The Canadian GP’s Most Memorable moments

Written by Apostolos Papageorgiou, Edited by Owen Bradley

Credit: Motorsport Magazine

For the first time since 2019, F1 is heading back to Canada, and what better way to celebrate it than by looking at some memorable moments that have taken place there. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has had a few memorable moments. So here, in no particular order, are the ones I have highlighted.


Mansell’s heartbreak

Heading to Canada, Ayrton Senna and Mclaren had won every race of the season. But everything seemed to fall into place for Mansell and Williams that weekend. Starting second, he passed his teammate, Ricardo Patrese, at the start and left everyone in his trail. So confident was Mansell, that he started waving to the crowd during the final lap. Then, exiting the final corner, his car came to a stop. As if that wasn’t painful enough, it was his old rival, Nelson Piquet who inherited the lead, going on to win.

First lap pile ups

Canada has seen its fair share of crashes, but none can top the start(s) of the 1998 race. Alex Wurz banged wheels with Jarno Trulli into turn 1, only for Trulli to tip Wurz’s Benetton into a roll. At the restart, Ralf Schumacher outbraked himself and spun, causing a chain reaction that ended with Trulli’s Prost mounting Alesi’s Sauber. Thankfully, no further restarts were needed and the race went on.

(Credit: Catherine Sari)

The Schumachers make history

Ferrari were very much starting to dominate as the F1 circus headed to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2001. Williams, however, were making a comeback to the front, aided by their BMW engines. It was Ralf, in the Williams, who won ahead of Michael in the Ferrari. By doing this, the Schumachers became the first brothers to finish first and second in F1. They once again achieved the feat two years later, with Michael in front of his brother this time.

Michael and Ralf in the post race press conference, Canada 2001

Vettel slips up (twice!)

Seb may have won twice in Canada, but that number could’ve been doubled, had he not lost control of his car on two different occasions. First, in the incredible race that was the 2011 installment, Where Vettel had led the whole race but was heavily pressured by Jenson Button, who made an incredible recovery in the second half. The German lost the rear in the still damp track and Button went through. In 2019, having dominated the race, Seb again lost the rear of his car under pressure, rejoining the track in a manner the stewards deemed unsafe, giving him a controversial 5-sec penalty. Therefore, the win went to Lewis Hamilton who, like Button, hadn’t led a single lap.

Credit: Getty Images

First time winners

The track has seen its fair share of new winners from time to time. Alesi was one of them. Having started sixth, he quickly rose to second, and once Schumacher’s Benetton hit trouble, Alesi inherited the lead and crossed the line to achieve his maiden victory in F1, driving a Ferrari with the number 27, the same one that Gilles Villeneuve raced with, and also on his 31st birthday. Years later, rookie Lewis Hamilton kept his cool, as the other title contenders hit trouble, to also win his first race in the sport. it was only his sixth start. Whilst he was celebrating, Robert Kubica was at hospital, after suffering a terrible accident. A year later, Kubica would get his redemption - and his first win. However, Hamilton crashed into Kimi Raikkonen in the pitlane. Daniel Ricciardo also benefited from others’ misfortune in 2014. The two dominant Mercedes of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg suffered brake issues. Hamilton retired, while Rosberg kept going, being passed by Ricciardo for the lead, with two laps to go. A last lap crash ensured the first non-Mercedes victory that year, with Ricciardo driving the Red Bull and this was also Ricciardo’s first win in the sport too.