No fewer than 24 different drivers have won the Canadian Grand Prix since Île Notre-Dame has hosted it. Some victories have shaped the spirits more than others. A small step into the past…
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The triumph of Gilles Villeneuve – 1978
On October 8, 1978, approximately 72,000 spectators attended the first-ever Grand Prix in Montreal’s history, previously held in Ontario. A Quebecois joins the starting grid driving a Ferrari. A certain Gilles Villeneuve, for whom this is the first full season in Formula 1.
At that time, Villeneuve was not yet a star, far from it. Many, starting with the Italian press, are questioning his true potential, doubting his talent. Arrived in the metropolis, the then 28-year-old was still looking for his first Grand Prix victory.
With 25e again he finds himself in second place. Ahead of him is Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jarier, 28 seconds ahead. Villeneuve, pugnacious, chases his rival. At 49e On the 1st lap Jarier’s engine failed and he had to retire. The Quebecer took advantage of this, finished the race smoothly and clinched his first victory in Formula 1.
On this day, Gilles Villeneuve becomes a hero, an idol. At the circuit that now bears his name, he proved to the world that he deserved his place in Formula 1.
The Schumacher double – 2001
At the 1998 Italian Grand Prix, Michael and Ralf Schumacher were the first brothers to share a podium. The first emerged as the winner while the second took third place.
Three years later, in Montreal, they did even better…
Michael Schumacher is at the front of the grid with his Ferrari. His brother is just behind in his Williams. It was Michael who led much of the race followed by his younger brother who tried to pass him a few times.
At 46e lap the oldest makes his only pit stop. Ralf takes the lead and picks up the pace for five laps before he pits himself. He comes out on his brother with a lead of six seconds. Ahead he digs up to 20 seconds to claim his second win of the season.
The brothers climb the podium together again, but this time on the first two steps.
That’s not all: Michael and Ralf found a way to repeat the feat two years later, still in Montreal. Only this time it was Michael who triumphed.
The first of 103 for Hamilton – 2007
Every great career begins with a first win. Lewis Hamilton’s was signed in Montreal.
In 2007, the Brit drove in McLaren colors in his first season in Formula 1. His debut was terrific. When he arrived in the metropolis in June, he already had five podiums in as many races.
On that day, June 10, Hamilton holds the top spot for the first time in his career. Second is his teammate Fernando Alonso. Hamilton offers a big lead in the early laps.
Overall, the safety car had to intervene four times in the race and eight drivers did not finish. Robert Kubica, in particular, is the victim of a horrific accident and miraculously escapes with only a concussion and a sprained ankle. Hamilton remains well installed in front of the peloton, driving flawless to win while also becoming the first black driver to win a race in F1.
This was the start of an amazing career that continues for Hamilton to this day. Fifteen years later, at 37, he has 7 championships and 183 podiums, including 103 wins, in 295 Grands Prix. A legend you say? Without doubt.
Jenson Button, sensational – 2011
In 2011, McLaren driver Jenson Button triumphed spectacularly after a chaotic race that spanned four hours.
Button starts seventh under the rainy Montreal skies. From the early laps he was involved in a collision that resulted in the retirement of his teammate Lewis Hamilton and the retirement of the safety car. The race resumes at 12:00 p.me lap but Button receives a penalty and has to pit, which then puts him in 15th placee Rank.
Slowly but surely, the Brit climbs up the slope. With 25e again, torrential downpours forced the race to be halted. Pilots have to wait more than two hours (!) before the action continues.
The safety car is required four times in this race. Button must pit at least six times.
In the 70the and last round, button is 2e. He took advantage of a small mistake by Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, who had been leading since the start of the race, to take the lead and head for the checkered flag.