comes the prime overtaking spots. The cars go down a relatively long straight before hitting the slowest corner of the layout: turn 10, the famous 180-degree hairpin where drivers get close to full-lock on their steering wheels. The heavy braking zone into the hairpin is usually a very good spot for overtaking, as it leaves no chance for the car on the outside.

Exiting the hairpin, drivers take a quick flick through turn 11 before flying down the back straight, which is also the longest one on the track. With DRS’s aid, drivers have another great chance at overtaking. At the end of the straight, another heavy braking zone awaits, as drivers slam the left pedal to take the final chicane at turns 12 and 13. The famous “Wall of Champions” is located on the exit of turn 13, just entering the start/finish straight. Then, it’s back on the main straight to complete the lap around the Canadian GP track.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve DRS Zones: Three Key Overtaking Spots

There are two DRS detection points around the track, with three DRS zones. The first DRS detection point is on the braking point into the turns 5 and 6 chicane. Drivers within the one-second range can then use their overtaking aid down the straight before turns 8 and 9. This is a solid overtaking spot, although drivers must make sure they complete the move before entering turn 8, since there is no room to go side-by-side through the chicane.

The second DRS detection point is located on the straight between turns 9 and 10. The DRS zone itself, however, only comes later, down the long back straight. With the slipstream from the car ahead also aiding the chasing driver, this second DRS zone will probably see a few overtakes happen in the middle of the straight.

The third and final DRS zone is also, located on the main straight, also uses the second detection point as reference. If drivers fail to complete a move down the back straight, they will have another prime opportunity heading into turn 1 whle relying on the overtaking assist.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Racing History

1978Jean-Pierre JarrierGilles Villeneuve
1979Alan JonesAlan Jones
1980Nelson PiquetAlan Jones
1981Nelson PiquetJacques Laffite
1982Didier PironiNelson Piquet
1983Rene ArnouxRene Arnoux
1984Nelson PiquetNelson Piquet
1985Elio de AngelisMichele Alboreto
1986Nigel MansellNigel Mansell
1988Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1989Alain ProstThierry Boutsen
1990Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1991Riccardo PatreseNelson Piquet
1992Ayrton SennaGerhard Berger
1993Alain ProstAlain Prost
1994Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
1995Michael SchumacherJean Alesi
1996Damon HillDamon Hill
1997Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
1998David CoulthardMichael Schumacher
1999Michael SchumacherMika Hakkinen
2000Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
2001Michael SchumacherRalf Schumacher
2002Juan Pablo MontoyaMichael Schumacher
2003Ralf SchumacherMichael Schumacher
2004Ralf SchumacherMichael Schumacher
2005Kimi RaikkonenKimi Raikkonen
2006Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso
2007Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2008Lewis HamiltonRobert Kubica
2010Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2011Sebastian VettelJenson Button
2012Sebastian VettelLewis Hamilton
2013Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2014Nico RosbergDaniel Ricciardo
2015Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2016Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2017Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2018Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2019Sebastian VettelLewis Hamilton
2022Max VerstappenMax Verstappen

The first race held on the Notre Dame Island track was won by Gilles Villeneuve in 1978. That year, Montreal replaced the iconic Mosport Park as the new home for the Canadian Grand Prix. Since then, the track has been part of the schedule every year, with only four exceptions: 1986, 2009 and 2020-21.

The 1980 and 1982 editions were both marked by huge pile-ups at the start. And in the 1982 race, rookie Riccardo Paletti unfortuntely lost his life in a fiery crash after hitting the stationary Ferrari of pole sitter Didier Pironi, who had stalled off the line. The 1991 race also saw one of the most infamous moments in F1 history, as Nigel Mansell slowed down to wave to the crowd while parading around the track on the final lap. However, the Williams driver under-revved his engine, leading to a gearbox failure that handed victory over to former teammate Nelson Piquet.

In 1995, Jean Alesi scored an emotional win for Ferrari. Benefitting from an electrical problem to longtime race leader Michael Schumacher, the popular Frenchman scored his first and only F1 win, while also ending a four-year drought for the Scuderia.

The 2007 edition saw another historic moment, as Lewis Hamilton scored his first F1 win. A year later, the then McLaren driver caused one of the race’s most infamous highlights, crashing into the rear of Kimi Raikkonen in a closed pitlane. Robert Kubica took the chance, scoring his and BMW-Sauber’s first and only F1 win to briefly take the championship lead.

The 2011 race was a two-hour epic held under heavy rain. Jenson Button’s ability in severe weather once again stole the show. After crashing with teammate Lewis Hamilton early in the race, the 2009 world champion put on an impressive recovery drive, making the switch to slicks at the perfect moment. Despite suffering an off shortly after the pit stop, Button chased down pole sitter Sebastian Vettel, overtaking the Red Bull driver as Vettel went off the road in the final lap.

In 2014, Daniel Ricciardo benefitted from electrical problems to Mercedes’ duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton and scored his maiden F1 victory. Ricciardo and Red Bull were the first driver-team tandem to defeat the German powerhouse in the turbo V6 hybrid era. The race was also marked by a heavy crash between Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa on the final lap.

What Lies Ahead for 2023

Montreal is another very good track for Red Bull, as the circuit’s long straights and high-speed sections are a perfect fit for the RB19’s strengths. Unless something out of the ordinary happens, expect Max Verstappen to repeat his 2022 win.

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