Canadian Grand Prix – Atmosphere, “Wall of Champions”: with Montreal, F1 finds one of its favorite circuits

Like Baku and its sixth different winner in six races since 2016, Montreal is a safe bet in Formula One when it comes to races with suspense and twisted scenarios. It is no exaggeration to say that something unusual is always happening here. The latest edition of the Canadian Grand Prix, 2019, is a perfect illustration of this.

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Guilty of blocking his rival Lewis Hamilton by returning to the track after a straight, Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) had suffered a five-second penalty and had offered a victory on the green carpet to Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). And in his anger, the German had given a comic sequel to this story by reversing the “P1” and “P2” panels, originally placed in front of the Mercedes and his Ferrari, in the closed park, on arrival.

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“You can feel the energy and excitement everywhere”

Unlike modern circuits, formed by an architect (the institutional Hermann Tilke for years and now his son Carsten), the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit was born by force of circumstances, by marrying the outer contours of the Parc Jean-Drapeau in Île Notre-Dame, in the framework of Saint Lawrence. And it lives all year round as it is open to traffic of cars, cyclists, pedestrians, skates.

“Ferrari made a qualifying car and Red Bull made a race car”

Coincidentally, his initially controversial track has quickly produced exciting races since the victory of local boy Gilles Villeneuve in 1978. Time has also played a decisive role at times, as in 2011 when, four hours and four minutes after the start, Jenson Button (McLaren) had pushed Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) into the error, already him! – on the last lap, with a freezing cold. And for the start of the weekend, the weather forecast announces similar conditions: showers on Friday, rain and cold on Saturday.

Bathed by the river in a unique atmosphere created by a knowledgeable public, the route has everything to please and excite the riders. With this little punitive side that they love because it offers passages that get the best out of the lot. “You can feel the energy and the excitement everywhereEsteban Ocon is excited. It is difficult and technical. My favorite corner is the latest chicane, with the ‘Wall of Champions’. The place is very complicated and it’s very easy to go wrong. “

A successor to Schumacher, Hill, Villeneuve and Vettel?

Local kids Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) and German Mick Schumacher (Haas), big carbon consumers this year, will have to watch out! The wall ironically displays the slogan “Welcome to Quebec!” it has shortened more than one race, but this is its fascinating side, the older ones have overshadowed the disorder, leaving an imperishable memory. Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Sebastian Vettel have built their cars there and it is in honor of these crowned heads that it has been renamed. Or on the contrary, with a champion as a collateral victim: in writing during Q2 2019, Kevin Magnussen (Haas) had eliminated Max Verstappen (Red Bull).

But among all these peculiarities, it is the extreme tension in the brakes that most often arises when we speak of Montreal. In this sense, the Quebec circuit is perhaps even the most remote of the calendar. That should be the case on Sunday. The most prudent drivers will have a lot to gain at the end of the race.

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