Round seven of the 2014 Formula 1 world championship takes place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada.

It is the first of two races to take place in North America this year and sees the sport briefly move away from Europe following the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

Non-championship F1 races took place in the country between 1961 and 1966 at Mosport Park, before it joined the official calendar in 1967. Following several rounds at the Ontario venue and the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, it eventually found its permanent home in Montreal in 1978.

Canada has produced 13 F1 drivers, but only two have gone on to score points – Gilles Villeneuve and his son Jacques. The track was originally called the Île Notre-Dame Circuit after the man-made island that it is located on, but it was re-named in honour of Gilles in 1982 following his tragic death at the Belgian Grand Prix earlier in the year.

The layout is very challenging and is tough on the drivers and the cars. The long straights and heavy braking zones mean it has a stop-start nature, putting considerable amounts of stress on the engine and brakes.

Despite the track surface being quite bumpy, the tarmac is smooth. This, along with the need for mechanical grip, is why Pirelli has nominated the super-soft and soft compound tyres for the race. It required a medium downforce set-up, although lower wing levels are usually tested in practice.

A lap of the 2.709 mile circuit starts on the short pit straight. There is a slight right-hand curve on the run to the first corner, which is a tight left-hand corner. It is one of several strong overtaking spots and leads directly on to turn two. The long, slow hairpin (which is where the pit exit feeds the cars back out onto the track) is followed by a short straight.

The third and fourth corners make up the first of four chicanes on the circuit. A lot of time can be gained at this right-left section by using plenty of kerb and getting as close to the wall as possible. Turn five is a fast, flat-out right that leads on to a slightly slower left-right chicane.

A good line through the sixth and seventh corners is very important to carry speed on to the following straight. Next up is the braking zone for the turn eight and nine chicane, which is another tricky right-left complex. The wall on the exit punishes even the smallest of errors.

This section will be taken in a much higher gear this season. Again, a good exit is important for the next straight – which is broken up by a gentle left-hand kink on the run to turn 10. This is the slowest corner on the track and is a tight right-hand hairpin. It is a good place for overtaking or setting up a move for the run to the final chicane.

The most popular line to be used here is the “V”, which requires a late apex to maximise speed onto the following straight. It is over one kilometre long and is followed by the tight right-left chicane that makes up turns 13 and 14; the two previous corners are barely-there curves.

This is arguably the most difficult part of the track layout. The kerbs are high and the unforgiving wall on the exit – nicknamed the “Wall of Champions” – has caught out the likes of Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. The pit entry sees drivers go straight on at the final turn.

McLaren and Ferrari are the most successful constructors at the Canadian Grand Prix with 13 wins each, although two of the Scuderia’s triumphs were at non-championship races. Michael Schumacher has taken victory seven times at the circuit, while Lewis Hamilton is the only driver on the current grid to win the race multiple times (2007, 2010 and 2012).

The track requires a strong engine, so we can expect the dominance of Mercedes to continue in Montreal. McLaren, Force India and Williams may be able to challenge Red Bull Racing for the final podium spot and expect Ferrari to be in the mix too.

  • What a lovely track and event, held in frequently-changeable conditions,near a great city. One of the greats.

    1. Will 2014 tires hold up to the longitudinal slip the circuit’s braking/acceleration zones present, particularly in cold weather?

    2. Can Ferrari’s evolutionary drivability upgrades alleviate some of the acceleration issues the Scuderia’s been experiencing? Has its tire deg been a manifestation of ERS abruptness or more a mechanical grip issue?

    3. Of course, will the Hamilton/Rosberg circus provide new fireworks?

    4. RBR gained little/no ground in Monaco to Mercedes (.4 qualifying on a short, peak-power nullifying track); if they’re within 1 sec in a drama-free quail, they’ve progressed.

    5. Canada will provide a truer test of Sauber’s B-spec; I hope Monaco was an outlier and shakedown. Poor Sauber.

    6. Gearing analysis. I’ve wrestled w/ how each team’s gearing the cars, and think it’s a torque control/fueling and top-RPM –H harvesting strategy. Going to spend some time on replays seeing how each does w/ it’s fuel consumption and pace in this race. Anyone have any ideas please volunteer it.

    -We’re at the stage where teams have figured out gross requirements the 2014 regs have imposed, and are now polishing/refining ERS power and regen braking interfaces (where much of the development disparity’s been). Post-Canada (perhaps Aus/UK) we’ll see the final, more traditional development push from teams still fighting for ’14 positions.

    -I forecast some grid jockeying; mid-level downforce requirements coupled with slippery aerodynamics will see FI and STR perform better pace-wise than Monaco, Mclaren in contrast will suffer. I’m curious to see where Lotus stacks up, as well as the ever-confounding Williams.

    -Bold/Bullsh*t prediction: If the supposed PU drivability improvements come, Ferrari will challenge RBR’s Race pace, be within a few tenths in Quail (flame suit on).

    Merc has this in the bag by 30 seconds, bar weather, a failure, or the drivers punching each other in the berries. I’m sorry I’m missing it this year.

  • Linval

    Need suggestions in a rush to stay for Saturday Night. I Adult + 1 Child. Driving over from Watertown, NY to see the race. Linval

    • Congrats on hitting the GP; great event. Rues du St. Catherine, Peel, et Crescent are closed off for huge block party events (The Crescent St Festival)

      As you’re staying one night, I’d ideally stay in a boutique near the F1 hullabaloo; the Latin Quarter is probably your best bet Normally I’d want to stay further away, in Old Montreal (transit’s easy throughout the city), but your time constraints will want you close to the action. Note: most hotels require several-day stays, so I’d quickly check independent places rather than W’s/Omni’s, and take a serious look at Air BnB.

      I enjoyed Auberge du Vieux-Port last year, 50-ish rooms, facing the St. Lawrence River. Copius dining around the neighborhood. Hotel le Germaine is also great, as well as le Petite Hotel.

      -Leave the car and use Montreal’s excellent Metro; traffic and parking is a disaster.
      -Avoid J. Villeneuve’s Crescent Club restaurant; overpriced, crowded, sucky food.

      Have fun!

    • The more I think about it, the more I feel the 1 night stay will constrict options and up prices; on the bright side, one night only to me means the actual amenities are less relevant, as long as clean and well-situated.

      Air Bnb as of this afternoon:–QC–Canada?checkin=06%2F07%2F2014&checkout=06%2F08%2F2014&guests=2&source=bb

      Also, a quick Google search produced this:

      I haven’t tried either, so can’t recommend, but if in your position I’d seriously investigate both. The Concordia University option looks cheap and really fascinating, and I use Air bob as much as possible oversees.

    • As your traveling w/ a kid, a few final thoughts:

      -Bring good walking wear; the circuit is expansive, and it’s easier to walk within the city than drive.
      -You can pack food for the circuit; the concessions suck, but a benefit if you need to travel very light.
      -Hit a Rubens or Schwartz’ for a massive smoked meat sandwich (like corned beef/pastrami). I pack one for the GP, but it’s a mess. Completely worth it.

      As you might see, I’m envious you’re attending; as Montreal’s transit is so good and you’re 1-night-ony, don’t worry too much about the hotel, find a quirky spot for meals, enjoy the atmosphere.